The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, made this known in an article titled “The real price of ‘changing the change’ (1)”. Shehu said the real meaning and cost of the change campaign was that if the PDP won the next election, they would take the nation back to pre-2015 and reverse the progress the All Progressives Congress had brought to the nation.
While saying that the main reason for the defeat of the PDP in 2015 was corruption, Shehu said the present administration had so far presented a corrupt-free image of itself and succeeded in abolishing grand corruption at the top and as attested to by the American President, Donald Trump.
He said although the PDP was claiming to have founded the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, the party had intended to keep the anti-graft agencies as toys, or bulldogs which teeth had been removed.
He argued that to change the change would mean that the teeth of the bulldog would be removed and it would then only bark but not bite.
Shehu said, “In this country, politics is often considered as a synonym of corruption. The previous government came under huge criticism for scandals like that discovered in arms procurements in the office of the National Security Adviser, which transformed itself into a major source of funding of the PDP; NNPC crude oil thefts, broadband spectrum licensing scandal, oil subsidy scam and so many others but the present government had not faced any such corruption allegations.
“Although he said he was unafraid and would not bend, the President’s concern, and fear on the part of many is that if a corrupt leader takes over, it will be happy days all over again for former Oil Minister Diezani Allison-Maduekwe, who has so far forfeited $153m, N23.4bn, $4m and $5m in separate accounts.
“‘Change the Change’ would mean she will get the money back. So would the former Managing Director of the maritime agency, NIMASA get back 578,080 British pounds seized from him and the Ikoyi apartment owners have back their $43.4m; N23m and GBP 27,800.
“The hidden owner of the Lagos cash shop may then step forward to reclaim their N449.6m; the ex-Naval chiefs will have returned to them the already forfeited N1.8bn; the Nigeria Governors’ Forum paid back their N1.4bn and the major oil marketers, from whom the EFCC has so far seized N328.9bn will smile their ways to the bank.
“The banks themselves will equally join the party, happily getting back N27.7bn they ‘ate’ from taxes they failed to remit; the scion of the Akinjides, Jumoke will have N650m awarded to her while those scammers in INEC who coughed up N1bn will equally get the money back and charges standing against them in court may be dropped.
“But the happiest of them all will be Mrs. Jonathan, who will get the first priority when the refunds start coming for obvious reasons. The former First Lady would not anymore need lawyers to keep her mountain of gifts, counted in huge millions of dollars, billions of naira, hotels and buildings.”
The list of people who oppose the Buhari government and yearning to change the change, according to the presidential spokesman, include parliamentarians, policemen, customs officials, immigration officials, civil servants now rooting for other political parties and not leaving out various businesses and platforms owned by these political parties directly or indirectly.
He said Buhari’s victory in 2015 and the possibility of four more years had crumbled their dreams of endlessly looting the state and the growing list of achievements of the administration was not doing any good for them.
Shehu said ‘change the change’ also meant that the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme, which he described as the biggest tax revolution since independence, would be scrapped because many rich Nigerians were unhappy with its implementation.
He quoted a recent report as showing that there are four million new taxpayers, including companies and individuals, resulting in the N700bn increase in tax revenue in 2017.
“The early casualties of ‘changing the change’ may include initiatives like the Whistle-Blower Policy by which the government is able to recover stolen or concealed assets through information provided by citizens.
“This has changed the ethical and moral tone of the business transaction space in the country.
“The whistle-blower is entitled to between 2.5 per cent and 5.0 per cent of the amount recovered,” he added.
When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “I am in a meeting. We will prepare an adequate response and get back to you.”
The response was still being awaited as at the time of filing this report at 5:00 pm.