Much of 2016 budget cleared inherited mess, says Osinbajo
• Pledges even development of nation
• Lists President Buhari’s achievements
• ‘Don’t expect overnight solutions to challenges’
• PDP chieftain laments killings by Fulani herdsmen
The President Muhammadu Buhari administration in 2016 dedicated a greater percentage of the national budget to clearing up the ‘mess’ left behind by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo declared yesterday.
In a nationwide broadcast to commemorate the second anniversary of the Buhari administration, Acting President Osinbajo said: “Indeed, much of 2016 was spent clearing the mess we inherited and putting the building blocks together for the future of our dreams; laying a solid foundation for the kind of future that you deserve as citizens of Nigeria.”
Osinbajo said that though the existing administration had recorded a milestone in its efforts to reposition the country, the government might be unable to provide overnight solutions to the numerous challenges besetting the country. “We did not find ourselves in crisis overnight, and we simply do not expect overnight solutions to our challenges,” he said.
Highlighting the various achievements of the Buhari administration since it came into office, he cited the government’s efforts to deliver on its promise of restoring security in most parts of the country, especially in the North East region, and degrading of the Boko Haram sect.
He said concerted efforts were still on course in the fight against corruption, declaring that government was making a concrete arrangement to create special courts that would help in the speedy prosecution of corruption cases.
“We have focused on bringing persons accused of corruption to justice. We believe that the looting of public resources that took place in the past few years has to be accounted for. Funds appropriated to build roads, railway lines, and power plants, and to equip the military, that had been stolen or diverted into private pockets, must be retrieved and the culprits brought to justice,” he added.
Osinbajo noted that the government had rolled out different programmes and policies to revitalise the economy and create more jobs for the teeming unemployed graduates. He listed the social investment programmes, the ease of doing business and the recently signed executive orders as part of the policies.
According to Osinbajo, in the last two years, the administration took steps to save and invest for the future, even against the backdrop of revenue challenges.
He said: “We have in the last two years added $500m to our Sovereign Wealth Fund and $87m to the Excess Crude Account. This is the very opposite of the situation before now, when rising oil prices failed to translate to rising levels of savings and investment.
“Our administration outlined three specific areas for our immediate intervention on assumption of office. These were security, corruption and the economy. The Buhari administration is having challenges dealing with the myriad of the country’s economic problems. Admittedly, the economy has proven to be the biggest challenge of all.
“Let me first express just how concerned we have been, since this administration took office, about the impact of the economic difficulties on our citizens.
“Through no fault of theirs, some companies shut down their operations, others downsized; people lost jobs, had to endure rising food prices. In some states, civil servants worked for months without the guarantee of a salary, even as rents and school fees and other expenses continued to show up like clockwork.
“We have been extremely mindful of the many sacrifices that you have had to make over the last few years. And for this reason this administration’s work on the economic front has been targeted at a combination of short-term interventions to cushion the pain, as well as taking long-term efforts aimed at rebuilding an economy that is no longer helplessly dependent on the price of crude oil.
“Those short-term interventions include putting together a series of bailout packages for our state governments, to enable them to bridge their salary shortfalls – an issue the president has consistently expressed his concerns about. We also began the hard work of laying out a framework for our social intervention programmes, the most ambitious in the history of the country.”
Osinbajo, who prayed for the quick recovery of President Buhari, assured Nigerians of a better future, saying that the administration would not exclude any part of the country in the developmental strides.
“Across the country, in the Niger Delta, and in parts of the North Central region, we are engaging with local communities to understand their grievances and to create solutions that respond to these grievances adequately and enduringly.
“President Buhari’s new vision for the Niger Delta is a comprehensive peace, security and development plan that will ensure that the people benefit fully from the wealth of the region. We have seen to it that it is the product of deep and extensive consultations, and that it has now moved from idea to execution.
“Included in that new vision is the long-overdue environmental cleanup of the Niger Delta beginning with Ogoniland, which we launched last year.“Nigeria belongs to all of us. No one person or group of persons is more important or more entitled than the other in this space that we all call home. And we have a responsibility to live in peace and harmony with one another, to seek peaceful and constitutional means of expressing our wishes and desires, and to resist all who might seek to sow confusion and hatred for their own selfish interests,” he said.
At an event later yesterday at the Presidential Villa to showcase the achievements of the Buhari administration, Osinbajo said the social investment schemes were not a favour to Nigerians but their right. He listed the programmes as N-Power which has engaged 200,000 unemployed Nigerian graduates for volunteer job programmers; the Conditional Cash Transfer being implemented now in nine states; General Economic and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), a micro credit scheme that has given out almost 60,000 loans already; and the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme, where 25 million meals have been served and over one million primary school pupils in at least seven states are being fed and over 11,000 cooks hired.
In a reaction to the Osinbajo’s broadcast, a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman in Plateau State, Chief Emmanuel Mangni, said it was not too encouraging in the existing democratic dispensation. “How long will people continue to exercise patience?” he queried.
According to him, the efforts of the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration are good, but their best is not good enough. “When you come to do something and you are rubbishing others, then you are playing God. God has a way of doing His own things.
“The problem looks intractable, but with political will, we should come out of this economic recession. That we should exercise patience, things will be better, I think it is taking too long. Insecurity, yes, has truly subsided but immediately replaced by Fulani herdsmen who are now killing and maiming innocent people. The whole thing is in a quagmire,” Mangni said.
But another PDP member in the state, Mr. Eddy Rinkwat, commended what he called the originality of Osinbajo’s broadcast. “It is one speech I have not listened to for quite some time now. This one is a masterpiece. Most speeches are drafted and not written by them and most people find it difficult to read. In speech making, some people may draft it but it is for the reader to deliver it accurately in the course of reading it. As a PDP stalwart, I must commend the Acting President for his originality by reading it fluently with accurate punctuation, without blemish.”