Nigeria’s Senate formed an ad hoc committee Thursday to probe the administrations of former presidents Goodluck Jonathan, Umaru Yar’adua and Olusegun Obasanjo. The 13-member committee will investigate the leaders' management of funds dispensed to Nigeria’s power sector, local newspapers reported.
The oil-rich West African country has the largest economy on the continent, but Nigeria still suffers from widespread corruption and poverty. About two-thirds of people living in Nigeria have no access to grid electricity, which has stunted economic growth. However, the Nigerian government has spent billions of dollars on the power sector over the years. The new Senate committee will probe whether corruption and graft have blocked Nigerians from receiving adequate power supply.
Since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, the country’s leadership has spent $29.63 billion on power with little progress to show for it. Most recently, the Jonathan administration spent $8.26 billion on the sector while Yar’Adua, who died in 2010, spent $5.375 billion and his predecessor Obasanjo spent $16 billion, Vanguard Newspapers reported.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in May, has sworn to drive out corruption from previous administrations. While on the campaign trail, Buhari said both Jonathan and Obasanjo had questions to answer about their government’s spending.
“We need to know how much has been spent so far. Over $16 billion was spent by Obasanjo regime, yet we don’t have power. Also, the government under Jonathan said we now have over 4,000 megawatts, yet our people don’t have the power,” Buhari said at a presidential debate in 2011, Vanguard Newspapers reported.
Buhari and his All Progressives Congress defeated Jonathan and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in the March elections, marking the first time an incumbent lost in Nigeria’s presidential polls. Jonathan’s party had ruled Nigeria for 16 years, but was widely accused of corruption. Buhari’s administration is also investigating Nigeria’s corrupt petroleum sector and the whereabouts of billions of dollars in stolen oil money.