Monday, February 11, 2008

$16 Billion?!

When the National Assembly began sitting on President Yar'adua's first budget, everyone expected they would be done in time for the Christmas/New Year break. However, this was not to be. This National Assembly refused to simply rubber-stamp the budget, and began exercising their oversight functions for the first time. By using their legal powers, they began making startling discoveries. They found out that there were some secret government accounts containing several hundred billion Naira, which were not reflected in the budget. This was hastily rectified. They found out that there were states who had monies illegally deducted from their allocations to pay off Nigeria's debt by Obasanjo, and ordered the CBN to promptly refund the money. They raised the benchmark crude oil price proposed by Yar'adua. Then they began looking at past expenditure, perhaps merely expecting to get a feel for what their predecessors were prone to doling out. Talk about opening up a barrell of worms.

When it was revealed that Obasanjo's administration had blown $10,000,000,000.00 (Ten Billion Dollars) on the power sector with no results, Nigerians were outraged. For that kind of money, we expected to see some drastic improvements in 8 years, not a steady and accelerating decline. For that kind of money, every bush path in Nigeria should have had a row of working streetlights. For that kind of money, we ought to have consigned that all-time favourite expression of NEPA/PHCN, "load-shedding" to the rubbish heap of archaic expressions. For that kind of money, Nigerian generator importers ought to have started looking for another country to set up shop. For that kind of money, Nigerians should have been smiling.

Last week, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, revealed that Baba had actually blown $16,000,000,000.00 (Sixteen Billion Dollars) on the power sector. He also revealed that the extra 6 billion was in "extra-budgetary expenditure". Now, perhaps Hon. Bankole was still smarting at the disrespect he was shown at a recent PDP meeting, during which he was told to stay outside while PDP had its caucus meeting and was thus getting his own back, but there have been no denials of his statement. If anything, the silence has been deafening.

$16 Billion is a huge amount of money, and there have so far been no explanations as to where it went. Furthermore, the fact that there was 6 Billion in "extra-budgetary expenditure" must raise our eyebrows for it means 6 Billion unbudgeted dollars were spent on power. This from a government that always cried poverty when told to spend money on education, health and roads.

These revelations add more fuel to the steadily growing clamour for the probe of Baba's tenure, despite the recent clean bill of health handed to him by Uncle Nuhu, who has himself been axed, and banished to Kuru.

How long can President Yar'adua continue to ignore theses calls, especially given his Rule of Law posture? Surely, the Rule of Law doesn't rule out probing a previous administration even if only to ascertain where these huge sums of money went. Or does it?


Chxta said...

Obasanjo's day of reckoning is fast approaching, if he would be alive to see it. Yardy's go slow methods can only postpone the 'evil' day, but sooner or later it has to happen.

By the way, happy new year.

Anonymous said...

It was pretty obvious that there was some high level corruption in the ministry of energy, transport and petroleum during OBJs tenure with the active colllusion of Obj and his business partners. Power generation dropped by 40% over the 80 years he was president. Refineries capacity dropped to levels you do not see despite billions spent in so-called turn-around maintenance. The roads what exactly did these guys build even as the budget was allocated? Lagos bridges crumbling for lack of maintenance, highways were barely maintained talk less expanded.

Omodudu said...

Obj's story has many parts to it.

Which Way Nigeria said...

We need to go beyond rhetorics in this OBJ saga.

Who will Bell'the Old, Big, Fat Cat'?

The Law said...

@ Which Way Nigeria:
Well, the ovbious answer to that is - Umoru.

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