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Rumblings In Niger Delta, South East Are Vestiges Of Corruption Fighting Back – APC Chairman

Avengers in the CreekNational Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has described the emergence of Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), other militants in the Niger Delta Region as well as the activities of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) as real signs of corruption actively and massively fighting back.
“The eruptions in the Niger Delta or the ones in the South East, all of are still vestiges of corruption fighting back. You cannot but escape the impression that there is a powerful group intent on sabotaging.
“But this is not a struggle that this nation can afford to lose; we must and cannot go back to business as usual. I want to assure them that they won’t succeed.”
Oyegun, who was answering questions in an exclusive interview with The Punch, said that the militancy and agitation for any kind of republic have aggravated the pains which Nigerians are going through.
“Criticisms are there but we have always said that we empathize and regret the anguish that the general population- particularly those living at the margins are going through. Change is painful but at the end of it, everybody will be happier because we will have a stronger economy; an economy that is creating jobs, an economy where industry is getting back into its stride.”
He admitted that the subsidy removal and the consequence of inadequate power supply is harsh but that it is understandable.
It is harsh “because when you talk of power, everybody is aware of the activities of the so-called Nigeria Delta Avengers; everybody knows that the minute you cut off gas supply to the power plants, we have a problem that has prevented the stabilization of the power sector. “A lot of work has been done; consultations are going on. Apart from the presence of the military in the Niger Delta, consultations are going on behind the scenes. We hope that things will be brought under control speedily.
Oyegun said that when President Buhari said during the campaign that there was no subsidy on fuel, he was referring to the inefficiency in the system and the corruption in the system that being visited on the people whereas the government was being made to pay huge unacceptable sums that ended up in people’s pockets.
“If all these things are corrected, you will find that there is no subsidy in the real sense of the word. That was precisely what the President was saying; that is precisely what it has turned out to be. It is now being corrected and the price of fuel is beginning to drop gradually all over and there is no subsidy. “The market forces will now determine just like what has happened in the Foreign Exchange Market in the last few days. Let demand and supply be the determinant of the price of anything whatsoever in the market.”
Speaking on the statement by the former Lagos governor, Babatunde Fashola to the effect that any serious government would fix the power situation in six months, the APC chieftain regretted that the PDP as an institution and as government spent $18 billion on the power sector for the sixteen years in power without a single additional kilowatt of power added to the supply.
“So, any such criticism is very, very deserving. Of course, in the interim, a lot of other issues like we discussed earlier, cropped up like the Niger Delta Avengers, otherwise, power was stabilising already but the minute the power station cannot get gas to power it, then you are in deep trouble and that is what is happening now. “Otherwise, what he said was correct. We were firstly going to stabilize the system, strengthening the transmitting and distribution network, build captive power plants in areas of high intensive use like industries and so on, bringing on stream power stations that were virtually ready. Some were waiting for connection to the gas station, some were waiting for final installation of turbines that were imported and were already in the country. All of these were being done.”
On APC accusation against former President Goodluck Jonathan of running the largest presidential air fleet which the APC promised to cut down, Oyegun argued that it is largely being cut down.
“Besides, I think they are even available for hire in case you want to use any of them (general laughter). Don’t forget, from the very first day, even the vehicles being used by Mr. President were exactly the same vehicles used by his predecessor.”
On the waning of the popularity of the APC as a result of the harsh economic reality Nigerians are facing since it took office, he admitted that all governments worldwide in between terms lose some degree of popularity, saying that there is no question about that.
“We are having harsh economic times; no question about that, and that does not increase the popularity of any government. It only diminishes it to some extent. What is different is that, in our case, in spite of the harsh economic realities, the people still have full confidence, trust. I think that is the proper word, in President Buhari, that he will do his very best to improve their lot and I think the proof of that was the reaction to the threatened strikes by the labour unions.
“You can see that even though people are unhappy, they refused to come out because they understood. They are in pain but they understood why the pain was there and they trusted the President that he was doing everything within his power to ameliorate their pain. So yes, there is a lot of grumbling all over the place, but also there is a lot of trust in Mr. President.”
On the argument that President Buhari is pursuing anti corruption so much that he had left other national issues, especially the economy to suffer, Oyegun described the President as somebody who multi-tasks, and that he can work on different issues at the same time.
“The only difference is that corruption attracts headlines. Mr. X stole N20 billion, ha! Headlines, you people in the media make it headlines. When you hear that there is a project in XYZ place, you say, well, it’s one of those things and you give it small space but when a major elite is accused of stealing X amount of money, it is headlines. This has nothing to do with the importance which the President is giving to different issues that face the nation.” [myad]

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