“I would like to refer to the Nigerian elite… they could be political leaders, religious leaders, business leaders, whoever has access to you”
Uche Usim, Abuja
As the fight against corruption gets fiercer, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday said that Nigeria’s elite and religious leaders have remained the cog in the wheel of progress, claiming that he is inundated with calls and pressured by them every time he intends to fire corrupt public officials.
The Vice President stated this in a plenary session on corruption and the rule of law moderated by Ngaire Woods, the founding Dean of Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, United Kingdom, at the ongoing 24th Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja.
According to Osinbajo, the Buhari administration is not deterred by the challenge, adding that Nigeria as a country stands to gain tremendously if corruption is substantially tackled.
“I would like to refer to the Nigerian elite, and it’s probably not fair to be that broad, but practically, every segment, because people who have access to you, they could be political leaders, religious leaders, business leaders, whoever has access to you.
“We have a system where people just feel like, ‘why don’t you just give this guy a break?’ Which, again , is part of the problem. You don’t get one call, you get several calls.
“The Buhari administration is doing so much to tackle grand corruption and systemic corruption.
“Since I became the Vice President, I’ve seen how much impact corruption can have on a country — and it’s more than he [Buhari] ever imagined.
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“I was Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of Lagos State for eight years. One of the most frustrating parts in the fight against corruption is the slow pace of prosecution,” the Vice President explained.
Osinbajo, however, pointed to the convictions of two former executive governors secured by the federal government as indicative of the sure working of justice even in a tough environment.
He said that reforms remain important, pointing out that the federal government has embarked on a number of them, including criminal justice reform.
Also speaking at the event, Chairman of NESG Asue Ighodalo said the summit has remained a leading voice in the discourse to create an enabling business environment that encourages private investment and sustainable economic growth.
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“This Summit shall analyse the constraints to effective governance and institutions using five pillars, which together, provide a framework for distilling delegates’ perspectives and recommendations. The pillars are: Corruption and Rule of Law, Effective Public Institutions, Sustainable Economic Opportunities, Participation and Citizens’ Rights and Human Development.
“The overarching objective of this summit is to stir up discussions, create and share a unifying narrative on good governance and strong institutions, and thereby focus our governments at all levels on the critical and urgent task of moving 87 million of our people out of extreme poverty,” he explained.