$16bn power spending: Obasanjo under fire as groups demand probe Press "Enter" to skip to content

$16bn power spending: Obasanjo under fire as groups demand probe

…SERAP, AFRICMIL want EFCC, ICPC to take action against ex- President, others
…Lament decay in sector despite huge spending
Barely 24 hours after the war-of-words between President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, two groups have called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), to launch a massive probe into the allegations of mismanagement of $16 billion power projects.

The two groups, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), while lamenting the dearth in the power sector despite the huge spending, said that if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, anyone suspected to be involved in the projects should face prosecution.

In a statement sent to The Daily Times on Wednesday by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP said that if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, anyone suspected to be involved in the projects should face prosecution.

SERAP also urged Buhari to investigate the alleged squandering of over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply covering the governments of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.”

Mumuni 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 N11 trillion 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 improve the integrity of government and public confidence and trust in their government.

It would also serve as a vehicle to further the public’s perception of fairness and thoroughness, and to avert any appearance of political considerations in the whole exercise.”

On its part, AFRICMIL called for a “full scale and wide-ranging investigations” into the administrations of former Nigerian leaders and bringing all those who breached public trust to account.

Speaking through its coordinator, Chido Onumah, the organisation said that the Federal Government has a duty to probe “all grey areas in every administration, beyond the alleged $16 billion power sector expenditure”.

The organisation said that the development has created a unique opportunity to look into the activities of past leaders.

He said, “This challenge the former president throws at the Federal Government presents a unique opportunity for us as a country to revisit our past and bring all our past leaders to account. Reopening the power sector expenditure probe would be a step in the right direction for the country, but that should just be the beginning.

“It is high time the unwritten amnesty given to former heads of states and presidents was jettisoned and those individuals scrutinised to get them to fully account for their stewardship and explain the hemorrhage Nigeria suffered overtime.

“Apart from Sani Abacha, who died in office, there is no Nigerian leader whose personal misconduct was subjected to criminal investigation. This is both an anomaly and an irony. It is ironic that those who are alive are left to enjoy the fruits of their misdeeds.”

Onumah cited the example of many countries including Israel, Brazil, South Korea and Malaysia, in recent time, which subjected their former leaders to corruption probe, saying that practice is a major deterrence against corruption for future leaders.

“Nigerian money is our common patrimony. No one can wave off stealing on behalf of all citizens, and ignoring the conduct of former leaders is doing exactly that,” he added.

Describing what he called “criminal collusion” on the part of successive leaders, Onumah stated that it was unfair for law enforcement agents to go after subordinates “while the big masquerades on whose table the buck stops are deliberately let off the hook.”

AFRICMIL called for a strong independent inter-agency panel to investigate major scandals since the administration of former military rulers.

The Daily Times recalls that Buhari had on Tuesday accused Obasanjo of spending $16bn on power projects during his tenure as the President without corresponding power supply to Nigerians.

The President added that 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.

He urged Nigerians to remain vigilant and ensure that only ‘‘people of conscience are in-charge of governance at all levels’’, as the nation prepares for general election in 2019.

Buhari had said, ‘I challenge anybody to check from Europe, America and Asia; between 1999-2014, Nigeria was producing 2.1 million barrels of crude oil per day at an average cost of 100 USD per barrel and it went up to 143 USD.”

The development came just as Obasanjo, for the third time, attacked Buhari, claiming that the President was ignorant of the facts and lacked essential four qualities to remain in power, adding that since Buhari lacked the qualities, he should quickly get out of Aso Rock and allow a dynamic leader to rule the country in 2019.

Obasanjo, who accused Buhari of ignorance on the power projects, said: ‘’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-travelers 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’’.

The statement further encouraged Nigerians in doubt to set up another enquiry if unsatisfied with the EFCC report and that of the Hon. AminuTambuwal-led ad-hoc committee.

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