- Blames president for current economic crisis
By Ese Awhotu with agency report
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has yet again lambasted President Goodluck Jonathan opening the can of worms on how he has squandered over $45 billion comprising the nation’s foreign reserves and excess crude funds.
The former president claimed that his administration left over $25 billion to his successor, Musa Yar’adua, who in turn raised the sum to $35 billion.
He also said his administration left $40 billion in the country’s foreign reserve account even after he settled all debts being owed.
According to Obasanjo, former President Yar’adua raised the reserves from $40 billion to $60billion.
Ironically, the former president said that under President Jonathan, the reserves have plunged to $40billion.
Obasanjo who made these accusations while hosting the South-West women leaders at his hill top mansion in Abeokuta yesterday, said he was careless about criticisms that have trailed his public outburst on national issues, rather he was more concerned about the interest of the country.
The former president said he was neither fighting President Jonathan nor was Jonathan fighting him, but all his actions were geared towards the interest of the country.
Obasanjo who lamented that the nation’s economy wouldn’t have been this awful said, “When I was leaving office about eight years ago, I left a very huge reserve after we had paid all our debts. Almost $25billion we kept in what they called excess crude. The excess from the budget we were saving as reserve for the rainy days. When we left in May 2007, the reserve was said to have been raised to $35 billion
“Today, that reserve has been depleted. The reserve we left when we finished paying all our debts, our debts that was about 40 billion dollars, that is including debt forgiveness, the remaining debt was not more than $3 billion. Our reserve after we had paid off this debt was about $45 billion. As I said, they continued till the end of 2007, I heard that the reserve increased to almost $67 billion before the end of the year. Our reserve now I learnt is left with around only $30 billion.
“That is why the naira has been falling against the dollar. What would now happen, I learnt if you want to buy a dollar now, it’s about N192 or N195. What it means is this, what you have been buying at N150 to a dollar, now you need N192 or N195 to buy it. That is the real situation. Is there any remedy? There is, but it does not come overnight because it means we have to give up all the bad things we have been doing,” .
He called for a review and closer look at the foundation of Nigeria’s leadership, noting that God did not create the country not to be great or rich, but currently facing implacable challenges because of the non intelligentsia of its people.
“In the profession I know very well, the military, what we normally say is that there are no bad soldiers but bad officers. If you see a situation where the soldiers are not doing well, we need to examine the officers in charge. So it is in the family, the community, the town and the country,” he said.
Obasanjo who was emphatic about not being against Jonathan stated that he had no grudges against the President, adding that, “I think Jonathan equally has no grudges against me. I’m not quarrelling with Jonathan, but all I know is that whatever is good for Nigeria, that I’m ready to die for,”
On the February polls, ex-president Obasanjo queried those who are being nervous about the outcome, saying that the issues being raised are speculative; this is even as he advised the electorates to vote for candidates with integrity and good records.
“I have no apprehension over these coming elections. I have no fears over the forthcoming elections. I have had some little experience about this country. I was a military head of state and I was also a civilian president, so what is left? So, if I talk, I know what I’m saying. Whoever wants, should listen to me and whoever feels otherwise, may turn a deaf ear. But when I’m talking, I’m talking with my understanding and intellect.” He emphasised
The leader of the visiting women, the Iyalode of Yorubaland, had earlier said they were concerned about current happenings in the country, going by the current atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.
She noted that Nigeria is currently plagued by insecurity, economic downturn, poverty, corruption, among other problems.