Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has responded to the suggestion by President Muhammadu Buhari that the administration he (Obasanjo) led between 1999 and 2007 wasted $16billion on power projects without anything to show for it.
Mr Buhari while receiving a delegation of Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday had criticised previous Nigerian administrations for “lack of imagination.”
In what appeared a direct reference to Mr Obasanjo, the president said “one of the former Heads of State between that time was bragging that he spent more than 15 billion American dollars, not Naira, on power. Where is the power? Where is the power? And now we have to pay the debts.”
The former President, who backed Mr Buhari’s election in 2015, but who has since turned one of the fiercest critics of the administration, has now shot back through a statement by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi.
In the statement made available to pressmen, Mr. Obasanjo described Mr Buhari’s claim as ignorant, and unsubstantiated.
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 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.
“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.”