Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday reiterated that no nation could survive on a “grand corruption” such as was visited on Nigeria in the past, but added that it was a good thing that the trend has been reversed by the present government at the centre.
Osinbajo said Nigeria is now on the right path to recovery with the launch and implementation of the dead economic recovery and growth plan, pursuit of peace in the Niger Delta and diversification of the economy.
He spoke in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, at the 4th edition of the Ogun State Investors’ Forum with the theme, “Consolidating the Gains: Accelerating Growth”.
He explained that the nation’s problem was not its dependence on precarious single commodity but corruption, which ensured that the proceeds of the commodity were cornered by very few people.
Osinbajo hailed the initiative of the Ogun State government regarding the investors forum and preached a sub-regional economic summit among Ogun, Lagos and Benin Republic towards leveraging on the economy of proximity of both Lagos and Benin Republic to the state.
According to him, policies of the Federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari were targeted at improving the potential of states notwithstanding political leanings.
He noted that a total of N1.91 trillion Naira has been released to state in form of Paris Club refund and budget support facilities.
“We have launched and implemented a comprehensive economy recovery and growth plan, we pursued peace in the Niger Delta, we focused on improving our business environment, we scaled up our investment in agriculture and infrastructure and aggressively worked at expanding Nigeria revenue base.
“Perhaps most importantly, we have reversed the grand corruption in public finance and impunity which attended the conduct of public business especially in the past five years.
“The main reason for Nigeria’s growth is not just a matter of our relying heavily on a single commodity, it is the fact that proceeds of that single commodity were regularly hijacked consistently by a few.
“In the so called strategic contract with NPDC, the promoters of those companies made away with about $3billion, almost a tenth of our reserves at a point.
“At the moment, we are in the course of getting the $3 billion to built roads; the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road, the second Niger bridge, the Enugu-Port Hacourt road, the East West road, the Sagamu-Benin-Ore road, the Kano Maiduguri road, the Abuja-Lafia road, the Akwanga-Keffi road plus the Lagos-Abeokuta road.
“It is important for us to understand that our country’s problems must be analyzed on the perspective of what our real issues are, we can’t talk about the Nigeria economy without the plight that was caused years ago by people simply stealing the resources of this country.
“In one single transaction, the sum of 100 billion Naira and $289 million in cash were released three weeks to the 2015 elections. That money was essentially embezzled.
“When you consider that in 2014 when the price of oil was at an average of $110 a barrel, only 99 billion Naira was spent on power, works and housing; agriculture and transportation got 14 and 15 billion Naira respectively.
“So, the total spent on capital in 2014 on those areas have mentioned was just N153 and over N150 billion was released and shared in three days, this is the enormity of what we are talking about.
“There’s no country in the world that can survive on grand corruption and that is what we are talking about and that is why it is important for the Federal Governments under President Muhammad Buhari to reverse that grand corruption,” he said.
Also, former President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, expressed the confidence that with rule of law and accountability, Nigeria would navigate out of her economic doldrums.
Calderon who delivered the keynote address at the Investors Forum, said knowledge from research had shown that the economy of nations without rule of law and accountability would only remain stagnant at 0% or be crawling only at 1%.
The ex-President explained that the economy of a country could grow for as much as 34% where rule of law and accountability regardless of its geographical location, culture, leadership ability or even the natural resources.
He cited Singapore as a nation that does not have much national resources but remained one of the best economies in the world because of rule of law and accountability.
“It is important to have a country that is rules by law and not by man,” he said.
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