• Opposition party can’t rescue the nation, Okechukwu insists
• APC youths list benefits of direct primaries
Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, has said foreign loans taken under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari have turned Nigeria into a beggar in the comity of nations.
The party, however, is assured of its readiness to rescue the nation if it receives the backing of citizens in 2023.
Ayu spoke during a chat with BBC Hausa monitored at the weekend.
He added that the party has organised a workshop for its newly elected officials, to keep them abreast of ways to confront insecurity in the country.
“The situation in our country is so bad that anyone on a journey from Abuja to Kaduna, whether by road or by rail, would not have a peaceful mind.
“It is a must that we right the wrongs in our party to get people’s support. Every side must be given the chance to comment so that together, we work in unison to achieve what the people desire,” he said.
But a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osita Okechukwu, said PDP lacks the moral latitude to promise Nigerians a better deal. He argued that Nigerians are assured of sustainable development if APC continues to rule.
“How can Nigerians trust our sister political party, the PDP, given their antecedents, riddled with trust deficit? We know that times are hard. Methinks, it is better to allow APC to fix Nigeria. Where does one start from?” he asked.
Citing alleged misapplications of funds when the PDP ruled the country, he recalled how Kassim Afegbua alerted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of corruption in the opposition party.
He said: “Can we forget the squandermania of the $23 billion Greenfield Refineries – one meant for Lagos, one for Kogi and one for Bayelsa? A golden opportunity cost to our economy.”
“Recall that on March 19, 2015, Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) queried Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, then Minister of Finance thus, ‘May we under the Freedom of Information Act 2011, request the full disclosure of transactions concerning the three Greenfield Refineries and petrochemical plant contracts awarded on May 13, 2010, by President Goodluck Jonathan to Chinese State Construction and Engineering Corporation Limited (CSCEC) at $23 billion, meant to be located at Bayelsa, Kogi and the Lagos States’.
“Secondly, why are they dead on arrival, as six years down the lane, neither the three Greenfield Refineries nor petrochemical plant is under construction. The three Greenfield Refineries, one understands, on completion, were to add 750,000 barrels per day capacity to Nigeria’s refining infrastructure and create over a million jobs.
“The Greenfield Refineries fiasco happened when our Excess Crude Account had over $40 billion and the China State Construction Corporation even upped their equity to 80 per cent. The unfortunate outcome is that $15 billion was fleeced off our national treasury yearly for the importation of refined petroleum products for over a decade.”
MEANWHILE, the youth wing of the APC has thrown its weight behind the use of direct primaries.
Led by Mr. Ismaeel Ahmed, the group argued that the mode would create an enabling environment for credible candidates to emerge in political parties.
Ahmed, who spoke after meeting zonal youths leaders in the country, said: “As members of the party, we love direct primaries because it’s an opportunity for open inclusion. Everybody gets involved in deciding. Of course, there are certain things that we are afraid of – the magnitude of the exercise; whether or not any political party in this country should be restricted to a single way of bringing out candidates; and whether or not we have the manpower to man 8,812 wards when we are doing primaries.
“But, other than that, it is an opportunity for young people to participate in the process. So, it is something that we will encourage.”