Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has fired yet another shot at former President Goodluck Jonathan, this time, alleging that the $65 billion in the excess crude account left by former President Olusegun Obasanjo was frittered away by his administration.
This came less than a week after the minister said that the time to stop blaming Jonathan had come.
Speaking with NAN in Lagos, Amaechi said former President Obasanjo left $65 billion in the excess crude account but it was frittered away.
The excess crude account is an account used to save oil revenues above an amount derived from a defined benchmark price. ECA was established in 2004, with its objective primarily to protect planned budgets against shortfalls due to volatile crude oil prices.
Amaechi said that the wastage in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, era was alarming.
He said: “When Obasanjo was leaving, he left about $65 billion in the excess crude account, but this money was frittered away and we wonder where the money is. As at then, the price of crude oil during President Jonathan’s administration hovered around $140. With this, they did not leave anything for the incoming government.
“With that kind of money, we should be thinking of connecting Nigeria through rail system. The rail from Ibadan to Kano would have been completed. Also the rail gauge between Port Harcourt to Maiduguri and Lagos to Calabar, but all the excess crude money was frittered away. We need to ask questions.”
Amaechi said his pursuit for change made him to leave the PDP, for the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The minister added that he would have used his position as the then chairman of PDP governors’ forum to fight the situation but he felt there was a need to cross over to APC because of his belief in President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I moved from PDP to APC because I was tired of what was happening in the party. I had the option to stay because of my position as the chairman of the governors then. I could have used my position to fight them (PDP) and get what I wanted because I believed Nigeria was not going in the right direction by then.
“My attention and belief shifted to Buhari who was the viable alternative. I believe in the change mantra because it was the only way to improve on what is on ground. He has not disappointed because the economy is now back on track and is growing. This is evident in the current prices of food items because it is getting lower,’’ he said.
Amaechi said that prices of food would further crash because of the efforts of the government at making the country self-sufficient in food production.
He added: “With the change going on, the price will further crash because before this government came in, prices were soaring because we were importing food items, things we can grow here.
“Now the policy of government which banned the importation of rice is working; the price is now about N16,000, but before now, we were importing about N3 billion worth of rice. Before now too, we were importing another N3 billion worth of poultry products, we were importing tomatoes but with the ban, we are now concentrating on our local production.
“Many states in the northern part of the country are now growing rice in large quantities though by right, the south-south geo-political zone should be doing that because they are the ones in the swampy area.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan, reacting through his media aide, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, said: “We are not interested in reacting to that as that will amount to dignifying Amaechi’s unending flip-flops. He hasn’t said anything new.
“It has been the same excess crude propaganda he has been playing up since he was a governor. If actually $65 billion was missing, why don’t they deploy their EFCC to trace and recover the money? Talk is really cheap,” he added.
Nigeria youths are copying the wrong model of leadership,
Amaechi, also was reported to have said that Nigeria youths are copying the wrong model of leadership, an act, he notes, may jeopardise their future.
Amaechi made the assertion at the Future Awards Africa held at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos last Saturday.
He said the youth were not ready yet to embrace a corrupt-free society because they were wrongly orientated by those who were using them for their interest.
“The problem with Nigerian youths is that they just want to take over from the elite but they are not ready to embrace change, they don’t want reform.
“They say that the roles being played by the elite are not satisfactory, but they must be ready to upset the leaders of this country through their ingenuity.
“For example, during our days of activism, we engage government over unfavourable policies and we get headlong even during the military administration.
“Now, student union presidents want a vehicle and a driver to be driving him about to attend meetings; during our time, who dares have a car, we all struggle on the street, Amaechi told NAN.
He advised youths to rise up to the fight against corruption instead of a tacit support to those that they feel were their benefactor.
“I will advise the youth to fight against corruption with all their energy instead of giving tacit support to those they think are their benefactors.
“During our time in the student union struggles, we rose against impunity and organised protests; but what happens today, the government of the day announces the money siphoned but the youth keep quiet.
“Such astronomic stolen amount government announced wouldn’t have happened during our time, all the street would have been filled with youths protesting and seeing that the culprits were punished.
“Today, we have some of our youths dancing behind the corrupt politicians for a pot of meal that will not last long thereby mortgaging their future,’’ he said.
Amaechi said that Nigerian youths should stand up to the reality of life by asking questions from leaders on how they managed the economy and the commonwealth of Nigeria.
“Nigerian youths should start asking questions from leaders, including me about what we are doing with our resources. It’s time to reject those that put us in this.
“We should all desist from pulling our country down through corruption. But unfortunately, the youth are not interested in that, all what they want is how to look good.
“Maybe they looked at me wearing designer shoes, what they will notice is that designer and how they can get it. That is not supposed to be.
“During my time as a student union leader, I had only two pairs of clothes. But now the value system is wrong and the youth are copying wrong leadership model,’’ he said.