Knocks for Obasanjo over anti-Buhari comment


Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was under attack yesterday for describing President Muhammadu Buhari's administration as "incompetent".

Obasanjo is backing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar, who the government said "will be roundly and comprehensively" defeated.

The government said Obasanjo was "not properly briefed" in reaching his conclusion, even as it affirmed the ex-President's right to endorse any candidate for the 2019 poll. However, endorsement alone does not win elections, it said.

Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed stated the government's position at a briefing in Abuja against the backdrop of Obasanjo's vitriolic attacks on Buhari's administration.


Mohammed said the administration had fought corruption and introduced anti-graft institutional reforms more than any in the history of Nigeria.

He said: "With due respect to the former President Obasanjo, actually, it is his constitutional right to support any candidate of his choice and we urge him to go out and campaign vigorously for any candidate that he wants to support.

"I don't think the former President has hidden his preference for the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and I think we all wish him the very best of luck. I want to assure you that his candidate would be defeated roundly and comprehensively.

"We welcome him. It is not about the endorsement. An endorsement doesn't win elections. We wish him the best of luck; nobody is asking him not to support anybody, but believe me, he will be defeated roundly and comprehensively."

To Mohammed, Obasanjo has not been properly briefed about the administration's achievements. He tabled some statistics and challenged any Nigerian to controvert the figures.

He said: "The facts are all there: On corruption, this government has done more than any government in the history of this country to fight corruption.

"Although it is endemic and global, when you look at the kind of institutional reforms this government has put in place, you cannot doubt its sincerity and commitment to fighting corruption.

"Corruption is not just about prosecuting and jailing people; it is more about what you have put in place to prevent people from looting the treasury. This is what this government has done, I would say, more than any government in the history of this country.

"I will start with the Treasury Single Account (TSA). The TSA was not initiated by this government. It is only this government that has the political courage and will to implement it. Before we came in, there were over 22,000 various accounts of government in various banks in Nigeria.

"Since we came in, it has been reduced to one single Treasury Account. From 2015 to date, N8.9 trillion has passed through that TSA. So, at a glance, you know where every revenue and every receipt of government is going; it makes for transparency and accountability.

"This government put in place what is called National Anti-Corruption Strategy with a roadmap for all the anti-corruption agencies on how to tackle corruption.

"There is what is called the non-commission based strategy which helps the government to recover looted funds without convicting the people.

"As of today, we have been able to recover (EFCC alone) N794 billion, $261 million, 8 million Euros, 1,115,000 pounds, about 4,295 vehicles, about 407 mansions in forfeiture to the Federal Government.

"In tackling corruption, this government has introduced what is called an Efficiency Unit within the Ministry of Finance. This unit examines every proposal to travel, estacode, date, and it is on record that this government has saved N17 billion from travel expenses, gifts and the likes.

"Under this government, starting with the TSA, more revenue is now coming to the government than before. For example, JAMB, between 2010 and 2015, paid to the federation account N51 million. In 2017 alone, under this administration, JAMB paid N7.8 billion to the federation account.

"Another thing this government has done to ensure that there is transparency and we fight corruption effectively is that today, as opposed from what used to happen in the past, N8.1 trillion was missing from the federation account between 2010 and 2015. This was supposed to be paid in by 15 revenue generating authorities.

"Then, of course, there is the Whistleblowers Policy, which has been hugely successful. Under the Whistle Blowers Policy, the government raked in N13.8 billion from whistleblowers alone, N7.8 billion from corrupt officials.

"When you look at what we have put on the ground as institutional remedies, I believe with us that this government is more sincere and more committed to fighting corruption than any government in history.



"If the former president says that this government is not performing, I think he is not being properly briefed."

Mohammed insisted that the government has records to prove that it has performed and lived up to the mandate given to it.

He added: "We promised Nigerians that we are going to diversify the economy. One area where we've had resounding success is in the area of food security. In the last three and half years, we've saved $21billion from food importation, according to the report recently released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

"Not that alone, we have been able to grow the level of rice farmers from five million to over 11 million today.

"First, our food import base has gone down; when you look at the figures, in 2014, Nigeria imported 1.2 million metric tons of rice from Thailand alone. In 2015, it went down to about 680,000 metric tons. Last year, it went to about 22,000 metric tons.

"We have records to show or like I keep saying, we are more successful in the SIP, and we touched every family with these and feed over nine million pupils one meal a day. For most of these children, that is the only meal they are assured of. There is no better investment in the future of the country on good infrastructure."

Mohammed spoke also on power generation. He said: "I want to remind the former President that when he left, what was the total capacity of all our generating plants? I can quote the figure for 2015 when we came in, power has been privatised. When we came in; total power generated in Nigeria was just slightly above 4,000MW. That today has moved to about 7,000MW.

"Still talking about infrastructure, there is no state in the federation that we are not building one road or the other. The latest report from the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority(NSIA), said we have paid as of August this year about N33billion to make the second Niger bridge a reality.

"The latest report is that the pillars today are coming out and each pillar is 10-storey building down. Or are we going to speak about our roads? The 240km road between Enugu and Port Harcourt is progressing. Four major contractors are handling it. The East-West road is going very well… "

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