Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Sunday in Minnesota, United States, said restructuring of Nigeria in accordance with geographical entities was not the country’s problem.
Osinbajo, according to a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, made the submission while answering questions from a section of Nigerians at a town hall meeting.
According to him, what Nigeria needs is not restructuring but prudent management of national resources and proper provision for the people.
He narrated his experience when he served in Lagos State Government for eight years.
“The problem with our country is not a matter of restructuring and we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into the argument that our problems stem from some geographical restructuring. It is about managing resources properly and providing for the people properly, that is what it is all about.
“I served for eight years as Attorney General in Lagos State and one of the chief issues that we fought for in Lagos State was what you call fiscal federalism. We felt that there was a need for the states to be stronger; for states to more or less determine their fortunes.
“So, for example, we went to court to contest the idea that every state should control, to a certain extent, its own resources – the so-called resource control debate. We were in court at that time up to the Supreme Court and the court ruled that oil-producing states should continue to get 13 per cent derivation.
“While we were at the Supreme Court, only the oil-producing states and Lagos were interested in resource control; everybody else was not interested in resource control for obvious reasons. Now, that is the way the argument has always gone. Those who have the resources want to take all of it, while those who do not have want to share from others.
“My view is that we must create the environment that allows for people to realise themselves economically because that truly is what the challenge is with our country,” Akande quoted the vice-president as saying.
He also said the vice president added that the federal government had put in place an economic structure that could function properly, despite previous challenges particularly about corruption which he said slowed down the economy.
He also said Osinbajo spoke on the impact of corruption on the economy and the solution adopted by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“Unless we are able to deal with the fundamental questions especially around corruption, our economic circumstance will keep going one step forward, two steps backwards.
“When you talk about corruption in Nigeria, the truth is stranger than fiction. It is the kind of thing that would cripple an economy anywhere because you simply don’t have the resources for the graft and the greed of the numbers of people who want to steal the resources.
“All that we have been able to deal with is grand corruption. When we started the TSA, the whole point was to aggregate all of the funds of government that were in private banks. So, we put all of the money in the central bank so that we could at least see the movement of money and by doing so, we were able to save 50 per cent of the corruption that was going on then.”
Akande also stated that Osinbajo assured Nigerians in the United States that the incumbent federal government could be trusted, noting that “we can say for sure that the President is not going to sign off money and just bring it out to share.”
He also said while relying on statistics from Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on oil revenues accruable to Nigeria under successive administrations from 1990 to 2014, the vice president said not much had been done in terms of infrastructure development despite the huge oil revenues realised by the country.
He further quoted him as saying, “Under the IBB / Abacha administrations(1990 – 1998) Nigeria realised $199.8 billion; under the Obasanjo / Yar’Adua governments (1999 – 2009), the country got $401.1 billion; and during the Jonathan administration (2010 – 2014), Nigeria got $381.9 billion from oil revenues.
“The question that we must all ask is that what exactly happened to resources? The question that I asked is that where is the infrastructure?
“One of the critical things that we must bear in mind and see is that this government despite earning $94 billion, up until 2017, we are spending more on infrastructure and capital than any previous government, so we are spending N1.5 trillion on capital, that is the highest we have spent since 1990.”