By Henry Umoru
ABUJA: AFTER weeks of recess in the verbal war between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-Military President Ibrahim Babangida, the battle appeared to have resumed yesterday with General Babangida insisting that General Obasanjo’s administration was characterized by high level squandering of the nation’s money.
Babangida also said yesterday that he never recanted his earlier statement made on Obasanjo before his birthday, noting that he still stands by the contents of that interview where he made allusion to the squander-mania that characterized Chief Obasanjo’s government with particular reference to the $16 billion dollars reportedly wasted on a fruitless power project, as revealed by the National Assembly power probe panel.
In a statement issued yesterday on behalf of General Babangida by his media spokesperson, Prince Kassim Afegbua, he said, “we have read several news reports suggesting that former President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, recanted his comments on former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
He wishes to state very clearly and without fear of contradiction that there is nothing like “recant” on his part. What General IBB stated on the 30th August, 2011 was that the media misquoted him on his earlier interview granted prior to his birthday of 17th August, 2011. The contents of the newspapers’ reports were different from the screaming headlines that were carried. That perhaps informed Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s misplaced outburst to the effect of calling General IBB a fool at 70.
“General IBB still stands by the contents of that interview where he made allusion to the squander-mania that characterized Chief Obasanjo’s government with particular reference to the $16billion dollars reportedly wasted on a fruitless power project, as revealed by the National Assembly power probe panel. There was nothing extra-ordinary in what General IBB said to warrant Chief Obasanjo’s outburst and scathing remarks on the person of General Babangida.
Impression of a recant does not arise
“In the light of the above, he wishes to state unequivocally that the idea or notion or impression of a recant does not arise at all. His response to Chief Obasanjo’s outburst remains in force and valid, hence it will be wrong for anyone to report that “IBB recanted” on his earlier position. He will not allow history to record it for him that he kept mum when someone reportedly called him a fool.
“All the issues raised in his earlier response have not been contradicted by Chief Obasanjo save that he resorted to name-calling and abuse. He still holds the position very strongly that former President Obasanjo’s regime recorded the highest revenue in the history of Nigeria from independence in 1960 till 1999 when his government came into force.
Over N16trillion naira was shared among the three tiers of government during Obasanjo’s government, out of which about N7.4trillion was spent by the Federal Government. This is aside from other non-oil income that accrued to his government within the same period. Needless to state that the government went on a spending spree, which culminated in several sharp practices and abuses particularly in the privatization exercise. The records are gradually becoming glaring for all to see, no thanks to the National Assembly probe panel.
“He will be prepared to offer further clarifications should the need arise but let it be recorded that there was nothing like recantation as previously reported”.
It will be recalled that during the 70th birthday celebration of General Babangida held on August 17 this year, former President and Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, General Obasanjo, described Babangida as a fool at 70.
Obasanjo’s comments were reactions to General Babangida’s remarks who on the eve of his 70th birthday celebration in Minna, which rated Obasanjo’s achievements as low, just as he said that the BoT chairman failed to improve the power sector in spite of the huge resources that was available to his government.
Obasanjo also in his reply to Babangida had said that Babangida needed to be pitied and not condemned for rubbishing his administration against the backdrop that Babangida’s criticisms were unfortunate and not well thought out.