Former president Olusegun Obasanjo is angry and has taken up the gauntlet against President Muhammadu Buhari over his claim that he wasted $16 billion power funds during his eight years administration.
Apart from directing his spokesman Kehinde Akinyemi to issue a rebuttal on Buhari’s accusation, the former president also directed Mr Akin Osuntokun, Director of Strategic Communications of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, which he founded, to clarify the issues for Nigerians to know the truth.
Obasanjo accused President Buhari of playing politics with statistics, saying the comments by the President has “once again” demonstrated his incompetence to govern the country.
“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?”
Obasanjo explained that the claim that his administration spent $16bn on power was the result of propaganda aimed at demarketing him.
Read part of what Obasanjo wrote to clarify the issues: “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 $16b 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 state house to correct the wrong notion about $10 billion.”
Obasanjo had earlier through his spokesman, Kehinde Akinyemi issued a statement to challenge Buhari to set up a probe over the issue.
“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 $16 billion 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 had exculpated President Obasanjo of any wrong-doing concerning the power sector and has 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 publicised book, ‘My Watch’ in which he exhaustively stated the facts and reproduced various reports by both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), 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 Sums 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-travellers 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 $16 billion on power projects was previously made. If he cannot read the three-volume book, he should detail his aides to do so and summarise 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 $16 billion spent on power. To inform the uninformed, the so-called $16 billion 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 $16 billion did not clear from the ports for over a year and the civil works done on the sites.”