South Africa’s seizure of another $5.7m for the purchase of arms by Nigeria has sparked off war of words between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC. While the APC accused President Jonathan of embarrassing the country in global community, the PDP has declared that it is solidly behind the president.
The APC in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, asked President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently address Nigerians on what it called “the serial embarrassments to which his administration is subjecting the country in the comity of nations, after another seizure of $5.7 million of Nigerian arms money by South African authorities.
The party said the issues surrounding the first seizure of $9.3 million were yet to be resolved before the latest scandal, thus devaluing the currency of every Nigerian.
Jonathan must address Nigerians — APC
The party in the statement said: “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 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 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 allegedly missing $20 billion oil money.
APC also 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.
APC partnering foreign nations to rubbish Nigeria — PDP
The President’s party, the PDP in its response to the opposition party’s statement accused APC of “working hand in glove with foreign interests aimed at tarnishing the image of the country as well as that of President Goodluck Jonathan.”
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, also alleged that the APC was out to ridicule the government and frustrate genuine efforts towards ending the insecurity challenges we face as a nation.
The statement said: “Our attention has been drawn to a statement by the APC wherein it again embarrassed itself on issues regarding genuine efforts by the Federal Government to tackle the security challenges facing our nation.
“Our response to the APC is that we are solidly behind President 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 Nigerian 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.
“Any responsible opposition which has the interest and welfare of the people at heart as the APC claims would concentrate on proffering solutions to the problems of the nation instead of seeking political capital at all times. Instead, we have 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.
“Our final response is that the PDP and indeed Nigerians of good faith are solidly behind President Jonathan and no amount of blackmail or connivance with foreign interests will deter or detract the PDP-led administration from the resolve to find a permanent solution to the security challenges in our country.”
‘Saboteurs at work’
Also reacting to the seizure of $5.7m by South Africa, an Abuja-based Human Rights Activist, Chief Nkereuwem Akpan, alleged sabotage from some persons in the Nigerian government.
According to him: “How come that the Nigerian government did not involve the South African government in the botched arms deals? It was highly irresponsible, careless, and shows that someone is taking us for a ride.
“If the first one was an error, this one is certainly not! This seems like sabotage. The law in South Africa is clear; if you bring in that kind of money through the back door, it is confiscated. South Africa is a sovereign nation and we must respect that. Even if the arms dealers demanded cash, or if it involves the black market, the South African government must be in the know of the deal.
“In international law there are rules that must be complied with, who broke those rules and who did not conform to the international best practices as far as such transaction is concerned?
“The Nigerian government owes us a duty to explain. The Nigerian people deserve better explanations on this one. The government must come out and tell us what happened as a matter of urgency”.
In his reaction, a constitutional lawyer, Mr. Oghenovo Otemu said: “It is highly regrettable for a country like Nigeria that after the initial scandal that involved a whopping USD9.3m, the same thing is happening again within a spate of weeks. One question that keeps bothering me is, if Nigeria must purchase arms from South Africa, must we breach their financial regulations and laws?
“It is known that you cannot carry such amount into the country without following the sure procedure.”