The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ask for the refund of the $16 billion allegedly expended on the power sector under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
He said Mr Obasanjo should be asked to pay back the money. Mr Oshiomhole said this on Tuesday after the former chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun, handed over to him at a ceremony held at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
He said Mr Buhari did well for calling out Mr Obasanjo over the alleged expenditure, but should go a step further to ensure the former president returns the money if there is no explanation for what it was used for.
“So, $16billion spent, the more dollars they spent, the more darkness the people suffered. Now the questions I had in my mind were, maybe because the president has not yet proceeded to now ask the follow-up questions.
Since we don’t find the power, then, you must bring the $16billion that you spent. If he doesn’t do that, then the accusations of limited anti-corruption may begin to have some currency.
“So, to assist PDP to overcome this their distinction, our president needs to do the needful. After all, it is already on record what other presidents didn’t do, with regards to the issue of MKO Abiola, and the criminal manner by which the election was nullified, and people pretended that, that was never an issue, the president showed courage.
“That same courage should not fail him, so that he can proceed to recover the $16billion back into the treasury from the man who superintended over the spending of that money.”
President Buhari in May criticised previous Nigerian administrations for “lack of imagination” and accused the government of Mr Obasanjo, who was president from 1999 to 2007, of spending over $16 billion on power without achieving much.
This was seen as a reprisal attack on Mr Obasanjo, a former supporter of the president. Mr Obasanjo is now one of the critics of the president and earlier this year wrote him a letter advising Mr Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019. He accused Mr Buhari of poor performance.
The former president also denied that his administration expended such money on power. He accused Mr Buhari of ignorance on the matter and said he had already been cleared of any wrongdoing on the matter by the anti-graft agency, EFCC.
Some civic groups, like SERAP and AFRICMIL, had earlier asked President Buhari to ask anti-corruption agencies to probe the power funds and prosecute anyone found culpable.
Mr Obasanjo, in June, also cried out his life was in danger and that there was a plan by the Buhari administration to send him to jail.
Reacting to this, Mr Oshiomole said “the man said they want to kill him. No! To kill is to prevent the investigation. He must be alive to account. That is a typical distraction, so, I think all of us should be ready to do anything we can to help Nigerians not to forget in a hurry.”
The chairman denied the report that APC changed its slogan from ‘change’ to ‘progress.’ He said the slogan remains ‘change,’ saying change is what goes in first to produce progress.
Sources had earlier reported the denial of the slogan change by the spokesperson of the APC, Bolaji Abdullahi.
Speaking on the upcoming Ekiti State governorship election scheduled for July 14, Mr Oshiomhole expressed confidence that the APC will win it.
“Although we came on board at the eve of an upcoming election in Ekiti State, we won’t resort to using their own tactics because we promised to be different.
I am very confident Ekiti State will be won on the basis of our own record.” In his speech, he also applauded the Odigie-Oyegun led administration of the party and promised to build on the foundation it laid.
He sought the permission of the former chairman to also seek advice and counsel whenever there was the need, saying Mr Odigie-Oyegun is an elder whose wisdom would help him move the party forward.
Noting some members of his NWC also served under Mr Odigie-Oyegun, the new chairman said his leadership is lucky to have them as it will ensure continuity. He also sought proper records and documents to ensure smooth takeover and better continuity.
Mr Oshiomhole said his leadership had come in to build on what they met and prepare the APC for the 2019 election.
“We are all very proud of what you have accomplished and we will try very hard to build on what you have put in place.”
“We will do everything possible to support the federal legislature and executive.” Speaking about the staff of the secretariat, he promised to accord them priority and ensure fair treatment “I will work with you to ensure the director doesn’t oppress you. We will re-visit your compensation. In this dispensation, you would be the most visited dispensation.”
He, therefore, announced he would be meeting with secretariat staff after the ceremony. “I would want to have a meeting with the secretariat staff to deal with issues and matters arising.”
Emphasising the need for regular policy review, he said it is “to avoid deficit between promise and reality, in a world where the manifesto you wrote in the morning can become obsolete in the evening”.
Apologising for not resuming on Monday as promised, he said “the difference between Monday and Tuesday is in the details.”
Mr Odigie-Oyegun in his handover speech apologised for the delay in handing over and prayed the tenure of Mr Oshiomhole will be successful and make the party the smartest in Africa.