President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to launch a probe into the $16 billion allegedly expended by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as investment in power supply and distribution in the country.
He said his administration would investigate those involved in the spending and recover the alleged looted money.
President Buhari made this known in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, during the presidential campaign stop. He said though those involved in the spending claimed to have invested such huge amount in the power sector, but “where is the power?.”
LEADERSHIP recalls that a probe by the Ndudi Elumelu-led House of Representatives Committee on Power and Steel had in 2008 indicted ex-president Obasanjo, ex-governors Olusegun Agagu (Ogun) and Liyel Imoke (Cross River) and 14 other persons, including top management staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and Niger Delta Power Holding Compan at the time for mismanaging the stupendous funds allocated to power sector development, which the committee put at $13.28bn.
Both Agagu and Imoke were ministers of power during Obasanjo’s tenure. The House Committee recommended that the anti-graft body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), should go ahead and prosecute the indicted persons.
Last year, apparently reacting to one of Obasanjo’s constant criticisms, President Buhari had upbraided the former president for ‘blowing’ $16 billion on non-existent power, asking “where is the power?” There was report that EFCC had in May 2018 begun a forensic investigation into the alleged wastage of billions of dollars on the power sector during the Obasanjo era with little impact on power supply in the country.
A team in EFCC was said to be already collating facts and figures. An inside source said the scope of the investigation includes the total cost of the projects, how much was withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA), the total number of contracts awarded, the extent of compliance with due process and the status of the execution of all the projects.
“We are looking into all the allegations and issues surrounding the power projects. “We will conduct a comprehensive and forensic probe to ascertain the true status of all the projects.
This investigation will actually ascertain how much has been spent so far. “We have many figures being bandied about as follows: $16 billion, $13.278 billion, $10.3 billion, $8.4 billion and $8.55 billion.
“This is not an investigation aimed at ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo or anybody. We have to step in to set the records straight. “Already, a team is collating facts and figures on these projects as part of the preliminary level/ bend of the investigation,” the source said.
Buhari, who arrived at the colourful Pavilion venue of the rally amidst ovation from the massive crowd of party faithful and resident, said if re-elected into power,” we will follow them and get our money back.” He also stated that, under his administration, the ongoing anti-corruption campaign had made those in positions of authority to account for monies in their care and “all those who looted are in jail and the loot recovered are invested in Infrastructure.”
The president further noted that his administration would continue to focus on three main issues of security, economy and fight against corruption. He said: “The people of the North East are the major witnesses of what we have done in the area of security. When we came on board, we met over 17 communities of the North East in the grip of the insurgents known as Boko Haram, but now we have rescued the people and dislodged the insurgents.
” On the issue of food scarcity, President Buhari said his administration met a huge bill on food importation, but that with a sound agricultural policy, “we have made huge savings with contribution from increased rice cultivation. It also took away the issue of high unemployment”.
Earlier in his speech, the former Bayelsa State governor and leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Timipre Sylva had noted that the massive crowd that turned out at the rally showed that the party was strong in the state ahead of the presidential, National Assembly and State Assembly elections.
Sylva said that with the various programmes initiated and extended to the state by the Buhari administration, the people of the state are sure to deliver victory to the APC in 2019.