A civil society organization known as Coalition for Nigeria Movement, CNM, has accused ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan of milking the nation’s treasury dry during their tenures.
It claimed that the duo, when they held sway as President, turned government funds into ATMs where they, their associates and cronies withdrew money to finance their lifestyles.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday in Abuja, CNM’s National Convener, Mr. Sabo Odeh lamented that under the governments of Obasanjo and Jonathan, Nigerians were almost misled to believe that democracy is synonymous with corruption.
He, therefore, recommended that the Federal Government should conduct a comprehensive audit of government funds by probing national finances from 1999 – 2015 so as to bring the ex-leaders to book.
The group also opined that Nigerians should declare former presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan as persona non-grata and not accord either of them any respect either in public places as former presidents or elder statesmen.
Text of Sabo’s speech reads: “Considering our history of truncated democracy and aborted republics, our successfully keeping at democracy for upwards of two decades is a feat that is worth celebrating, which the country has rightly celebrated.
“It is however alarming that there is a pocket of evil people that are saddened by the very fact that Nigeria’s democracy have survived their repeated assault on it, which has made their intentions to abort two decades of continued democracy to fail serially.
“So toxic is their bad wish for the country that they are unable to hide their disappointment and anger that the country is on the path of thriving in spite of their willful acts of sabotage against the nation.
“These axes of evil have in recent times spoken through two former presidents, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. It is interesting that these are men that Nigerians have the misfortune of enduring as leaders for fourteen out of the twenty years of democratic rule.
“These are men under whose administration Nigerians were almost misled to believe that democracy is synonymous with corruption; they presided over fourteen years of the country being parceled out to friends and family – government funds became ATM where they, their associates and cronies withdraw money to finance their debased lifestyles.
“There is a long list of national assets that were fraudulently privatized against the interest of the country. Proof that these entities were sold under questionable terms is in the very fact the sectors are being held hostage while the supposed buyers are unable to meet basic benchmarks.
“One would have expected that the disgrace of being found to have looted the collective treasury would have forced these men to seek out the path of honour but it appears they are too far gone to the dark side for them to be remorseful.
“Instead of finding ways to atone for their sins in the hope that they will one day be considered in the light of legends like MKO Abiola and President Buhari, they have rather resorted to piling more sins on their existing transgressions. Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan have decided to continue assaulting the country on several fronts and in various guises.
“We are of the opinion that their resort to attacking the integrity of Nigeria while making it appear as if their target is President Buhari is a strategy to draw attention away from the years of bad governance that they inflicted on Nigerians.
“It is a concept of making the current state of affairs appears dismal so that the horrible foundation they had laid for our democracy can be forgiven.
“While they are free to attempt exonerating themselves from their misdeeds, what they are not allowed to do is to go about it in a way that further does damage to our body politics.
“The utterances of Obasanjo and Jonathan in recent weeks are capable of sparking off ethno-religious crisis in the country because they continue to speak in ways that pitch one section of the country against the other.
“They incite Christians against Muslims, they pitch other ethnic nationalities against the Fulani even as they encourage some parts of the country to wallow in victimhood, a situation that has fueled separatist agitations of different shades.
“They even went beyond merely making inflammatory and inciting utterances to actually courting foreign support to destabilize Nigeria.
“Taken with their recent ugly remarks and posture in the public domain, these subversive actions all point to the fact that Obasanjo and Jonathan not have the interest of the country at heart as erroneously believed in certain quarters.
“Let us point out that these evil utterances are not in any way intended to be fair criticism of the government of the day. They are rather intended to make the country fail.
“It must be noted that in the era of both men as presidents, they would not tolerate such from anyone as those who criticized them are summarily dealt with.
“We must further state that Nigeria is not the property of a few people. The country belongs to us all. A consequence of this is that we must rise up to ward off the attacks by these men and their agents on the long term stability of Nigeria.
“They have cornered enough resources to buy citizenship in other countries for themselves and their family members; in order to retain what they have looted they have no qualms about plunging the country into crisis.
“Nigerians owe it a duty to protect themselves from these kind of desperate men and any measure necessary to curtail their excesses and stop their evil plans against the country.
“Desperate times they say call for desperate measures. Our belief is that the unethical behavior of these two men should be visited with unorthodox responses as a deterrence.
“To this end, the Coalition for Nigeria Movement hereby presents a 7-point demand to the Federal Government, which must be met to prove that the present administration is no colluding with Obasanjo and Jonathan to ink the country. Our demands are:
“That the Federal Government conduct a comprehensive audit of government funds by probing national finances from 1999 – 2015.
“This probe should be with a view to unravel the mysteries surrounding the loss of Nigeria’s resources, which has become imperative to unveil the true identities of those who stole Nigeria blind but are today parading as elder statesmen.
“That anyone indicted by the aforementioned investigation should be made to stand trial and handed the stiffest punishment applicable where they are convicted.
“This is to serve as deterrent to those that think they can loot the treasury and then assume the roles of critics in order to evade justice.
“That the federal government, as another phase of the anti-corruption war, prioritize the recovery of assets that were illegally privatized or sold to family members and associates of Obasanjo and Jonathan.
“In addition to recovering the said assets, government should open corruption probe and trials of those that took part in this heinous crime against Nigeria.
“That the nation’s anti-graft agencies should get a marching order to trace foreign assets that were illegally acquired using looted funds using international collaboration platform that exist for this purpose.
“Countries where assets are domiciled should be encourage to cooperate with Nigeria while the necessary procedure for asset recovery and forfeiture for proceeds of crime should be lodged with those nations to recover that has been stolen from Nigeria.
“That henceforth Nigerians should declare former presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan as persona non-grata and not accord either of them any respect either in public places as former presidents or elder statesmen.
“This stance shall persist is until such a time that all the sponsors of terrorism either directly or indirectly are unraveled in the country.
“That the Federal Government should henceforth not extend any invitation to state functions to any of Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan for using their positions in the past to enrich themselves and families to the detriment of the common masses of our beloved country.
“That the federal government notifies friends and partners of Nigerians to stop further transactions and interactions with both men or risk being enemies of Nigeria.
*Countries that continue to hobnob with either men would have proven that they are the international components that are fanning the embers of the security breaches in Nigeria.
“That no Nigerian will be harassed, arrested, prosecuted or criminalized for publicly humiliating, insulting or taunting these men for what they have done to Nigeria.
“This should be a new approach to treating treasury looters and those that have proven that they are enemies of the country.
“The Coalition for Nigeria Movement will not stop at just making these demands but will begin a nationwide mobilization and contact activities to get more Nigerians on board in the quest to properly criminalize the theft of public assets and running subversive activities against the country irrespective of who is involved.
“We shall also be mobilizing Nigerians to join us on piling pressure on the government of the day not to shy from its responsibility of defending Nigeria’s democracy against subversive past leaders.
“We want Nigerians to remember that it a sacred duty for all of us to ensure that our democracy survives into perpetuity. This is a task that requires that all sentiments are discarded while national interest takes primacy.”