​I Never Said “Buhari Is Worse Than Jonathan” – Femi Falana

I was privileged to have delivered the 2016 Convocation Lecture of Oduduwa University at Ipetumodu, Osun State on November 18, 2016. In the said lecture I had cause to advise the Muhammadu Buhari administration not to further plunge the nation into debt by taking a fresh loan of $29.6 billion. In opposing the proposed loan I urged the federal government to muster the political will to recover the several billions of dollars withheld from the Federation Account or criminally diverted by the parasitic ruling class that has mismanaged the economy of Nigeria since 1999. My views on the proposed loan were well reported by credible print and electronic media.

However, out of sheer mischief and cheap blackmail, some dubious fellows twisted my views and reported that “Falana says Buhari is worse than Jonathan”. Since the image launderers of the ancien regime have a short memory, I am compelled to advise them to google “Falana asks the national assembly to reject Jonathan’s request for $7.9 bn”. In my letter of November 10, 2012, I had urged the national assembly members to advise President Jonathan to jettison the loan option and recover ” the billions of dollars which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and some oil companies have refused to remit to the Federation Account”. But the national assembly approved the request for the loan.

A year later, I pleaded again with the federal legislators to reject the request for another loan of $1 bn for procurement of arms and ammunition for counter-insurgency operations. On that occasion, i asked the legislators to demand an account of the over N3 trillion appropriated for the nation’s defence from 2010-2013. Once again, the loan request was approved by the national assembly. In the course of defending 58 out of the 70 soldiers who were charged with mutiny for legitimately demanding for weapons to fight the well-equipped Boko Haram terrorists, I confirmed that the $1 billion loan had been diverted. In fact, one of the reasons why the trial was held in camera was that our defence was anchored on the criminal diversion of the huge fund.

In a bid to justify the looting of the defense fund the young men were convicted and sentenced to death. In justifying the fraudulent death sentences passed on the soldiers, Marshal Alex Barde (rtd), the then Chief of Defence Staff, said that the boys deserved to die for having the temerity to demand weapons when they could have fought the terrorists with their bare hands! My plea for a presidential pardon for the convicted soldiers was ignored by President Jonathan. Even though President Buhari has granted our prayer and has since commuted the death sentences to 10 years imprisonment, I believe that the convicts ought to be granted unconditional pardon and freed from further incarceration in prison custody. More so, that the Presidential Panel on Arms Procurement has confirmed that the $15 billion earmarked for the procurement of arms and ammunition from 2007-2015 was diverted and cornered by a coterie of military officers. Some of the suspects are currently facing trial for fraud, money laundering and other allied offences.

Having strenuously opposed the recolonisation of the country through questionable loans with unfavourable conditionalities procured by successive regimes I could not have said that President Buhari is worse than Jonathan who presided over a rogue regime. Convinced that there are alternative economic policies I shall remain as constant as the northern star in opposing the mortgaging of the future of the nation. Therefore, let those who are desperately looking for credibility to justify the call for a return to the era of official prodigality count me out of their ill-fated agenda.

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