Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed anger against those asking him to account for money recovered from funds looted by a former military dictator, Sani Abacha which was released to him when he was president.
He also said there was nothing wrong in President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent trips as, according to him, Nigeria needs to be in touch with important centres of the world. The incumbent Nigerian President has been criticized widely for his frequent trips abroad despite security unrest and falling economy back home.
Obasanjo, who stated this in an interview, weekend, said the role of his office was to facilitate the recovery process and not how it was put to use.
He said: “They said the money recovered from Abacha, I should account for it. What stupidity! The man who asked for it, the man who gave the judgement or who answered them are all stupid, with due respect.
“I don’t keep account, all Abacha loots were sent to Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and every bit of it was reported to Minister of Finance. My job was to write where we can get help to recover the money.
“Every penny that comes out of it went to CBN, so if they want to know what happened to the money, they should call CBN governor or call the Minister of Finance.
“But again, it shows ignorance, total ignorance, which is lacking and you wonder, are these people educated? They can also approach the man who helped us in recovering process to give the list of money recovered and where he took it.”
On fluctuating oil price
On fluctuating oil price, Obasanjo said President Buhari was lucky than he was, saying: “When I assumed office in 1999, I inherited $3.7 billion in reserve, while Buhari met $30 billion, almost 10 times of what I met then, and the price of oil then was $9. When it got to $20, I was dancing.
“I know the price is down now and with time, it will jump up again. What Buhari is doing currently is preparing ground for Nigeria to take advantage when it goes up again.”
Justifies Buhari’s frequent foreign trips
Obasanjo, who justified Buhari’s frequent foreign trips, said President Buhari needed to get involved in the world.
He said: “He needs to be known and to know people. How do you make friends and influence people except you know them and this cannot happen if he sits in Aso Villa, especially in a situation that we found ourselves, a situation where we have bad image in the world, a situation where we need to play leadership role, especially in Africa, because during Jonathan’s administration, Nigeria was not on the table.”
On Biafra agitation
Obasanjo, who described the Biafra agitation as a platform for people of the South East to make their voices heard, insisted that Biafra was dead.
He said: “I sympathise with people agitating in the country, but what Nigeria needs to do now is to get our economy back on track. When you have a bad economic situation, such is expected. So I did not see their cause as a threat but I see it as a platform to get their voices heard.
“Like I said on January 15, the important, authentic leaders of the South-East are concerned about economic situation of Nigeria and I believe when the situation changes tomorrow, these young people will sing a new song.”
No regret putting Jonathan forward as President
While expressing no regrets in facilitating the emergence of former President Goodluck Jonathan as President, Obasanjo said his objective had been achieved by making a minority group to produce the president of Nigeria.
He said: “I believe that Nigeria politics will be strengthened even more if we have the opportunity to allow the minority in its own right to emerge as President, and I do not have any apology for anybody because the purpose I wanted Nigeria to achieve had been achieved.
“That any Nigerian can become president, it is not a regret for Nigeria and for me because Nigeria gave him that opportunity, he used, abused, misused as he wished and at the appropriate time, Nigerians said thank you for what you have done and what you have not done and Nigeria said bye bye, which is the beauty of democracy.”