- Says budget implementation starts next few days
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has said Nigeria lost about $15 billion to fraudulent and corrupt practices in the security equipment spending during the last administration.
A statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, said Osinbajo disclosed this yesterday at the University of Ibadan during a book presentation by the Ibadan-based elite group, House of Lords, which just published an indepth analysis by different experts titled: ‘Nigeria: The Challenges of Growth and Development.’
”It was discovered a few days ago that the total amount of money lost just to corruption in part of…and provision of security equipment in the military is close to $15 billion,” Osinbajo said.
While observing that the Muhammdu Buhari presidency had kept on a sustained fight against corruption, Osinbajo said the country simply could not sustain the shocking level of public sector corruption in particular.
He said: “When you look at the sheer amount of money that has been embezzled, the sheer amount of money lost from any of these various cases of corruption, you will find that far too much has been lost.”
The vice-president also gave an assurance that the implementation of the 2016 budget would start in the next few days.
“By the grace of God in the next few days we will begin the implementation of one of the most ambitious budgets in our history. Ambitious not just in its size but more in its broad range of fiscal and other socio-economic policies,” he added.
He said the nation’s foreign reserves stood at about $27b and added that the $15 billion figure “is more than half of the current foreign reserves of the country.”
Osibanjo then told the audience made up of top Nigerian elites drawn from academics and business that what the Buhari presidency was trying to do was to ensure that there were consequences for corruption.
He said: “We try to send a message that anyone who is found to have been corrupt would not only dislodge the property he has stolen but will also pay for it in terms of the sanctions of the law.
“I believe strongly that it is important to send a message that no public officer can steal the resources of this country and expect to escape. I hope the message would be loud and clear and it will inform behaviour in the future.”
Throwing a challenge to the Nigerian elite, Osinbajo said: “The limits of the growth and development of most nations largely depend on the strength of the value-driven influence of their elite, indeed it is evident that the reason for the development and growth of most societies is not resources, but values, (otherwise African countries will be the most developed.)”
Citing the example of Singapore to back up his submission, the vice president noted that the reasons the tiny, resourceless island was richer than most of sub-Saharan Africa countries with their vast resources were strong values such as hard-work, integrity, innovation promoted by a committed elite.
He said responsibility is what he called “The burden of privilege.”
Osinbanjo said the elite had a great role to play to help Nigeria realised her potential.
He explained: “I have argued elsewhere that the privileged, or the elite, both individually and collectively, have a responsibility, an obligation to society, to plan it, organise it, order or reorder it and above all, to make sacrifices for it, for the maximum benefit of all.”
Osinbajo said the privileged elites would have to, individually and collectively, chart the course for the millions.
Based therefore on the recent past of the country, Osinbajo noted that, “to a large extent the ethical space has been vacated by the Nigerian elite.
“In its place are all manner of excuses and false justifications of bad behaviour. Today ethnicity and religion protect corruption and abuse of power. Mediocrity is encouraged by the subjection of merit to variations of quota systems. Quotas are not in themselves wrong, but must be the exceptions not the rule.”