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PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE STATE OF THE NATION, HELD AT IKOLO AWKA HOME ON WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2021.
POLITICIZING WAR ON CORRUPTION DIMINISHING OUR DEMOCRACY AND PRESIDENT BUHARI’s LEGACY.
Gentlemen of the press, it is with mixed feelings that I welcome you all from all parts of Anambra State to this very important press conference at this point in time in the history of our dear country, Nigeria. Mixed feelings because I am troubled that institutions in the country are being heavily politicized and the values inherent in a democratic government getting more distant from us.
INEC has slated the 2023 General Election to hold on Saturday 18th February 2023, while the Anambra Governorship election holds November 6th this year. At this time, President Muhammad Buhari should be concerned about the legacy of his 8years presidency. In 2015, Buhari, campaigning as an anti-corruption czar and an experienced Army general, defeated an incumbent president, the first time in Nigeria’s history.
The reason was that the voters expected him to fight corruption and return the country to peace and security. The result so far is nothing to talk about; a deeper and more troubling gulf now exists in all aspects of our nationhood. One would expect that as the Buhari Presidency winds up, the president and his men will be more concerned about the judgment of history.
Since 2015 when APC ascended to power, the leadership of the party instead of encouraging the president to remain focused on the nation’s many leadership challenges, some people in the party started to brag in order to lure chieftains of other parties, governors and legislators to decamp from their parties and join APC if they want their sins to be forgiven. This nasty narrative orchestrated majorly during the Adams Oshiomhole’s chairmanship seems to be exacerbating now to include actors within the ruling APC whose ambitions seem to threaten a few of the power mongers within the President’s inner cabinet.
Within the last few weeks, the media has been awash with political shenanigans of all sorts. Particularly in Anambra and Kogi states, it is worrisome how the EFCC is being used rightly or wrongly to intimidate politicians within and outside the ruling party by the henchmen of APC who are said to have President Buhari’s ear.
1. KOGI STATE VS EFCC. Last week, the biggest topic in the news was the face-off between the Government of Kogi State and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. The country woke up to the news that the EFCC had frozen a purported Kogi State salary bail-out account domiciled in Sterling Bank “over a N20bn loan meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the state government” but kept in an interest-yielding account with the Bank.
Counsel to the EFCC, Abass Muhammed, told the court that the order to freeze this so-called account was necessary in order to abate further dissipation of the funds in the said account. The agency went further to state that instead of using the money for the purpose it was meant, Sterling Bank acted on the instruction of the Kogi State Government, transferred the money from the loan account and placed it in a fixed deposit account. The EFCC lawyer said in the report that Sterling Bank had yet to present any credible evidence to show that the facility was well secured.
Devoid of politics, the supposed court order obtained by an agency that is meant to be a foremost law enforcement agency in Nigeria should be taken on the face value as authentic news, which needs no further questioning.
But facts emanated from well-meaning Nigerians and institutions barely 24 hours after, in almost all newspapers and the electronic media that the EFCC might have acted on absolute falsehood. Sterling Bank for one said, “The Kogi State Government does not currently operate or maintain a fixed deposit account with Sterling Bank.
“There is no mandate letter from Kogi State Government to open any such untoward account with Sterling Bank.”
The management of the bank went further to say that they were “equally surprised and dismayed at the media’s narration of the events surrounding the transactions referenced and are disheartened at the characterization implied in these narrations” This kind of tactical errors does the country no good. It reduces the investors’ confidence in the country.
This event, which was reported by local and international media and which has generated heated controversy across all divides, and puts EFCC in a bad light. It projects EFCC under the current administration as a tool of oppression and not an agency that was set up to sanitize Nigeria and make it corrupt-free.
The evidence and piles of documents presented by the State Government and Sterling Bank in this instance, it shows that the EFCC is chasing an agenda. Otherwise why the media trial if not tarnishing the image of perceived enemies with unverified cases. Politics carried too far can destroy the political system and further bring down the already bad economy.
Corruption investigation must be ethical and agencies must never make their work into a media war. Such media frenzy as led by EFCC and daily headlines portraying everyone in the country as corrupt does not leverage the investment climate, the country and our democracy.
Matters involving a commercial bank and a state government can be effectively investigated if the purpose is noble without such public exacerbation and politicking. If not for their prompt response, and opening its door instantly, the government of Kogi state will have been rubbished which I believe was the intention.
Apparently, some people feel very uncomfortable with the World Bank letter released a few weeks ago that was reported in many newspapers commending the Governor of Kogi State for refunding US$4.63million surplus funds under the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP); and his recent report card as the best state in women and youths mainstreaming into government.
2. Anambra must be APC state by Force. For us in Anambra State, this has justified our cry that the EFCC is being used to intimidate those not in the ruling party for reasons best known to them ahead of the forthcoming elections. Recently the leaders of APC have been bullying all opposition party leaders to defect to APC or face the EFCC. Many in PDP and APGA have succumbed. We hear that a lot more will be blackmailed to follow suit. But this “APC by force syndrome” cannot stand in Anambra state, and all the shenanigans will come to nothing. The people of Anambra will resist all APC or EFCC bully.
EFCC and other agencies of government must learn to focus on their jobs and stay away from politicians; extricate themselves from politics and begin to function as preventive organizations. Brinkmanship is destructive of government establishments and institutions. A stich in time saves nine. Mr President and the Presidency should be concerned with the history Buhari leaves as he finishes his tenure.
For the records, I have never met Governor Bello of Kogi state. As a human being, he may have his challenges considering the difficult Nigeria political terrain. But he has shown a capacity for inclusion and the recent world reports on his inclusive leadership and the boldness and transparency with which the state has confronted the recent EFCC perfidy should endear him to good men and women in APC.
This is not a partisan address, we stand for National and democratic ethos. And I call on all public officers to let Nigeria be the great country we are meant to be.
Thank you for listening. To God the Glory.
Ralphs Okey Nwosu; 08037755885
National Chairman ADC on behalf Of Allied Political Parties for Good Governance and Building Nigeria Legacy.
My best regards,