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Promoting Good Governance.

Osinbajo: We can’t discuss the economy without those who stole our resources in the past

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has reversed the grand corruption that characterised governance in Nigeria in the past, and has set the country on a firm path of growth and development.

Speaking during the Ogun State Investors Forum on Tuesday, Osinbajo said the economy of Nigeria could not be discussed without reference to the years of indiscriminate stealing of the country’s resources by a few corrupt leaders.

For instance, Osinbajo said that the sum of $3 billion was frittered away in one single policy of the immediate past government. This sum, Osinbajo said, could have been used to finance several capital projects, such as the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road, the second Niger bridge, the Enugu-Portharcourt road, the East-West road, the Shagamu-Ore-Benin road, the Karo-Maiduguri road, the Abuja-Lafia-Akwanga-Keffi road, and the old Lagos-Abeokuta road.

“That’s what the $3 billion that some people made away with, could have done. And that’s why it is important for us to understand that our country’s problems must be analysed from the perspective of what our real issues are,” he said.

“We can’t talk of the Nigerian economy without talking about the blight that was caused years ago by people simply stealing the resources of this country.

“In one single transaction, the sum of N100 billion and $289 million in cash were released three weeks to the 2015 elections. And that release, of course, was money that was essentially embezzled.

“When you consider that in 2014, when oil prices were at an average of $110 a barrel, only N99 billion was spent on Power, Works and Housing, those three ministries put together. Agriculture and Transportation got about N14 and N15 billion respectively.

“So the total spent on capital (expenditure) in 2014, on those areas I’ve mentioned, was N153 billion; and over N150 billion was released and shared in three days. So this is the enormity of what we are talking about.

“There is no country in the world that can survive on grand corruption on the scale that we are talking about.

“That is why it was important for the Federal Government of Nigeria, under President Muhammadu Buhari, to reverse that grand corruption. So we spent, in 2017, N1.3 trillion on capital, the highest spent in the history of the country, earning almost 60 percent less than we were earning in 2014. So you can do far more with less, if you are prudent with the resources of this country.”

On Monday, during the 7th presidential quarterly business forum for private sector stakeholders, Osinbajo was quoted as saying that Jonathan’s government spent only N153 billion in three years.

“We saw from the presentation of the 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,” he had said.

But his speech on Tuesday appears to be a clarification, to reflect that the N153 billion released for capital projects were specifically for five ministries: power, works, housing, transportation and agriculture, in 2014.

Meanwhile, Reno Omokri, former aide to Jonathan, has since denied the allegation that N150 billion was shared few weeks to the 2015 general election.

Omokri said it was sad that Osinbajo had “surrendered his tongue to Satan to be used to spread slander and lies”, daring him to produce evidence to back his allegations.

There has been no official response by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

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