Obasanjo’s $13.5 bn power sector fraud and a shady steel company deal

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Ahead of the release of the probe panel’s report on the power sector, Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, says instead of US$ 16 billion as stated earlier, former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration squandered US$ 13.5 billion..

The Sun newspaper quoted the speaker as dropping the hint when members of the House met with some business leaders in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital, Wednesday. According to Bankole, the full details of the report will soon be out.

He also said although US$ 16 billion was appropriated for the Obasanjo administration and US$ 13.5 billion eventually released for the power project, it was regrettable that the immediate past administration could not account for the large sum of money spent on the project.

The speaker also picked holes with the banking consolidation which was carried out in 2005.

According to him, when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, canvassed the idea, he gave the impression that banks would be bigger and serve the ordinary Nigerians better but regretted that the project had left Nigerians poorer through high interest rates and other high bank charges.

On Steel, Bankole attributed infrastructural deficiencies to the low development of the steel sector while reasoning that Ajaokuta Steel Company could have been used to exploit the steel sector.

To this end, he accused the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and the Federal Government for fraudulently selling Ajaokuta Steel Company for US$ 300 million even though the actual worth was US$ 4.7 billion.

More so, he claimed that the core-investor did not commit itself with a downpayment before taking over the company.

“The payment arrangement is just like you don’t put any money down. Those things cannot work,” he said, insisting that the Ajaokuta Steel Company was vital to the implementation of the seven-point agenda of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

He later mandated the House of Representatives Committee on Privatisation and Transportation to revisit the sale of the enterprise.

“Some companies, under the guise of core investors cannot come to Nigeria, buy our assets and begin to cannibalise them. We sold these companies to them so that they can be improved upon,” Bankole said. Panapress

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