*says present is more corrupt than his
A former military head of state in Nigeria, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida has declared that he did not steal $12. billion Gulf War oil windfall in 1991.
IBB was speaking in an exclusive interview with a team of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s press crew for the agency’s in-house magazine, “Zero tolerance.”
He also said that he was not corrupt and that his administration had been investigated by most of his successors without any incriminating evidence brought against him. IBB alleged that the current administration was more corrupt than his.
He denied looting billions from the treasury, challenged anyone with proof of corruption against him to reveal it.
He said: “Let me tell you something, maybe you have a hand in it. I have been the most investigated President Nigeria has ever had. By now, somebody should have come forward to say here it is.
“Every government that came after me investigated me because of that perception because they wanted to retrieve the billions I stole.”
He said he and those who served in his administration were saints and angels going by the level of corruption in the country.
“Well, we had different approaches. I think my government was able to identify corruption prone areas and checked them. If you remember in this country, there were things they call essential commodities. These are also sources of corruption. You go and buy Omo or food or whatever it is and we got government to take its hands off such activities. Let people use their own brains, hands and labour, nobody has to do it for them. So we did but I am proud to say that was much more effective.
“I don’t have the facts but if what I read in the papers is currently what is happening then I think we were angels
On the allegation that his military regime institutionalized corruption in Nigeria, Babangida said though he had been aware of such insinuation, the assumption is incorrect.
He added: “Yeah, I know. Maybe I have to accept that but anybody with a sense of fairness has no option but to call us saints. I give you an example, in a year I was making less than $7billion in oil revenue. In the same period, there are governments that are making $200billion to $300billion.
“With $7billion, I did the little I could achieve. With $200billion, there is still a lot to be achieved.”
The ex-President said being branded as corrupt was a question of perception.
He said: “It is said that perception is not reality. Why the perception? I should ask you because it is the perception of the media. You believed quite wrongly that we are all crooks and I bear no grudge whatsoever against anybody but I know time will come when they will say after all, they did something and this is what is happening.
“Now, even our fiercest critics give us credit for certain things we did.”
Concerning the $12.4billion oil windfall from the 1991 Gulf War, Babangida insisted the money was not stolen.
“First of all, that war lasted three months, about 90 something days. It didn’t last up to a year. So get the facts straight.
“Secondly, the oil price at that time was below $18 per barrel. So, there is no way you could make $12.4billion in three months.
“We could not have made that amount of money but Pius Okigbo knew what he was doing. He had brains and he said between 1986 or 1988 to 1994, monies accrued to the Federal Government at that time was about that money you are calling windfall. He said so. It is there in his book.
“Then the other thing he said, the monies could have gone into generative investment. I am not an economist but I have an understanding of what this is,” the former president stated.