Abuja — The Federal and Rivers State governments were, yesterday, locked in a hot exchange of words following accusation that the present federal administration had institutionalised corruption and given the vice a human face.
Governor Chibuke Amaechi who was the guest speaker at the 2nd annual Peoples Daily Conference tagged, 'Nigeria: The 2015 Question,' threw the first shot when he accused the Jonathan administration of reversing the deliberate efforts made by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration in fighting corruption through established institutions.
He cited, among others recent revelations, of sleaze in federal agencies including allegations of the misuse of subsidies in petrol, kerosene and allegations of sharp practices in allocation of oil blocs.
"Whopping sums of $10 billion and $20 billion were alleged to have been missing; the aviation bullet-proof car saga remains unresolved, the subsidy saga is also unresolved and the Shell Malabu story. The impunity in fighting corruption is now extended to the door steps of those fighting corruption," Governor Amaechi said in a speech delivered on his behalf by his Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari
He described the removal of the Central Bank Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as unconstitutional, accusing the President of total disrespect for the rule of law.
The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku was, however, swift in hitting back at Amaechi as he called on the citizenry to look at all levers of government in checking the problems of the country.
Amaechi also said: "The progress made in fighting corruption began to erode under President Yar'Adua. His short-lived regime cannot be assessed in this wise.
"Currently in the present regime of President Goodluck Jonathan, corruption appears to have been institutionalised. A whopping sum of 20 billion dollars is alleged to have been missing. The stories of both fuel and kerosene subsidy are not anything to behold. It smears of corruption and rottenness.
"The aviation bullet-proof saga remains unresolved. The Shell Malabu story is a macabre dance. The response of the regime to corruption is to imprison those exposing corruption. The impunity in corruption is extended to the punishment of those who fight corruption.
"The removal of the Governor of Central Bank is unconstitutional. Constitution means nothing to the current government. What we see is the re-emergence of civilian dictatorship."
According to him, the rate of unemployment has continued on the upward swing since Jonathan emerged as President.
He said unemployment rate had risen to 23.9 per cent up from 14.6 per cent a few years ago, adding that Nigeria was enmeshed in corruption, weak institutions, nepotism, and tribalism with glorified and poor leadership, adding that Nigerians must rise up to fight against the present state of corruption.
Maku, who was represented by his Special Assistant, Media, Kingsley Osadolor, who noted that Nigerians had witnessed in the past few years a great deal of grand-standing by the political elite, said that in the process of grand-standing, politicians had always personified Nigerian crises and the personification of the crisis had been reduced to the person of President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said: "The Nigerian political class has some self-examination to do between now and 2015 and added to that, is the obligation that we should also take away from this conference. Nigerian political class, beyond this hall, how do we get other Nigerians to be fully aware of this challenge the political class faces?"
On the role of the media, Maku, who stressed that much was expected from the media in the democratic process, however explained the Nigerian media had over time given undue attention and to reckless talks by members of Nigerian political class.
He added: "The absence of focused news have started to create the impression that the country is moving inexorably to a state of war in 2015, this of course, has created in all of us an anxiety as to what to expect in 2015. There is no big deal about 2015."
According to him, if elections should matter in Nigeria, all elections should matter including those at the local government level and not just the 2015 elections and accused the state governors of emasculating their states' election commissions.
He said: "Unfortunately, the state governments have emasculated the State Electoral Commissions; hijack the local government elections, shutting up all opposition parties, coasting home with 99.9 per cent of the entire elections. This of course is not acceptable."
The Federal government accused the Rivers State government of building model schools worth billions of naira and handing them over to foreigners from India to manage leading to capital flight and warned that people should stop heating up the polity