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Magu doesn’t need Senate’s nod as EFCC chair, says Osinbajo


It was an evening for straight talk, as journalists gathered for a media chat with the Nigerian Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, at his residence in Abuja. The event was organized by the Presidency’s Office of Digital Engagement, to create a format for improved engagement with the government by the media. Speaking to that goal, Osinbajo said, “I believe that governance starts with engaging people. People want to ask questions, and get answers. Even if the answers are not entirely satisfactory, they at least know where things stand.”

The chat that followed addressed a wide range of unfiltered questions on the economy, the insurgency in the North-East, humanitarian issues and the Judiciary. The Vice President took questions from around the room, and answered each one in a tone that vacillated between affability and mild bemusement. Osinbajo speaks clearly and directly, demonstrating enthusiasm for a point with illustrative hand movements and making direct eye contact with the audience. The gathering had as informal an air as was possible, in a heavily secured place like the State House. There were brief introductions of the participating journalists, and the usual awkward and lengthy observation of protocol was skipped. While the format did not allow for follow-up questions – a hindrance to getting really deep into the issues, the Vice President was relaxed enough to let slip some interesting and provoking answers.

On tax and power
Mr. Osinbajo made clear that it isn’t the government’s priority to criminalise tax evasion. Rather, it is expected that tax amnesty and a renewed push would help improve tax collection from the 12% it currently stands. He spoke of plans under the government’s economic recovery strategy to increase VAT to 10-12% in the next two years, and affirmed that the team will also consider changes to personal income taxes as well. Also on the economy, he hinted at upcoming reform of patents under the Federal Minister of Trade, Mr. Okey Enalamah, and informed the group of plans to release N700m in payment assurance to energy distribution companies, while working with all energy stakeholders to handle the issue of tariffs.

“The government is also investing in solar,” he said, “but solar is still more expensive and would need to be carefully considered before being brought on stream, especially with the urgent need to ensure that energy tariffs do not soar too high.”

Otodo-Gbame and North-East displacement crises
Speaking to the humanitarian issues facing the country, the Vice President considers forcible displacement, such as that of Otodo-Gbame community in Lagos State to make way for urban renewal, a state issue. He spoke to the Federal Government’s commitment to do all it can on mass displacement in the North-East, particularly through the Presidential Committee on North-East Initiatives (PCNI). He said that PCNI is working with donor agencies and state governments to improve the humanitarian situation in the North-East while excusing shortcomings with the enormity of the task.

In implementing the N5000 per person monthly welfare stipend for the unemployed, the Vice President explained that they had challenges finding the right approach to identifying the right beneficiaries. “The current World Bank standard, isn’t as effective in reaching the five million people we projected and that’s why we’ve only reached one million people,” he explained. Still, the welfare program has been expanded to 10 states as the government continues to tweak its approach.

On Judiciary and Magu’s failed clearance
The Vice President also addressed some controversial stories making the rounds in the news, particularly the blows dealt to the Presidency’s anticorruption drive in the courts. While prescribing a mix of both legislative and constitutional reform to improve the work of the judiciary, Vice President Osinbajo decried the current system whereby lawyers can appeal , to prolong court cases, almost indefinitely. Osinbajo also cites these same appeals as reasons the Presidency has ignored court orders for the release of Shi’ite leader, Zakzaky, and former NSA Adviser, Mohammed Dasuki.

In perhaps the most controversial statement he made at the event, Osinbajo said that the National Assembly need not agree with the Presidency on the appointment of Mr. Magu for Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). “Section 1(71) of the Nigerian constitution could be cited as evidence that the government need not even have produced Mr. Magu to be cleared by the Senate at all,” he quoted.

Negotiations for Chibok Girls continue
In a few days, it will be three years since the mass abduction of the schoolgirls from Chibok, Borno State. The Vice President assured #BringBackOurGirls campaigners that the government is doing all it can behind closed doors to bring the girls home to their families. The #BBOG campaigners have consistently mounted pressure on the Nigerian government to do more the ensure that these girls are returned home.

