President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday threw a jibe at former President Olusegun Obasanjo for spending $16bn on power projects during his tenure as the President without corresponding power supply to Nigerians.
Although he did not mention any name, Buhari said a former Nigerian leader was bragging at a time that his administration spent the amount on power sector, yet there was nothing to show for the expenditure.
Buhari spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja while receiving members of the Buhari Support Organisation led by the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd).
The House of Representatives had in 2008 described the $16bn spent on power projects by the Obasanjo administration as a colossal waste.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project had also in 2016 called for an investigation into the expenditure.
On Tuesday, Buhari insisted that past administrations failed to invest in infrastructure in the country.
He gave an indication that no roads were repaired in the country after his days at the Petroleum Trust Fund.
The President said, “You know more than I do on the condition of our roads. Some of them were not repaired since the PTF days.
“No matter what opinion you have about (late Gen. Sani) Abacha, I agreed to work with him and the PTF. We constructed road from here (Abuja) to Port Harcourt, to Onitsha, to Benin and so on.
“This was in addition to other things in education, medical care and so on. You know the rail was killed and one of the former Heads of State between that time was bragging that he spent $16bn, not naira, on power. Where is the power? Where is the power? And now we have to pay the debts. “This year and last year’s budgets that I took to the National Assembly were the highest in capital projects: more than $1.3 tn.
“Let anybody come and confront me publicly in the National Assembly. What have they been doing? Some of them have been there for 10 years. What have they been doing?”
Buhari said anybody who claimed to be fighting for the country should not be misappropriating or misapplying the nation’s resources the way some people did.
He reiterated his position that past Nigerian leaders did not save during the oil boom era.
He said, “I have to repeat what I want the public to know here.
“I said and I challenge anybody to check from Europe, Asia and America; between 1999 and 2014, Nigeria was getting 2.1 million barrels per day and was selling at an average cost of $100 per barrel.
“It went up to $143. So, Nigeria was earning 2.1 million times 100 times 16 years seven days a week.
“When we came, it collapsed to between $37 and $38 and it was oscillating between $40 and $54 sometimes.
“I went to the Governor of Central Bank, thank goodness I did not sack him, and he is still there. I went with my cap in my hand and say oya (give me money). He said there were no savings, only debt.”