Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, declared on Tuesday that he was ready for probe over the $16 billion electricity project the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had alleged was mismanaged by him, and challenged the Nigerian leader to learn how to read first before embarking on unnecessary probes.
In a statement early on Tuesday, Mr. Buhari asked: ‘‘One of the former Heads of State was bragging that he spent more than 15 billion USD on power in Nigeria. Where is the power?’’
The comments came while President Buhari was receiving members of the Buhari Support Organisations (BSO) led by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali, at the Presidential Villa.
Nigerians go to the polls in February to elect a new President and supporters have been visiting Mr. Buhari to strategize on his re-election bid. Obasanjo, however, had said in open letters that the President had failed and should go back to his farm in Daura, Katsina state.
The comments on mismanaged electricity funds were not well received by Mr. Obasanjo who was the head of state in Nigeria between 1999 and 2007 when the funds to fix Nigeria’s electricity problem were reportedly spent.
The comments triggered outrage and an immediate condemnation from Obasanjo who defended himself and urged Mr. Buhari to learn how to read the books he had written on the topic in a “language he can understand”.
“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’,” a spokesman said in a statement.
“We believe that the President was re-echoing the unsubstantiated allegation against Chief Obasanjo by his own predecessor”.
Obasanjo said the National Assembly had exculpated him of any wrong-doing concerning the power sector and determined the allegations were 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,” Mr. Obasanjo’s office said.
Obasanjo urged Buhari and his co-travellers to read Chapters 41, 42, 43 and 47 of My Watch for his 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,” Obasanjo added.