Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday said the $3bn allegedly embezzled during the last administration through the Strategic Alliance Contract with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company could have been used to construct seven major roads and the Second Niger Bridge.
He said the present administration had reversed what he called grand corruption in public finance and the impunity which attended the conduct of public business especially in the past five years.
He insisted that the main reason for Nigeria’s recursive growth was not just a matter of its relying heavily on a single commodity, but that the proceeds of that single commodity were regularly hijacked consistently by a few.
Osinbajo said these in his address at the 2018 Ogun State Investors’ Forum held in Abeokuta.
A copy of his address was made available to journalists by his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande.
Osinbajo listed the roads that the money stolen from the NNPC could be used to construct to include Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Road, Enugu-Port Harcourt Road, East-West Road, Sagamu-Ore-Benin Road, Kano-Maiduguri Road, Abuja-Lafia-Akwanga-Keffi Road and the Lagos-Abeokuta (old road).
He said, “That is what $3bn that some people made away with could have done, and that is why it is important for us to understand that our country’s problems must be analysed from the perspective of what the real issues are.
“We talk of the Nigerian economy without talking about the blight that was caused years ago by people simply stealing the resources of this country.
“In one single transaction, the sum of N100bn and $289m in cash were released a few weeks to the 2015 elections, it was not released as such, it was the money embezzled.”
Osinbajo said with less revenue but no leakage, the current administration had increased funding capital in power, works and housing, defence, transportation and agriculture by as much as 400 per cent.
He added that the “nation is now two quarters out of recession and firmly on the path of recovery.”
The nation’s external reserves, he added, were at their highest levels in five years while inflation had dropped for 13 consecutive months.
He said Nigeria moved ahead 24 places on the World Bank’s annual Doing Business Index while the World Bank reported that Nigeria was among top 10 reforming economies in the world.
Osinbajo recalled that in 2017, he inaugurated the construction of a new standard gauge railway line that would run from the Ports Complex in Lagos, through Ogun State to Ibadan.
He said the government expected the line to be completed by the end of this year.
Ahead of that however, Osinbajo said government was creating an inland terminal at the railway station at Ilugun on the Lagos-Kano narrow gauge rail route.
This, he said, would be used to move freight from Apapa Port to Illugun and importers would take their goods from there and same for exporters.
He said this would decongest Apapa Port and bring more opportunities to the axis.
“The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, one of the busiest highways in the country, and at the moment the primary land connection between Lagos and the rest of Nigeria, is another infrastructure priority of the Federal Government.
“We expect that now that the contractors are back to site, that project would move on very quickly.
“These two transport projects will further bolster Ogun’s special standing as Nigeria’s ‘gateway’ state and no doubt attract even greater investment – and migration – to the state,” he added.
The Vice-President promised that the Federal Government would continue to support every state in Nigeria to reach its full economic potential.
He said it would be hard to find a Federal Government in Nigeria’s recent history that had been as supportive of the development ambitions of the states as the present administration.
He added, “We have been attentive and responsive to their needs and wishes, and have treated state governments, regardless of partisan affiliation, as partners, not minions.
“So far, in terms of support, which includes the Paris Club Refund which Ogun State was owed, we have spent N1.91trn on support to the various states.”