Tuesday, 7 June 2016

SHOCKING REVELATION: How I was pressured to squander crude oil savings; my biggest regret as president

Goodluck Jonathan has revealed how he was forced to spend from the excess crude oil revenue account during his administration. 

The former president made this revelation during interview programme with Bloomberg TV. 

Jonathan revealed that state governors were to blame for pressurising him to spend from the reserve fund thereby reducing the $20 billion at the inception of his administration left by Olusegun Obasanjo to about $2 billion when he left office on May 29, 2015.

“At any time the earnings (from oil) drop, the governors would insist that there is no place in our laws that actually say that the federal government should keep the reserve. They always insisted that a part of it (excess crude revenue account) should be brought.”

Jonathan pointed out that while some argued that the crude oil reserve account was to be used for rainy days, others said it should be used during time of financial difficulty. 

“Yes, it is also part of our own reserves. But, when I was there, I tried to make a special fund called a sovereign wealth fund, so that it would not be easy for one to take from there.” 

The former president identified the agricultural sector as where he made the biggest transformation and that it was the best in the country’s history. 

He said this achievement led to the then minister of agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina, to be elected president of the African Development Bank.

He however regretted that his administration did not do well in the mineral sector industry despite all efforts to attract investors. 

“The blue print and everything was worked out. So, if somebody says I did not diversify the economy, I will say that is not true. Of course, I was president of Nigeria. Sometimes, when people ask me question, it would seem I was the president of Nigeria from Independence till 2015. 

I was president for five years.” On the issue that corruption was commonplace during his administration, Jonathan said there was nothing new about it as it had been the case since the country’s independence. “Perception is based on what people say. 

In Nigeria, somehow it has been a routine. From the collapse of the First Republic, what the military said was the reason for taking over was corruption.

“When the Second Republic collapsed, the same was the story. If there is a major change in government where one political party is taking over power from another one, there must be issues that would be raised. 

“Yes. I cannot say the country, from beginning of independence, there was no corruption. Yes, there was corruption. 

I did well to cut down on corruption. My approach was not to make money available to anybody to touch.” The former president said his administration was able to eliminate corruption in fertilizer subsidies but could not do same in the oil industry. 

“The very people that have been accusing us of corruption are the very people that frustrated it. It’s unfortunate,” he lamented. Meanwhile, Jonathan also admitted that he has been investigated for alleged corruption during his administration by President Muhmammadu Buhari’s government. 

When asked if he has been investigated, Jonathan replied: “Of course, obviously, they investigated and I’ve been investigated.