PRESS BRIEFING BY SOUTH WEST PEOPLES ALLIANCE
I warmly welcome everyone who has found it necessary to be here with us today. I most especially welcome the esteemed members of the press to this briefing.
Gentlemen of the press, I should start by stating that this conference has become necessary due to the conversation on probing the power sector started by the Young Nigerian Professionals who delivered a Press Conference on Sunday last week in the nation’s capital, Abuja, about the decision of the House of Representatives to probe the power sector spending in the country.
The group had called for unrelenting efforts by the House in that probe, while noting the necessity of accountability as a nation if we were to make any progress.
At their very auspicious conference, the YNP called on Nigerians to monitor the planned probe of all power contracts from 1999 to date, which the House of Representatives is about to kick-start, and ensure that the process is thorough and that all those culpable in the mismanagement of the funds earmarked for power in Nigeria are brought to justice.
Let me start by saying that we agree wholeheartedly with the body of young professionals on this issue. But we will like to take the discussion further by demanding for specific interrogation of key individuals in the whole power mismanagement saga. It’s our belief that there are known actors that were responsible for overseeing the sleaze that took place in the power sector spending since 1999. The most prominent, as every Nigerian possibly knows, is former President Olusegun Obasanjo – who is reported to have spent a whopping sum of about 16 Billion Dollars on power, with nothing worthy or credible to show for it.
We would like to commend the House of Representatives for its decision to again re-investigate the power sector spending. It is our belief that what the House is set to do represents justice for the people of Nigeria who have had to bear the burden and pain associated with the poor power situation in the country. Until this investigation and other related efforts that ensure transparency and openness are undertaken, Nigeria cannot really move forward or record any significant progress.
The unearthing of the sleaze that took place in the power sector is key if we want to start a new footing that ensures proper accountability going forward.
While we are confident that the investigation by the House of Representatives would unmask the fraud that was committed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his cronies in the power sector; we demand that the House should, upon the completion of its investigation, endeavor to submit the name of the former President and his conspirators to the country’s anti-corruption agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), for full prosecution. The ultimate goal is not to undertake a futile ‘name and shame exercise’, rather we want to see a situation where all those involved would face punishment for their crimes against the country.
While he and his co-travelers must be made to return all stolen monies, we demand that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo live up to his avowed commitment to transparency by coming forward to explain his role in the alleged mismanagement of power funds; without directing all those who seek to hold him to account to a self-serving and delusional book whose account has not exonerated him of active involvement in the sleaze.
No doubt, only a comprehensive prosecution that is in tandem with justice will send a strong message to all those who have either managed or still managing our resources that Nigerians will no longer tolerate any corrupt act by anyone, no matter how highly placed. This is the only way we can sanitize the power sector and begin to reset the country.
Oseni Owolabi Ajimomuya (Chairman)
Ismael Lanre Oguntoyinbo (Secretary)