The mouthpiece of Northern Nigeria, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), has backed the call on President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to probe former President Olusegun Obasanjo over the alleged $16 billion power project scandal.

The ACF said that doing so would send a signal to other public office holders on the need for prudent management of the nation’s resources.

National Publicity Secretary of ACF, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim Biu, in an exclusive interview with The Nation, said it is worrisome that those that were responsible for the failure of the power project were not brought to justice despite the previous probe by the National Assembly.

According to the ACF spokesman, “the calls by some Nigerians on President Buhari to probe the alleged $16 billion power project scandal is not misplaced, considering the harm corruption has inflicted on the nation and the promise by this regime to fight it.

“From 1999 to date, the promises made by our political leaders to improve power supply have mostly been observed in the breach.

“The National Assembly had sometimes probed the alleged corruption associated with power supply, but Nigerians are yet to know the fate of that probe.

“Most worrisome is the lack of the political will to bring to justice those found guilty by the probes which have, unfortunately, continued to encourage corruption by making it a way of life and culture.

“Therefore, the change we need is to make public officials, however highly placed, account for their malfeasance while in office.

“The probe will serve as a deterrence to others and also instill prudence in managing the public office for performance.”

Following fresh alarm by President Muhammadu Buhari, some civil society organizations have demanded the probe of the alleged $16 billion power contracts.

These organizations include Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL).

SERAP said: “We welcome the focus by President Buhari on the massive allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the power sector and urge him to expand his searchlight beyond the Obasanjo government by ensuring accountability and full recovery of the over N11 trillion squandered by the three administrations.

“It is only by pursuing all the allegations and taking the evidence before the court that the truth will be revealed and justice best served. This is the only way to conclusively address the systemic corruption in the power sector and an entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators.

“Addressing impunity in the power sector should be total. This would help improve the integrity of government and public confidence and trust in their government. It would also serve as a vehicle to further the public’s perception of fairness and thoroughness, and to avert any appearance of political considerations in the whole exercise.

“By immediately pursuing justice and recovery of any stolen assets in the power sector, the Buhari government would be acting in the public interest, and consistent with the spirit and letter of the constitution, particularly Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution dealing with Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, and providing that high-level public officials have a clear obligation to eradicate all corrupt practices and abuse of power.

“SERAP notes that lack of access to uninterrupted energy/electricity services has forced many citizens to use and collect frequently contaminated surface water for drinking and household uses; and denied the citizens the ability and services for boiling, purifying, disinfecting and storing water, as well as for irrigation to increase the productivity of lands, thereby decreasing the availability of food supplies and undermining employment opportunities.”

On its part, CACOL said: “Our stand is that the Federal Government should waste no time further but should probe whoever is behind poorly implemented national projects.

“Now that the President has confirmed that $16 bn was wasted under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Buhari administration needs to summon enough courage and political will to bring the culprits to book."

“Power, influence and political leanings should not be considered in bringing whoever is guilty to book.”

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