The war against corruption took centre stage yesterday as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari and his main challenger and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar intensified their campaigns ahead of the February 16 election.
President Buhari, whose campaign train anchored at Lokoja, Kogi State, vowed not to spare any corrupt person if re-elected at the polls.
On the other hand, Atiku said there would be no sacred cows in the fight against corruption, accusing the Buhari regime of fighting a partial war which shields corrupt persons in the government and their cronies.
Buhari regretted that the previous PDP administration depleted the nation’s resources and gave assurance that his government will prosecute all those who plundered the country’s economy if given another four years mandate.
According to him, the PDP claimed to have completed the railway and power for Nigerians, arguing that nothing is on ground as claimed.
“Before we took over government, billions of naira were realised by the past government through crude oil. They said they have spent money on railway, they said they have spent the money on power, but where are all they claimed to have spent the money on, and where is the money?
“I promise you that if I return, I will root them out and collect the money back for you,” he added.
However, there was a mild drama, when the president concluded his speech without making any statement on the ailing Ajaokuta Steel Company, until Governor Yahaya Bello reminded the President.
The president, having been reminded of the steel company, recollected and told the crowd that: “Your governor have just reminded me of Ajaokuta Steel Company; there will be massive employment in Ajaokuta Steel Company when it is completed.”
While commending the people of the state for their massive turnout, President Buhari noted that the reason of his campaign was to tell Nigerians where the country was, where it is currently and where it is heading.
Also speaking at the rally, the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole urged Nigerians not to vote back corrupt people to power again so the country will not slide back to the dark days.
According to him, Nigeria is progressively moving towards greatness and cannot afford to economically go back in reverse.
Director General Buhari/Atiku campaign organisation, Rotimi Amechi, highlighted the achievements of President Buhari, claiming that many abandoned projects by the past administrations have been completed.
However, the presidential candidate of the PDP has pledged to personally lead the anti-corruption war if elected president at the forthcoming polls.
Atiku has also promised that there would be no sacred cows, noting that it would be a departure from Buhari’s bogus anti-corruption fight.
In a statement yesterday by Kola Ologbondiyan, Director, Media and Publicity of PDP Presidential Campaign Organization (PPCO), the former vice president said if elected, he would, within the first 100 days in office, launch a comprehensive National Anti-Corruption Strategy that ensures that nobody, no matter how highly placed, is spared as the strategy will be based on separation of powers, neutrality and non-partisanship.
“This will be a clear departure from President Buhari’s bogus anti-corruption fight, which serves only as a smokescreen for his cronies and relations to fritter trillions of naira from the public treasury, while hounding opposition members with trumped-up corruption charges,” Atiku said.
He noted that President Buhari has failed to secure any conviction in the fight against corruption because it is shielding corrupt persons, particularly those close him.
“If Atiku Abubakar is elected president, it will no longer be ‘business as usual’ as his templates will directly restore the independence of all anti-corruption institutions as well as block all loopholes through which public funds can be siphoned.
“Within Atiku Abubakar’s first 100 days in office, decisive steps will be taken to ensure that all legislative instruments relating to whistle blower, witness protection, electronic evidence, cybercrime and assets forfeiture are expeditiously passed and that clauses that shield corruption in high places will be eliminated.
“In the same vein, due process mechanism will be restored and as a complete departure from the past, the National Procurement Council will be inaugurated within the first 100 days in office in accordance with the provisions of the Bureau for Public Procurement Act.
“This is in addition to an Open Governance Partnership Framework, which, among other things, opens government businesses, including revenue generation and spending, to public tracking, monitoring and independent assessment,” the PDP candidate said in the statement.
Atiku disclosed that he would deploy appropriate technology that supports the end-to-end operations of government businesses for transparency and elimination of sharp practices across all ministries, departments and agencies.
According to him, there would be speedy completion of pending corruption cases, ensuring that plea bargains are not abused and that enforcements of judgements on corruption are fully followed through.
He recalled that his commitment to fight corruption informed his pivotal role, as vice president and head of the economic team, in the establishment, nurturing and initial funding of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The former vice president noted that all the major high profile convictions secured by the EFCC were those initiated by the PDP administration when he was vice president, but regretted that President Buhari administration has compromised the system.