Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of frittering billions of naira that should have been spent on projects. He said Jonathan’s administration shared N150 billion two weeks to the 2015 poll. PATRICK ANDREW brings details.
Though admitting the government of President Muhammadu Buhari had not completely dealt with corruption in the country, but he insisted it had demonstrated enough political will to reverse the situation.
Prof. Osinbajo, who spoke at the old banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja during the 7th presidential quarterly business forum for private sector stakeholders, said “In one single transaction a few weeks to the 2015 elections, sums of a N100billion and $295million were just frittered away by a few”.
Wasted oil boom
“When you consider that in 2014 as the minister of finance has said that oil price was an average of $110 a barrel and only N99 billion 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 this kind of huge leakages and huge corruption. Corruption that completely makes nonsense of even what you are allocating to capital projects.
“We saw from the presentation of minister of finance that N14 billion was spent on agriculture in 2014, transportation N15 billion, so the total spent on infrastructure in those three years were N153 billion and in two weeks before the elections N150 billion was essentially shared.
Jonathan’s N150bn pre-election largesse
“So, if your total infrastructure spending is N150 billion and you can share N153 billion, that is completely incredible. That sort of thing doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. And when we are talking about the economy, we must simply understand that that is the problem.
“I must ask again what was wrong with the Nigerian economy and what do we need to do to correct the flaws. There are several issues many of which have already been articulated but I want to talk about what I think is the biggest problem which for some reason we hardly talk about when discussing our national economy.
“This is grand corruption in the public finance space. Sometimes the way we talk about the Nigerian economy it does appear as if it is the economy of say Norway or somewhere where all things are equal. Even when we refer to what has taken place in our economy, we almost sound as if this is in every sense a very normal business environment, a very normal public finance environment but that is not the case.
“I do not think that any consideration about our economy development can be properly and honestly done without fully analysing corruption, especially grand corruption in the public finance space.
“You see that despite record high levels of oil prices, very little was invested in infrastructure and a record level of leakages were recorded in the past few years.
“This is the fundamental issue in our economy. Corruption affects everything. It affects even judgement as to what sort of infrastructure to put in place or whether infrastructure will ever be complete. It is so fundamental that we can’t even think of our economy without thinking of what to do about it.
“Sometimes when we talk about our economy, we talk about the fact that we have relied on single commodity and that is one of the reasons why we are where we are.
“Yes, that’s quite true, but the fact is that proceeds from that single commodity, was regularly hijacked consistently by a few. That is really the problem. If we had spent the proceeds from that single commodity the way we ought to, we won’t be where we are today.”