Update: Breaking: Buhari: “Abacha did not steal, he worked for Nigeria more than Obasanjo, built road-infrastructures, health-system, others”–Buhari New York[RR]Abuja–President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday invoked the spirit of late dictator whom he worked with, Sani Abacha, to pour scorn on some of some of his critics including past president, Olusegun Obasanjo. For records in the […]
Update: Breaking: Buhari: “Abacha did not steal, he worked for Nigeria more than Obasanjo, built road-infrastructures, health-system, others”–Buhari
New York[RR]Abuja–President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday invoked the spirit of late dictator whom he worked with, Sani Abacha, to pour scorn on some of some of his critics including past president, Olusegun Obasanjo. For records in the past Buhari who was appointed Chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF has stubbornly insisted that Abacha “Never stole”, even as Abacha’s loot stashed in faraway Swiss-banks are been negotiated and returned to the country.
Yes, Vanguard reported, “Buhari, long before he was elected president, stubbornly insisted that Abacha “never stole”, and that he was not corrupt. “Illegally taken from Nigeria” is a ploy to sidestep the word: “stolen”. “Under Abacha” portrays it as if other people, not Abacha himself, committed the “illegality” without Abacha’s knowledge.
Then on Tuesday May 22, 2018 Buhari speaking when he received members of the Buhari Support Organisations (BSO) led by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Buhari said past leaders mismanaged Nigeria’s economy in the past because they had no love for the country.
He also called on Nigerians to remain vigilant and ensure that only ‘‘people of conscience are in-charge of governance at all levels’’, as the nation prepared for general elections in 2019.
He said: ‘‘I challenge anybody to check from Europe, America and Asia; between 1999 and 2014, Nigeria was producing 2.1 million barrels of crude oil per day at an average cost of 100 dollars per barrel and it went up to 143 dollars.
‘‘When we came it collapsed to between 37 and 38 dollars and later was oscillating between 40 and 50 dollars.
‘‘I went to the CBN Governor, with my cap in my hand, and asked if we had savings. He told me we had only debts, no savings. Some of the roads were not repaired since the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) days.
‘‘I don’t care the opinion you have about Abacha but I agreed to work with him and we constructed roads from Abuja to Port Harcourt, Benin to Onitsha and so on. We also touched education and health institutions.
‘‘One of the former Heads of State was bragging that he spent more than 15 billion dollars on power in Nigeria. Where is the power?’’ the President said.
On the mismanagement of the economy by previous administrations, President Buhari noted that the perpetrators lacked imagination and plans for the development of the nation.
‘‘Sometimes, I wonder about those who can afford to send their children abroad for studies and yet continue to sabotage the economy, I wonder what kind of Nigeria they want their children to return to and work. There is a lot of lack of imagination.
‘‘If you are working for the country, then you shouldn’t be misappropriating and misapplying public funds the way people did,’’ he said.
The President noted that under his watch, the 2016 and 2017 budgets recorded the highest appropriation and releases in capital projects, with over N2.8 trillion disbursements in two years.
The President urged Nigerians to reject those bent on dividing the country along religious and ethnic lines, warning that “they do not mean well for the country.
‘‘I have said severally that we do not have any other country than Nigeria and we will remain here and salvage it together.
‘‘We have nothing to regret. Absolutely nothing. God has given Nigeria everything. We are rich in human and material resources. Let us keep on praying to God to put people of conscience in-charge at all levels.’’
On the activities of the support group, President Buhari apologised for not rallying them before announcing his intention to seek re-election in 2019 during a meeting of the National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress on April 9, 2018.
He thanked members of the group for their resolute support to him as a Presidential candidate in 2015 and all through his term in office, adding that their voluntary sacrifices were an indication of their trust and belief in the great future of the country.
In his remarks, Ali said the group and majority of Nigerians are passionate about a second-term for President Buhari because of his integrity, honesty, love and patriotism.
He noted that President Buhari had entrenched fiscal discipline and prudent management of resources, improved the nation’s security and delivered on his promise to revamp agriculture, as a major revenue earner for the country.
Some unknown individuals were taking money from Nigeria and lodging it in Abacha’s Swiss bank accounts? For what purpose? Perhaps, they knew that our economy would be in trouble in the future and decided to “save” for this rainy day for us?
