Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo, on Friday, answered some questions bordering on the sovereignty of the Nation, which was thrown to him by newsmen.
Here are excerpts from the interview reported by Premium Times;
Abduction of 110 Dapchi girls in Yobe and the killings in states like Benue and Zamfara. Why didn’t the President or you visit these places?
V.P: Let me say it first that no amount of condolence can compensate for the loss of life. Benue killing is one set of killing far too much.
And I want to say that it’s a massive tragedy. But the question that you seem to ask I’ve been to Zamfara, I’ve been to Adamawa when this killing took place. .
There are those who said, ‘oh, why don’t you visit the Fulani settlement, why do you visit only where Christians were?’ I even visited Benue in September where there have been killing before; then I’ve visited them when the flooding took place and we looked at all the issues and tried to address many of these. .
The more important thing, and our focus has been, is first of all ensuring security in these places. We have to address the security question in a much more robust way; that the police are able to do these effectively. We have deployed the military to Kaduna, two battalions to Kaduna. .
In Benue and Taraba axis, we have the 93 battalion, we have 72 Special Forces. We have full concentration in Taraba and all of that, and by the way, the military is fighting in most of the North East. .
So there is a situation where the military is overstretched. So I think the most important thing is first of all to ensure they actually address the security of the people.”
Q: Nigerians definitely appreciate all you are doing. But they want to see their leaders come to them to grieve with them in the face of tragedy.
V.P: “Let me say that I agree with you, the more places that we can go to the better. But I made a point earlier that we also have to address the serious concern that people have. .
We have to address the rehabilitation concern. I and the President are going round and I agree that if we go to all these places it would be so much better.”
Q: On Nigeria’s rating by Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.
Vice President: I think that by even Transparency International’s own assessment, Transparency International uses nine different indexes to come to a conclusion. In four out of those indexes, Nigeria moved up, in another four Nigeria stabilised & dropped in only one index. So in aggregation, it (T.I) then decides that it has fallen in certain number of points below where we were.
I think the important thing to bear in mind about Nigeria’s anti-corruption fight is that the government has done what it ought to do by focusing on grand corruption. Grand corruption is the type we experienced years before when, for example, $15 billion was lost in defence contract. Two, three weeks to election, N100 billion in cash was taken out, and again $293 million in cash, two weeks, three weeks to election. That’s the kind of impunity. And of course you are also familiar with the scam that went on in the NNPC at the time; the so called statutory contracts, that’s grand corruption. That is the corruption that crippled the economy of the country.
Let me tell you very quickly how you can recognize that we have scaled a good deal on grand corruption today: despite the fact that we are earning 60 per cent less in revenue, we are actually able to spend more than ever before in the history of this country on infrastructure. In 2017, we spent about N1.3 trillion on capital. That’s the highest in the history of the country. So we are able to do far more with far less because we have controlled the impunity that went on, the grand corruption, and all of that.
Now, how does that translate to perception; because grand corruption is a big aspect of corruption. It’s a big one because if you cannot control grand corruption, you can’t do what you want to do. But then you cannot address the corruption as you go through our airports, our ports or as you go through government offices, in many cases. That’s where the whole perception emerges.
We must have a deeper and much wider way of dealing with corruption. How are you going to do that? You must have an efficient way of doing that; like automation, removing discretion from individuals.