The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called for the suspension of the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru.
The party warned President Muhammadu Buhari against shielding Baru and others involved in the alleged scam.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, in a leaked August 30 memo to the President, had detailed how about $25 billion contracts were illegally awarded by Baru without due process.
The party urged the President to treat Baru and others involved in the scandal the same way he treated the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and many others involved in the $2 billion arms purchase scandal perpetrated during the last administration.
Addressing a news conference in Abuja yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, PrinceDayo Adeyeye charged Buhari to live above board by instituting proper investigation into the scam, with a view to prosecuting anyone found wanting.
'As a political party, we expect that the President, who prides himself as an indefatigable corruption fighter, would for once try to live above board, by genuinely allowing one of his own, accused of corruption, get properly investigated and prosecuted as a show of his impartiality in the war against corruption.
'He should do this to correct the open impression Nigerians have about his so called anti-corruption war; that it's just a tool of persecution of perceived enemies', Adeyeye said.
Expressing shock at the President Buhari's silence since the humongous scandal broke out, the PDP said there are several other acts of illegality being perpetrated by officials close to the President but which are being swept under the carpet.
The PDP spokesman added: 'We view the allegations levelled against Baru by Kachikwu as too grave to be swept under the carpet and we insist that the NNPC GMD must be treated like an accused who should not have the opportunity to influence investigation into his alleged misdeeds.
'In this light, we demand an immediate suspension of the NNPC GMD so that proper investigation can be carried out by the relevant anti-corruption agencies.
'Ordinarily if there was sincerity in the anti-corruption war , President Muhammadu Buhari should not have waited for any prompting before he takes a decisive action on this matter.
'But as customary with his administration, we suspect that he's trying to shield Baru as he did for Babachir Lawal, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) whom he merely suspended to allow the hullabaloo generated by the fraud perpetrated in the management of the emergency fund for the IDPs, die down.
'Also up till now we have never heard anything again about the millions of dollars and billions of Naira discovered at an Ikoyi apartment.
'Nigerians have not forgotten the acts of illegality and double standard perpetrated by the President in refusing to hand over Babachir Lawal to the EFCC for proper investigation and possible prosecution for graft, but rather, preferring to give the task of investigation of the open sleaze to the Vice President, in a move not known to any law of this nation.
'Even at that, the report of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo led committee is gathering dust on the shelf of the President because he probably could not bear to see one of his closest allies punished by the laws of the land, even when all facts showed that blatant and unbridled theft was perpetrated by the president's man'.
The PDP observed that the $2 billion arms deal scandal perpetrated under former President Goodluck Jonathan and for which many are standing trial, was less than 10 percent of the $25 billion involved in the latest NNPC scandal.
'Nigerians can now see the hypocrisy in the so called anti-corruption fight. We may as well say that the privileged class of APC members enjoy total immunity from the anti-corruption campaign.
'Tired of this double-faced corruptions fight and cover ups, we demand an immediate commencement of investigation into this latest exposed sleaze by another of President Buhari's men.
'We have been saying this for months, that the looting of the nation's resources under this administration is record setting in the history of this nation and we are being proven right on a daily basis by the little revelations that are being made by even those working under the administration.
'We wonder what the stench will be like when the real and hidden atrocities being perpetrated under the watch of President Buhari are finally exposed when Nigerians throw the APC government out of power in 2019', the opposition party added.
The PDP said the sum of $25 billion involved in the latest scandal runs into over N9 trillion, which exceeds the country's annual budget in any given year.
It added that blind looting of resources under the present administration and governance ineptitude, have been responsible for the sorry state of the economy.
Adeyeye said the $25 billion scam has confirmed PDP's position that the All Progressives Congress (APC) led administration is in tatters, adding, 'an administration without coordination, but one planted firmly in the hands of a few cabal who are stealing the nation dry while the President continues to feign ignorance of the sickening stench'
The opposition party accused the President of treating some of his cabinet Ministers with disdain while emboldening certain favoured public officials to engage in acts of impunity.
It said, 'If not, how on earth can President Muhammadu Buhari justify a situation where a Minister he appointed to serve under him, presiding over an important sector like the oil sector, be turned to a mere house-help who must get clearance from some 'outsiders' before accessing the President?
'How on earth will a mere MD of a corporation have the temerity to sideline a Minister under whom he works and take decisions without consultation with the appropriate authority.
'How on earth could the NNPC GMD have been bold enough to sideline the entire board of NNPC and take such far reaching decisions that have grave implications on the nation's economy alone?
'We suspect and our suspicion is reinforced by the unfolding events that powerful people at the corridors of power are tacitly involved in this.
'If the President's powerful Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari could sit on the NNPC board and such a calamity is taking place without an eyelid being blinked, we are forced to believe that the stealing is being done to the advantage of the President who has shown by his body language that the only thing that mattered most to him for now, is his second term ambition.
'We also demand an order from the President to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies to immediately commence investigation into all issues of corruption levelled against Baru, as well as other persons who might have overtly or covertly participated in the illegal act'.
Commending the decision of the Nigerian Senate to investigate the scandal, the party appealed to the leadership of the Senate to prevail on its ad-hoc committee set up for the purpose of the investigation, to make its sitting open to all Nigerians so that nothing will be surreptitiously swept under the carpet.
'We say no to soft landing to corruption and corrupt members of the APC government. We say no to double standard in the fight against corruption,' the party declared.
© Pakistan Press International, source Asianet-Pakistan