‘What exactly happened to oil money?’ — Osinbajo tackles Obasanjo, Jonathan, Babangida govts

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has questioned the management of Nigeria’s oil resources by previous administrations.

Relying on OPEC statistics on oil revenues accruable to Nigeria under successive administrations between 1990 and 2014, the vice-president said not much was done in infrastructure development in spite of the huge oil revenues earned.

Laolu Akande, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, office of the vice-president, communicated Osinbanjo’s view in a statement in Abuja on Monday.

The vice-president was fielding questions from a cross-section of Nigerians at a town hall meeting in Minnesota, US, on Sunday.

Osinbajo spoke on a wide range of issues covering the economy, anti-corruption, health, agriculture among others.

He said under the Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha administrations, Nigeria realised $199.8 billion.

Under the Olusegun Obasanjo and Umaru Yar’Adua governments, the country got $401.1 billion; and during the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Nigeria got $381.9 billion from oil, Osinbajo said.

He asked: “The question that we must all ask is that what exactly happened to resources? The question that I asked is that where is the infrastructure?

“One of the critical things that we must bear in mind and see is that this government despite earning $94 billion, up until 2017, we are spending more on infrastructure and capital than any previous government, so we are spending N1.5 trillion on capital, that is the highest we have spent since 1990.”

The vice-president further said simple geographical restructuring is not the problem with Nigeria.

He said prudent management of national resources and providing for the people properly were better ideas for Nigeria’s development challenges.

According to the vice-president, the problem with Nigeria is not a matter of restructuring.

He said Nigerians must not allow themselves to be drawn into the argument that Nigeria’s problems stemmed from some geographical restructuring.

“It is about managing resources properly and providing for the people properly, that is what it is all about,” he said.

“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.

“For example, we went to court to contest the idea that every state should control, to a certain extent, its own resources; 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 percent 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.”

He said Nigeria must create the environment that allowed for people to realise themselves economically because that truly was what the challenge was with Nigeria.

Osinbajo said unless Nigerians were able to deal with the fundamental questions around corruption, their economic circumstance would keep going one step forward, two steps backwards.

“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,” he said.

“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 percent of the corruption that was going on then.”