Yemi Osinbajo
Yemi Osinbajo

Says enough of herdsmen violence

Olawale Olaleye

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Saturday in Lagos that public officers would now be made to account for their wealth as part of the anticorruption campaign of the administration. He said the change being pursued by the government was an existential desire and not a mere slogan.

Osinbajo spoke during a town hall meeting held at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, organised by United Action for Change, a change advocacy group led by National Legal Adviser of All Progressives Congress, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN).

The vice president, who fielded questions from a wide range of interest groups from different sectors of the polity, talked tough on the violence currently being perpetrated by herdsmen in various parts of the country. He warned that violence of any sort was no longer acceptable to the Buhari presidency, stating, “Nobody can enforce any type of right by violence. The use of violence to dispossess others is unacceptable!”

Osinbajo said henceforth both serving and former public office holders must have proper explanation for the sources of their wealth because the era of people becoming emergency billionaires was over.

“Anybody who can’t explain his wealth must be brought to account. Everyone who has served in public office must account for what they own. This is the change we want Nigerians to support,” he said, adding that the dream of the Buhari government is to have a “country where integrity is our national culture.”

Osinbajo described corruption as a collective conspiracy by the Nigerian people, stressing that the vice is perpetrated by people from different parts of the country. “Nigerians collaborate well in everything, including corruption,” he said.

The vice president assured that there were no hidden agenda behind the policies of the government and declared that at the end of their tenure, Buhari and he would be ready to present their bank account balances and assets to prove to Nigerians that they did not abuse their positions.

On the change promised Nigerians, Osinbajo pleaded that the citizens should be patient with the administration, saying change is a necessity they are irrevocably committed to.

He stated, “Nigerians should never lose hope in the face of the present difficulties. We have the best opportunity to change this nation now because we have a leader, who is honest in all his dealings. There is a determination by this government to change the nation’s direction. The desire for change is existential and irrevocable.

“You can’t change a nation that is so embroiled in corruption without an honest leader. We are completely committed to change.

“Many things may not be completely solved, but there is no doubt about the fact that we are working for change everyday. The president and I have no other agenda but change. At the end of our tenure, you should look at our bank account balance and you’d see that we have not corruptly enriched ourselves. The pain is not going to be the end of the story, but posterity and abundance.”

Osinbajo reiterated the government’s commitment to the social security schemes promised by the All Progressives Congress during the last general election. He said the federal government was committed to a health insurance scheme that would provide coverage for all Nigerians and assured that the administration would soon begin to pay the N5,000 monthly stipend promised poor Nigerians. He explained that a list of one million beneficiaries for a start was already being compiled across the country with the help of the World Bank.

Although, the number of beneficiaries originally envisaged was 25 million, Osinbajo said the present state of the economy could not fund such a huge figure, hence the decision to start with one million people, with focus on the elderly and poor disabled persons who cannot work. He clarified that the extension of the scheme to undergraduates was not promised by the APC during the campaigns. He also hinted that the government had begun to work on employment generation, starting with vocational and technology training for the youth in different fields.

On the scarcity of petrol, the vice president pleaded for the understanding of Nigerians and said government was looking for a lasting solution to the problem. He disclosed that the main cause of the problems in the sector was the fact that the refineries were run by government with all the familiar imperfections. Admitting that private refineries were better run, he said government was seeking private investments in co-managing the refineries.

On entertainment, Osinbajo said the industry had developed organically and government was working on solutions to the menace of piracy. He advocated more collaboration between the entertainment industry and the government.

He, however, observed that majority of those in the industry evaded taxes and advised them to change their attitude towards tax payment.

On the allegations about the removal of the Lagos-Calabar rail line from this year’s budget, Osinbajo restated the presidency’s position, saying, “The Lagos-Calabar and Lagos-Kano rails are in the budget.”

Osinbajo also spoke on the poor state of power. He noted that Nigeria recorded a peak of 5000 MW in February and paid outstanding debts, while curtailing acts of vandalism that often hindered progress in the sector. He observed that the Forcados pipeline damage caused a drop of about 500MW.

“We are currently working on improving the supply of gas to power plants and fixing transmission line problems. We have removed fixed tariff charges. You only pay for what you use. We are also engaged with labour unions on cost reflective tariffs,” the vice president stated.

He noted that the Nigeria/China currency deal would ease business between the two countries by eliminating the usual dollar frustration.

Osinbajo concluded, “We will continue with the town hall meetings across the country. You will be notified on the next one.”

Earlier, the UAC Convener, Banire, in his opening remarks, called for continuous support for the change Nigerians voted for during last year’s general election. He said the body was “conceived as a vehicle to engage and sensitise Nigerians on the philosophical and moral significance of change working through its major platform: Change Nigeria.”​