Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I welcome you to this press conference.  The reason for inviting you here today is to keep you abreast of some developments in the country as it pertains to the reckless behaviour of the President Jonathan’s administration.

Since President Goodluck Jonathan took over power over four years ago, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has not recorded a single high profile conviction. This is in stark contrast to the EFCC’s past record, where former governors and other senior public officials accused of defrauding the Nigerian people were tried and prosecuted. Thus, we can safely say that President Jonathan has muzzled the EFCC. He has turned one of our country’s most respected and revered institutions into a toothless bulldog without even as much as a bark.

It is startling to see the dexterity with which the President sacked the former chairman of the SURE-P scheme owing to his pronouncement on the desirability of change. Meanwhile, ministers and other senior members of his government who have heavy allegations of corruption hanging on their necks still comfortably retain their positions.

Not only has he bound the EFCC from doing its job, Mr. Jonathan has also reversed some previous achievements of the commission by granting state pardon to erstwhile government officials whom it had uncovered as guilty of corruption.

To make matters worse, at present the EFCC itself is in turmoil. Its chairman is accused by staff of corruption. The commission’s staff are also being owed salaries and entitlements, having not been paid for three months.

It is no wonder, therefore, that Nigeria remains in an abysmal low on the Transparency International ranking of corrupt countries in the world.

Yet another clear example of the wanton corruption that has become commonplace in President Jonathan’s government is the recent announcement by the Nigerian Senate that the Ministry of Works’ budget has been reduced by 89 percent. This forces us to wonder: Who was the intended recipient of the unnecessary, extra 89 percent? Into whose pockets were the superfluous millions intended? And if indeed the 89 percent was essential to the effective functioning of the ministry, is the reduction just an attempt by the PDP government to punish Nigerians for asking for CHANGE?

On the issue of security, the Nigerian armed forces – in collaboration with a multinational force made up of armies of neighbouring African countries – has recently recorded a number of significant victories in the fight against Boko Haram, with about 36 territories taken back from the insurgents over the past few weeks.  This is commendable.  We congratulate our armed forces.

However, we cannot ignore the fact that President Jonathan left the issue to fester for too long. All this effort could have been applied much earlier, thus saving hundreds of lives and preventing thousands of displaced persons who are currently languishing in camps and homes in northeast Nigeria and parts of Abuja – with little help and attention from their government. We cannot but conclude that the Jonathan government allowed Boko Haram fester because of the political mileage gained from the crises. He did not show any concern for the people of northeast Nigeria while they suffered under the continuous, brutal attacks of the terrorists. He still does not care about them. For him, a victory over Boko Haram is simply an attempted victory over the hearts of Nigerian voters in the 2015 elections.

Finally, on international relations, President Jonathan has once again dragged our country into the theatre of the absurd, making a mockery of his office through the current embarrassing debacle with the King of Morocco over a purported telephone conversation. This is just the latest in a series of diplomatic faux pas. President Jonathan is destroying international relationships that existed before his tenure.  He has already earned the scorn of other world leaders, such as Obama, through his poor human rights record.

Nigeria obviously needs a regime CHANGE through the instrumentality of the ballot box and Nigerians are eagerly waiting for this CHANGE.

Garba Shehu

12 March 2015

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