Feelers from the presidency on Tuesday indicated that President Muhammadu Buhari may constitute a panel of enquiry to probe the spending of $16bn on power project during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The president gave the hint at the Presidential Villa in Abuja while receiving the Buhari Support Organization led by the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Ahmed Ali.
Though Buhari did not mention Obasanjo’s name, he, however, asked: “where was the power after a former president claimed to have spent $16bn on the project?”
Recall that the House of Representatives had in 2008 described $16 billion spent on power by Obasanjo’s government as colossal waste, blaming it on “poor budget planning and a lack of proper oversight by relevant bodies.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project had also in 2016 urged the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Water Samuel Onnoghen, to immediately appoint an independent counsel to investigate allegations of corruption in the spending of $16 billion on electricity by Obasanjo’s government.
Meanwhile, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that he is ready for probe over the $16b Power Project while stressing that President Muhammadu Buhari is ignorant.
He made this known in a statement by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi.
The statement reads, ‘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’.
Obasanjo argued that 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 him (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 publicized 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,” he boasted in the statement.
Obasanjo urged Buhari and his co-travelers 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 summarize the chapters in a language that he will easily understand,” Obasanjo added.
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