The Vice President also praised the media for its work and used the opportunity of the gathering to charge the media to conduct good investigative journalism on local incidences of corruption, following through on court updates. He urged the media to scrutinize why these cases fail, and to not see corruption cases as a battle of wits.

The jovial tone of the evening belied this administration’s tumultuous relationship with the media, which has had many a misstep to pick on in the last couple of years. No one knows this more than the Vice President, and he touched on this only once throughout the evening.

“Corruption is an existential matter for Nigeria,” he argued. “Bribes and the like attack a fundamental part of our system.”

At the end of the evening, the Vice President was as gracious and quietly confident as he was at the start, taking his time to mingle with all journalists present and take photographs.

In a lot of ways, the evening was a confirmation of what so many outside the Villa already believed: that Osinbajo is as thoughtful as we hear, and as gracious as President Buhari is brusque. The Vice President may have charmed the audience, but the issues brought forward are not any less severe, and the questions of the President’s ability to deal adequately with the challenges still loom.

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  • Oyongo

    Power intoxicates,and absolute power intoxicate absolutes.Osinbajo surprises me.

  • Osanebi Osakuni

    Monkey VP. Lawless professor of law. Magu with so much criminal baggage doesn’t require clearance for from National Assembly. Why the fight against corruption then?

    • sheyman

      Baboon osanebi, are you sad on how magu have been catching your father’s colleagues in robbery? Or does Magu’s exceptional achievements in raiding housed stocked with millions of dollars gives you nightmare?

      • Osanebi Osakuni

        Hahahaha! Your hero Magu was already caught as a thief by an agency of the same government. You are all cutting grass with hundreds of millions and killing innocent farmers to conquer grassland for cows. The sane world is mocking at your type

    • ditong Ntwak

      That is very disrespectful

      • Osanebi Osakuni

        More disrespectful is when a professor of law campaigns for the disobedience of law because an appointee of government was caught in the act of criminality. Respect is earned and not donated. It can even be lost when not managed. Osibanjo has lost it on this issue. You know this

    • Benny agafa

      Why insulting is connon with you? Is it part of your home training or your common language? or your pains for PDP lost to APC? Which one? Let this plantform know so that we can address your situation.

      • Osanebi Osakuni

        Non of the above. My pain is because your type of blind political followers are all over the place. Today they cut grass with 100s of millions, kill innocent rural dwellers for cows to access grassland yet are able to convince you that they are fighting corruption. What is more corrupt than stealing and killing? Big shame!

  • vincentumenyiora

    They should read Sec. 89 of the Constitution as Head of Parastatals of Commission Senate is required to not only screen but ‘shall’ approve such nominees! They should tell Nigerians why they want Magu otherwise Magu was once re-deployed back to his Police assignment for reason of a misdemeanor; we are told, but his friend Lamodre brought him back to EFCC! I mean they should tell Nigerians what is going on or why it must be Magu even though there are other very qualified members in that Commission to Head the EFCC UNLESS THERE IS A SPECIAL magic Magu deploys in detecting corruption looming the sectors in NIGERIA, so as to stop the unnecessary delays about his confirmation as if Magu is a special breed (man) meant for corruption crime in Nigeria! Vice President appears not to take into consideration what SEPARATION of Powers mean in Constitutional parlance which if translated literally means – Do yours and let me do mine!

  • guyphiri

    Osibanjo has gone back to who he was o…

  • Yakub Yusuf

    That’s the more reason why Baba Buhari say’s he needs a vice president that can stand when is not there.

  • Lawrenece Ifo

    This Osibanjo is a typical product of the zoo.Daft!!!

    The constitution is the bone and the legislation that give effect to that particular provision in the constitution in a specific circumstances is the flesh.Without adding the flesh,you cannot eat the bone and is useless.
    The section cannot merely apply in a ‘straitjacket’ form,when it actually, involves those government agencies which is created by the constitution as an organ of the state.
    But interms of EFCC,it is not a creation of the constitution but legislation known as EFCC Act.

