- Recruited Global Intelligence Experts to Track Stolen Funds….
- Foreign Reserve Dipped by Half in 5 Months under Gen Abubakar…
By The New Diplomat’s Economic Intelligence Desk
Baffling revelations have emerged as to how former President Olusegun Obasanjo compelled his immediate predecessor in Office, General Abdulsalami Abubakar(Rtd) who served as Head of State between 1998-1999 to refund a whopping N19.5bn (About$50m USD) to the Coffers of the Federal Government following alleged substantiated allegations of financial pilfering and corruption against Gen Abubakar’s transitional regime.
The New Diplomat’s investigations reveal that former President Obasanjo had upon assumption of office on May 29, 1999 uncovered reckless spending, unjustified expenditures and unacceptable depletion of the country’s foreign Reserve from $7.1bn USD to $3.1bn USD in less than five months by the then Gen Abubakar- led Transitional Military Government.
Sources told The New Diplomat that the then Obasanjo administration was left with a paltry $3.1bn USD to take-off and fund the then newly elected and appointed administration’s officials, including the 36 States, 774 Local government Councils, statutory financial obligations and the overall running of government business. Checks reveal that Gen Abubakar had been pre-occupied with award of contracts up to the last days of his administration, thereby leaving the in-coming Obasanjo administration with heavy domestic and foreign debts, with the later alone, amounting to $35bn indebtedness to the Paris Club.
Thus, with heightened expectations following the nation’s return to democratic rule as the populace expected quick progress, national transformation, industrialization, accelerated massive employment and intensified war against corruption on all fronts, insiders reveal that an a deeply angry and infuriated Obasanjo, had blamed the near empty Treasury he inherited on ‘’the financial recklessness, unexplainable and unjustifiable high public expenditure profile which amounted to alleged acts of corruption by Gen Abubakar’s regime’’.
The New Diplomat gathered from top members of the intelligence and diplomatic communities that an angry Obasanjo openly accused Abubakar and asked him to quietly refund’’ some of the looted funds to avoid national and international embarrassment because the corruption was too massive and deeply brazen.’’ Said an insider: ‘’ You know Obasanjo is a very smart old man. He documented the refunds and kept copies of the correspondents and documents from Gen Abubakar showing the refunds. In one tranche, there was a refund of about $50m USD… Obasanjo also asked some intelligence experts to track the movement of funds under Abubakar. Because with the drastic drop in the foreign Reserve to half, and there were all kinds of stories to justify it, he did his home- work very well. With people of like minds working with him at that time, I can confidently tell you that Obasanjo got refunded in one single tranche, about $50m, which was refunded to the Nation’s treasury by General Abdulsalami Abubakar. So when we look at people like Abubakar, we just laugh…Corruption is neck-deep in the country. Obasanjo did very well in that regard. He never bothered that he handed over to him, after- all, Abubakar was far his junior in the Military…”
Checks by The New Diplomat show Defence and Oil contracts under Gen Abubakar’s regime did not only quadruple but were the exclusive prerogative of the then Head of State who allegedly engaged in several Oil and Defence contract awards up to the last days of his transitional regime.
Sources confided in The New Diplomat that when Abubakar was initially confronted by Obasanjo’s administration with manifest cases of alleged financial recklessness, Abubakar tried to rationalize the expenditures on grounds that the Foreign Reserved Dipped from $7.1bn to $3.1bn because ‘’ the price of crude oil which dropped from $17 USD to $9USD per barrel.’’ He had also explained that the cost of three nation-wide elections, namely Presidential, Governorship and National Assembly elections coupled with Nigeria’s expenditure on ECOMOG in Sierra leone were very expensive and costly.
An insider added: ‘’ But an angry Obasanjo had used intelligence and sources to track down several funds…and unjustifiable spending. Obasanjo forced him to refund about what is equivalent of N19.5bn as at today in one single tranche. That is really mind-bungling and the height of corruption. He thought that Obasanjo would spare him but Obasanjo knew that he needed funds to take-off and begin to run the government. He didn’t need to give excuses as this government of Buhari is doing now. Hence he had to do the needful by forcing the man to refund some monies stolen under his watch to the national treasury.”
It would be recalled that Gen Abubakar had handed over power to Chief Obasanjo on May 29, 1999 becoming the second Military Head of State to voluntarily hand-over power to a constitutional government, the first being Gen Obasanjo in 1979, when he handed over to Alhaji Shehu Shagari. At the impressive ceremony on May 29, 1999, were foreign functionaries such as late South Africa President Nelson Mandela and many foreign Heads of governments.