Kamarudeen Ogundele, Friday Olokor, Olaleye Aluko and Oladimeji Ramon
A coterie of political enthusiasts on Wednesday berated President Muhammadu Buhari for commending the late military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha.
The coterie, during separate interviews with The PUNCH on Wednesday, described Buhari’s statement as a distraction.
The President had on Tuesday said, “I don’t care the opinion you have about Abacha, but I agreed to work with him and we constructed roads from Abuja to Port Harcourt, Benin to Onitsha and so on.”
Commenting on the statement, the Chairperson of the Transition Monitoring Group, Dr Abiola. Akiyode-Afolabi, asked, “How can anyone laud Abacha for anything? A looter, a dictator, a killer? The President missed it! Whatever the context, that statement is unwarranted. It’s a distraction, Mr President should respect Nigerians. We all know what Abacha did. Buhari cannot rewrite history.”
He benefited from Abacha’s dictatorship –Afenifere chieftain
Also, a chieftain of the Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said Buhari spoke well of Abacha because he was his appointee and benefited from the deceased’s dictatorial regime.
Adebanjo said President Buhari had lost his credibility and should not be taken seriously.
He stated, “Buhari worked under Abacha and why are you surprised by his support for Abacha?
“Here is a President who has lost his credibility and some Nigerians are still taking him seriously. I have always spoken about the anti-democratic ideals of Buhari but his supporters at that time told me that Buhari had changed to a democrat.
“From the beginning, President Buhari has always insisted that Abacha did not steal. He said these things repeatedly during his campaigns, but his government has been recovering money looted by Abacha so I am not surprised with Buhari’s comments.”
However, the President of the National Council of Tiv Youths, Dr. John Akperashi, said the statement had exposed Buhari’s unstable posturing and further confirmed the notion that his purported fight against corruption was selective and self-serving.
He stated, “Abacha’s corruption is legendary. Till today, the nation is recovering his looted funds stashed away in various banks overseas in hard currencies.”
Obasanjo made a mistake for not jailing Buhari –Fani-Kayode
Also, a former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, on his twitter handle said that Obasanjo should have jailed Buhari for allegedly looting the Petroleum Trust Fund.
He stated, “The greatest mistake that OBJ made was not to prosecute and jail @MBuhari for (the alleged) looting of the PTF funds. I saw the report and it was shocking. Billions of dollars had vanished. OBJ summoned him and showed him the damning report. Buhari (allegedly) begged like a baby. Sadly OBJ let him off the hook.”
On his part, a former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, berated Buhari.
He asked, “What type of anti-corruption crusader chooses Abacha, a proven thief, who was also a blood-thirsty buffoon, as his mentor? When I schooled in England, my university had a module on Abacha’s thievery. This is the man Buhari aspires to be; the man who exiled Tinubu and NADECO (the National Democratic Coalition)?”
Fayose mocks Buhari, Obasanjo
But the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has mocked President Buhari and Obasanjo over their latest disagreement on the $16bn allegedly spent on power during the tenure of the former President.
Fayose on his twitter handle said that he was enjoying the public display of “brickbats” between the two leaders.
The governor said that he had been vindicated by his earlier warning that those who brought Buhari would regret it.
He said, “I am enjoying these latest brickbats between President Buhari and ex-President Obasanjo. They should keep exposing themselves for Nigerians to know what they have been hiding.
“Nigerians should remember I warned that those who brought Buhari will regret entrusting him with power.”
Obasanjo recently criticised Buhari and asked him not to seek re-election in 2019.
Buhari on Tuesday said that Obasanjo had questions to answer regarding the $16bn he spent on power project.
Obasanjo in his reply said that the president was ignorant and urged him to read his book “My Watch” to understand the matter.
But the President of the Middle Belt Youths Council, Emman Zopmal, said Abacha managed the country far better than Buhari.
