BY AGAPTUS CHIJIOKE & BARTH EZE
Since the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, revealed that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration is handicapped concerning the empty treasury it inherited from the immediate past government of the former President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration, many Nigerians, civil society groups and anti-corruption organisations have been making cases for Tinubu’s administration to probe the Ministers and former officials of Buhari’s administration.
The former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had last week declared that an empty treasury was handed over to President Bola Tinubu, when he came to power a few months ago, adding that the administration is struggling to grapple with the damage done by President Buhari’s administration.
According to Ribadu, despite the financial constraints that have affected budgetary allocations, the federal government would do everything within its power to ensure that there is a robust and viable defence management and apparatus in the country.
The National Security Adviser, revealed this in Abuja on Monday, while speaking at the Chief of Defence Intelligence Annual Conference 2023 themed: “Leveraging Defence Diplomacy and Effective Regional Collaboration for Enhanced National Security”.
The conference was attended by Ministers of Defence, Abubakar Badaru; Minister of State, Bello Matawalle; Permanent Secretary in the Defence Ministry, Ibrahim Kana; the Chief of Defence Staff and other service chiefs.
“I assure you that the federal government will not rest on its oars in ensuring a robust and viable defence management and security apparatus to address contemporary challenges even in the face of enormous budgetary constraints.
“Yes, we’re facing budgetary constraints. It is okay for me to tell you. Fine, it is important for you to know that we have inherited a very difficult situation, literally a bankrupt country, no money, to a point where we can say that all the money we’re getting now; we’re paying back what was taken. It is serious!
“But this administration is doing its best to meet our requirements, particularly the armed forces, and I believe that you leaders will be able to testify to that,” Ribadu said.
Ribadu told his audience that the armed forces under the current leadership have shown serious commitment to addressing the prevailing security challenges bedeviling the country, adding that there were positive changes and improvements both in and outside Nigeria.
“Let us come together as one and continue to support our armed forces and other security agencies with this work of securing our country for peace and stability.
“They have done an amazingly good job without talking and I believe that with the support and the resolve of the leadership we have today in our country, things will only be better.
“We are just four or five months old, but certainly things have changed and we believe that what they are doing, they are doing it right. We want to encourage them, stand by them and support them 100 per cent and hopefully, this country will be okay in a short time,” he said.
According to the NSA, the coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Gabon and Guinea had led to a sudden reversal of democratic fortunes in those countries.
He noted that the essence of defence diplomacy was to pursue strategic engagement with allies and partners at bilateral and multilateral levels while ensuring the attainment of national security objectives.
With this revelation, many concerned individuals are asking Tinubu to start the probe of Buhari’s administration if he was sure of the revelation from his National Security advisor, adding that anything less than that would amount to self-sabotage and playing to the gallery.
Senator, Shehu Sani, in his verified X handle posted that “President Buhari spent eight years calling his predecessor corrupt, now his own ‘JME’ result is out.
Sani said this in an X post on Tuesday while reacting to Ribadu’s comment that the previous administration left the nation “literally bankrupt”.
Sani said Ribadu’s revelation shows the depth of the thievery perpetrated by the Buhari administration.
He charged the Tinubu to ensure looted funds were recovered.
“The revelation by the NSA Ribadu on the state of the economy inherited by the present administration officially tells the vivid story of how the country was plundered and wrecked by the immediate past Government.
“The task now should be to recover the looted funds,” Shehu Sani said.
Again, Tinubu’s Support Group Demands Probe Of MDAs, Officials Under Buhari
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, BAT Vanguard, a support group, has also mounted pressure on the president to order the probe and auditing of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) under the administration of his immediate successor, former President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a press statement in Abuja, convener of the BAT Vanguard, Sola Olofin, challenged Tinubu to also order further investigations into some government officials who have been probed by anti-graft agencies.
According to him, probing and auditing, Buhari’s administration becomes necessary to recover looted funds that could be used for the development of the country at this critical stage.
“There is a compelling need to probe/audit all the MDAs and some individuals who have been fingered in the audacious and scandalous sleaze that marred the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The flurry of revelations emanating from the investigations carried out by anti-corruption agencies of the wanton looting and stealing of Nigeria’s commonwealth by these unpatriotic individuals is one that should be further escalated, thoroughly and holistically investigated.
“The few arrests and probes made by the past administration and the mind-boggling findings make this call for further probe an inevitable necessity. Or how would one explain that just a single official of the government stole as much as N109 billion? Or that trillions of Naira was siphoned by “subsidy cabal” with the active connivance of the Central Bank of Nigeria, or the arrest and probe of a Minister of Power who allegedly stole N22 billion, or revelations by the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on MDAs helping themselves with Government resources upwards of N8 trillion and so on and so forth.”
According to the group, their call for probing is not targeted at the Buhari administration, but rather a continuation of anti-corruption investigations that the immediate past president started.
“The audit will enable the Federal Government to recover looted funds back to the government purse which will greatly assist in the implementation of the ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda.
“This call should not be misconstrued to President Tinubu probing the Buhari Administration, but on the contrary and as a matter of fact, be a continuation of the probe initiated by President Buhari of persons in his government and that of President Goodluck Jonathan who helped themselves and cronies with public funds.”
Meanwhile, another civil society organisation, Centre For Human Rights and Accountability Network, CHRAN, also joined in the call for the anti-graft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), to probe the former President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, over his role in the alleged fraudulent launch of Nigeria Air.
The group equally demanded for immediate investigation of the former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika. In a statement signed by CHRAN Chairman in Akwa Ibom, Otuekong Franklyn Isong, and the Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Comrade Vincent Aluu, said, “the launch which took place on the last day of the Buhari’s government, was criminal and aimed at defrauding the people.”
“On May 26, 2023, Nigerians woke up to the news of the launch of a new national carrier, bearing the insignia of Nigeria Air with an Ethiopian Air registration number.
“CHRAN observes that 24 hours after the purported launch, the airline was seen among the Ethiopian Air fleet.
“According to the confession of the acting Managing Director of Nigeria Air, Captain Dapo Olumide; aviation industry stakeholders and the revelation of the Aviation Committee, House of Representatives, CHRAN is shocked that the launched airline was hired from Ethiopian Air for public display and that the exercise allegedly gulped over N140 billion without any tangible outcome.
“After a careful review of the process, CHRAN notes that the exercise was fraudulent, intentionally designed to divert public funds, highly opaque, shrouded in secrecy, shoddy and capable of ridiculing and tarnishing the image of Nigeria before the international community if not properly investigated.
“CHRAN, therefore, calls on the anti-graft agencies, such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to immediately invite former President Buhari for questioning, for him to explain to Nigerians his role in the entire sham, and how over N140 billion was allegedly spent on a fraudulent project under his supervision.”