$16b power project: Read my book or tell your aides to do it for you—OBJ to PMB

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*Obasanjo, Buhari

Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has reacted to a statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari alleging that “a former president” spent $16 billion on power projects without having anything substantial to show for such huge spending.

It would be recalled that Buhari said on Tuesday when a delegation of the Buhari Support Group visited him in the Presidential Villa in Abuja that the debt incurred from the $16 billion Obasanjo claimed to have spent is now being paid by his administration, noting that he made the highest capital allocations ever in the 2017 and 2018 budgets.

“You know, the rail was killed, and one of the former heads of state between that time, was bragging that he spent more than 16 billion American dollars, not naira, on power. Where is the power? Where is the power?” the president asked.

But Obasanjo said in a rebuttal on the allegation issued by his media aide, Mr. Kehinde Akinyemi that President Buhari was re-echoing the unsubstantiated allegation against Obasanjo by his own predecessor but one.

“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,” said Obasanjo.

Obasanjo said if the current administration is not satisfied with his acquittal by the various probes by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and National Assembly Ad-hoc Committee on the Review of the Recommendations in the Report of the Committee on Power on the project, he was ready face yet another probe panel.

Obasanjo accused Buhari of playing politics with statistics, saying his (Buhari’s) comments once again demonstrated his incompetence to govern the country.

He asked: “Is it not beneath the dignity of the exalted office he holds to join the chorus of beer parlour gossips?” he asked.

“How can a president who has all the information at his beck and call degenerate to this level?”

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.

“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.”

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