President Muhammadu Buhari,has said that former President Olusegun Obasanjo has questions to answer over the spending of $16 billion on power projects during his administration.
Mr Buhari stated this Tuesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja while receiving the Buhari Support Organisation led by the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali.
Although the president did not mention Mr Obasanjo’s name, he however, asked “where was the power after a former president claimed to have spent $16 billion on the project?”
The power project was done during the Obasanjo administration (1999-2006). It has been described as a mismanagement of public funds by observers and civic groups.
The House of Representatives in 2008 described the $16 billion spent on power by the Obasanjo government as colossal waste.
The House said the expenditure was a case of “poor budget planning and a lack of proper oversight by relevant bodies.”
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had in 2016 also urged the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria at the time, Walter Onnoghen, to immediately appoint an independent counsel to investigate the allegations of corruption in the spending of the $16 billion by the Obasanjo government.
Mr Obasanjo was a key supporter of Mr Buhari in the build-up to the 2015 general election.
Mr Obasanjo has, however, pledged to work against Mr Buhari’s re-election in 2019 saying he has performed poorly in office.
Obasanjo Replies Buhari:
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.
President Buhari made the claim on Tuesday while addressing members of the Buhari Support Organisation, who were led by the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali, to visit him at the State House.
“One of the former Heads of State between that time was bragging that he spent more than 15 billion American dollars, on power,” the President said.
“Where is the power? Where is the power? And now we have to pay the debts.”
Although President Muhammadu Buhari did not directly mention the name of the former President he was talking about, the Obasanjo administration has been repeatedly accused of spending up to $16bn on power.
The former President also believe 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 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.”