President Muhammadu Buhari has accused the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan of deliberately provoking Nigerian soldiers into mutiny by its actions and turning round to arrest and prosecute the soldiers.
He said the past administration, while fighting terrorists, sent soldiers to the battlefield without arms and ammunition.
Buhari made the accusation in an interview he granted the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation and monitored by The PUNCH.
He said his administration’s investigation into the activities of the immediate past government revealed that instead of procuring arms and ammunition for the soldiers, funds meant for the equipment were shared by government officials.
He said, “We investigated and discovered how funds that were pencilled down for arms procurement were diverted and shared by government officials who served the last administration.
“The government at that time sent the soldiers to the battlefield without arms and ammunition to prosecute the war. That was what led some of them to mutiny. They were arrested and detained because of this.”
Despite the December deadline he had earlier given the military to end terrorism in the affected part of the country, Buhari admitted that the country might not win the war completely by the end of the month.
He however said a lot of progress had been made by the military. He said the terrorists themselves were aware that they could no longer take over communities and local governments like they were doing under the past administration.
“If people are going to be fair to us, they themselves know that the Army is winning the war. You can no longer find any huge number of Boko Haram members in Adamawa and Yobe; only may be, in about three local governments of Borno in the area around our borders with Chad Republic. They are no longer in position to threaten the country, so we have won,” he added.
Justifying the arrest and ongoing prosecution of arms scandal suspects, Buhari said the government would use documents that were already in its possession to prove to the courts that the suspects stole.
He added that their ill-gotten wealth would be confiscated and they would be jailed.
On the economy, the President said out of the nation’s N2.2tn debt, his administration inherited N1.5tn domestic debt while foreign debt accounted for N0.7tn.
He restated his position that Nigeria was not poor, but said the country was rich, lamenting that corruption remained the bane of development.
The President added that that was why his administration had been busy plugging the leakages in the revenue-generating agencies such as the Nigerian Customs Service and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation among others.
He explained that the money saved from the exercise would be properly utilised to run the country, especially in this era of dwindling oil price.
On the N5,000 monthly his administration promised to make available to the unemployed and the most vulnerable Nigerians, Buhari admitted that not all those who were in need of the money would get it.
He said governments at all levels would collaborate to identify those who would benefit.
In his reaction on Sunday, however, Jonathan said he didn’t plan to lose the Boko Haram war as being suggested by Buhari’s comments.
Rather, he said he tried to protect the constitution, which he said he sworn to defend when he assumed office.
The former President spoke through his Minister of National Planning, Dr. Abubakar Suleiman, in a text message sent to one of our correspondents.
The former minister said the ex-President did everything within his power to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.
He said, “No responsible government would strategise to loose a war. President Jonathan sworn to defend Nigeria sovereignty and territorial integrity and he did everything possible to achieve that height in the fight against the insurgents.
“It is unfair therefore for Mr President to perceive such efforts by his predecessor as criminal and treasonable.
“The President should, in an attempt to build this country, make such pronouncements that would further unite us as a people than that those that would divide us. Posterity will judge everybody.”