…Buhari has lost all dignity – Obasanjo fires back
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said those who mismanaged Nigeria’s economy in the past, through fraudulent electricity projects and misuse of revenue earnings from oil, had no love for the country.
‘‘One of the former Heads of State was bragging that he spent more than 15 billion dollars on power in Nigeria. Where is the power?’’ the President asked, without mentioning any name.
The president stated this when he received members of the Buhari Support Organisations (BSO) led by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Most of the electricity projects, President Buhari spoke about were awarded during the second term of the Obasanjo administration(2003 and 2007), and the result has only been creeping into the national grid, to the extent that 11 years after, Nigeria is yet to enjoy stable power supply.
President Buhari urged Nigerians to remain vigilant and ensure that only ‘‘people of conscience are in-charge of governance at all levels’’ as the nation prepared for general elections in 2019.
‘‘One of the former Heads of State was bragging that he spent more than 15 billion dollars on power in Nigeria. Where is the power?’’ the President asked.
‘‘I challenge anybody to check from Europe, America and Asia; between 1999 and 2014, Nigeria was producing 2.1 million barrels of crude oil per day at an average cost of 100 dollars per barrel and it went up to 143 dollars.
‘‘When we came it collapsed to between 37 and 38 dollars and later was oscillating between 40 and 50 dollars.
‘‘I went to the CBN Governor, with my cap in my hand, and asked if we had savings. He told me we had only debts, no savings. Some of the roads were not repaired since the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) days.
‘‘I don’t care the opinion you have about Abacha but I agreed to work with him and we constructed roads from Abuja to Port Harcourt, Benin to Onitsha and so on. We also touched education and health institutions.
Although President Muhammadu Buhari did not directly mention the name of the former President he was talking about, the Olusegun Obasanjo administration has been repeatedly accused of spending up to $16bn on power with little to show for it.
On the mismanagement of the economy by previous administrations, President Buhari noted that the perpetrators lacked imagination and plans for the development of the nation.
‘‘Sometimes, I wonder about those who can afford to send their children abroad for studies and yet continue to sabotage the economy, I wonder what kind of Nigeria they want their children to return to and work. There is a lot of lack of imagination.
‘‘If you are working for the country, then you shouldn’t be misappropriating and misapplying public funds the way people did,’’ he said.
The President noted that under his watch, the 2016 and 2017 budgets recorded the highest appropriation and releases in capital projects, with over N2.8 trillion disbursements in two years.
The President urged Nigerians to reject those bent on dividing the country along religious and ethnic lines, warning that “they do not mean well for the country.
‘‘I have said severally that we do not have any other country than Nigeria and we will remain here and salvage it together.
‘‘We have nothing to regret. Absolutely nothing. God has given Nigeria everything. We are rich in human and material resources. Let us keep on praying to God to put people of conscience in-charge at all levels.’’
Meanwhile, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has reacted to the claim by President Muhammadu Buhari that a past administration spent more than $15bn on power projects, with no power to show.
The former President also believes the criticism was targeted at his administration and reacted to it in a statement a few hours after President Buhari’s comments were published.
In the statement signed by Mr Akin Osuntokun, Director of Strategic Communications of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, which he founded, Obasanjo accused President Buhari of playing politics with statistics.
The former President said the comments by the President “once again” demonstrated that the President was incompetent.
“Is it not beneath the dignity of the exalted office he holds to join the chorus of beer parlour gossips?” he asked.
“How can a president who has all the information at his beck and call degenerate to this level?”
According to the former President, the claim that his administration spent $16bn on power was the result of propaganda aimed at demarketing him.
The statement read in part, “A presidential panel headed by the then VP Goodluck Jonathan set up by the Umaru Yar’Adua government put a lie to this after the same administration had sacked one Engr F. Somolu the then Secretary of NIPP who first drew attention to the lie: that $16 had been spent on power project.
“The Panel made up of so many actors including CBN officials then found out that only $3.7 billion was disbursed out of the $10 billion budgeted and the balance was kept in an escrow account at the CBN.
“The CBN confirmed this to the panel and it was published…It was then found out that Tanimu Yakubu then Economic Adviser to President Yar’Adua began the propaganda against former President Obasanjo and Engr. Somolu then with Yar’Adua wrote a secret memo inside the statehouse to correct the wrong notion about $10 billion.”
Obasanjo and Buhari have had a long history dating back to their days in the Army with Buhari serving as Minister of Petroleum when Obasanjo was head of state.
The former President also supported President Buhari in the 2015 presidential elections and visited the President more than once in the Presidential Villa in during the first two years of his administration.
But the relationship between both men gradually turned sour and took a turn for the worse in January this year when Obasanjo released a long statement criticising the President and warning him against seeking re-election. – NAN, Channels.