Despite calls from some segments of the country for members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) to stop harping about corruption in the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday in Lagos said he and members of his administration will not desist from talking about how their predecessors mismanaged the country’s resource.
Mr Osinbajo was speaking at the 10th annual Bola Tinubu Colloquium, organised to commemorate the birthday of the former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu.
The vice president restated his stance that the corruption during Mr Jonathan’s administration was to blame for the country’s economic downturn.
“As for our fight against corruption, as our president said, if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us. Let me reiterate that from all I have seen in government in the past three years, the corruption of the previous five years is what destroyed the Nigerian economy,” he said.
“Every time we talk about corruption, our opponents say don’t talk about it just do your own. Don’t talk about it. The Yoruba have an adage: ‘when the matter become that of tails, the frog will say let us keep it and don’t talk about it”. We would talk about it. And the reason why we would talk about it is because we must let our people know that we cannot afford to go this way again. Never again should we allow a system where people take the resources and steal the resources of this country, use the resources against the people and at the same time they want to continue in rulership,” he added.
Mr Osinbajo said the ruling APC got into government with the determination to change the prevailing narrative of Nigeria as a corrupt country and the government is bent on seeing that those who stole from the public treasury will be made to face the music.
“When we began this journey in 2014, our party the APC was determined to change the dominant narrative of the country. We were determined to ensure that the notion of a country rich in natural resources and even richer in human capital but being destroyed daily by corruption and impunity in the looting public resources will have to change that narrative.
“We saw a nation where a few impostors have so privatised the commonwealth that while oil prices were at their highest and we were getting growth figures as high as 70 per cent, the majority of the people remained extremely poor.”
He said the government and the ruling party must show that it was different from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was in power for 16 years, by investing more in people and infrastructure instead of enriching a few people.
He said even when the government was earning less than its predecessor, it released more money toward infrastructural development while the previous government either looted or mismanaged most of its earnings.
“And we as a party and your government must show the difference between us and the party and government that impoverished our nation. Let me give you an example: in 2014 when oil was between $100 and $114 a barrel, the actual releases for capital for three ministries, Works, Power and Housing – then they were separate ministries – was in total N99 billion while transportation got N14 billion and agriculture got $15 billion. I am talking about actual releases not budgeted. Let’s compare that to capital releases to the same ministries in 2017, when oil prices were between $50 and $60 a barrel, N415 billion for Power, Work and Housing. N80 billion for transportation, N65 billion for agriculture totaling N560 billion at a time when we were earning at least 50 per cent less than we were earning in 2014. This is possible because if you do not steal the resources of the people you can spend it on the project that concerns the people. It is as simple as that.
“When we insisted that the TSA must be done, we suddenly could see for ourselves how much money was available in the system and so much money was available. This same government that spent 139 billion only on agric, power works, housing and transportation between January 2015 and the elections; they stole N100 billion in cash and $289 million all together were released in cash. This form of money was in excess of the amount of money that was spent on power works and housing.
“We must know this, there is no country in the world that would allow its resources to be plundered the way our own resources are plundered and expect to be economically viable, it is not possible. Nigeria is unlike any other country because of the level of corruption that was perpetrated. We must stop that corruption. When you fight corruption the way we have fought corruption, corruption is going to fight back. The fight back is taking place everywhere. It is taking place on social media. But we are determined.
“I will give you one more example, N3 billion was lost to what is called the strategic alliance contract of the NNPC, the people simply took the oil and never paid back the same $3 billion. The ministry of finance and the economic management team are now proposing the following roads: Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Road, Second Niger Bridge, Enugu-Port Harcourt Road, East-West Road, Shagamu-Ore-Benin road, Kano-Maiduguri Road, Abuja-Lafia-Akwanga-Keffi Road and Lagos-Abeokuta Old Road. That is why the criminal looting of this country cannot be allowed to continue and those who did it must be held to account.”
He said the government’s social investment programme was aimed at alleviating the economic problems of Nigerians who have become despondent. He said the successes that the programme has recorded was a testimony to the people-oriented policies of the government.
“On one of our campaign trips to Zamfara State, the president said look at the eyes of these people, they expect us to fix the problem of the economy as soon as we got into office. The content of the campaign trip emphasised a few things: security, the economy and by the economy here, in particular the welfare of the people, and corruption. On just the question of the welfare of the people, we realised that if we waited for the economy to pick up and then provide jobs for the people, especially young people, many would have given up hope and many would have ended up in all manner of illegal activities. So, we decided on two things: one to invest heavily in agriculture; to create jobs in the hinterland and provide enough food in all of the urban areas.
“In our agriculture programme many will readily agree that this has been a tremendous success. Several millions of Nigerians have been employed in agriculture. We also decided to put in place an audacious social investment programme to the tune of N500 billion- the largest pro-poor programme in our nation’s history and the largest social safety net at least in sub-Saharan Africa. This was despite the fact that in 2015 oil prices fell over 50 per cent and our production fell from over two million barrels a day to less than 700,000 barrels a day. Sometimes even 500,000 barrels in 2016. We have seen today the empirical evidence of the successes of the programme and for us to listen to the testimonies and the stories. Two hundred thousand jobs for our graduates employed in the N-Power programmes, 200,000 more waiting to be employed, they have been pre-selected, 10 million children being fed daily in 22 states so far. Almost 700,000 household benefitting from conditional stipends.”