Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday took another swipe at the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), saying no matter the antics of the opposition party, he will continue to talk about the monumental corruption that took place under the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Speaking at the 10th Bola Tinubu Colloquium in Lagos to mark the 66th birthday of the former Lagos State governor, Osinbajo noted that the Buhari administration is resolute about changing Nigeria’s narrative as a country where corruption is committed with impunity.
This is the second time the VP is knocking the major opposition party over corruption in recent time, the first time being when he revealed that Nigeria under the previous administration led By PDP lost a whopping $3 billion to strategic oil alliance partnership arranged by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
At the Tinubu Colloquium yesterday, Osinbajo described corruption as an existential problem for Nigeria, just as he regretted that the corruption of the previous five years destroyed the country’s economy.
He said, “As for our fight against corruption, we realised as Mr. President said that if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us. Corruption is an existential problem for Nigeria. Let me pause here to reiterate that from what I have seen in government in the past few years, the corruption of the previous five years destroyed the economy.
“Every time we talk about corruption, our opponent say, ‘don’t talk about it; just do your own, don’t talk about it’. The Yorubas have an adage that ‘when the conversation comes to a matter of tales, the frog will say let us skip that, don’t talk about it’. We will talk about it. The reason we will talk about it is that we must let our people know we cannot afford to go this way again.
“Never again should we allow this system where people take the resources of this country and steal the resources of this country, use the resources against the people and at the same time, they want to continue in rulership. The second is that we, as a party and as your government, must show the difference between us and the previous government that impoverished the nation.
Osinbajo continued: “Let me give you an example. In 2014, when oil was $100 and $114, the actual releases of capital for three ministries – power, works and housing- when they were three separate ministries in total was N99 million, transportation N14 million and agriculture N15 million.
“Compare that to the actual releases to the same ministries in 2017 when oil prices were between $50 and $60 a barrel, it was N450 billion, N80 billion for transportation, N65 billion for agriculture, totaling N560 billion, in a time where we are earning at least 50 per cent less than we were earning before.
“What is the reason why this is possible? It is possible because if you do not steal the resources of the people, you can spend it on projects that concern the people. It is as simple as that”.
The VP explained that when it began its journey in 2014, the APC was determined to change the dominant narrative about the country. His words: “We were determined to ensure we change that narrative and the notion of a country rich in natural resources and even richer in human capital but being destroyed daily by grand corruption and the impunity of the looting of public resources.
“We saw a nation where a few in office had so privatised the commonwealth that when oil prices were at their highest and we were getting growth figures as high as 70 per cent, majority of the people remained extremely poor.
“In one of our campaign trips in Zamfara State, Mr President said, look at the eyes of these people; of course, he saw the poverty and desperation in their eyes. He, Buhari said, they expect us to fix their poverty as soon as we get into office.
“For the president on the campaign trail, he emphasised three things: security, the economy and by economy here, in particular, the welfare of the people and corruption. To address 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, many people would have ended up in all manner of illegal activities”.
Osinbajo further said, “So, we decided on two things: one, to invest heavily in agriculture to create jobs in the hinterland, provide enough food locally and for all in the urban areas and I’m sure with our agriculture programme, many will agree it is already a success.
“In fact, Mr President told a story of his own village where people used to lease out farms but now nobody is leasing out their farms anymore. Everybody is on his own farms. The most interesting part of that story is that not only are more people now going to Hajj, they are now marrying more wives.”
The vice president stated that in other to give the people hope, the Buhari administration decided to embark on what he called “a bodacious social investment programme to the tune of N500 billion”, which he said is the largest pro-poor programme in the history of the country and the largest in sub-Saharan Africa.
“This was despite the fact in 2015 oil prices fell by 50 per cent and also our production fell from over 200 million barrels per day to less than 700,000 barrels per day, sometimes even 500,000 barrels”, he added.
Still on the corruption under the Jonathan administration, Osinbajo said, “Nigeria is not like any other country because of the corruption that was perpetrated. We must stop that corruption and that is why we are so committed and that is why when you fight corruption the way we are fighting 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. When you listen to the stories of these young people, vulnerable people, disabled, these are the people for whom we are responsible. These are the people who voted for us. We must ensure that we effect their rights.
“It is for the rights of these people that we will put everything out to make sure that those who had taken the resources of these people are made to pay for it.
” Osinbajo expressed pride that he was able to garner incredible experience in public service under the tutelage of Tinubu when he was governor of Lagos State.
He revealed that the foundation of the development Lagos is witnessing now was laid during that period, particularly alluding to the Land Use Charge concept initiated by the Tinubu administration.
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