Without knowing, President Goodluck Jonathan let slip words that will come back to haunthim sooner or later. Speaking Saturday night at the fundraising dinner of his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja, he declared that the 15 years that the PDP has been in power have “actually created a number of millionaires and billionaires.” He said, “This party, as you all know, is business friendly. The government of PDP encourages policies and will come up with programmes and policies that will promote enterprise and industry. We believe we must encourage commercial activity. And within this period that the PDP has been ruling, we’ve actually created a number of millionaires and billionaires.”
Two things the President deliberately did not say. One, he didn’t say that most of those “millionaires and billionaires” are in his party. They are men and women who benefited from his government’s patronage distribution, including contract awards that were often not executed but they were paid all the same. Secondly, there are also PDP card carriers who have helped themselves to the public till using the highly visible public offices they hold. In this category are past and sitting state governors who went into office very poor but came out as “millionaires and billionaires.”
And truly, these people on Saturday showed how deep the PDP government at the centre has made their pockets. The 21 PDP state governors, among them, donated N1.05 billion to the President’s re-election campaign. They “donated” N50 million each. These are states that have been unable to pay the N18,000 national wage to their workers because they are “too broke.” Capital projects have not been executed for years even there is an annual budget for such.
Recently, the government of Akwa Ibom declared itself too insolvent to pay for new projects in spite of having collected N135.84 billion as its share from the federation account in the first half of this year, according to Account Allocation Committee. The state’s Commissioner of Information and Communication, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, was recently quoted as saying that the government had been unable to realize its projected IGR of N400 bn. On the N135.84bn it received as its statutory share of the federal revenues, he said: “When you are talking about allocation of N135.84 billion, it sounds big to you, but it is not a lot of money when you are doing key projects. When you look at projects like the new international stadium, these are not bread and butter projects. These are quality projects that cost money.”
While the PDP may have bred tens of new “millionaires and billionaires” in the 15 years of its vice-like grip on the nation’s wealth, its misrule has also fawned hundreds of millions of impoverished citizens. The president’s finance minister, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, recently admitted that there is a huge gap between few stupendously rich Nigerians and a scandalously poverty-stricken majority.
The President should feel shame to flaunt the ill-gotten wealth of few men and women in his party while the rest of the society wallows in absolute penury. However, this majority has the power to decide his political fate in the February 14, 2015 presidential election.