By Biodun Busari
Former Vice President and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has reacted to the criticism and allegation by rights activist and presidential candidate of African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, that $16 billion voted for electricity project during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration could not solve the nation’s electricity problems.
Sowore, on Thursday, had called out Atiku and his former boss, Obasanjo, for using the huge amount of money to procure darkness when the latter complained about collapse of the national grid that threw the country into blackout.
However, in an exclusive interview with Arise TV on Friday, Atiku, when asked to comment on the criticism, said Obasanjo’s administration initiated building of nine additional power stations.
He also said that the successive governments had improved on it, adding that Sowore knows nothing about policy and Nigeria, because he lives mostly outside the country.
Atiku explained: “When we came in 1999, the total generation was about 4,000 Megawatts.
“We initiated the building of nine additional power stations and by the time those nine were finished, the capacity has gone up from 4,000 Megawatts to about 13,000 Megawatts.
“Unfortunately, there was no correspondence increase as far as the transmission lines are concerned.
“There is no way that, when your transmission lines cannot evacuate the power that you are producing, it will not collapse. So they keep on collapsing.
“The additional power stations were completed by the Jonathan administration. Umar Yar’Adua was on it and he died.
“Then Jonathan continued and he completed them. So, that is why anytime there is an increase in power generation, then you have a transmission system that cannot evacuate the power; there will be a collapse.
“So, Sowore doesn’t even know because he lives outside this country and comes in every four years and contests the presidency and fails and travels out again.
“What does he know about this? Nothing, absolutely nothing.”
Reacting to the ex-Vice President’s explanation, Sowore took to Twitter, insisting that Atiku should explain why $16 billion did not yield any result on power across the country.
He went further to speak on how he had moved from one political parties to another to become the nation’s President.
Sowore tweeted: “Dear @atiku, I watched a clip of your @ARISEtv interview this morning wherein you were asked about my view on power scam under your regime.
“You failed to address how $16 billion was used to procure darkness, instead you claimed ‘he doesn’t even know’.
“Well these are some things I know: You ran for office for the first time in 1992 as a presidential aspirant of the SDP, I also ran for the post of the SU (Students’ Union) President of the UNILAG (University of Lagos); you lost, I won.
“You left, I stayed, to deliver democracy to Nigerians.
“I then left for the US in 1999 at the age of 28. You went on to become the VP of Nigeria. You left Nigerians in darkness after spending $16 billion on power, I stayed with Nigerians, shining light on the mess you and your boss created in that sector. You left, I stayed!”
Speaking further, Sowore said: “After your failed plan to succeed your boss (Olusegun Obasanjo) who wanted a third term in office, I stayed to botch his third term bid.
“You, however, joined another political party and tried your luck, you left after you couldn’t win. You left, I stayed.
“Since 1999, you have lived in about five countries outside of Nigeria. I know this because your IP keeps changing the same way you kept changing political parties.
“We both contested in 2019, it was my first time contesting, but after the elections, you left, I stayed. I’m still here!
“You’ve done your rounds from SDP- UNCP- PDP- ACN-PDP- APC back to PDP, you have never done anything for the Nigerian people, you’ve only taken care of your needs and those that benefit your family, cronies, and friends.
“It is time to quit and let Nigeria experience electricity!
“My question again, is this; what happened to the $16 billion dollars released for electricity during your tenure as Vice President?”