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FLASHBACK: When Jonathan asked for $1bn to fight Boko Haram, Tinubu condemned it
In July 2014, Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan sought approval from the National Assembly to borrow $1 billion (N168 billion) to fight Boko Haram. Many immediately rose against this move, alleging ulterior motives. One of those who stood out among the critics was Bola Ahmed Tinubu, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which, now in power, just acted likewise.
Less than a week after Jonathan sent the letter of request to Senate President David Mark, Tinubu released an article condemning the decision, suggesting the loan would be used to fight opposition and not terrorism, and demanding for exactly what the government planned to spend it on.
“The news that President Jonathan has requested the National Assembly to approve his request to seek a loan of one billion dollars purportedly to battle Boko Haram terrorism should lead any person with sober conscience to fall out of their chair,” he had written.
“Hasn’t he presented the National Assembly defence bills and budgets totaling trillions during the past three years? Boko Haram has been terrorizing throughout this period. Tell me, what has changed, what is so different now that he must stack another one billion dollars atop the funds already given him to defend and protect the nation?”
“The answer is nothing except that elections soon approach,” he said, providing an answer himself.
“This loan is not intended to defend Nigeria any more than a pig is built for aerial flight. It is intended to launder his image and buy foreign favour that he may conduct his coming electoral misdeed in international silence.
“In reality, this loan will be used to buy the election and pay for the intimidation of the opposition and electorate. Most of it will go into the PDP coffers. The portion which finds its way to the armed forces and security agencies will be to purchase their services in suppressing all who are not PDP. The loan will not be to fight terrorism. It will be to fight the legitimate dissent.”
On Wednesday, Mansur Dan Ali, Minister of Defence, revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the release of $1 billion “for the purchase of more equipment for the military” to fight insecurity in the country ― the same amount requested by Jonathan in similar circumstances, including one year before election.
Many, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have criticised the approval. However, Tinubu has said nothing close to the statement he released in 2014. Perhaps APC’s National Leader is privy to reasons why this case is different from that of four years ago or he is awaiting the right moment to voice out.