Obasanjo: IBB Is A Fool At 70
ABEOKUTA, August 18, (THEWILL) - Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo today called former self-styled military President, General Ibrahim Babangida a fool, saying he should bury his head in shame for not providing a single power project plant during his eight-year military rule.
Obasanjo was reacting to comments credited to Babangida, who declared his eight years Presidency as a waste for not providing electricity despite of the huge resources available to it.
“If Babangida has decided on becoming a septuagenarian, that he will be a fool, I think one should probably do what the Bible says in Proverbs chapter 26, verse 4. It says don’t answer a fool because you may also become like him. When you go to the same Proverbs chapter 26, verse 5, it says answer a fool so that he will not think he’s a wise man. So, I am now torn between which of the two verses I should follow in this respect.
"I also read where he said in his time, he gave the dividends of democracy and at the same time he regretted. When I read that, well I said Babangida should be pitied and shown sympathy rather than anger or condemnation because the old saying says a fool at 40 is a fool forever and I would say a regret at 70 is a regret too late. Well a regret at 70 is a regret to the grave," Obasanjo said of Babangida.
Obasanjo who also reacted to statements credited to a former Director-General of Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mallam Nasir El-Rufai over his comments on Nigeria Airways privatization, said he decided to stop the sale of the moribund company in the interest of Nigeria.
THEWILL recalls that Babangida addressed the press on his 70th birthday during which he lambasted the Obasanjo administration, particularly on the power situation in the country, as he said the administration did not do enough in the sector.
Addressing newsmen in Abeokuta today at his Presidential Library Project site where he met with some foreign investors, Obasanjo said that he initially did not believed the report credited to IBB until "when somebody phoned me and said this was said, I said I don’t believe it. He said check on all the papers and I said get me all the papers, they got me the papers and I read; it’s a little bit unlike Babangida."
While making further clarifications, he disclosed that some of the allegations raised by Babangida, "were unfortunately not well thought-out. For instance, he talked about our energy. When I was the military head of state, I built Jebba dam; built Shiroro dam, I prepared the foundation of Egbin plant which President Shagari completed and commissioned. That time the money we were making was not up to the money Babangida was making annually for his eight years and yet we built two dams," Obasanjo said, adding "because it was important, you know that power is the driving force for development and for any developing country. But since the building of Egbin power plant, until I came back in 1999 there was not any generating plant for almost 20 years and Babangida spent eight years out of that. Now, he has the audacity to talk about anybody; I think that is unfortunate.
"I started five what they called Independent Power Stations which were stopped for two and a half years. Now that the present administration has started building a new power project at Uyo," the former President stated.
On El-Rufai allegation on Nigeria Airways privatization, he affirmed that he blocked the sale of Nigeria Airways, "not that I attempted to block the sale of Nigeria Airways. When I was military head of state, Nigeria Airways had 32 aircrafts, by the time I came back as elected president of Nigeria, Nigeria Airways had only one aircraft.
"One of the 32 was a wide body, they have all gone and the report on which we worked is there, the amount of money we will have to pay if Nigeria Airways was sold, what we would get out of it is less than 10 percent of the debt we have to pay. That will be the debt Nigeria taxpayers will have to pay; that will not be the way to run the affairs of this country.
"I won’t run my own affairs that way, so I opted for liquidation. So, it was bankrupted, it was liquidated; in which case whatever you gain from liquidation which is also a form of sale, it means the burden will be shared by all the creditors and everybody.
“So, if I owe you 10 dollars and what I sell when I am liquidated is two. That’s what you get. So, I did not allow normal privatization or sale because it would have put very heavy burden on Nigeria. So, Nigerians should know that and in fact my administration should be commended for that.”
Obasanjo further declared that he is ready to show up at any fora to explain himself on the issue declaring, "anybody who wants me for any event, I’m available."