…says Jonathan spent N153bn on infrastructure in 3 years, shared N150bn two weeks to 2015 elections
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has admitted that while the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was yet to completely deal with corruption in the country, it has demonstrated enough political will to reverse the trend.
According to him, while the current administration with less revenue, has increased capital funding by 400 per cent in power, works and housing, defence, transportation, agriculture sectors, the Jonathan administration with surplus funds, spent N14 billion on agriculture in 2014, N15 billion on transportation, and spent a total of N153 billion on infrastructure in m three years, but two weeks before the 2015 elections, the sum of N150 billion was essentially shared.
Osinbajo said this at the 7th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum for Private Sector stakeholders at State House Conference Center, (the old Banquet Hall), Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Presidential Quarterly Business Forum is a platform for private sector/business leaders and groups to engage with senior Government officials (Ministers, Advisers, Heads of Agencies) on a regular basis.
The Ministers of Petroleum; Ibe Kachikwu, Budget and National Planning; Udoma Udoma, Finance; Kemi Adeosun, Industry, Trade and Investment; Ikechukwu Enelamah and Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Dipo Dipeolu who were attendance in attendance made presentations.
The private sector participants spoke about the work that has commended on the Apapa-Wharf Road, contractors that have abandoned work on the Lagos -Ibadan Express Way, the need to revive Railway for ease of transporting goods from ports, the need to stop multiple checks at airports leading to delay, decry planned increase in alcoholic drinks, the need to take interest in education in other to avoid situation where I’ll-trained people man critical sectors, the need to revive eastern ports including Onitshe, Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar.
The Vice President who queried the fact that most Nigerians for some reason do not discuss the role of grand corruption in crippling the nation’s economy, admitted that though corruption is not easy to stamp out, said if the country sticks to the policy of ensuring that as far as public finance is concern, there is no impunity, people are held into account, then the economy will soar in no time.
He said, “I must ask again what was wrong with the Nigerian economy and what do we need to do to correct the flaws. There are several issues many of which have already been articulated but I want to talk about what I think is the biggest problem which for some reason we hardly talk about when discussing our national economy.
“This is grand corruption in the public finance space. Sometimes the way we talk about the Nigerian economy it does appear as if it is the economy of say Norway or somewhere where all things are equal. Even when we refer to what has taken place in our economy we almost sound as if this is in every sense a very normal business environment, a very normal public finance environment but that is not the case.
“I do not think that any consideration about our economy development can be properly and honestly done without fully analyzing corruption, especially grand corruption in the public finance space.
“You see that despite record high levels of oil prices, very little was invested in infrastructure and a record level of leakages were recorded in the past few years.
“This is the fundamental issue in our economy. Corruption affects everything. It’s affects even judgement as to what sort of infrastructure to put in place or whether infrastructure will ever be complete. It is so fundamental that we can’t even think of our economy without thinking of what to do about it.
“Sometimes when we talk about our economy we talked about the fact that we have relied on single commodity and that is one of the reasons why we are where we are. Yes, that’s quite true but the fact is that proceeds from that single commodity was regularly hijacked consistently by a few. That is really the problem. If we had spent the proceeds from that single commodity the way we ought to, we won’t be where we are today.
“Most of the proceeds went to rent seekers in the industry and production. For example, I’m sure many of us our familiar with the so called Strategic Alliance Contract with the NNPC and NDDC, the promoters of the companies made away with close to $3 billion, almost a tenth of our reserves. There is no way if someone made away with a tenth of your reserves that you will not have a major economic shock. And if we don’t deal with it, if we don’t talk about it, how will we be able to discuss our economy in a real honest way with a view to ensuring that these things do not happen again”, he said.
Continuing Osinbajo notes that, “In one single transaction a few weeks to the the elections 2015, sums of a N100billion and $295million were just fretted away by a few.
“When you consider that in 2014 as the minister of finance has said that oil price was an average of $110 a barrel and only N99 billion was spent on power, works and housing and when we talk about the economy we talk as if these are normal by every standard.
“Nobody should talk about the economy when you have this kind of huge leakages and huge corruption. Corruption that completely makes nonsense of even what you are allocating to capital projects.
“We saw from the presentation of minister of finance that N14 billion was spent on agriculture in 2014, transportation N15 billion, so the total spent on infrastructure in those three years were N153 billion and in two weeks before the elections N150 billion was essentially shared.
“So if your total infrastructure spending is N150 billion and you can share N153 billion, that is completely incredible. That sort of thing doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. And when we are talking about the economy, we must simply understand that that is the problem,” he said.
The Vice President on what the current administration has down with little resources available to it said, “Today, with less revenue, we have increased capital funding by 400 percent as the minister has said, in power, works and housing, in defence, transportation, agriculture.
“If we want to do analysis in Nigeria, it is either fraudulent or ignorant if we do not bring money that belongs to corruption into the mass.
“This is what distinguishes, in my own respectful view this administration from the other. I can say that with what I have seen, if you have a president who is not corrupt, 50 percent of your financial problems are over. This is what I have seen, I can demonstrate it with facts and figures.
“If the president is corrupt, the entire financial system is compromised and that is what we have seen with the figures we have just seen. That is something that is absolutely important that we must take into account.
“I am not saying that corruption under this administration has been completely dealt with, no certainly not. Where corruption has become systematic such as we have in our country today, you cannot deal with it in one full fell swoop, it is not possible. In any event you still have a lot of corruption fighting back. The system fights back and its both an internal and external fight back and you have to be steadfast and strategic to win the battle.
“There’s no way that you have a system such as ours that has consistently thrive on corruption and proceeds of corruption and public financing in particular, that will give up and say guys, the problem has been solved. No.
“It is a system that has feed on corruption and it affects all aspects of governance, so trying to deal with it is certainly not a walk in the park.
“But I want to say that that task has already begun and that task is being done consistently and I believe that going forward in the next few years, no matter how we are criticized, if we stick to policy especially controlling excesses and corruption in public finance, this country will make the kind of progress that it deserves to make with all the resources at our disposal.
“If we stick to the policy of ensuring that as far as public finance is concern, there is no impunity and that we hold people to account, I’m absolutely confident that this country has what it really takes to make the kind of progress we deserve to make as a nation.”