Friday, 20 November 2015

Jonathan Dissociates Self From Arms Procurement Scandal

Sequel to the ongoing arms procurement scandal levelled against the administration of the immediate past president, Goodluck Jonathan, under the supervision of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki, the ex-president has dissociated himself from the malicious reports.

Speaking at a forum which was co-hosted by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC, United States, on Thursday, November 19, Jonathan who waded into the issue said his administration never awarded any contract in the range of $2 billion for procurement of arms, Premium Times reports.

Jonathan who was the sole speaker at an event titled ‘Presidential elections and democratic consolidation in Africa: Case studies on Nigeria and Tanzania’ said: “I did not award any $2 billion contract for procurement of weapons. Where did the money come from? I did not award a contract of $2billion for procurement of weapons.”

The current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had constituted a presidential investigations committee in August to embark on a probe into the issue of the arms procurement which was said to have been transacted during the immediate past administration.

The investigation revealed that in its interim report that it found extra-budgetary spending by the Jonathan administration to the tune of N643.8 billion and an additional $2.2 billion in the foreign currency component.

All of that was said to have been managed and supervised by the embattled Dasuki.

But on his part, Dasuki had said in a statement on Wednesday that all contracts and accruing payments were made based on the approval of former President Jonathan.

Dasuki also added that due process and military procurement regulations were followed in all the transactions he had supervised.

The retired colonel has said: “Nigerians should note that all the services generated the types of equipment needed, sourced suppliers most times and after consideration by the Office of the NSA, the President will approve application for payment.”

In line with Dasuki’s earlier argument, Jonathan in his speech suggested that the claims by the Buhari-led administration were false and unsubstantiated.

Jonathan who stated that he was aware of allegations of huge sums of money that were said to be missing from the Nigerian treasury claimed that some of the figures mentioned were not believable.

He said: “Sometimes, I feel sad when people mention these figures.”

The erstwhile president said: “When the president (Buhari) paid official visit to the US, there were some figures that were mentioned that I don’t believe.”

Jonathan who said he did not want to join issues with the current government, drew attention to figures like the $150billion alleged to have been stolen in previous Nigerian administrations.

He derided the probability of “$150 billion American money” being missing and “Americans will not know where it is,” adding that at any rate President Buhari did not accuse his administration.

The ex-president said: “He didn’t say my government, he said previous administrations… $150 billion is not 150 billion naira. People play politics with very serious issues.”

“In Nigeria, if you lose $59.8 million in a year, federal and state governments will not pay salaries,” he said, adding that there is no way Nigerian budget can accommodate such a loss without the country coming to a standstill.

“Of course we brought international audit teams, forensic auditors and they didn’t see that.”

Meanwhile, the presidency on its part described the former NSA as a liar following comments he made stating that he was never invited for interrogation by the presidential committee probing the purchase and supply of arms during the last administration.