By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
ABUJA—Immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has denied claims by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State that his administration spent N64 billion to organize Nigeria’s independence celebrations for three years.
However, Jonathan denied the claim, saying only N332.6 million was spent during the three-year period and chided el-Rufai for deliberately lying to confuse the public and give his administration a bad name.According to the governor, Jonathan spent N13 billion in 2011, N15 billion in 2012 and N14 billion in 2013 and N22 billion in 2011, bringing the total to N64 billion.
Jonathan, who responded to the allegation yesterday, described the huge figure as figment of el-Rufai’s imagination and a fabricated lie by a favour-seeker.
In a statement in Abuja, through his former Minister of National Planning, Minister/Deputy Chairman, National Planning Commission, Dr. Abubakar Sulaiman, Jonathan said: “For the record, a breakdown of our anniversary spending between 2012 to 2014 amounted to N332.6 million.
“We challenge the Office of the Government of the Federation to publish these details for the consumption of the public.
“A breakdown of our spending for this event between 2012 and 2104 goes thus: 2012, N107.6 million; 2013, N45 million and 2014, 180 million. So, the question here is where did the billions, as claimed by el-Rufai, emanate from?”
The former President said though he did not have the figures for 2010 and 2011, expenditure for the two years fell within the threshold of what was spent in the last three years and there was no attempt to overspend the country’s resources as claimed by the governor.
He said his administration never budgeted nor spent the outrageous amount alleged by el-Rufai and pointed out that the increment in the 2010 celebration budget was due to the fact that the nation celebrated its golden anniversary that year.
Jonathan also explained that the increase in the 2013 anniversary spending to N174.8 million was due to the incorporation of the National Honours Award Investiture into the event, making it a two-in-one celebration, which was actually done in 2014.
‘Don’t destroy history’
The former President warned government functionaries to desist from abusing the immunity enjoyed by them by destroying history and trading lies just to earn cheap popularity or curry favour from certain quarters.
He said: “It is high time government functionaries desisted from abusing their immunity by destroying history and trading on lies just to gain cheap popularity or curry one favour or the other from certain quarters.
“Perhaps former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, was right in his assessment of el-Rufai when he said in his latest memoirs, My Watch, that his vivid recollection of el-Rufai is his penchant for lying, unfair embe-llishment of stories and inability to sustain loyalty for long.
“That exactly is what el-Rufai has done with his ungodly fabrication of lies against Jonathan’s government.
“One hopes that President Buhari would be on guard against being misled by the likes of el-Rufai, who are hell bent on misinforming Nigerians.”