He stated, “Conversely, Buhari for mere political hypocrisy, has been changing his position on whether Gen. Sani Abacha depleted the national treasure or not. He has of recent, talked about using the $360m Abacha looted funds for some projects but suddenly he is now applauding him.”
Probe Obasanjo, Jonathan over $16bn power projects, SERAP tells Buhari
Meanwhile, a human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to refer the alleged mismanagement of $16bn power projects fund to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission.
The advice came on the heels of lamentation by Buhari on Tuesday that a former President (Olusegun Obasanjo) claimed to have spent $16bn on power projects without any electricity to show for it.
But SERAP, in a statement on Wednesday by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said apart from the $16bn, Buhari should also cause the alleged squandering of a total of N11tn in the power sector between 1999 and 2015 to be investigated.
According to the group, the said N11tn was squandered under ex-Presidents Obasanjo, the late Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan under the guise that the money was being spent to provide regular supply of electricity in the country.
SERAP said Buhari should be determined to ensure that anyone found culpable in the alleged fraud was prosecuted after an investigation by the anti-graft agencies.
It said, “We welcome the focus by President Buhari on the massive allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the power sector and urge him to expand his searchlight beyond the Obasanjo government by ensuring accountability and full recovery of the over N11tn squandered by the three administrations.
“It is only by pursuing all the allegations and taking the evidence before the court that the truth will be revealed and justice best served. This is the only way to conclusively address the systemic corruption in the power sector and an entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators.
“Addressing impunity in the power sector should be total. This would help to improve the integrity of government and public confidence and trust in their government.
“It would also serve as a vehicle to further the public perception of fairness and thoroughness, and to avert any appearance of political considerations in the whole exercise.”
SERAP noted that lack of regular electricity supply in the country had occasioned many other problems, including lack of access to potable water.
It added, “The failure by successive governments to tell Nigerians the truth about allegations of corruption in the spending of not just the $16bn but also the over N11tn spent by three governments on electricity supply amounts to a failure to ensure that energy services/electricity services are progressively made available, on the basis of equality and non-discrimination, to the whole population, including those most disadvantaged, such as the fringe dwellers and the rural poor.”
The statement further read, “The total estimated financial loss to Nigeria from corruption in the electricity sector starting from the return to democracy in 1999 to date is over N11trn. This represents public funds, private equity and social investment (or divestments) in the power sector.
“It is estimated that this may reach over N20tn in the next decade, given the rate of government investment and funding in the power sector amidst dwindling fortune and recurrent revenue shortfalls.
“SERAP in 2016 sent a petition to the then acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Water Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen. Last year, SERAP published a report, ‘From Darkness to Darkness: How Nigerians are Paying the Price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector.’ The report shows how the country has lost more megawatts in the post-privatisation era due to corruption, impunity, among other social challenges.
“The report accuses Dr. Ransom Owan-led board of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission of settling officials with millions of naira as severance packages and for embarrassing them with an alleged N3bn fraud.
“The authorities must undertake a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation as to the reasons why corruption charges were withdrawn, and recover any corrupt funds.
“The report also called for the reopening and effective prosecution of corruption allegations, including the alleged looting of the benefits of families of the deceased employees of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria levelled against a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali.
“The report shows how the Obasanjo administration spent $10bn on NIPP with no results in terms of increase in power generation. $13.278,937,409.94 was expended on the power sector in eight years while unfunded commitments amounted to $12bn. The Federal Government then budgeted a whopping N16bn for the various reforms under Liyel Imoke (2003 to 2007) which went down the drains as it failed to generate the needed amount of electricity or meet the set goals.
It alleged that the government handed over the transmission company to a Canadian company, Manitoba, to manage and under a management service contract of over $200m.
It stated, “ Findings also show that the Transmission Company of Nigeria could not execute most of its approved 44 projects after having 50 percent of its N30bn 2016 budget released to it. Funds were released from Eurobond. $23.6m allegedly paid to Manitoba Hydro International of Canada to manage the Transmission Company of Nigeria would appear to be without due process.” (Punch)