The South-East All Progressives Congress (APC) at the weekend bashed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the worrisome fuel shortage in the country, insisting that the former ruling party has no moral standing to complain.
Addressing an interactive town hall meeting with members of APC at Egede, Udi local government area of Enugu State on Sunday, the Spokesman of the South East Caucus of the party, Mr Osita Okechukwu, said Nigerians were paying for the sins committed by PDP led federal government, which in sixteen years failed to neither fix the existing refineries nor build new ones.
“We are paying unfortunately for the sins of PDP; I remember vividly in 2010, when Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, then Finance Minister and Coordinator of the Economy, announced to the whole world, the award of $23 billion Greenfield Refineries, to a Chinese company.
“The refineries were to be located at Bayelsa, Lagos and Kogi State. There was jubilation nationwide. If they had completed the refineries, today, we won’t be talking of scarcity or astronomical increase in fuel pump price. They squandered the money and put Nigerians in the harms way”, he declared.
Okechukwu assured that APC will fix the rot in the petroleum sector, but made it clear that one year was not enough to fix a refinery or build a new one.
He, however, observed that the Hon. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu had assured Nigerians that government will fix the existing refineries and enter into partnership with private sector to erect new refineries.
When reminded that Nigerians were getting tired of excuses for the crushing fuel crisis, Okechukwu said “We can’t stop pointing out the unconscionable wreckage the PDP unleashed on our economy, in the last sixteen years. The wreckage keeps on popping up at each junction, despite the efforts being made to suppress it.
“For instance how can one fail to point out why Enugu Coal remained moribund, when the fact on the ground shows that in 2012 – N923 million, 2013 – N1.7billion and 2014 – N1.1 billion were budgeted for 3D Seismic Study Survey for Enugu and Gombe Coal and were ignobly squandered?
“How can’t we stop reminding ourselves of the sordid past, more so, when the crude oil price which used to cushion and cover the PDP gross corruption track has since the inception of Buhari’s regime nosedived? A barrel of crude oil hovered between $90-100 in most of the period under review; now it hovers between $30-40. PDP sins bleed in every facet of our lives – dilapidated roads, poor power supply, collapsed social infrastructure and state of uncertainty.
“Our elders admonished us that before we find solutions to the rain beating us, we must first remember where, when and how the rain started.
“For us, yesterday is not gone. President Buhari’s score card is that he has triumphed in taming corruption and containing insecurity. Revamping the economy is next in line with the 2016 budget,” Okechukwu said.
Confronted with the selective nature of the war against corruption and the secrecy over recovered looted funds, Okechukwu retorted: “Can the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) probe Mr Osita Okechukwu for looting Enugu State fund, when I was neither the governor nor a contractor in Enugu State? They are probing Chief Sullivan Chime and cohorts because they presided over the commonwealth of Enugu State.
“The secrecy of the recovered fund is strategic, for a seasoned rabbit hunter cannot shout or beat his chest, after discovering one or two holes. He has to be reticent if he wants to capture the rabbits, because sometimes rabbit underground habitation has some times more than seven exit holes. Methinks the rabbit-hunter-model is what President Buhari adopted.”
On the way forward, Okechukwu implored all Nigerians to as a matter of urgent national importance join in monitoring the 2016 budget implementation.
He urged Nigerians to go through the budget, when it is passed and identify their areas of interest and monitor it.
Okechukwu called on Nigerians not to shy away as usual, as President Muhammadu Buhari cannot spend any money not budgeted for as prescribed in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He noted that Mr. President had raked in N3 trillion via the Treasury Single Account, and therefore, enjoined Nigerians to monitor how the ministers, heads of departments and agencies execute it.
In attendance were, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku, Deputy Governorship candidate of APC, Philip Eze, senatorial candidate of the party, local government and Ward chairmen.