PDP In Gratitude To President Buhari By Utum Eteng
President Mohammadu Buhari on Monday 6th July 2015 exhibited an unparallel generosity when he gave approval for a bailment of about N713.7bn to States owing workers salaries. The purpose for this presidential generosity was to cushion the effect of the suffering civil and public servants who have for months been deprived of their legitimate monthly payments for work already done.
This singular gesture by president who is not up to two months in government is in no small measure show the unparalleled generosity and opens mindedness of President Buhari and is worth commending. As the President of Nigeria and for all Nigerians, it is interesting to note that though the bulk of the staff salaries were owned when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was in charge both at the National level and forms majority of the debtor States, the Buhari’s bailout was for all the States and not limited to APC controlled States. This is not unexpected for a President who saw himself as being for all Nigerians. This fatherhood spirit appears a rare quality in a typical Nigerian President and requires the Nigerian workers to rise up and salute our President.
Little wonder therefore that workers and Trade Unions across the country have continued to welcome the news of the bailout approval with joy and prayers for the good health and long life of the president.
It has been argued that by him not limiting the bailout exercise to APC controlled States, is a clear demonstration of his commitment to the change mantra promised to Nigerians. It is not clear that given the extreme partisan posture of the PDP, such a bailout would have included States not controlled by the PDP. Only recently, the PDP publicity Secretary Chief Olisa Metuh, rather than boldly commend President Buhari for this laudable gesture, tried to create the wrong impression that the money applied for the bailout package was realized from savings started by former President Jonathan’s administration. This indeed, is how not to tell a lie to people used to the PDP old ways of giving excuses for its non-performance.
Metuh should be told in very clear language that whether any part or all of the money came from savings accumulated in the Excess Crude Account as he alleged is not important. It is not the issue to be considered by Nigerians civil or public servants who have long been starved of their legitimate monthly earnings. The source of the money is not of any importance at all, but what President Buhari used the people’s money to do is what is significant and material. What is the guarantee that, if PDP had won the presidency, the so-called accumulated savings would have been used magnanimously to bailout the States to settle the workers? Who again knows whether other non-PDP states would have been included or whether the amount would have been made public? It is even more annoying and wicked that such money was there or saved whilst workers children could not return to their schools for lack of money to pay school fees. Metuh and the PDP should know that Nigerians of today are wiser than before and would not be easily fed with falsehood.
Whatever the argument of the PDP, the fact remains that without minding, President Buhari has given PDP State governors equal opportunity to rearrange themselves. Let the PDP and the few pessimists note that the workers whose salaries are to be paid through this bailout programme do not want to bother about Metuh’s ingenious arguments. If the PDP knew the source or kept the money, why did the party not show concern to settle the accumulated staff salaries over the months? If presidency source had disclosed publicly that the money for the bailout package includes sharing of $1.6bn dividend and $500million tax by the Nigerian liquefied National Gas Ltd, the question one would want Olisa Metuh to address Nigerians on is, what has the PDP Federal Government done before now with all such money? Or has such money ever been collected? President Buhari has shown the Nigerian workers the cares and that what was deliberately refused to be done by the PDP he has done it with ease using the people’s money. This is a wonderful innovation in governance introduced by President Buhari. The PDP had all the time and opportunity to show that it cares but selfishly it refused to use it.
It is interesting to remind Chief Metuh and the PDP that President Buhari’s approval to sound economics of scale led to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to set up a special intervention fund that will offer between N250bn and N300bn as a soft loan to the States to enable them pay the backlog of salaries. Chief Metuh, the PDP spokes-man would not also pretend he is not aware that the President has also approved a debt relief programme proposed by the debt management office, which would help the States irrespective of political party to restructure their commercial loans with banks currently put at N660bn to extend the life span of such loans and reduce the states’ debt serving expenditure.
The PDP and Metuh should not be ungrateful. The wrong impression Metuh attempted to create is a joke taken too far and is intended to deceive the people, but has failed. Lest one forgets, Chief Metuh should be reminded that apart from himself and a few PDP sojourners who think otherwise, state governors, Labour Union leaders, Nigerian workers and other prominent Nigerians have continued to shower encomiums on President Buhari for this show of fatherhood, impartiality and magnanimity not withstanding Metuh’ grandstanding and inability to recognize good and sound economics at work.
In spite of this magnanimity, the president and the workers unions are charged to carefully monitor the application of the money by the state governors. It has been effectively argued that the states are the hotbed for extreme corruption and stealing of people funds sometimes are supervised by the governors through bogus and white Elephant Projects.
CHIEF (BARR) UTUM ETENG
Private Legal Practitioner,
Human Rights Activists,
And Anti-Corruption Crusader