The struggle to make News as controversial as possible has sold a speech with very valid points and touching stories as a political attack which has drawn President Muhammadu Buhari and his former boss and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, and even more so their supporters, into a war of words.
Speaking while receiving members of the Buhari Support Organization at the Villa, the President began by making an Hausa proverb which says putting yourself to task is more than slavery. He explained that the members of the group are not being paid or thanked neither did many of them ask for benefit, yet they kept on giving their support because they expect their thanks from God and look to the future of the country.
Buhari wondered about those who send their children abroad and sabotage the country at the same time, asking what Nigeria they expect their children to return to.
Explaining his transition from a military leader to a civilian President, as if to show his limitation in the fight against corruption, the President mentioned how he dealt hotheadedly with people accused of corruption in his uniform days and how he finally decided to become a civilian President and his struggle to get into office. A narration that was perfectly in line considering that he had earlier thanked the members of the group for being with him from “opposition to government”.
He further jokingly reminded the group that he was also locked up, and those who looted earlier were given the money back. He hinted that this was why he decided to “put on agbada” and tried thrice before the fourth attempt to be President went through.
Religious and Tribal Divide
President Buhari referred to his third election appeal case and how a judge who is Igbo and Roman Catholic wrote a minority report in his favour whereas the head of the Judges who ruled against him was from his State and they were classmates for 6 years in Secondary School.
He spoke of how another Igbo man who is Roman Catholic fought for him. This time he was referring to his longtime lawyer Mike Ahamba who fought with him in Court for 70 months.
Putting these two together he dismissed the claims of religious and tribal divide as “bloody nonsense”.
Why Referencing Mike Ahamba is important
After struggling with the President for three successive election court case circle, Ahamba (SAN) left the APC for the PDP in January 2015, citing dishonesty and gross lack of transparency in the APC as his reason. Ahamba was a founding member of the PDP before he left for the CPC in the first place.
On his return to the PDP, and by extension, the opposition to his clients, the people he had fought with in Court on behalf of Buhari, it did not seem like both men lost their respect for each other.
“the highest requirement for fighting corruption is non-participation; and GMB has a high dose of that.” Ahamba had said
Ahamba’s resignation was mainly blamed on his failure to secure the Chairmanship of the party. Hence the then Aspirant Buhari wrote him a personal letter to explain that the zoning of the Chairmanship to the South-South was for patriotic consideration.
In what has come to characterize his response to personal opposition, Buhari appealed to Ahamba to return, saying
“find a way of resuming our close association and working relationship in the interest of the party and the country. Whatever happens, I hope I can count on your personal friendship in coming days.”
Ahamba did not return.
A 2016 invitation by the EFCC was misreported by Vanguard to mean a witch hunt, a claim Ahamba refuted saying
“within its responsibility for the rule of law by inviting me to make clarifications on an issue that affected my name.”
But in late 2017, he publicly lambasts the National Assembly for not starting impeachment process against both Former President Obasanjo and President Buhari as he says, they unconstitutionally used the military against civilian population.
Promoting a Rumour?
The claim that a former President spent over 15 billion dollars on power and saw no result is one that silenced the other messages in the President’s speech and defined the News circle and conversation.
The controversial part of the speech came when the President went into an analysis of what past administration did wrong as he tries to establish what he has tried to rectify.
The President claimed Nigeria sold an average of 2.1 million barrel of crude oil per day for 16 years at an average cost of 100 dollars and seem to suggest not much was done with this.
While the President did not give the final figure, this amounts to 210 million dollars daily if indeed the average cost of crude oil was an average of 100 dollars. But it was not.
Checks by ETN24 show that on the average, Nigeria sold crude oil for 61.8 Dollars between 1999 and 2014, and not 100 dollars. This conforms with international pricing and the data released by NNPC in 2015 which shows that the country made 5 trillion Naira from selling crude outside the country within 6 months as it sold two times the average the President referred to.
Comparing the immediate past administration’s era crude price with that of the present, and still referring to 16 years ago was the major error in this regard. This is because from 1999 till 2014, Crude Oil price was below 40 Naira per barrel, dragging the average down to about 60 Naira.
Also, aside from President Yar’adua’s pronouncement in a meeting with Obiageli Ezekwesili and the House of Representative investigation which was dropped after the former President explained himself, it is not official government position that 16 billion dollars was spent on Power at any point in time.
Yet if it were. These figures brandished with calculations which do not remember the change in dollar rates amounts to about 286 billion yearly for Obasanjo’s 8 years when computed with 138.32 Naira per Dollar which was the average exchange rate for the period being spoken of.
It is about money, but not 16 billion dollars
The failure in power generation in Nigeria was properly captured by the present Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, when he said for 66 years, Nigeria generated just 75MW yearly on the average despite the increase in population from 37 million in 1950 to about 150 million.
Fashola also said while turbine system is the cheapest in generating power, it cost 8 Naira for 1Kilowatt per hour. Nigeria needs 160,000 MegaWatts of power to properly run. This is 160,000,000 Kilowatts at 8 Naira per hour. Bear in mind that till 2013, the Federal Government was solely in charge of power generation and distribution.
The Ministry of Power in the reign of Obasanjo did not promise stable power supply with a budget of 16 billion dollars, as a matter of fact, it said Nigeria needed 10 billion dollars annually for 10 years to get power right.
Yet, in 2018, when the House of Representatives did an investigation into the same claim of spending 16 billion dollars on power, they found it to be inaccurate. A Presidential Review Panel on the National Integrated Power Project, NIPP, in a presentation to the National Economic Council, NEC, in 2009 also confirmed this.
The CBN also confirmed to all panels that it kept the money for power and the surplus from what was executed.