Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday took another swipe at the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), saying no matter the antics of the opposition party, he will continue to talk about the monumental corruption that took place under the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Speaking at the 10th Bola Tinubu Colloquium in Lagos to mark the 66th birthday of the former Lagos State governor, Osinbajo noted that the Buhari administration is resolute about changing Nigeria’s narrative as a country where corruption is committed with impunity.
This is the second time the VP is knocking the major opposition party over corruption in recent time, the first time being when he revealed that Nigeria under the previous administration led By PDP lost a whopping $3 billion to strategic oil alliance partnership arranged by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
At the Tinubu Colloquium yesterday, Osinbajo described corruption as an existential problem for Nigeria, just as he regretted that the corruption of the previous five years destroyed the country’s economy.
He said, “As for our fight against corruption, we realised as Mr. President said that if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us. Corruption is an existential problem for Nigeria. Let me pause here to reiterate that from what I have seen in government in the past few years, the corruption of the previous five years destroyed the economy.
“Every time we talk about corruption, our opponent say, ‘don’t talk about it; just do your own, don’t talk about it’. The Yorubas have an adage that ‘when the conversation comes to a matter of tales, the frog will say let us skip that, don’t talk about it’. We will talk about it. The reason we will talk about it is that we must let our people know we cannot afford to go this way again.
“Never again should we allow this system where people take the resources of this country and steal the resources of this country, use the resources against the people and at the same time, they want to continue in rulership. The second is that we, as a party and as your government, must show the difference between us and the previous government that impoverished the nation.
Osinbajo continued: “Let me give you an example. In 2014, when oil was $100 and $114, the actual releases of capital for three ministries – power, works and housing- when they were three separate ministries in total was N99 million, transportation N14 million and agriculture N15 million.
“Compare that to the actual releases to the same ministries in 2017 when oil prices were between $50 and $60 a barrel, it was N450 billion, N80 billion for transportation, N65 billion for agriculture, totaling N560 billion, in a time where we are earning at least 50 per cent less than we were earning before.
“What is the reason why this is possible? It is possible because if you do not steal the resources of the people, you can spend it on projects that concern the people. It is as simple as that”.
The VP explained that when it began its journey in 2014, the APC was determined to change the dominant narrative about the country.
His words: “We were determined to ensure we change that narrative and the notion of a country rich in natural resources and even richer in human capital but being destroyed daily by grand corruption and the impunity of the looting of public resources.
“We saw a nation where a few in office had so privatised the commonwealth that when oil prices were at their highest and we were getting growth figures as high as 70 per cent, majority of the people remained extremely poor.
“In one of our campaign trips in Zamfara State, Mr President said, look at the eyes of these people; of course, he saw the poverty and desperation in their eyes. He, Buhari said, they expect us to fix their poverty as soon as we get into office.
“For the president on the campaign trail, he emphasised three things: security, the economy and by economy here, in particular, the welfare of the people and corruption. To address the question of the welfare of the people, we realised that if we waited for the economy to pick up and then provide Jobs for the people, especially young people, many would have given up hope, many people would have ended up in all manner of illegal activities”.
Osinbajo further said, “So, we decided on two things: one, to invest heavily in agriculture to create jobs in the hinterland, provide enough food locally and for all in the urban areas and I’m sure with our agriculture programme, many will agree it is already a success.
“In fact, Mr President told a story of his own village where people used to lease out farms but now nobody is leasing out their farms anymore. Everybody is on his own farms. The most interesting part of that story is that not only are more people now going to Hajj, they are now marrying more wives.”
The vice president stated that in other to give the people hope, the Buhari administration decided to embark on what he called “a bodacious social investment programme to the tune of N500 billion”, which he said is the largest pro-poor programme in the history of the country and the largest in sub-Saharan Africa.
“This was despite the fact in 2015 oil prices fell by 50 per cent and also our production fell from over 200 million barrels per day to less than 700,000 barrels per day, sometimes even 500,000 barrels”, he added.
Still on the corruption under the Jonathan administration, Osinbajo said, “Nigeria is not like any other country because of the corruption that was perpetrated. We must stop that corruption and that is why we are so committed and that is why when you fight corruption the way we are fighting corruption, corruption is going to fight back.
“The fight back is taking place everywhere, it is taking place on social media, but we are determined. When you listen to the stories of these young people, vulnerable people, disabled, these are the people for whom we are responsible. These are the people who voted for us. We must ensure that we effect their rights.
“It is for the rights of these people that we will put everything out to make sure that those who had taken the resources of these people are made to pay for it.”
Osinbajo expressed pride that he was able to garner incredible experience in public service under the tutelage of Tinubu when he was governor of Lagos State.
He revealed that the foundation of the development Lagos is witnessing now was laid during that period, particularly alluding to the Land Use Charge concept initiated by the Tinubu administration.
Tinubu Urges Nigerians To Disregard PDP’s Apology
On his part, the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, urged Nigerians to reject PDP’s recent apology for failing them in the 16 years it was in power.
Tinubu, who also spoke at the 10th Colloquium to mark his 66th birthday in Lagos, yesterday, said the rip-off and other atrocities perpetrated by the party while in power cannot be easily forgiven by the people.
He urged Nigerians to be wary of the antics of the PDP and ensure that the party does not return to power.
Thanking Nigerians for their patience with the present administration, Tinubu said; “I am happy that President Buhari has saved the ship from wreckage. We are re-directing Nigeria. We have a nation to rescue and thank God we have a good leader to emulate.’
