President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to probe the $16bn spent on failed power project by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
He said his government would recover the money and expose those behind the scam.
President Buhari, who spoke on Tuesday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, during the All Progressives Congress presidential campaign rally, said he was unrelenting in his pursuit of those who looted the nation’s resources.
The President, who landed at the government helipad, was received by the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, before he proceeded to pay a courtesy call on the traditional rulers in the state.
Addressing the crowd, Buhari said his administration despite the daunting challenges had been able to curtail the security issues in the North-East while the economy was on the way to becoming self-reliant.
Although he did not mention Obasanjo, Buhari said, “The previous government mentioned on their own that they spent $16bn on power but you are better witnesses than myself. Where is the power? Where is the money? We will follow them, eventually God willing, we will catch them and get our money back.”
The Federal Government was reported to have spent N16bn on power projects between 1999 and 2007 when Obasanjo was in government.
When contacted by one of our correspondents, the media aide to Obasanjo, Kehinde Akinyemi, said his principal was expecting the probe, adding that he would make himself available anytime.
He said the former President had since last year said that he was ready for probe.
Obasanjo media aide said a statement had been issued last year where the former President announced his readiness for the probe.
Akinyemi said, “It is no more news. We are already expecting that. Since last year, Baba (Obasanjo) had said he would make himself available for the probe.”
In his reaction, a former aide to the former President and a member of the Obasanjo Group, Mr Akin Osuntokun, said the former President had answered the questions being raised by President Buhari.
Obasanjo, he said, had even written a book about it and also volunteered information about the issue to the National Assembly and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
He said the President “likes illusion,” adding that the former President had said that there was nothing like $16bn as being claimed by Buhari.
Osuntokun said, “We have a danger in our hands. President Obasanjo has written about this issue. He had volunteered information to the National Assembly and all that. Buhari is busy wining and dining with those being investigated by the EFCC, claiming that their sins had been forgiven.”
Also, the PDP said Nigerians should not take the President seriously, adding that there were signs that he might not know what he was saying.
The National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, said, “Are you sure the President is aware of what he said? If he could claim in Ekiti that he came to office in 2005, and then went to Ondo to say he was raising the hands of Edo Central Senatorial candidate instead of Ondo and all that, you think he should be taken seriously?”
Earlier while addressing the APC supporters in Yenagoa, Buhari highlighted his achievements and urged them to vote for him on February 16.
He said, “We take the problems of security, economy and infrastructure seriously and we are also promising that we will make people who occupy executive positions both at state and federal levels to be accountable to the people.
“You know we are building roads, the railway was virtually killed but we are rebuilding it, and there was no power we will bring power back.”
The former governor of Bayelsa State and leader of the party in the state, Timpre Sylva, and the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Henieken Lokpobiri, urged Bayelsans to vote massively for President Buhari and the APC come Saturday.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has said he is all out for free, fair and credible elections starting on February 16.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said Buhari gave the assurance at a meeting with traditional rulers at the secretariat complexes of the Councils of Traditional Rulers in Yenagoa, Bayelsa, and Port Harcourt, Rivers, on Tuesday.
Buhari said, “I assure you that I’m all out for free, fair and credible elections. The Independent National Electoral Commission knows my stand on this.
“Nigerians are assured of free and fair elections. Under this leadership, nobody will be allowed to intimidate other citizens.
“Nobody will be allowed to snatch ballot boxes and run with them. I will make sure that the votes count.’’
He commended the introduction of the PVC and Card Reader, and urged the nation to embrace the technology, arguing that without it, the 16 years of misrule by the PDP would not have been brought to an end.
“In 16 years, the PDP thought nobody could remove them from office. The introduction of the PVC and Card Reader made sure that our votes counted in 2015 and the votes of Nigerians will count in 2019,’’ he stressed.
Meanwhile, INEC said with the 119,973 polling units and 57, 023 voting points, it might cost each party N884m to deploy agents in all the polling units.
The INEC National Commissioner for Voter Education and Publicity, Festus Okoye, said this during an interview with one of our correspondents.
He said if each political party paid each polling agent N5,000, the total cost might be as high as N884m.
Okoye, therefore, rejected recommendations by the Inter-Party Advisory Council for the commission to provide funds for parties.
The INEC commissioner said, “Even political parties that have resources find it difficult deploying agents in all the polling units. We have roughly 120,000 polling units and then we will create over 50,000 voting points and at the end of the day, you will have almost 180,000 polling units.
“If you are paying a party agent N5,000 per polling unit at 160,000 polling units from morning till night; you know what that means.
“So, if you multiply N5, 000 by 180,000 you know much that will cost. At the ward collation centre we have 8, 809 wards and each party will send agents to 8, 809 collation centres. So, it makes it a near impossibility for any party that does not have funds to send party agents and so on.