Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday said that his comment on the calls for the restructuring of the country was taken out of context by his predecessor, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
The Vice-President replied Atiku in a letter addressed to the Editor of Premium Times, responding to the online medium’s publication of his predecessor’s criticism of his recent comment on restructuring in the United States of America.
Osinbajo, in his letter, said contrary to Atiku’s criticism, he was not opposed to restructuring but had only advocated restructuring through the deepening of fiscal federalism in the country, adding that the former VP’s understanding was vague.
The Vice-President who enumerated the achievements of his battle for restructuring through fiscal federalism said as then Attorney-General of Lagos State, he won at the Supreme Court several landmark decisions on the subject, while “late converts to the concept now wish to score political points on”.
He said, in his comment, which he maintained was taken out of context by Atiku, he had kicked against “geographical restructuring”, which would not address the poor performance of most of the states of the federation, and in its stead, advocated restructuring Nigeria through deeper fiscal federalism.
The Vice-President who also restated his call for the establishment of state police said Atiku’s version of restructuring only sought to cover every aspect of human existence and mixed up issues of good governance and diversification of the economy with the argument on restructuring.
“Alhaji Atiku’s concept of restructuring is understandably vague because he seeks to cover every aspect of human existence in that definition.He says it means a “cultural revolution”. Of course, he does not bother to unravel this concept. He says we need a structure that gives everyone an opportunity to work, a private sector driven economy. Yes, I agree.
These are critical pillars of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, including our Ease of Doing Business Programme.
If, however, this is what he describes as restructuring, then it is clear that he has mixed up all the issues of good governance and diversification of the economy with the argument on restructuring.”
He also said Atiku surprisingly left out corruption as a major factor militating good governance in Nigeria.
He said, “Surprisingly, Alhaji Atiku leaves out the elephant in the room – corruption. And how grand corruption, fueled by a rentier economic structure that benefits those who can use political positions or access to either loot the treasury or get favorable concessions to enrich themselves.
“This was a main part of my presentations the Minnesota Town Hall meeting.
“In arguing for good governance, I made the point that our greatest problem was corruption.
“I pointed out that grand corruption, namely the unbelievable looting of the treasury by simply making huge cash withdrawals in local and foreign currency, was the first travesty that President Buhari stopped.
“I showed the OPEC figures from oil revenues since 1990. In four years from 2010 to 2014, the PDP government earned the highest oil revenues in Nigeria’s history, USD381.9billion. By contrast, the Buhari Administration has earned USD121 billion from May 2015 to June 2018, less than 1/3 of what Jonathan Administration earned at the same period in that administration’s life. Despite earning so much less, we are still able to invest more in infrastructure than any government in Nigeria’s history. The difference is good governance and fiscal prudence.
“In the final analysis, restructuring in whatever shape or form, will not mean much if our political leaders see public resources as an extension of their bank accounts. This, I believe, is the real issue.”
Osinbajo had in a recent interaction in the United States asserted that “the problem with our country is not a matter of restructuring… and we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into the argument that our problems stem from some geographic re-structuring”.
Responding to the comment, Atiku, had in a statement, said Osinbajo was wrong for portraying Nigeria’s problems as not being connected with restructuring.
While not denying making the comment attributed to him, Osinbajo, however, suggested that it was taken out of context by Atiku.