$67billion row turns dirty

Jonathan and Obasanjo

Jonathan and Obasanjo

More missiles were hurled at the weekend by the associates of former-President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan’s aides, who have been bickering over the running of the government.

A former Education Minister and one-time Vice President (Africa) at the World Bank, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, ignited the fire.

She alleged at the convocation lecture she delivered at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) that the administration of the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Dr. Jonathan frittered away $67 billion in foreign reserves and Excess Crude Account (ECA) left behind by Obasanjo.

Former ministers Nasir el-Rufai and Femi Fani-Kayode joined the fray in defence of Mrs. Ezekwesili, who came under attack from Information Minister Labaran Maku and presidential aide Dr. Doyin Okupe.

Maku asked Mrs. Ezekwesili to account for the over N40 billion voted for education when she was in charge between 2006 and 2007.

Obasanjo has been unrelenting in his criticism of the Jonathan administration, especially its handling of the Boko Haram crisis.

Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati, in an article entitled “Hypocrisy of yesterday’s men”, published in major newspapers yesterday, took on Mrs. Ezekwesili and other ministers in the Obasanjo cabinet. He also attacked Obasanjo for failing to deliver in the power sector.

“They managed to leave the country in darkness, with less than 2,000 MW; abandoned Independent Power Projects, mismanaged power stations… a better conceived power sector road map is running apace, and the administration is determined to make it better,” Abati wrote.

But yesterday, Mrs. Ezekwesili and el-Rufai took to the twitter to fire back at the presidential spokesman.

Fani-Kayode, in a statement, also attacked Abati and defended himself against the allegation of failure as the Aviation minister, who shut down the Port Harcourt Airport which the Jonathan government has now refurbished.

Mrs. Ezekwesili twitted yesterday: “Those of you that are hungry to smear me better find other jobs to do.

“This woman has never hungered for ignoble wealth.”

In another twit, she wrote: “Comprehension is the act or action of grasping with the intellect. Again, where is the accountability for the use of our resources?”

She twitted: “Lying that my husband – a pastor of Redeemed – owns a church is like saying Father (Matthew) Kukah owns his Catholic (church) parish”

el-Rufai twitted: “The fools of today don’t recall that social media and broadband became prevalent in Nigeria after 2007 due to efforts of the men of yesterday.”

Former House of Representatives member Dino Melaye, who has taken up opposition role against the government through his non-governmental organisation, also twitted yesterday.

“Writing articles about me, el-Rufai and others without our names is an act of cowardice, fear and respect.”

But a twist to the quarrel came with Obasanjo’s surprise appearance at the Presidential Villa yesterday.

The former-President, who has been a thorn in the flesh of the government, worshipped together with President Jonathan at the Aso Rock Chapel.

Abati twitted yesterday: “Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluk Jonathan worshipped together today at the Aso Rock Villa Chapel; and had lunch.”

Obasanjo was accompanied to the Villa by two of his children and a businessman, Mr. Femi Otedola.

The service was also attended by President Jonathan’s wife, Patience, his mother, Madam Eunice and other dignitaries.

Obasanjo, according to sources, gave a very short notice before turning up for the service. He read the second lesson and led a prayer session.

The former President was also said to have visited the Children’s Church with President Jonathan at the end of the service. He prayed for the children.

Obasanjo thereafter followed President Jonathan to his official residence where they had lunch.

Details of their discussion were not known.

The Nation

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