Vice President Yemi Osinbajo last Sunday took a swipe at past governments in Nigeria accusing them of draining huge funds with little or no investment in infrastructure. Specifically, he accused the IBB/Abacha administration, the Obasanjo/Yar’ Adua governments and the Jonathan administration of this gross dereliction of responsibility.
It has become the trade mark of this government to hold past governments responsible for all ills in society even where empirical evidence shows otherwise. Three years after the government was voted into power, its top officials by their pronouncements give an impression that they are still on a campaign trail. One wonders whether they believe they were elected to govern or discredit previous governments – endlessly.
I do not hold brief for the Obasanjo/Yar’Adua or the Jonathan government. My intention below is to give facts and figures as they concern the IBB administration.
Initiate and execute laudable projects
All through the years Ibrahim Babangida was president of Nigeria, (1985-1993) the cost of oil which was, and still is, the main foreign exchange earner for Nigeria never went beyond $50 per barrel per month on the average. Despite this, the government was able to initiate and execute laudable projects which are there for all to see.
If not for blind prejudice, Vice President Osinbajo should have known that it was Babangida who moved the seat of government from Lagos to Abuja in 1991, a project which had been on the drawing board through successive governments since the first pronouncement on it was made by General Murtala Mohammed in 1976.
In Lagos where Osinbajo served as a Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General for eight years, Babangida left a legacy of infrastructures, the most spectacular of which is the Third Mainland Bridge which had been on the drawing board of successive governments and which he completed and commissioned. Before this, he carried out a comprehensive rehabilitation of Eko Bridge.
Apart from the Presidential Villa which serves as the residential and office complex for the President and his Vice, President Ibrahim Babangida provided the basic infrastructure that made Abuja begin to function as Nigeria’s capital. It is either that the Vice President is poorly briefed or his memory has failed him. He ought to at least know which government built his office complex and that of his principal.
The infrastructure that Babangida provided for Abuja are just too numerous to mention in the space any newspaper will be willing to give. We can only mention the Supreme Court Complex; the Federal Secretariat; Apo Legislators Quarters; ECOWAS Secretariat Headquarters Abuja; the International Conference Center, Abuja; Abuja International Airport Phases 1 and 11, Central Bank and the NNPC Headquarters Abuja; Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company (The Mint) complex Abuja.
Other projects worth mentioning in Abuja include the National Intelligence Headquarters; State Security Services Headquarters; provision of infrastructure in Jabi and Gudu Districts; Abuja Central Areas Phases 1 and 11; Asokoro and Asokoro South West Extension 1 and 11; Maitama and Wuse General Hospitals; Asokoro, Kubwa and Abuja Municipal Water Supply Schemes; Federal Mortgage Bank Headquarters; the National Women Centre etc. These and many more infrastructure provided during the IBB years were responsible for making Abuja a reality.
Additionally, we can count an endless list of landmark elements of economic structures put in place by the IBB administration. These have survived to this day (with a handful of them merely rechristened) and they constitute a stable foundation for future Governments to place their building blocks on. It was the Babangida Administration which for the first time in the country’s history, gave Nigeria a structure and Legal Framework for managing its relationship with its Oil Company partners and the opportunity for accelerated technology acquisition by Nigerians in the upstream sector.
Final Investment Decision
On coming to office in 1985, the Babangida government quickly made the Final Investment Decision that same year on the plastics industry raw materials, generating Phase 1 Petrochemical Industries, which for long had remained on the drawing boards with past generation of bureaucrats. Construction quickly commenced and the project was completed and commissioned in 1988. The major component industries are:
The Polypropylene Plants, Expan and the Carbon Black Industry both in Warri, Delta State. The Linear Alkyl Benzene Industry and the completion of the Kaduna Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) both in Kaduna.
In 1988, the government created NPDC, along with other subsidiary companies of NNPC to “take over the major functions of oil exploration and production responsibilities of the NNPC and was initially endowed with ten concessions.” Three years later in consonance with the indigenization policy, a substantial number of indigenous companies were allocated acreages and provided with special incentives in order to give Nigerians first hand experience in oil exploration and production.
The NPDC executed its first major exploration task in ABURA FIELD located in OML (open mining license), which it bought over from the former owners: TENECO, MOBIL and SUNRAY in 1990. It became a success story and by the next year, it was producing 3,000 barrels of crude oil per day without any assistance from any expatriate company. The ABURA feat was followed up in 1990 by NPDC successfully drilling CREDO – 9 well, boosting its production capacity to 10,000 barrels per day in 1992.
