THE recent mudslinging between President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo should provide Nigeria with an opportunity to have a conclusive look into the matter of how federal funds were spent in the Power sector during the Obasanjo regime.
Accountability is the central pillar of all genuine democracies in the world. People elected to serve the public have a bounden duty, at any time they are called upon, to answer any question concerning the ways they handled public resources, especially money. When an incumbent government raises questions on how a previous regime spent or mis-spent or even “stole” public funds, it should go beyond mere politically-motivated mudslinging. It must be a bold step taken the defence of public interest and advancement of transparency and accountability.
We find it curious, however, that it took the Buhari government three whole years to remember the old matter of the alleged $16 billion spent in the Power sector during the Obasanjo regime. It is even more curious that the regime waited until Obasanjo terminated his political friendship with it to chart the new “Third Force” before remembering this scandal. While the political “romance” between the President and his two-time predecessor lasted, they met on several occasions. Why was this issue never brought up?
Instead, the regime focused its anti-graft efforts on officials and friends of the immediate past Goodluck Jonathan regime to the exclusion of the so many cases of alleged corrupt deals which cut across party lines. This politically-tainted anti-graft agenda has made it difficult for our corruption perception to improve.
We hope that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is serious with its vow to reopen this probe. Let the truth be laid bare, and let this controversy be laid to rest once and for all. During the probes of the Power sector spending by the late President Umaru Yar’ Adua presidency and the House of Representatives led by former Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, the matter was buried in political brickbats. Various figures like $3.5 billion, $6 billion, $13 billion and $16 billion were bandied between Obasanjo’s aides and the former President’s political opponents. Yet, at the end, nothing conclusive came of it. Nobody was brought to account for any missing or stolen funds. Nobody even knows the exact figures spent.
We are convinced that a holistic probe of the power sector from 1999 to date will unearth both real and apparent reasons behind the woeful performance of the power sector and its attendant wastages. The probe must be professionally conducted. Nigerians will not accept mere media trials aimed at scoring cheap political points during the impending campaigns.
The probe must be above malice.