Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has taken a big swipe at the immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari accusing him of being “so reckless” with the way he managed the nation’s economy.
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview he granted to an online newspaper, TheCable, the nation’s first elected President of the Fourth Republic in 1999, also commented on why the nation is still groping in the dark due to lack of regular power supply, the situation with the refineries and other issues.
Answering the question why the economy was in such a bad shape, the former Military leader said: “(President Bola) Tinubu said the other day that it was unacceptable that he would spend 90% of his revenue to service debts. I wasn’t spending 90% when I went worldwide to get debt relief. Do you think that anybody would give you debt relief today? (Muhammadu) Buhari was spending money recklessly. I know Buhari didn’t understand economics. I put that in my book. But that he could also be so reckless, I didn’t know. Who would you go to today and ask for a favour?”
On the issues of the comatose refineries he said: “They will not work as long as the government is keeping hold of them. When I was president, I invited Shell to a meeting. I told them I wanted to hand over the refineries for them to help us run. They bluntly told me they would not. I was shocked. I repeated the request and they stood their ground.
“When the meeting was over, I asked their big man (MD) to wait behind for a little chat. Then I asked him why they were so hesitant about not taking over the refineries. He said did I want to hear the truth? I said yes.
“He listed four reasons. One, he said Shell makes its money from upstream and that is where its interest lies. Two, he said they only do downstream or retail as a matter of service. Three, he said our refineries would be bad business for them, that globally, companies are going for bigger refineries because of the economics of refineries. Four, he said there is too much corruption in refineries.”
On the problem with the power sector, Obasanjo said: “You can only get the power sector right when you get all the fundamentals in the power sector right. In 2006, we ordered 42 turbines that should have been completed if not by 2007 then in 2008. My target was 10,000 megawatts of power by 2007. Up till today, I understand that five of the turbines have yet to be installed.
“I have been out of the office for 16 years. If after 18 years when those turbines had been ordered, five have still not been installed, what are you talking about?”