    How can Osibajo try to hide under the constitution to vitiate the provision of the same Act that gave birth to the EFCC??

    Unless he is pretending not to know that there cannot be isolated interpretation or implementation of the said Act.

    The Act expressly provided for the nomination,confirmation of the substantive head of the EFCC giving effect to the provision of the constitution as with regards to the specialized agency EFCC.

    So he cannot hide under the constitution to undermine the same Act that gave birth to the EFCC,pursuant of the constitutional mandate to run a transparent and accountable government.

    This is a constitutional mandate which the constitution imposed on the national assembly and based on that,the national assembly created the EFCC and they laid down the process which will lead to the appointment of the substantive head of the specialized agency.

    Trying to undermine the provisions of same Act is tantamount to approbation and re-probation.

    As he cannot accept the same EFCC which derives its existence from the Act and turn around to use the provision of the constitution to vitiate the same legislative provision that empowered the legislature to confirm.It is illogical and unexpected of a professor of law.

    • Otunba

      “Approbation and Re-probation”

      • Lawrenece Ifo

        But do you align with my submission?

        • Otunba

          I quite appreciate your view point but who are the characters that we speak to? Deaf and dumb? What matters to them is their positions and what they can use such positions to acquire. It is very ironic for the VP to be seeing this at the moment; it is rather unfortunate!

    • Abba Amsami El-Gujja

      Which section of the EFCC Act says the Magu’s appointment is subject to confirmation?

  • Square

    The VP has judiciously referred Nigerian to section 1 (71) of the constitution. So, let someone state what the section says on this platform.
    So, vincentumenyiora has equally quoted section 89 of the same constitution. Let someone educate us also on this section.
    Then, we will be able do justice to the statement of the VP. Else, I take it that the constitution is contradictory.
    @osanebi_osakuni:disqus Learn to respect eminent juries. So also others like you.

  • UAlloy

    Very funny. If Magu does not need senate confirmation, why did you send him to the Senate in the first place. Or was it twice?

  • Hon Korhede

    Seriously the only thing Nigerians on social media knows how to do with their 10MB data is to abuse and call people names.

  • vincentumenyiora

    See what I just remembered Vice President Prof. Osinbjo, Asewaju Bola Tinubu and Akande should be doing or try to do for Afenifere, family and the Yoruba Nation to look into what happened to Prof. Ige especially since he was once the Attorney General for Lagos State under Asewaju Bola Tinubu Administration and leave the matter of Ibrahim Magu for the Senate and the President as expressly specified in the Constitution! With the ‘whistle blower’ policy – -is now working Bola Ige’s debacle can be solved – it is an opportunity not to be missed! To say that my own kind/ idea of ‘spy-ring’ encapsulates all forms of improprieties in the society not only for stealing of money! So, we look out for these officials including Chief John Oyegon to kick start or take the matter up where Obasanjo’s administration stopped!

  • vincentumenyiora

    To say that my own kind/ idea of ‘spy-ring’ i.e. whistle blower encapsulates all forms of improprieties in the society including debauchery at the work places and in the Universities, not only for stealing of money!

  • Mystic mallam

    Shamelessness is on the roll in the APC government. If as a SAN the VP knew that Magu did not require Senate approval to play anti-corruption Czar, why did the Buhari govt. of which the VP is second in command, send him to the Senate for clearance in the first place? We thought Osinbajo, pastor, SAN, professor and all, was different until he got caught several times in the crooked politicians’ penchant for doublespeak – ”Buhari is not sick, he is hale and hearty, we need economic diversification not restructuring, Magu does not need Senate approval…” Shame that Osinbajo the now double speaking Politician, has already joined up with the pack of jackals trying to cover up the authentic ownership of the loot uncovered at Osborne Rd. Ikoyi.