VP’s claims untrue –Ex-president
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye; Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has slammed former president Goodluck Jonathan who he claimed spent N153 billion on infrastructure in three years but frittered away N150 billion in one single transaction a few weeks to the elections of 2015.
According to the VP who spoke at the seventh Presidential Quarterly Business Forum for Private Sector stakeholders at the State House Conference Centre, Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, while the current administration with less revenue has increased capital funding by 400 per cent in power, works and housing, defence, transportation, agriculture sectors, the Jonathan administration with surplus funds spent N14 billion on agriculture in 2014 and N15 billion on transportation.
“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,” he said.
On what the current administration has down with little resources available to it, Osinbajo said: “Today, with less revenue, we have increased capital funding by 400 percent 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 percent 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 something that is absolutely important that we must take into account.
Osinbajo however admitted that the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was yet to completely deal with corruption in the country.
“I am not saying that corruption under this administration has been completely dealt with, no, certainly not. Where corruption has become systematic such as we have in our country today, you cannot deal with it in one full 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.
“There’s no way that you have a system such as ours that has consistently thrive on corruption and proceeds of corruption and public financing in particular, that will give up and say guys, the problem has been solved. No.
“It is a system that has fed on corruption and it affects all aspects of governance, so trying to deal with it is certainly not a walk in the park.
“But I want to say that that task has already begun and that task is being done consistently and I believe that going forward, in the next few years, no matter how we are criticised, if we stick to policy, especially controlling excesses and corruption in public finance, this country will make the kind of progress that it deserves to make with all the resources at our disposal.
“If we stick to the policy of ensuring that as far as public finance is concern, there is no impunity and that we hold people to account, I’m absolutely confident that this country has what it really takes to make the kind of progress we deserve to make as a nation.”
But in a swift reaction, Jonathan, who spoke through his former aide on new media, Reno Omokri dismissed the statement by Osibanjo.
He said the claim was not only untrue but another desperate effort by the incumbent administration to tarnish the image of the former president.
Omokri argued that it would not be wrong to describe the vice president as a lying pastor.
According to him, “this is not the first time the vice president would make the claim. In October last year, he alleged that Jonathan doled out the sum of N100 billion and $295 million in cash two weeks to the 2015 elections.”
Omokri in his statement which is the same with the response they issued five months ago claimed that Osinbajo lied to divert attention from the seeming non-performance of the administration.
The statement read in part: “My attention has been drawn to claims in the media by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, against former president Jonathan.
“Speaking on Friday the 27th of October 2017 in Lagos at a ‘Greater Nigeria Pastors Conference’, the Vice President said: “Weeks before the 2015 elections, the government then, gave out N100 billion in cash and $295 million in cash ostensibly for security within two weeks.
“I make bold to say that the vice president has once again taken to his characteristic habit of lying.
“It will also be recalled that in February 2016, the vice president again lied when he claimed that both the Jonathan and Yar’Adua government did not build a single road. This fact was easily disproved when even members of this administration, including Osinbajo’s boss, President Buhari, began commissioning projects, including roads built by the Jonathan administration.
“Nigerians will recall that the Jonathan administration rebuilt the Benin-Ore portions of the Benin-Lagos road, the Vom-Manchok road, the Kano-Zaria Road bridge (named after late Emir Ado Bayero) and many more.
“On this recent allegation by the vice president, not only has the vice president again lied, he is doing so to divert attention from real issues haunting the the administration .”
“I would like to remind the vice president that he is a pastor and therefore conversant with the biblical admonition in Revelations 21:8 that “all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.”
“It is not too late for the vice president to turn a new leaf and begin to apologize to Nigerians for the three million jobs a year he and his boss promised, but ended up losing 4.5 million jobs in their first two years according to the Nigerian Bureau of statistics.
“If Vice President Osinbajo is looking for who to blame for the present sorry state of the Nigerian economy, he should buy a mirror.”
Notwithstanding Jonathan’s stout defence, Osinbajo queried the fact that most Nigerians for some reason do not discuss the role of grand corruption in crippling the nation’s economy.
He admitted that though corruption was not easy to stamp out, if the country adhere to the policy of ensuring that as far as public finance is concern, there is no impunity and people are held to account, then the economy will soar in no time.