Fresh facts have emerged that the refusal of President Muhhamdu Buhari to grant some concessions to former President Olusegun Obasanjo might have been the reason he wrote to attack President Muhammadu Buhari advising him not to seek re-election in 2019, TheNigerian News has authoritatively gathered.
According to impeccable sources in the know of events, it was revealed to TheNigerian that the letter was as a result of the refusal of President Muhammdu Buhari to accede to a couple of requests made by Obasanjo in recent times.
The source informed TheNigerian that former president Obasanjo had formed “the habit of wanting to put his cronies in sensitive positions of authority. He is also interested in a couple of deals which didn’t go his way, and he resorted to attacking the president in the form of an open letter” he stated.
Further investigations revealed that the first point of disagreement was the $5.792bn contract for 3,050MW Mambilla power project that was awarded to Messrs China Gezhouba Corporation, Sinohydro Corporation Limited and CGOC Group Limited. A top presidency source who pleaded anonymity stated that “ Obasanjo was neck deep interested in the Mambilla power project. He brought in some companies and wanted President Buhari to use his veto power to authorize the minister in charge to hand over the project to his preferred companies, but President Buhari declined and insisted that due process is followed.”
The source further added that the position of President Buhari didn’t go down well with Obasanjo, who was lived when the contract was eventually awarded to China Gezhouba Corporation, Sinohydro Corporation Limited and CGOC Group Limited. “ Obasanjo was livid that the president didn’t dance to his tune despite the pressure he mounted. At some point, Obasanjo accused some close confidants of the president as being the brain behind the refusal of the president to grant him the concession, which wasn’t the case. President Buhari wanted due process to be followed and wondered why Obasanjo was so interested in the project.” The source stated.
Another source stated that as part of his ploy to get the contract for the Mabilla power project, former president Obasanjo visited the site of the power project to run an assessment in November 2016. During the visit, Obasanjo was quoted to have said “I sited the Mambilla Hydro Power Project on the plateau due to the great potentials it has for electricity generation for the country. Nigeria must complete the project because the cost is getting higher by the day, and if we do not do it today, we must have to do it tomorrow.”
“He was there to run an assessment for himself, and from there he started putting pressure on President Buhari to tilt the contract towards the contractors he arranged.” Our source said.
A source knowledgeable in the history of the Mambilla power project hinted that the idea of the Mambilla plateau was first conceived in 1982 during the time of President Shehu Shagari.. he said that “the project was planned to consist of 2,600MW base-load hydroelectric power to be implemented in 5 years. The first phase of the project was planned to span the period 1982 – 1985. It consisted of two stages, the pre-feasibility and feasibility stage. The Project was first awarded by the former President Shehu Shagari’s administration in 1982. However, in the first stage, the soil investigation was never completed, and the whole project came to a halt for financial reasons and political changes.” He said.
“In 2005 former President Olusegun Obasanjo resuscitated the Mambilla hydropower project and placed it and the supervisory Ministry of Power under the Presidency so that it could be accelerated. A German company, Lahmeyer International was invited to review the previous work that had been carried out, which included the geotechnical work. After this, the company (Lahmeyer) was awarded a $3.2 billion contract in 2005 to conduct feasibility studies on the multi-billion naira Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project.”
The source further added that former president Obasanjo wants total control over the project just like he did while he was president in 2005, and one of the reasons why the project didn’t see the light of the day. “President Buhari resisted this overture, and this made Obasanjo angry.”
In a related development, it was gathered that former president Obasanjo became overbearing with demands as he is used to and the president felt uncomfortable with him and at some point tried to distance himself from him, which didn’t go down well with Obasanjo. This much was gathered from a top security source who stated that “Obasanjo for some strange reasons feels a sense of entitlement in this government which he thinks he is not getting hence the open letter.”
“One would have reasoned that Obasanjo would have written a personal letter to President Buhari if indeed he meant good. What stops him from seeking an audience? But he chooses to do a publicity stunt to create an impression that he meant well for Nigeria.”
The source also added that the final straw that broke the camel’s back was the recent appointment of a substantive Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). The source stated that former president Obasanjo wanted his candidate from one of the south-west states to fill in the slot. “When he approached the president with the request, the president politely told him that there was a recommendation for an insider to be appointed as DG. But this didn’t go down well with former president Obasanjo, who felt slighted for the second time.”
“In truth, we warned the president to expect something from Obasanjo and true to our advice he wrote a childish letter.” He stated. He further added that “some of us warned Mr. President about him earlier and how he would make many demands and if he doesn’t get what he wants, he would take to the newspapers to appear like a saint.”
Another source in the camp of former president Obasanjo, who pleaded anonymity, stated that the former president at some point complained bitterly about the disposition of the president in turning down his requests despite his efforts towards his election in 2015.
“At some point, Baba was not happy with President Buhari on a couple of issues which he kept to himself. He only spoke in parables from time to time.” He stated.
“Some very close people to him had advised him to make fewer demands on the president, but you know how Baba does his things. Maybe he still wants to be president of Nigeria again.