President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) squandered about $500 billion oil earnings in the 16 years it was in power.
The PDP led Nigeria from 1999 to 2015 when it lost the presidential election to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Speaking at the opening of the APC National Caucus meeting currently going on at the new banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, Mr. Buhari said he took over at a time Nigeria was fast heading for a state of collapse.
“It is easy to forget the fuel subsidy fraud, arms fund diversion, depleted excess crude account savings, depleted foreign reserves, massive unpaid debts to contractors and suppliers amidst failure to invest or even maintain our infrastructure namely railways, roads, electricity, in spite of having earned over $500 billion from oil & gas alone, during the 16 years of PDP rule,” he said.
He called on party leaders present to not forget the dire situation in which they came to office.
The president said his administration has done well since taking over in 2015. He called on APC leaders “not to be shy in projecting our tremendous achievements from 2015 to date.”
He said the territorial integrity of Nigeria under the APC is no longer under threat.
Mr. Buhari admitted that a number of security challenges still exist; but, he said, they exist in even the most well policed and well secured countries.
“I am confident that the measures we are taking will tackle the acts of rural banditry, herdsmen/farmers conflicts, communal clashes, kidnappings and other crimes,” he said.
Mr. Buhari also addressed the crises affecting the APC in various states and reminded the gathering that he had appointed a committee, headed by one of the national leaders of the party, Bola Tinubu, to reconcile differences in various states.
“We hope the committee will be given maximum support and cooperation to enable it to satisfactorily carry out its work and get the party united in purpose and in shape for the battles ahead,” he said.
The president also said he was “very much aware of opinions and criticisms about the pace of government.”
In particular, he said, is the delay in appointments to boards of parastatals. He, however, said many boards have been inaugurated so far.
He said now that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has come out with the timetable for elections in 2019, the APC should prepare itself for congresses at wards, local governments, states and the federal level.
“We should strictly follow the constitution of the party in undertaking these party elections. We should ensure internal democracy and avoid short cuts and illegal manoeuvres which have characterised the opposition party with the consequences that they are now divided.
“The APC has a history of conducting free and fair primaries whenever consensus about any candidacy is not reached. Regardless of the outcomes of the primary processes, it is imperative that we all work together to ensure the victory of our party,” he said.
The president also thanked the party leaders and members for the successes recorded in the 2015 elections by securing majority of the state governors, majority in the National Assembly and majority in the state assemblies.
“We must remember that this resounding success would not have been achieved without the unity of purpose we exhibited in challenging and defeating an incumbent government.
“Those outstanding successes would not have been possible without your hard work, dedication, and above all, sacrifice. I wish to individually and collectively thank you all sincerely for believing in me and remaining steadfast party members despite distractions and antics of the opposition. This unity and success are needed now more than ever, because elections are now looming,” he said.