…says President’s biographer, John Paden.
President Muhammadu Buhari is in possession of some letters, written by former President Goodluck Jonathan, to request “off-budget funds.”
This was contained in Buhari’s biography, ‘Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria’, written by Prof. John Paden and presented to the public on Monday.
In the ongoing anti-corruption war of the present administration, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had arrested and quizzed many of Jonathan’s former ministers and aides for alleged diversion of funds.
Most of them, including the former NSA, Sambo Dasuki are being prosecuted for allegedly diverting funds meant for arms procurement and using the funds for the prosecution of the 2015 presidential election in favour of Jonathan who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.
It is generally believed the former government officials could not have spent the funds in question without Jonathan’s instructions.
An online dictionary defines “off-budget funds” as funds not provided for or included in the regular Federal Government budget; funded by sources other than the federal budget.
The author captured the travails of the former office holders in Chapter 20 of the book, which is titled ‘Corruption and law in military procurement’.
Under the subheading, ‘The role of PDP leaders in the diversion of funds’, Paden said although the letters, written by the former President, were in Buhari’s possession, the President’s purpose of waging the corruption war was not to jail former top government officials but to retrieve the stolen funds.
He said the stability of the nation’s political system seemed to be at stake if the EFCC should go after Jonathan or any former President or military leader for that matter.
He, however, said such former Nigerian leaders could trade their knowledge for immunity and help the government identify patterns and sources of corruption.
Paden added, “The fact that Buhari was enlisting the help of international community in the probes lent weight to the seriousness of his effort – and also meant that alleged offenders had nowhere to hide.
“Would the trail lead to former President Jonathan himself? As of the early months of 2016, it appeared that the EFCC was not going after Jonathan. Nor was it going after former President Obasanjo.
“The question of the stability of the entire political system seemed at stake.
“In addition, a number of senior military officers, who had served as Heads of State – from Babangida to Abubakar – seemed off-limits.
“Indeed, rumours swirled that if the probes went after senior officers, they might push back because they had extensive networks in the active military services.
“At the same time, the knowledge such heavyweights possessed could well be traded for immunity and would help to illuminate the patterns and sources of corruption.
“Buhari had letters in his possession showing Jonathan’s requests for off-budget funds. But Buhari’s larger purpose was not to put former high-level officials in jail. Rather, it was to retrieve stolen funds and to change the political culture of the country.”