Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has painted a gloomy picture of the mismanagement of the economy under the Dr. Jonathan administration.
According to him, the country lost $3 billion to the Strategic Alliance contracts the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and some companies signed.
“The promoters of the companies made away with close to $3 billion, almost a tenth of our reserves.
“There is no way if someone made away with a tenth of your reserves that you will not have a major economic shock. And if we don’t deal with it, if we don’t talk about it, how will we be able to discuss our economy in a real honest way with a view to ensuring that these things do not happen again?”
He continued: “In one single transaction a few weeks to the elections in 2015, sums of N100 billion and $295 million were just frittered away by a few,” he told a gathering of businessmen, government officials and journalists in Abuja.
It was at the Seventh Presidential Quarterly Business Forum for Private Sector stakeholders at the Presidential Villa.
Osinbajo noted that when oil prices went up, Nigeria did not save for the rainy day, adding that the problem was not just that of a single commodity.
Osinbajo said: “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 were 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.
“Most of the proceeds went to rent seekers in the industry and production,” he said
“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 takes what you are allocating to capital projects.
“We saw from the presentation of Minister of Finance 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.
“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 this is the problem.”
The Vice-President said with less revenue, the current administration had been able to increase capital funding by 400% in power, works and housing, in defence, transportation, agriculture.
“If we want to do analysis in Nigeria, it is either fraudulent or ignorant if we do not bring money that belongs to corruption into the mass.
“This is what distinguishes, in my own respectful view, this administration from the other. I can say that with what I have seen, if you have a president who is not corrupt, 50 per cent of your financial problems are over.
“This is what I have seen, I can demonstrate it with facts and figures. If the president is corrupt, the entire financial system is compromised and that is what we have seen with the figures we have just seen. That is an absolutely important fact that we must take into account,” he said
Osinbajo, however, noted that corruption has not been completely wiped out under the current administration.
“Where corruption has become systematic, such as we have in our country today, you cannot deal with it in one fell swoop; it is not possible. In any event, you still have a lot of corruption fighting back. The system fights back and it’s both an internal and external fight back and you have to be steadfast and strategic to win the battle.