Buhari, Obasanjo In War of Words Over $16b Power Project



In his first ever guided verbal missile targeted at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, 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.

In a swift reaction, Ex-President Obasanjo said President Muhammadu Buhari spoke out of ignorance. He declared that he is ready for probe over the disputed $16 billion power projects during his eight-year tenure.

Obasanjo  who said he had been cleared of any wrongdoing by the National Assembly and a report of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), chided Buhari for “re-echoing the unsubstantiated allegation” against and challenged the president to set up another enquiry if in doubt.

Buhari who made the remark during a visit by the Buhari Support Organisations (BSO) led by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, made references  to.

most of the electricity projects awarded during the second term of the Obasanjo administration(2003 and 2007).

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.

Explaining the hard road his administration had to travel to begin re-ordering the nation’s falling economy due to lack of money in the face of falling oil revenue, he said he would continue to implement policies affecting human and physical capital to the befit of all Nigerians

‘‘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 have said severally that we do not have any other country than Nigeria and we will remain here and salvage it together.

He apologised to the group profusely for not integrating them into process leading to his announcement of his intention to seek re-election in 2019 and thanked the members of the group for their resolute support to him as a Presidential candidate in 2015 and all through his term in office.

Speaking in a statement by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, which was made available to reporters in Abeokuta on Monday night, the former president  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 $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.

“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 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.”