Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has stated that in contrast to simple geographical restructuring of the country, prudent management of national resources and providing for the people properly, are better ideas for Nigeria’s development challenges.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this while fielding questions from a cross-section of Nigerians at a town hall meeting in Minnesota, the United States of America.
According to the Vice President, “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 geographical restructuring. It is about managing resources properly and providing for the people properly, that is what it is all about.
“I served for eight years as Attorney General in Lagos State and one of the chief issues that we fought for in Lagos state was what you call fiscal federalism. We felt that there was a need for the states to be stronger, for states to more or less determine their fortunes.
“So, for example, we went to court to contest the idea that every state should control, to a certain extent, its own resources (the so-called resource control debate). We were in court at that time up to the Supreme Court and the court ruled that oil-producing states should continue to get 13% derivation.
“While we were at the Supreme Court only the oil-producing states and Lagos were interested in resource control, everybody else was not interested in resource control for obvious reasons. Now, that is the way the argument has always gone, those who have the resources want to take all of it, while those who do not have want to share from others.
“My view is that we must create the environment that allows for people to realise themselves economically because that truly is what the challenge is with our country.”
The Vice President added that Buhari-led Federal Government has put in place an economic structure that is able to function properly despite previous challenges, particularly corruption that led to a slowdown in the economy.
On the impact of corruption on the economy and the solution adopted by the Buhari administration, Prof. Osinbajo noted that “unless we are able to deal with the fundamental questions especially around corruption, our economic circumstance will keep going one step forward, two steps backwards”.
According to him, “When you talk about corruption in Nigeria, the truth is stranger than fiction. It is the kind of thing that would cripple an economy anywhere because you simply don’t have the resources for the graft and the greed of the numbers of people who want to steal the resources.
“All that we have been able to deal with is grand corruption. When we started the TSA, the whole point was to aggregate all of the funds of government that were in private banks. So we put all of the money in the central bank so that we could at least see the movement of money and by doing so, we were able to save 50% of the corruption that was going on then.”
He assured Nigerians in the US that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari could be trusted, noting that “we can say for sure that the President is not going to sign off money and just bring it out to share.”