Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Tuesday, said the report of the probe panel he set up when he held sway as the country’s president did not indict the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Gen . Muhammadu Buhari of corruption during his tenure as the Petroleum Trust Fund boss.
Buhari headed the PTF, inaugurated in March 1995, under the regime of the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha. The PTF was established to manage the fund accruable from the increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise know as petrol, from N3.25 to N11.
The PTF was scrapped by Obasanjo on assumption of the Presidency in 1999. The ex-President also set up a committee to investigate the accounts of the PTF following allegations of N25bn fraud in the agency.
Obasanjo’s fresh revelation was made in Ogun State when Buhari and other national leaders of the APC visited the ex-President at his Hilltop residence in Abeokuta.
On the Buhari’s entourage were the APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun; the party’s former interim national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande; a former governor of Lagos State and a national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, and the governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, among others.
Obasanjo said when he looked into the report submitted to him on the alleged fraud in the PTF he did not see anything incriminating concerning Buhari.
He said, “When you were going to become the manager of PTF. We talked about it and when you finished and I took over, we looked into it.
“I haven’t said this publicly, I would say it publicly now. When we looked into it, there was really nothing amiss except that that organisation went from road building to mosquito net-buying and all sorts of things.
“And what the investigation discovered is a bit of inconsistency in prices and all that. In one area, mosquito net might have been given for N50; in another, N45. And I then remarked that this is fishy. We should look into it.
“And I called my brother and colleague (Buhari), I said see this and he said ‘look we are managing billions of Naira and I tried to make sure I see everything.But I will not say that what they have said about this is correct or not correct. But I can assure you, I tried to see everything.’
“I said okay Muhammadu, between me, you and God, was there any personal benefit for you? And you said ‘no.’ I said that is the end of the matter.
“Although there was that investigation, its report was not of any material importance.”
Obasanjo asked Buhari and other presidential candidates to address the nagging issues of insecurity, economy and deficit in infrastructure.
He implored the presidential candidates to focus on issues rather than trivialities.
He said, “I hope people will face issues rather than trivialities. On occasions like this, issues are very important. And you have mentioned three areas which are demanding issues in Nigeria today.
“I will just beg all of you who are contesting to add one to it; you mentioned economy, you mentioned corruption, and you mentioned security.
“I will beg of you to add infrastructure. It’s very important. You may take it as part of economy but I will take infrastructure as special and give it special attention.”
While he described a political party as a microcosm of a nation, which would consist of near saints, devils, rapists, and armed robbers, Obasanjo warned that when the party wanted to go into government, it must look for men and women of integrity.
Speaking earlier, Buhari said he would tackle corruption while the resources would be used to address infrastructural deficit.
He said if elected, his administration would also give priority to security and fix the economy, stressing that Obasanjo had more experience than him and others in governance.
He said, “It’s a fact that you know more than all we know about the problem that we are in. But what we’ll do is try to convince you to believe us that we are going to do better.
“We have been going around three fundamental issues: security, economy, corruption. This vicious circle is what the APC is determined to break.
“Because without security, there is no way the country can settle down not to talk of living in it. So many people, educated and uneducated, some said up to 60 per cent, will say Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder.
“We believe that if we are able to stop corruption, a lot of resources will be available to invest in infrastructure, get the factories to reopen, get jobs and get goods and services. So security, economy, in terms of employment, production, manufacturing, goods and services, and then agriculture will again be given impetus to employment.”
Buhari was accompanied by his running mate, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, the party national Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, national leader of the party and former governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, former Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Bernabas Gemade; former governor of Osun state, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former governor of Ekiti state, Segun Oni and the host governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosu.