The Niger Delta people living in Lagos under the umbrella of Niger Delta Nationalities Forum (NDNF) have condemned the criticism and perception of President Goodluck Jonathan as a leader who is not intensifying the fight against corruption and insurgency which have led to the prevailing insecurity in the country, saying he alone cannot do it.
They also called on Nigerians to vote for the president for a second term in order to continue the transformation agenda he had already started.
The group described as unfortunate the impression that Jonathan’s political opponents have decided to place the effects of corruption and insecurity in the country at the doorsteps of the president alone.
The forum, at a press conference which took place in Lagos yesterday, further claimed that the allegations that Jonathan was not doing enough to fight corruption or does not have the capacity to fight the menace of the vices as well as encourages corruption and insurgency are unfounded.
It added: “But we know that these allegations are false, misleading and merely aimed at tarnishing the good image of the president.”
The Chairman of NDNF, a group made up of all the tribes from the Niger Delta region resident in Lagos, Mr. Seigha Manager, who addressed the conference stated that corruption, since Nigerian got its independence, has grown unabated and become institutionalised, describing it as ‘a national garment worn by most Nigerians in the dark but denounce it in the day light.’
According to him, “The fact, therefore, is that corruption exists in Nigeria but it’s completely wrong to claim that President Jonathan has failed to fight it,” adding that if corruption must be fought comprehensively, it will require the collaborative efforts of the three arms of government-executive, legislature and judiciary.
“We believe that the executive, headed by President Jonathan, has fought corruption more successfully than the other two arms of government. He has used the bottom-top approach thereby plugging loopholes in the system rather than go after culprits in the eyes of the ambiguous laws with our weak legal processes. The most prominent areas the president has fought corruption are the fertilizer scam, the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System(IPPIS), the Bureau de Change restructuring, the fuel subsidy scam among others.
“On the other hand, the legislature whose primary responsibility is to make appropriate laws for good governance, in our reckoning, has not lived up to expectations.
“The legislature was unable to enact appropriate laws to fight current trend of corruption and insurgency as well as to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that was intended to fight corruption in the oil sector. It also displays its inability to enact specific laws against insurgency and review ineffective laws to meet contemporary demands,” he stated.
NDNF further berated the judiciary for not doing enough in the fight against corruption and insurgency, “thereby shirking its responsibilities,’’ citing few cases like the Cynthia Osokogu’s case who was killed by people she met on Facebook; the pension scam involving John Mohammed; Senator Ali Ndume, who was indicted by a self-confessed Boko Haram faithful; Faruk Lawan case, James Ibori case (with 171 count charges in our Nigerian court, set free but was jailed in the United Kingdom with only four count charge) among others.
“In the light of these, it is our strong belief that Nigerians must change the drum beat by tasking the relevant arms of government to close rank and live up to their responsibilities towards the minimisation of corruption in the polity,” Manager advised.
On insurgency, the forum argued that President Jonathan had not failed in its fight; instead, it noted that it was the failure of a segment of the country which has refused to support his (Jonathan) efforts to end insurgency that Nigerians should be worried about.
The leader of the NDNF said: When it’s oil, it’s Nigerian oil but when it is insurgency in the North-east region, it is Jonathan’s failure, his incapacity to fight insurgency, and not the northern elders’ failure. This slogan must stop in the interest of all Nigerians.
“We the Niger Deltans feel betrayed in this particular matter because when there was militancy in the Niger Delta region, it was a Nigerian affair not Abdusalami Abubakar or Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo or Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
“Although it was Yar’Adua who proclaimed amnesty over the Niger Delta crises, it was actually the elders and leaders in the region who brought an end to the crises by way of personally meeting and persuading the militants to bring an end to the crises.
“We should also forget that N1 trillion of the federal government annual budgets go into fighting insurgency every year. This means that Nigerians must unite against insurgency rather than holding the president responsible incapacity. The external support the insurgents are getting couple with the internal distrust and sabotage in the military are also worthy of note.”
The forum therefore appealed to Nigerians to support President Jonathan in the fight against corruption and insurgence in the country “even when the methodology he has adopted is reasonably digital. This bottom-top approach to plug the loopholes and relying on the military advice with the intent to avoid colossal and collateral damage in the Northeast and the country at large is reliable.
“Vote for President Jonathan for continuity and genuine democracy so as to discourage coup plotting in our country, and if you love true democracy.”