Former President Goodluck Jonathan has responded personally to the arms procurement scandal surrounding the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, under his government.
An interim report of a committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the procurement of arms and ammunition during Jonathan’s regime had stated that the administration, under Dasuki’s supervision, carried out extra-budgetary spending to the tune of N643.8 billion and an additional $2.2 billion in the foreign currency component.
Although Dasuki has dismissed the staggering figures, he said that all contracts and accruing payments were made based on Jonathan’s approval in accordance with due process and military procurement regulations.
However, speaking at a forum in Washington DC, on Thursday, Jonathan, who turned 58 today, November 20, stated that Buhari’s government needs to handle facts and figures more responsibly.
Regretting that he has been forced to respond to the lies being peddled about his government, he said that after leaving government, he had planned “to keep away from the public for at least 12 months.”
His words: “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 former president was speaking at an event titled: “Presidential elections and democratic consolidation in Africa: Case studies on Nigeria and Tanzania”.
The session was co-hosted by National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) with Mr. Jonathan as the sole speaker.
He continued: “Sometimes, I feel sad when people mention these figures”.
“When the president (Buhari) paid official visit to the US, there were some figures that were mentioned that I don’t believe.”
He drew attention to figures like the $150billion alleged to have been stolen in previous Nigerian administrations, but Mr. Jonathan scoffed at 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.
“He didn’t say my government, he said previous administrations… “$150 billion is not 150 billion Naira,” he stated, suggesting, “People play politics with very serious issues.”
The former president was equally dismissive of people who alleged that the sum of $59.8 million was misappropriated within a 12-month period while he was in office.
“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,” he said.
Today, November 20, is the former president’s birthday. He turns 58.