Vice President Osinbajo Blames Arms Procurement Scandal On Elite Failure

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President Federal Republic of Nigeria

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President Federal Republic of Nigeria

The Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday Osinbajo blamed the arms procurement scandal during the past administration to the failure of the country’s elite noting that the elite “has so far failed the nation.

He made the observation while delivering a paper at the National Defence College, Abuja, for Course 24 participants titled “The Economic Dimensions of National Security: The Nigerian Experience’’.

“Grand corruption, rent-seeking, promotion of ethnic and religious differences for personal gains appear to have been the prevailing behavior of the elite.’’
He wondered how one could explain the diversion of funds meant for arms procurement to fight insurgency to private pockets as well as why the actors failed to bother that their avarice and greed led to loss of lives of ill equipped federal troops.

Vice President said the solution was on the revitalization and revival of the nation’s defence industries as well as linkages to the economy. According to him, the country should reduce dependence on other nations as well as learn from the experiences of some.

“We should not allow situation to arise again in which we as a nation are unable to source the arms, even the most basic arms, with which to prosecute a war,’’ he said.

“For our nation to survive we must insist that the Nigerian elite accepts its responsibility to make the sacrifice necessary. We must ensure that there are consequences for corruption; that we insist on integrity in the conduct of public and private business.”
“We must resist the urge to divide our nation along ethnic of religious lines and we must hold ourselves accountable for the future of our nation. We must chose the path of discipline and honour,’’ he added.

The Vice President identified key aspects of the economic dimension of national security as the use of economic policy to foster national cohesion as well as foster national economic development and stability.

“We will continue to have challenges to national security if our citizens do not have a common commitment to the national interest.  If significant sectors of our society feel marginalized or that their interests are not being properly catered for then we can expect threats to national security arising from divisive tendencies. In such circumstances, economic disaffection could emerge in various forms including class tensions, ethnic and religious divisions and low-level insurgencies,’’ he added.

According to him government in such circumstances should use economic policies to build a fair and equitable society by tackling poverty, inequality and providing jobs and economic opportunities.

Osinbajo said the Muhammadu Buhari administration was set to achieve the objectives adding that it informed the provision of several social security nets worth more than half a trillion naira in the 2016 budget and measures for employment of 500,000 teachers. He decried the manner previous budgets of the country were formulated to the exclusion of the interests of the poor and the vulnerable. He noted that while the bulk of the 2016 budget would take care of infrastructure, “but the single most important aspect is that the budget is giving social investment incentives in the form of direct employment.”

“That is why we have 500,000 teacher training programme.”
“We also have a job creation programme for those who are not graduates and we are looking at over 300,000 unemployed.’’

Prof Osinbajo disclosed that the administration’s conditional cash transfer scheme was intended to cater for the most vulnerable and the poorest.
He explained that contrary to insinuations that it was to offer N5,000 each to unemployed graduates, its focus was on the disabled and the vulnerable people who would fulfill some conditions such as having their children in school and embracing immunization.
He said the administration had placed technology education as a priority adding that it would offer scholarships to engineering, technology and mathematics students as well as expose primary school pupils to information technology to promote economic growth.  He further said that Nigeria was ripe to be a member of the Group of 20 (G-20) industrialised nations in order to play enviable role in shaping the global economy.

According to the Vice President, the rules for the global economy should be shaped at the United Nations while those at the continental level are shaped within the African Union.
Said he: “the reality however are those global economic rules such as relate to the international financial system and rules for tax transparency are increasingly now being shaped by the  G-20.

“There is no reason Nigeria should not be a member of this grouping either due to its relative economic size or strategic regional role. Our diplomacy must be geared not only to securing membership of the G-20 but also to ensuring that our interests and indeed that of the entire African continent are taken into account in global economic rule making.’’

Osinbajo observed that the economic rules that would determine the relative strengths of nations in the next 30 years were being written now, adding “we must be an attentive party at the table.’’. He explained that time was ripe for Nigeria to use its diplomatic machinery more effectively in shaping global rules on a general basis and with regard to some specific sectors.

“While not diminishing the importance of securing markets for Nigeria’s goods, services and investments, the  focus of this paper is with regard to the importance of participating in global rule-making to promote our economic security,’’ he said.

The Vice President said the present administration was taking steps to increase the share of non-oil revenues in the budget and also using the Treasury Single Account (TSA) to keep track of independent revenues accruing to it. He said government was moving to ensure efficient and effective use of resources accruing to it while making savings on overheads and personnel costs. Accordingly, he said, our current foreign exchange constraints will be overcome by a mix of policy instruments.

“But we do realize that the long term solution lies in the diversification of our economy including value to our commodities and natural resources including oil before export.’’ he said.

The Vice President added that government was aware of the great need to reduce economic dependence. He said that limiting Nigeria’s exposure to external economic shocks was perhaps the most obvious aspect of economic security. He recalled how the intensity of political and diplomatic activity in the Middle East over the past century relied on the vast oil and gas resources in the region but added that in contrast Nigeria’s economic security had been imperiled by the sharp drop in crude oil prices.

The Commandant of the College, Rear Admiral Samuel Alade, in his remarks noted that the lecture was thought-provoking adding that the Course 24 participants would leverage on it to improve on their research, strategy, stage craft and policy formulations.

Meanwhile, the Vice President has stated that the Federal Government in consultation with the States through the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC) was already working at establishing a robust mechanism which would effectively address all the challenges being faced by investors in respect of ease of doing business in the country.
“We are trying to structure an ease of doing business with States and this is one of the very critical issues that this current administration will have to deal with”.
Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo disclosed this when he received in his office today a delegation of the National Council of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) led by its President, Dr. Frank Udemba Jacobs. He informed the delegation further that he is open to discussing with the Association with respect to the items not eligible for foreign exchange as it affects members of the industrial group, stating that “I would like to say that it is important to see what proposals you have on this particular issue”.
Earlier, the President of MAN, Dr. Frank Jacobs told the Vice President that the purpose of the visit was to appreciate the zeal and commitment of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in tackling the nation’s economic challenges at this critical time and expressed the readiness of the Association to collaborate with the Federal Government in this regard.
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