If that is what President Buhari wants to say, let him say so openly, so that we all will join him in congratulating the Abacha family for the sacrifices their patriarch made for Nigeria. In the past sixteen years, series of sums of money in foreign currency have been brought back from Western countries, especially Switzerland, where former military Head of State, the late General Sani Abacha stashed funds which he looted from the Nigerian treasury. These monies have always been called “Abacha loot”. Abacha is the only former ruler boldly ascribed, even in official circles, to have “stolen” or “looted” our public funds. He certainly was not the only one who did so. And most of us believe that he was probably not the biggest looter.
Then, how come it is only his loots that are being “identified” and repatriated? Is it because he is dead? If he were still alive like most of his fellow former rulers, would there be any such thing as “Abacha loot”? I doubt it, since his predecessors and successors who probably took more have never even been officially accused or made to return their own “loots”. In fact, one of them majestically struts over the landscape calling other people corrupt without justifying his own obvious affluence after his long stint in the Presidency.
Are we a nation of cowards and dastards, mobbing Abacha and his estate simply because he is dead? More questions: if Abacha had not arrested, tried and jailed General Olusegun Obasanjo for his part in the 1995 coup attempt to unseat him, would Obasanjo have launched the campaign to recover Abacha loot?
If Abacha had not died and he played a role in the election of Obasanjo as President in 1999 as Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Theophilus Danjuma and their civilian Northern cohorts had done, would Obasanjo have started the campaign to retrieve the Abacha loot? Still more questions: if Buhari had been the one elected as the civilian president of Nigeria in 1999, would he even be talking about receiving money from Swiss Government “illegally taken away” under his regime since he maintains, against all concrete evidence, that Abacha never stole our money? So, is it only when a person deals with us and dies that he becomes corrupt, but when he treats us nicely (as Abacha did to Buhari) he becomes a “saint”?
If Abacha had not rehabilitated Buhari after being jailed by Babangida; If Abacha had not appointed him as the Executive Chairman of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), where he was given unlimited powers to spend billions of Naira between 1996 and 1998, would Buhari have stuck out his neck for him and say he was not corrupt? Is this the mentality we take with us in fighting corruption, making sure that those who helped us are regarded as clean, while those who wronged us are pursued with a single-minded quest to retrieve their loot and sent to jail? Is this our national standard for integrity?
How are we sure that retired Col. Ja’afaru Isa, a close Buhari acolyte who was reluctantly arrested, briefly detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC, and released after a couple of days for allegedly returning part of his share of Col. Sambo Dasuki’s bonanza, actually returned anything? Everybody calls President Buhari a “man of integrity”, in spite of certain things we read and hear which do not add up to conclusively justify that branding. Buhari made his declared assets public.
But he never disclosed their financial worth, nor did he let us know where they could be found as late President Umaru Yar’Adua voluntarily did. He never followed Yar’ Adua’s exemplary footsteps of including the assets of his wife. And from the look of things, ever-smiling Madam Aisha Buhari is very well-to-do, what with her reported donation of N135 million to displaced persons in Adamawa during the campaigns last year, which has not been denied. I still cannot reconcile the fact that Buhari, as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had to borrow N25 million from banks to pay for his form in October, 2014 when his wife could so easily have given it to him from her own resources.
There were even some reports that Buhari was once ejected from his “rented” mansion, No 11, Queen Elizabeth Drive, Asokoro, Abuja in 2012. That report was never debunked. Elaborate efforts have always been made to brand Buhari as a retired general who lived on his military pension before he became elected President. Yet, when he became President and the foreign exchange crunch set in, he told parents who have their children in foreign schools that they should look for forex wherever they could find it as the Federal Government could no longer afford to provide it. When reminded that he had his own children in foreign schools, he simply retorted: “I can afford it”.
These conflicting signals about our President and his true mindset on corruption as well as his real standing financially, is being noticed, and nobody is a dummy. Even the younger generation of Nigerians are watching, reading and taking note of this confusion and wondering what “integrity” actually means here in Nigeria. It is not only the youth that are confused. I am certainly no longer a youth, but I am confused!
Credit: CityVoice, Republic Reporters, Vanguard, other sources