President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday lauded a former Nigerian military dictator, Sani Abacha.
Mr Buhari, who served under the late Mr Abacha as head of the Petroleum Trust Fund, (PTF), said the late dictator contributed to the infrastructural development of the nation.
This is not the first time Mr Buhari will be defending his late boss. He once expressed doubt about confirmed cases of theft of public resources by Mr Abacha.
Hundreds of millions of dollars stolen by Mr Abacha and kept in foreign accounts have since been recovered by various Nigerian governments. Recently, Mr Buhari narrated what his government would do with the recently recovered stolen Abacha funds.
Mr Abacha ruled Nigeria as military head of state between 1993 and 1998 when he died in office.
His regime was characterised by abuse of power, wanton corruption, victimisation of pro-democracy activists and killings of notable figures in democratic struggles, ostensibly by agents of the state.
But speaking when he received a delegation of Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday, Mr Buhari said the late Mr Abacha built roads, hospitals and other notable developmental projects when he served as head of state.
The president told the group of supporters that when he assumed office, most of the roads in Nigeria were in terrible condition, adding “some of them were not repaired since PTF days.”
PTF is the Petroleum Trust Fund set up by late Mr Abacha in 1994 to utilise the proceeds of a petrol price increase.
Mr Buhari headed the PTF, which was reputed to have constructed many road projects across the country ironically while the military dictator stole Nigeria blind.
Mr Buhari, who has been criticised for looking the other way while Mr Abacha stole billions of dollars from public treasury while in office, again justified his working with the dictator.
“No matter what opinion you have about Abacha, I agreed to work with him and the roads we did from PTF exist from here to Port Harcourt, to Onitsha, to Benin and so on.”
He said the agency also intervened in education and medical care among others.
Mr Buhari also said the railway in Nigeria “was killed” by one of Nigeria’s former rulers.
The president also took a shot at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, saying the $16 billion the ex-president allegedly spent on power projects was questionable.
He said, “…one of the former Heads of State between that time was bragging that he spent more than 16 billion American dollars, not Naira, on power. Where is the power? Where is the power? And now we have to pay the debts,” in apparent reference to Mr Obasanjo.
Mr Obasanjo has since replied the president, accusing him of being ignorant of the issues surrounding the controversial spending on the power projects.
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