Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday that the Federal Government’s efforts at fighting corruption and ensuring good governance in the nation were being applauded worldwide.
Describing corruption as a threat to the nation’s existence, Osinbajo insisted that the scourge was responsible for the nation’s failure to save but invested only “very little” in infrastructure and jobs “in spite of record oil revenues between 2011 and 2013/14”
Osinbajo, who spoke in Abuja at the opening of a five-day Open Government Partnership Week 2018, said within the period, despite “the billions of dollars reportedly invested in security, the Boko Haram insurgency did not abate.”
The Vice-President had recently come under criticism by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party for commenting on corrupt practices under the previous administration.
Undeterred by the criticism, Osinbajo while speaking on the topic, ‘The impact of Open Government Partnership to Nigeria’s Anti-Corruption Efforts,’ insisted that “for too long, the resources meant for the majority have been sadly cornered by a greedy minority.”
He said, “Our government came into office on the back of a three-pronged agenda: ensuring security, rebuilding the economy, and vigorously prosecuting the fight against corruption.
“This last issue, corruption, has been an existential issue for Nigeria, threatening the very fundamentals of our existence.
“It has ensured that for too long the resources meant for the majority have been sadly cornered by a greedy minority.”
He lamented that the issue of corruption underlined every aspect of national life, from the security situation to the state of the economy.
“It was the reason why, in spite of record oil revenues between 2011 and 2013/14, we saw no savings, and very little investment in infrastructure and jobs, and, in spite of the billions of dollars reportedly invested in security, the Boko Haram insurgency did not abate,” he added.
He said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, on coming on board, adopted a two-step approach to dealing with the scourge of systemic corruption, first by stopping “grand corruption and the accompanying impunity.”
He said the Buhari administration had since its assumption of office three years ago “made remarkable progress in pushing the frontiers of transparency and accountability in the Federal Government” and the efforts were being applauded globally.
Osinbajo further stated that the Federal Government saved more than N200bn after it eliminated ghost workers from the federal civil service.
“The Federal Government has also established the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit to clean up the federal payroll and pension systems across our ministries, departments and agencies and this has saved the FG over N200bn by eliminating ghost workers,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha; and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), expressed the Federal Government’s commitment to running a transparent government and ensuring citizens’participation.
Malami said Nigeria had developed a National Action Plan following “a robust consultative process between civil society groups and government.”
“It covers four thematic areas of fiscal transparency, anti-corruption, access to information and citizens’ engagement,” he said.
Meanwhile, the United States Ambassador and the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington and Mr. Paul Arkwright, respectively, have advocated openness and willingness to listen to citizens’ concerns.
Arkwright, the guest speaker who spoke on the topic, ‘Renewing citizens’ trust in government,’ said in many countries of the world, delivery of critical services such as health and education were weak, resulting in the lack of trust by citizens in governments.
He said as a result of this, “people often do not pay taxes because they do not believe the money will be used properly.
“Instead, services are accessed through bribes because citizens cannot see any other way to get even basic health care or education.
“People suffer in poverty, and citizens become disengaged. In some contexts, this can feed grievances, based on lack of opportunity and marginalisation, which lead to support for violence and extremist groups.”
His American counterpart, Symington, urged the Nigerian government to ensure not just “cooperation and open governance” but also “democratic freedom itself, the process or the idea or an action.”