Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday said the difference between the present administration and “the other” was that the “Muhammadu Buhari administration is not corrupt.”
He said once a country had a President that was not corrupt, half of such country’s financial problems were over.
Osinbajo spoke at the Seventh Presidential Quarterly Business Forum for Private Sector stakeholders at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said, “Today, with less revenue, we have increased capital funding by 400 per cent … in power, works and housing, in defence, transportation and 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 per cent of your financial problems are over. This is what I have seen; I can demonstrate it with facts and figures.
The Vice-President, however, admitted that corruption had not been completely dealt with under the present administration.
He said where corruption had become systemic, the scourge could not be dealt with easily.
“I am not saying that corruption under this administration has been completely dealt with; no, certainly not.
“Where corruption has become systemic, 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 corruption fighting back. The system fights back and it’s 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 thrived 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 fed on corruption and it affects all aspects of governance, so trying to deal with it is certainly not a walk in the park,” he added.
Osinbajo said if government continued in the same manner, the country would make the kind of progress that it deserved to make with all the resources at its disposal within a few years.
“If we stick to the policy of ensuring that as far as public finance is concerned, there is no impunity and we hold people to account, I am confident that this country has what it takes to make the kind of progress we deserve to make as a nation,” he added.
According to him, while the current administration with less revenue has increased capital funding by 400 per cent in the power, works and housing, defence, transport and agriculture sectors, the President Goodluck Jonathan administration with surplus funds, spent N14bn on agriculture in 2014, N15bn on transport, and spent a total of N153bn on infrastructure in three years, adding that two weeks before the 2015 elections, the sum of N150bn was essentially shared.
He said, “I do not think that any consideration about our economic development can be properly and honestly done without fully analysing corruption, especially grand corruption in the public finance space.
“Sometimes when we talk about our economy we talked about the fact that we have relied on a single commodity.
“Yes, that’s quite true but the fact is that proceeds from that single commodity were regularly hijacked by a few. If we had spent the proceeds 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 that many of us are familiar with the so called Strategic Alliance Contract with the NNPC and NDDC, the promoters of the companies made away with close to $3bn, almost a tenth of our reserves.
“There is no way someone will make away with a tenth of your reserves and 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.
“In one single transaction a few weeks to the the elections in 2015, sums of N100bn and $295m were just fretted away by a few.
“When you consider that in 2014, as the minister of finance has said, oil price was an average of $110 a barrel and only N99bn 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 huge leakages and huge corruption. Corruption that completely makes nonsense of even what you are allocating to capital projects,” he added.
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, were in attendance at the event.
Other participants spoke about the work that had commended on the Apapa-Wharf Road, contractors that had abandoned work on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the need to revive railway for ease of transporting goods from ports, the need to stop multiple checks at airports, the need to take interest in education and the need to revive eastern ports, including Onitsha, Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar ports.