- Your claims are based on ignorance, Obasanjo fires back
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has criticized a past administration for spending $16 billion on power projects without any result to show.
Buhari stated this on Tuesday while receiving a delegation of the Buhari Support Organization, BSO, headed by the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service, (Rtd.) Col. Hameed Ali.
The President said previous governments failed to put spend the proceeds derived from crude on infrastructures that would be of benefit to the citizens.
His words: “You know more than I do on the condition of our roads. Some of them were not repaired since the PTF days.
“No matter what opinion you have about [Gen. Sani] Abacha, I agreed to work with him and the PTF. We constructed road from here [Abuja] to Port Harcourt, to Onitsha, to Benin and so on.
“This was in addition to other things in education, medical care and so on.
“You know the rail was killed and one of the former Heads of State between that time, was bragging that he spent $16bn, not naira, on power. Where is the power? Where is the power? And now we have to pay the debts.
“This year and last year’s budgets that I took to the National Assembly were the highest in capital projects: more than $1.3 trillion.
“Let anybody come and confront me publicly in the National Assembly. What have they been doing? Some of them have been there for 10 years. What have they been doing?”
On Revenue derived from Crude?
Buhari said: “I have to repeat what I want the public to know here.
“I said and I challenge anybody to check from Europe, Asia and America; between 1999 and 2014, Nigeria was getting 2.1 million barrels per day and was selling at an average cost of $100 per barrel. It went up to $143.
“So, Nigeria was earning 2.1 million times 100 times 16 years seven days a week.
“When we came, it collapsed to between $37 and $38 and it was oscillating between $40 and $54 sometimes.
Speaking further, he said, “I went to the Governor of Central Bank, thank goodness I did not sack him, and he is still there. I went with my cap in my hand and say oya [we need money].
“He said there were no savings, only debt,” Buhari explained.
Buhari’s claim, based on ignorance –Obasanjo
However, in a swift response, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said allegations by President Buhari that his administration wasted $16billion on power projects, were based on ignorance.
Spokesman for former president Obasanjo, Mr. Kehinde Akinyemi, in a statement, said:
“It has come to the attention of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo that a statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari, apparently without correct information and based on ignorance, suggested that $16bn was wasted on power projects by “a former President.”
“We believe that the President was re-echoing the unsubstantiated allegation against Chief Obasanjo by his own predecessor but one.
“While it is doubtful that a President with proper understanding of the issue would utter such, it should be pointed out that records from the National Assembly have exculpated President Obasanjo of any wrongdoing concerning the power sector and have proved the allegations as false.
“For the records, Chief Obasanjo has addressed the issues of the power sector and the allegations against him on many occasions and platforms, including in his widely publicized book: My Watch, in which he exhaustively stated the facts and reproduced various reports by both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which conducted a clinical investigation into the allegations against Chief Obasanjo, and the Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the Recommendations in the Report of the Committee on Power on the investigation into how the huge sum of money was spent on Power Generation, Transmission And Distribution between June 1999 and May 2007 without commensurate result.
“We recommend that the President and his co-travelers should read Chapters 41, 42, 43 and 47 of My Watch for Chief Obasanjo’s insights and perspectives on the power sector and indeed what transpired when the allegation of $16bn on power projects was previously made.
“If he cannot read the three-volume book, he should detail his aides to do so and summarize the chapters in a language that he will easily understand.
“In the same statement credited to the President, it was alleged that there was some bragging by Chief Obasanjo over $16bn spent on power. To inform the uninformed, the so-called $16bn power expenditure was an allegation against Chief Obasanjo’s administration and not his claim.
“The President also queried where the power generated is. The answer is simple: The power is in the seven National Integrated Power Projects and eighteen gas turbines that Chief Obasanjo’s successor who originally made the allegation of $16bn did not clear from the ports for over a year and the civil works done on the sites.
“Chief Obasanjo challenges, and in fact encourages, anybody to set up another enquiry if in doubt and unsatisfied with the EFCC report and that of the Hon. Aminu Tambuwal-led ad hoc committee,” the statement read.