PDP and APC in battle of words over cash seized by South Africa

The repeated seizure of Nigeria's funds by the South African authorities, the second time in a month, has once again pitched the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the main opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC), both of which have traded words over the brewing scandal.

While the APC accuses President Goodluck Jonathan of embarrassing Nigeria and Nigerians, the PDP fired at the opposition party, saying it was collaborating with foreign countries to humiliate and destroy the unity of the nation.
In a statement issued yesterday by the APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the issues surrounding the first seizure of $9.3 million had yet to be resolved before this latest scandal, wondering why the government would want to turn Nigeria into a rogue nation by being associated with money laundering and other acts of illegality, thus devaluing the worth of every Nigerian.

“Again, Mr. President, Nigerians are urging you to please come clean over these cash-for-arms scandals. They want you to answer critical questions on the legality of your administration's repeated conduct. They want to know the identities of the two Nigerians who were arrested with an Israeli in South Africa over the first illegal deal, especially since the Israeli has been named.

“Nigerians want to know why the purported arms procurement for the government is done illegally between private companies that are neither known nor registered for dealing in arms? And why are the movement of monies not transparently documented for what they really are, if they are truly for legitimate purposes?

“They want to know whether indeed the weapons which the government is seeking so furiously to procure are for the battle against Boko Haram or for a sinister motive, considering the desperation of your administration to continue to rule at all cost and by any means possible. “They want to know whether every Nigerian should begin to fear what will happen in the days and weeks leading to the forthcoming general elections, against the backdrop of your administration and party's do-or-die politics.

“Mr. President, if the funds involved in the latest seizure were sent through bank transfer, can the government explain why Oritsejafor's plane was stuffed with cash and transported to South Africa?

“Can your administration's embarrassing explanation that it is customary for other country's security agencies, including with MOSSAD, KGB and CIA, to cart plane loads of cash across the world to purchase black market weapons hold any more water now?
These are some of the questions Nigerians are asking, not an untenable spin by untruthful government officials,” it said.

The opposition party also wondered whether the funds being ferried up and down by the administration were appropriated by the National Assembly, or whether they are part of the missing $20 billion oil money.
APC slammed the federal government for issuing childish and immature threats against South Africa threatening its investments in the country, instead of addressing the pertinent questions surrounding the illegal arms procurement deals.

“Mr. President, you cannot threaten another country when your administration is wilfully breaking the laws of that country. In this case, your administration stands on a weak moral ground, as its hands have been caught in the cookie jar. Therefore, issuing infantile threats is laughable, unacceptable and wrong,” the party said.
The APC further reminded the Jonathan administration that nowhere else does a government engage in illegal black market movement of money or arms -- both signatures of terrorism worldwide -- adding that only terrorists and pariah nations move money and procure arms in clandestine manners as the Jonathan administration is doing.
“Even at a time when we were ruled by military dictators and our country was a pariah nation, we did not experience these repeated and embarrassing national disgrace and clandestine, terrorist groups' approach to the purchase of arms. How can Nigeria truly be a respected member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) when our own government and its operatives are self-identified and self-confessed money launderers?” APC queried.
The party wondered how many other unknown scandals the Jonathan administration has plunged Nigeria, and appealed to the administration to tread softly in the interest of all Nigerians, who will be the ones to suffer the repercussions of the government's repeated illegal conduct.

But in a characteristic brickbat reaction, the PDP accused the leading opposition political party of conniving with some foreign interests to embarrass the President Goodluck Jonathan-led federal government.

The ruling party however declared full support for the actions taken by the federal government to tackle all security challenges in the country.
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, the party said: “APC wherein it again embarrassed itself on issues regarding to genuine efforts by the federal government to tackle the security challenges facing our nation.”

According to PDP in the statement last night, “Our response to the APC is that we are solidly behind President Goodluck Jonathan in the steps he is taking to ensure the safety of Nigerians and defend our sovereignty as a nation, especially in the light of their connivance with foreign interests to embarrass the government and people of Nigeria.

“We state categorically that the actions preferred by some foreign nations against our dear country as we seek solution to our security challenges are unacceptable and totally uncalled for, especially given our cordial relationship with them and the roles Nigeria and Nigerians citizens played in assisting them in their internal struggles.

“Given the rush with which the APC attacked the Presidency, it is clear that they are working hand in glove with foreign interests in a concerted effort to tarnish the image of our dear nation, ridicule our government and frustrate genuine efforts towards ending the insecurity challenges we face as a nation.”

PDP further said any responsible opposition which has the interest and welfare of the people at heart as the APC claims would concentrate on proffering solution to the problems of the nation instead of seeking political capital at all times.

It added that instead, Nigeria has an opposition that has been conniving with foreign interests to destroy the image and unity of their own country as a means to achieve political control.

“The APC is aptly likened to a quarrelsome wife, who daily goes to the market place to discuss her marital problems. We ask, does such a woman seek the unity or disintegration of her home? In the same vein, Nigerians wonder if the APC is really interested in the unity and corporate existence of our nation. Are they trying to destroy our country as a means to achieve political control through the back door?

“The APC must come to terms with the fact that Nigeria as an indivisible nation has come to stay. They must know that Nigerians are resolute in their determination to live together as one people,” the statement said.

Credit: Chuks Okocha/Onyebuchi Ezigbo/ThisDay