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Federal Government: Past Presidents took bribes before awarding contracts

The Presidency yesterday carpeted past presidents of the country who, it alleged, demanded tips before awarding contracts.

It also took a swipe at critics that have condemned President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged frequent foreign trips, declaring that the President could govern the country from anywhere, saying the overseas trips have yielded a lot of advantages to the country.

In what was titled, “President Buhari’s active diplomacy is a big plus, not a problem.,” Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, noted that unlike past leaders who demanded kick-backs before awarding contracts, the President has abolished the old ways of doing things. He said: “For one thing, President Buhari’s travels have not been excessive by the standards of this country’s past leaders and those of his counterparts in other countries.

Given advances in modern travel and technology, a leader can maintain communication and govern from the air, on the road or at sea. “Given the advances made with satellite feeds, a leader needs not to be tied to his desk to make important decisions.

The days of frequent travels by leaders is the new norm, it is not something that will go away, no matter the volume of crocodile tears shed by a critical opposition.

“Roughly three years ago, President Muhammadu Buhari visited the Kingdom of Morocco. He asked King Mohammed VI to give Nigeria from their rich phosphate mineral so that fertilizer can be produced here at home for the teeming farming population. Agreement reached, President Buhari set up a Presidential Fertiliser Initiative in his office.

“Three years down the road, 24 moribund blending plants are now working, providing 100,000 direct and indirect new jobs to Nigerians. The cost of fertilizer is down by more than 50 percent. Nigeria makes a saving of USD200 million used for its annual import and a further N60 billion in budgeted annual subsidy.

“Nigeria wanted to build a power plant at Mambilla in the North-east. The plant design had been made in 1959, a year before independence.

We have dreams of modernizing our railway system because, without power and railroad, national development will continue to be a pipe dream. “In planning for his trip to Beijing for a meeting with President Xi Jinping, President Buhari rightfully chose to prioritize his requests, put Lagos-Kano railway and Mambilla power plant on top: President Xi’s word is the silver bullet. Today, China is giving these projects together with the finance and many more.

“On the recent trip to Russia, President Buhari had a wish list that included railways, power projects and military procurements. He had a wish to get the Russians who own the Aluminum smelter plant, built at a whopping USD4 billion to operationalize it; Ajaokuta Steel plant built at a similar cost, with 20,000 engineers trained to operate it, many of whom are now dead from hunger and lack of engagement is another 40 year-old problem.

“To these and others, President Putin held the keys to the solutions. President Buhari asked, and he was given. It will take volumes of books to document the achievements of these trips.”

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