…accuse him of alleged monumental corruption
By Gabriel Ewepu
COALITION of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Thursday, faulted and countered statements made by former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, on President Muhammadu Buhari, alleging Nigeria fast becoming a failed state and more divided than ever.
This was contained in a speech read by leader of the coalition, Abraham Egbor, where they called for probe of alleged spending of $16 billion by the Obasanjo-led administration on the power sector without anything to show for, and amongst other alleged monumental corruption perpetrated under his administration.
The CSOs include Grassroots Empowerment and Justice Initiative, Concerned Nigeria Youth of Nigeria, Centre for Peace, Transparency and Accountability, CPTA, African Leadership Strategy & Transparency Development Initiative, and others.
According to the group state of the nation under Obasanjo’s government was autocratic and traumatizing, which many perceived political enemies were blackmailed, arrested and imprisoned without giving them fair hearing.
The coalition also asserted that the Buhari-led administration has fought corruption to a level that the international community is applauding effort of the government. Those that made themselves untouchable while they were neck-dip in corruption have been made to face the wrath of the law.
The Buhari-led administration has brought inclusiveness of Nigerians in participatory governance, and a sense of belonging. This government has recovered loots that were stolen by politicians of previous administrations, and the fight is still ongoing.
It further stated that on security, the Buhari-led administration has put in enormous resources to fight all forms terrorists to standstill and the effort on this is glaring for Nigerians to see and testify.
That there is massive infrastructural development ongoing across the country despite the dwindling prices of oil and the economy has witnessed enormous growth from the diversification effort by the Buhari-led administration.
It also added that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which has pounded the economy son hard, this administration is still working to keep developmental projects and programmes going on.
He said, “We the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations today make our stand known to Nigerians over the recent unfounded statements made by Former President Olusegun Obasanjo against President Muhammadu Buhari, who claimed that Nigeria is slowly becoming a failed state and heading to outright collapse.
“This is a statement that Obasanjo made to cause disaffection among the citizenry which we as a coalition stand to condemn in its entirety is outright falsehood that cannot be defended by himself who created pain for Nigerians when he was the President of this country for eight years.
“Obasanjo does not have the moral standing to make such assertion because he has been the architect of division of our great country when he inhumanely deployed soldiers to kill and maim innocent Nigerians in Odi Town and Zakibiam, in Bayelsa and Benue States respectively. Till this hour these communities are yet to recover from this trauma and devastation.
“Many assassinations of perceived enemies were carried out under the government of Obasanjo, and witch-hunting of political enemies and civil society leaders and members.
“He also used his position to stampede the development of some parts of the country and failed to run a government that prioritized the unity of Nigerians but was intimidating some sections of the country, which as a result their leaders who opposed his policies and autocratic actions were imprisoned without fair hearing.
“This self-acclaimed ‘holy man’ called Obasanjo under his watch privatized our common patrimony and till date nothing is to show for the billions raked out of them neither are they functional, rather caused pain in the lives of Nigerians who were laid off and many have died prematurely.
“Under Obasanjo’s government the National Power Electric Authority, NEPA, was unbundled to be called Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, and also billions of Dollars to the tune of $16 billion sunk in the power sector has nothing to show, rather were squandered and plundered.
“The Obasanjo-led administration also ran down Nigerian Telecommunication Limited, NITEL, and reduced to rubbles.
“We want to state unequivocally that Obasanjo has injured the unity of Nigeria, run down the economy, which worsened the economic situation of Nigeria and Nigerians, and that led to myriad of problems as his cronies massively and terribly looted and ruined the economy before that created unprecedented poverty in the country.
“How can Obasanjo say Nigeria is more divided than ever? He has been the god-father who did not mean well for the progress of the country based on his king-making role that gave Nigerians leaders who were not ready for leadership because he wants to control the affairs of Nigeria from his sitting room.
“We want Obasanjo to be invited and questioned to explain what happened to the $16 billion he expended in the power sector, the proceeds from the privatized government corporations, and also to account for the monies spent in fixing the nation’s refineries under his government.”
“Mr Obasanjo wasted $16 billion on power project without anything to show for it. The allegation that the hostels and sports complex at Mr Obasanjo’s Bells Secondary School and University were constructed by Strabag Construction Company with taxpayers’ money, adding that the value of the total assets of the university stood at about ₦40 billion. Significant number of fraud” in crude oil sales and accrued commissions in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources under his watch as Minister.
“The report, signed by the then EFCC’s Director of Operations, Ibrahim Lamorde, addressed allegations of conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds, abuse of office, foreign exchange conversion and money laundering against the former president saw Nigeria lose billions of dollars to Chief Obasanjo and his cronies through siphoning and diversion of government funds for personal use.”
Meanwhile, the coalition also expressed disappointment over the statement made by the Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, for supporting Obasanjo’s claim, saying Nigeria going into extinction.
“It is also unfortunate and disheartening to hear from the respected Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, making statement in support of Obasanjo that Nigeria near extinction. This is condemnable and unacceptable because these statements from Soyinka are basically to incite Nigerians and make the nation lawless.
“We want to mention here that Soyinka of his caliber supposed not to make unfounded statements that is unpopular. Nigeria is not in the state of disarray nor extinction as he claimed because the Buhari-led administration has done what other administrations could not do for the past 21 years of democracy in Nigeria”, he stated.
Meanwhile, he advised Nigerians to come up with useful ideas that would consolidate on what the current government is doing to keep the nation going and also said the government is on track with its policies and progrmames.
“We want to advise Nigerians, especially people like Obasnjo and Soyinka are to play advisory roles and not pull him down actions that will be at the detriment of Nigerians.
“Also it will be welcomed if Nigerians will also pull their resources to complement what Government is doing and not to cause unnecessary heating up of the polity with incisive utterances.
“We as Civil Society Coalition are also doing our part to ensure Nigerians get the best of the democracy they fought for. We also advise groups not to be used to destroy what government is doing because it is Nigerians that will still suffer”, he said.