The Senior Special Assistant to the President and Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, says President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is bad business for a number of parliamentarians, civil servants and security agents.
Shehu said corrupt politicians, public officers, police officers, Customs and Immigration officials who hitherto benefited from corrupt practices during previous administrations were uncomfortable with the Buhari administration.
The Presidential Aide stated this in a special feature titled: “The Real Price of Changing the Change (1)’’, issued in Abuja on Sunday.
According to him, as Buhari is busy fighting corruption, the corrupt politicians and civil servants are equally busy praying for return of the old order where they had their days illegally amassing public wealth.
“The list of people who oppose the Buhari government and yearning to ‘change the change’ include a number of parliamentarians, policemen, customs officials, immigration officials, civil servants now rooting for other political parties, not leaving out those various businesses and platforms owned by these political parties directly or indirectly.
“The Buhari win in 2015, and the possibility of four more years have crumbled their dreams of endlessly looting the state and the growing list of achievements of the administration is not doing any good for them.’’
Shehu observed that top opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members had been granting interviews and addressing zonal political rallies talking about “CHANGING THE CHANGE” in next year’s general elections, without defining what exactly that means.
He, however, stated that Nigerians needed to be reminded of what the reversal of the achievements of the three years of the Buhari government would amount to.
“The real meaning and cost of the `Changing the Change,’ is that if they win the next election, they will not take us back to where we were in 2015, they will mostly reverse the progress the APC has brought to the nation.
“The main reason for the defeat of the PDP in 2015 was corruption. The present administration at the centre led by President Muhammadu Buhari has so far presented a corrupt-free image of itself,’’ he said.
He added that the Buhari administration had also succeeded in abolishing grand corruption at the top, as attested to by the American President, Donald Trump.
He said the government had significantly brought down the level of corruption in the country but, however, warned that corruption was fighting back.
“Although he said he was unafraid and would not bend, the President’s concern, and fear on the part of many is that if a corrupt leader takes over, it will be happy days all over again for former Oil Minister Diezani Allison-Maduekwe who has so far forfeited 153 million dollars, N23.4 billion, and 4 million dollars and 5 million dollars in separate accounts.
“Change the Change’ would mean she will get the money back. So would the former Managing Director of the maritime agency, NIMASA, get back GBP 578,080 seized from him and the Ikoyi apartment owners have back their 43.4 million dollars; N23 million and GBP 27,800.
“The hidden owner of the Lagos cash shop may then step forward to reclaim their N449.6 million; the ex-Naval Chiefs will have returned to them the already forfeited N1.8 billion; the Governors Forum paid back their N1.4 billion and the major oil marketers, from whom the EFCC has so far seized N328.9 billion will smile their ways to the bank.
“The banks themselves will equally join the party, happily getting back N27.7 billion they `ate’ from taxes they failed to remit; the scion of the Akinjides, Jumoke will have N650 million awarded to her,’’ he said.
Shehu further stated that those scammers in INEC who coughed out N1 billion would equally get the money back and charges standing against them in court may be dropped.
“But the happiest of them all will be Jonathan, who will get the first priority when the refunds start coming for obvious reasons.
“The former First Lady would not anymore need lawyers to keep her mountain of gifts, counted in huge millions of dollars, billions of Naira, hotels and buildings,’’ he added.
He equally noted that the early casualties of ‘changing the change’ may include initiatives like the Whistle Blower policy by which the government was able to recover stolen or concealed assets through information provided by citizens.
According to him, this has changed the ethical and moral tone of the business transaction space in the country.
The whistle blower is entitled to between 2.5 and five percent of amount recovered.
The presidential Aide said that `change the change’ might also result to scrapping the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), which he described as the biggest tax revolution since independence.
“The Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) now being implemented, and about which many of our rich citizens are unhappy may be scrapped.
“A recent report shows that there are four million new taxpayers, including companies and individuals, resulting in N700 billion increase in tax revenue in 2017,’’ he said.
According to him, Buhari is also bad business for importers of diesel and generators because he had raised electric power availability from 2,600 MW in 2015 to 7,000 MW.
He said the Buhari-administration was targeting 10,000 megawatts by the end of 2018.
“Another formidable group unhappy with the change and wish it reversed are the importers of diesel and generators. Nigeria ranks as the second biggest importer of generators all over the world.
“Buhari is bad business for them because he has raised electric power availability from 2,600 MW in 2015 to 7,000 MW and is targeting 10,000 megawatts by the year’s end.
“Increased power availability means less purchase of generators and less consumption of diesel.
“Noticeably, they are rooting for parties that are bent on changing the change,’’ he maintained.
The Presidential Aide also identified other rooters of `changing the change’ campaign to include the beneficiaries of the malaria economy which costs Nigeria N132 billion and 300,000 lives annually.
According to him, this is an economy now threatened by the administration’s National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) by which tens of millions of long-lasting Insecticide-Treated Nets (ITN) are being freely distributed.
“A part of this order is now made in Aba, Nigeria,’’ Shehu explained.