“It is not an easy task at all. Dear Nigerians, do not take their apology. They lied. They falsified. They even changed figures. For 16 years, they made fake promises and gave us fake figures. And they said we should not talk about it.
“It is like saying after all they did wrong, do not look at me; just steal your own. We have a nation to rescue. We have hope to build in Nigeria. We have the lead. We have the people to invest in”.
Tinubu also admitted that for the APC, life is full of challenges and that such challenges make life pleasant.
His words: “Life is not without challenges. As a political party, we showed everyone our logo like money and sugar. Our logo with a united Nigeria, we focused against terrorism, corruption and promoted economic revival of the country and investing in people. I have an already prepared speech but I just have to abandon it considering what I have seen here.
“I can see what the government is doing with so little resources. But the idea and the fact that they are doing it with beneficiaries and the fact that it is demonstrated in practical terms is what we need to get our country from the hook of corrupt officers”.
Tinubu lambasted the PDP for saying that the APC government should not talk about the corruption under the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration, saying that the APC would continue to talk about it.
He continued: “They even said that we should not talk about it. But seriously, what should we then talk about. After we came into office, we discovered the looting and thievery. And after assuming office, we should then join you in the act? We would encourage such act? We are not talking about the need of Nigerians. Then what is the most interesting thing to Nigerians?
“Please, forget those opposition parties; they will not come back to power. There is no nation that is not facing challenges; even America is facing its own. Then who are we? How many years of democracy have we practiced? We didn’t say that Nigerians will not enjoy. But we have to report back to the millions of Nigerians that elected us into office that this is what we found when we assumed office.And that we will not take it off our mind no matter how twisting the mind of PDP and their supporters may be.
“We will continue to talk about it because you wasted our resources and didn’t do what you promised Nigerians when you were in office. The market gave you the maximum and production was also at maximum”.
He also took a swipe at former President Olusegun Obasanjo for writing what he called political letter to President Muhammadu Buhari asking him not to contest for the 2019 presidential election.
He said Obasanjo wrote the letter as if he had never been in that terrain before, as the letter was merely political and should be discarded.
On his part, President Buhari joined other prominent Nigerians at the occasion to shower encomiums on the APC national leader as he clocked 66 years.
Buhari described Tinubu as a political patriot who has over the years invested in building people and creating future leaders.
Speaking at the colloquium attended by the crème de la crème in the country, Buhari said, “I call on Nigerians to join me to celebrate Asiwaju, a man who is widely known as a political strategist. I have come to see him as a man who cares about people and is a fountain of ideas for the economy and for the common man and woman. He is a true democrat and we appreciate his contribution for Nigeria’s capital progress.
“Asiwaju has invested in people because he believes that tomorrow will be better than today and good will one day triumph over evil.”
Dwelling on the concept of the Colloquium and its theme, ‘Investing In People’, the president said the federal government over the last two years had initiated programmes and policies that have made direct impact on the people, adding that the nation can only grow when government invests in its people.
Stop Playing God, Opposition Party Tells APC Leader
But in a swift reaction, the PDP yesterday cautioned the APC national leader, Tinubu, to stop playing god as Nigerians have the faculty and freedom to determine the leadership that best suit their desires without anybody’s control.
The party also advised Tinubu not to allow himself to be used a second time as he still bears a gross part of the blame for the enthronement of the incompetent, divisive, nepotic and inherently corrupt administration of President Buhari, which has brought the nation to its knees in three years.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, while responding to Tinubu’s speech at his 10th colloquium, said the comments of the APC chieftain ended up amplifying an admittance of the failure of President Buhari and the APC administration rather than being a damage of the PDP.
The opposition party said without listening to the prompting of any politician, Nigerians across board have taken the liberty to accept PDP’s apology, which was made patriotically in the overall interest of national healing, reconciliation, unity and cohesion.
He stated: “The PDP watched with amusement as Asiwaju Tinubu struggled with words to appease President Buhari and give him assurances that he can win a second term election in the face of mass failure both in governance and in their discredited, rejected and troubled platform.
“It was a direct admittance of failure and indictment on President Buhari’s administration, when Asiwaju pointedly told the President that the ship of the nation, under his (Buhari’s) watch, still needs to be rescued, almost three years down the line.
“It is tragic that Asiwaju had to tutor his visitor, who had no policy direction since his election in 2015, by engaging in a revision of the programmes and policies of the PDP, such as the leasing system, the mortgage and pension schemes which boosted the economy and directly impacted on the lives of Nigerians.
“More pathetic is the fact that the APC leader presented the PDP programmes as if he was introducing novel ideas in the economy. This clearly stood with our position that the APC government is incompetent and lacking in ideas of how to move the nation forward.
“While we congratulate the Lagos Governor Emeritus on his birthday, the PDP considers it needful, to forewarn him to study the current ambience of Nigerian politics as it relates to the failures of the Buhari Presidency and the fact that the citizens have since rejected this Presidency and the APC, so that Asiwaju will not find himself swimming against the tide.”
The PDP also admonished Vice President Osinbajo to stop diminishing his office and person by joining in the bandying of unverified figures and making unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against the PDP.
It said, “The PDP challenged the vice president to name any corrupt individual in the rebranded and repositioned PDP or show any proof that the PDP, as a party, had ever been charged, indicted or convicted of any act of corruption.
“The party noted that this would be a final caution to the vice president, who it also advised not to allow himself to be used by the APC as a puppet to peddle lies, falsehood and propaganda to Nigerians.”