By James Sowole in Akure
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo yesterday lamented that larger part of the huge amount of money that had been spent in the Niger Delta Region through various intervention programmes had translated to nothing.
Osinbajo stated this at Ilara Mokin, Ondo State where he delivered the Second Foundation Lecture of Elizade University, which was established by a major auto dealer, Chief Ade Ojo.
The lecture was titled “The Future: Here Earlier Than We Thought”
The Vice president while reacting to questions raised at the event graced by dignitaries including top traditional rulers and other people from all walks of life, declared that the Niger Delta Avengers are nothing but a group fighting for their own pockets.
“The NDA are not freedom fighters but people fighting for their private pockets. The people are not fighting for the development of the region.
“They are economic warriors fighting for their private pockets. They are not working for the interest of the region”, he said.
Osinbajo said rather than glorifying the NDA, they should be blamed saying if they were freedom fighters why would they destroy source of economic power.
“They had been creating more problems in the region by their activities. They had been polluting environment and making lives more difficult for the people”
Osinbajo, who blamed poor electricity generation in the country to the blowing up of gas pipelines to power stations, said the nation’s oil production had declined by about 800,000 barrels per day.
He said this reduction had also led to the reduction in revenue accruing to the country by 60 per cent which had also contributed to the inability of many states to pay workers’ salaries.
“We need to deal with vandalism, which had been causing problems for the power sector and the revenue of the nation”, he said.
The vice president said much of the money spent on Niger Delta ended up in the private pockets of some individuals, who should be held accountable.
He said everybody must join hands to tackle corruption lamenting that 15 billion dollars out of 27 billion dollars could not be accounted for.
Reacting to the question about fiscal federalism and the inability of many states to pay salaries, Osibanjo said what affected the states was the same thing that affected the nation itself.
He said just as. Nigeria as a nation depended on oil revenue, states depended mainly on coming to Abuja every month to collect their share of oil revenue and Value Added Tax which is dwindling every day.
He therefore stated that states need to diversify while states can collaborate with others and fashion out how to diversify the revenue generation activities.
“While I agree that we need to engage each other on issues, we must not allow Nigerian elite to use tribalism, ethnicity, religion and tribal sentiment to divide the country.
“Many of the agitation of states are from elite for selfish reasons. Leaders in zones can collaborate to do certain things. They do not need to be waiting for the Federal Government for everything.
“The elite must teach Nigerians how to survive. It is not a tribal, religion or ethnic issue” he said.