From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
•Says Diezani’s travail, tip of iceberg
Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole yesterday disclosed in Abuja how former president Goodluck Jonathan spent N3.5 trillion funds of Pension Commission (Pencom) and Ministry of Finance on recurrent expenditure.
The governor also said despite the media hype by the former administration that it rebased the economy, the impact was not felt by Nigerians.
He said he was not surprised by the current travails of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke in the United Kingdom insisting the nation’s economy was badly managed over the years.
Oshiomhole spoke with State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock, Abuja:
“I don’t think anybody should be surprised (about the former minister’s travails) because the most favourable commentator on the Nigerian condition, both the economy, the polity and society, everybody agree that our economy was badly mismanaged over the past several years. I have not seen one commentator that disagrees.
“Even when they talk about rebasing, and so what? Have you rebased the level of poverty? Have you rebased prosperity? Have you rebased unemployment? Have you rebased homelessness? Have you rebased hunger?
“So, I have not seen anyone that says Nigerian people are doing better. This was never my issue. I was only a spokesman of National Economic Council.
“But in this country, when you speak out, all the arrows would be fashioned to attack. But one of the things I learnt in life at the age of 17 when I got into the leadership of labour is that the truth does not require supporters club. It can stand on its feet any day. You can hit it. You can kick it. You can bomb it, but you can’t destroy it.
“The truth is that a lot of money was stolen and what you are seeing is just a tip of the iceberg because when you imagine what accrued to Nigeria consistently from $140 (per barrel) averaging $108 over a long period of time and yet your treasury is empty and you were running a budget deficit.
“You were devoting 85 percent of your budget for four consecutive years on recurrent; you were borrowing and you drew the entire pensions fund.
“Yesterday, I saw a lot of analysis of how pension funds should be invested on infrastructure.
“You challenge Pencom and Ministry of Finance, you will discover that over N3.5trillion was drawn down by the previous government from pension funds to support recurrent expenditure, not to support infrastructure.”
“I wonder why you want to hear it from me because some of the issues we parrot flow from what we have read from your electronic media and print media arising from what you have observed.
“There have been probes, there have been revelations where whistle blowers have been removed from office, they became guilty for speaking out.
“I believe that time will tell how much was taken and who was involved. I think what you are hearing now is like appetizer. It is sickening. It used to come from America, now its British.”
When asked if the Federal Government has a hand in the former minister’s ordeal, Oshiomhole answered: “It is not about who has a hand in what. I think it is about law and order. In other climes, institutions do their work. They are not at the beck and call of political authority. They have their mandate and the law specifies this and it is scrupulously followed.
“I am the happiest person because I have been in government for seven years without being in power. I was in government, I could not call a Commissioner of Police and talk as a security officer.
“I was haunted by all manners of persons. You kill a snake in Edo, they will put the snake on life support in Abuja and they keep harassing us.
“Now, all those venoms are dead and buried. For the first time, I am excited and happy not just for personal benefit, but for the changes I am beginning to see.
“They have not started scrutinising, just blocking the holes, it is no longer flowing like before and so the propensity to indulge in those conspicuous habits already curbing themselves.
“People are regaining sanity, human rationality is returning and the idle class that makes money without office or business address whose only address is an iPad and cell phone with appropriate phone numbers are all lamenting and not sure of tomorrow”.
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