In the Gas Sub Sectors, the Babangida administration recorded two major achievements – the laying of the foundation stone of the Oso Condensate Project in Eket which has a 500 million barrels recoverable barrels daily production of 100,000 barrels and the successful construction of the Nigeria LNG at Bonny. The government also completed and commissioned the ESCRAVOS to Lagos pipeline and achieved the experiment on the Gas-powered car.
It was the Babangida that created the institutional framework for resolving the environmental pollution and other problems created in the Niger Delta by oil exploration. OMPADEC, the Oil Minerals Production Area Exploration Commission, the most notable official response to the crisis and contradictions of the Niger Delta was established by Babangida’s government in 1992. It was later rechristened NNDC in 2000.
In the area of higher education, the Babangida government among others established the University of Abuja, Federal Universities of Agriculture in Makurdi and Abeukuta, Federal universities of Technology at Bauchi and Yola, four technical Colleges of Education at Asaba, Bichi, Omoku and Potiskum, built and transformed the former Anambra State University of Technology Awka. The movement of Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital to its permanent site in Shika was initiated by him and substantial work done by his government.
Uncountable road projects
I can also list a few out of the many uncountable road projects, carried out by President Babangida’s government: The dualization of Kano- Zaria- Kaduna road; dualization of Kaduna-Abuja road; dualization of Ibadan-Ife road Oyo/Osun States; dualization of Warri-Benin road, Delta State; Nembe-Brass Road, Kolo-Nembe Road, Yenegoa-Kala Road all in Bayelsa; Bori-Bonny Road, Port Harcourt-Degema-Buguma Road, all in Rivers State; Otukpo-Oju Road, Benue State; Bali-Jambari Road and Access Road to Gembu-Mambilla Plateau, Taraba State; Mokwa-Tegina Road Niger State; Lafia-Doma Road Nssarawa State; Rehabilitation of Calabar-Ikamga-Abag road. Etc.
All these and more infrastructure were provided by the Babangida administration when it was in office between 1985-1993. Still, Vice President Osinbajo says the IBB/Abacha administration (1990-1998) realized $199.8billion with no infrastructure to show for it. This is rather strange.
In his haste to castigate the IBB/Abacha years, Vice President Osinbajo does not even spare his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari. It is on record that General Abacha as the Head of State between 1994 and 1998 set up the Petroleum Trust Fund with General Muhammadu Buhari as Executive Chairman. The mandate of the fund was to provide the infrastructure that Osinbajo is yelling about today.
By raising allegations against Abacha, Vice President Osinbajo is directly questioning the widely touted integrity of President Buhari who presided over the affairs of the PTF that enjoyed a first line charge from the Federation account. His allegation appears to provide answers to an interim investigation into the affairs of the Fund chaired by veteran journalist Dr Haroun Adamu and assisted by Barrister Boss Mustapha, the current Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF. The investigation discovered that questionable contracts worth N207 billion were awarded by PTF under Buhari.
Many questions raised over different payments
There were also many questions raised over different payments totaling N135.59 billion made by the Fund for various projects, leaving a debt burden of more than N70 billion owed numerous contractors, consultants, manufacturers, publishers and suppliers who waged a ferocious war on the Interim Management of the PTF.
There were other questions on how N500 million belonging to the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, disappeared mysteriously? These were some of the questions raised in the preliminary report of the Interim Management Committee, IMC-PTF, set up by President Olusegun Obasanjo to wind-down the activities of the organization.
To the best of my knowledge, these questions were never answered even though they were widely published in the media.
Yomi Osinbajo is a Professor of law specializing in the law of evidence. He is also an ordained Priest. He attained these Olympian heights before he became a Vice President. As a professor of law and a Pastor, he is expected to speak the truth and nothing but the truth. As a Vice President, he is expected to speak as a Statesman. Regrettably, all these ingredients were missing in his outburst that Sunday in Minnesota, the United States of America. He instead sounded more like a rabble-rousing politician. I expected his antecedents to place him on a higher pedestal.
Emmanuel Yawe is a seasoned journalist and the former Managing Director of Gongola Press Ltd. Yola.
He currently resides in Abuja.