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Again, Osinbajo Accuses Jonathan of Plunging Nigeria into Debt

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

• Backs fiscal federalism, state police

Segun James

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has again accused former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s administration of plunging the country into debt.

He equally accused the previous administration of grand corruption and impunity.

Osinbajo has also stated that he is an advocate of fiscal federalism and state police. The vice-president, who spoke in Lagos at a lecture titled: ‘Restructuring and the Nigerian federation’, he delivered yesterday as part of activities marking the 40th anniversary of Association of Friends, said he was taken aback on assumption of office at the kind of grand corruption that took place under the previous governments.

He said for instance, he was shocked to find that in one day, $292million (about N70billion) was moved out from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), “without any contract or real explanation.”

According to him, the dollars hauled from the CBN left the apex bank dollar-broke for two weeks.

He said it was unimaginable that despite earning $381billion from crude oil sale between 2010 and 2014-the highest that the country had ever earned-the country’s external reserves fell to $30billion by 2014, and that the Jonathan administration left behind a debt of $63.806billion.

The vice president noted that between 2010 and 2015, Nigeria’s debt jumped from $35,093.10billion to $63,806.53billion.

He said: “What do these figures show? They show that when oil prices were at the highest between 2010 and 2014, the government was borrowing heavily.

“From 2010 to 2014, debts moved from $35billion to $63billion. When we assumed office in 2015, the debt that the previous government left was $63billion. Today, three and half years later, the debt is $73billion.

“There are two reasons why despite high earnings, we are poorer. The first is grand corruption and mismanagement of resources. And there is a difference between grand corruption and ordinary corruption.

“Grand corruption is directly stealing from the CBN, directly taking money from the treasury without any contract, no pretence or caution, you just take the money. That was going on, and I will give you several examples.

“When I got to the office as vice-president, I couldn’t believe it. In one day, $292million was signed out and it disappeared. After that period, for two weeks, the CBN did not have dollars-$292m without any real explanation! We later discovered what became of the money.”

Osinbajo has also stated that he is an advocate of fiscal federalism and state police.

“I have been an advocate, both in court and outside, of fiscal federalism and stronger state governments.

“I have argued in favour of state police, for the simple reason that policing is a local function.

“You simply cannot effectively police Nigeria from Abuja; only recently, I made a point that stronger, more autonomous states would effectively eradicate poverty.

“So, I do not believe that geographical restructuring is an answer to Nigeria’s socio-economic circumstances.

“That would only result in greater administrative costs; but there can be no doubt that we need deeper fiscal federalism and good governance.”

Osibanjo further said: “On another occasion, N60billion was moved out ostensibly for security purposes; but we know what happened.

“When you have a corrupt government, large sums of money which can be used for development is simply taken. If you are the President of Nigeria, you can literally say: ‘Go and bring money.’

“Look at a sum of N60billion; when someone can take such amount of money and $292million, that’s almost N70billion. Today, our TraderMoni scheme is costing us N20billion, where we’re giving to petty traders a loan of N10,000, and when they pay back, we give them N15,000 and when they pay back, we give them, N20,000. But somebody will take $292million, almost N70billion. If you have such money, you will solve the problem of seven million of those petty traders. That’s the kind of thing we are talking about and the kind of contrast that we’re trying to draw.”

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