Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday said that the Federal Government in 2016 spent N1.3 trillion on capital projects, the first time in Nigeria’s history.
He stated this during a plenary of the 2017 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) national conference in Lagos moderated by Miss Zain Asher, a CNN news anchor.
The event had as theme, “African business: Penetrating through institution building” and a sub-theme “Conversations with the Vice-President”.
Osinbajo speaking at the event, said “The Federal Government spent about N1.3 trillion on capital projects in 2016, the highest in the history of the country. The power sector reform is also ongoing as it is one of the most important sectors in the country.”
Asked on the impact of the spending on the country’s economy, Osinbajo said that, “we were dealing with a mono-economy (relying on one major export or natural resource) and a financial industry that was essentially opaque.
“We have set a foundation of rebuilding the economy, creating the Single Treasury Account (TSA), monitoring government’s spending, modifying the tax system to be more efficient and implementing executive orders.”
He further said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been able to clear the mess it inherited from the previous administration.
Poor Nigerians especially in the rural areas are now feeling the impact of the reform Osinbajo said. “For the economy, we are going to see a tripling in the harvesting of rice, prosperity is returning to some states like Kebbi and Zamfara.
“The rural areas where the highest level of poverty is experienced, there is a turnaround as the highest number of people who went for 2017 hajj were farmers.
“There is a lot of export of agricultural products, what we need to do is to engage in more value added exports and we have quite a few investors,” Osinbajo told the conference.
According to the vice-president, there is currently hi-tech faming in the agricultural sector and more people are now taking to farming.
On government fight against corruption and laundering of the country’s fund abroad Osinbajo argued that government ownership of business encourages corruption, adding that the more private sector is involved in businesses, “the more efficient the system will be and the less corrupt the system will be.”
He therefore said, “We are currently working on a `one-government system’ to tackle bureaucracy. For example, if you need five different approvals from five government agencies, under this system communication with one agency is sufficient as all the agencies will liaise with one another.
“We have introduced technology in a lot of processes. For example, company registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC); the less human contact, the less incidences of corruption. “We must punish offenders, there must be consequences for offenders, fighting corruption is multi-sectoral and we have to work together.
“Convictions on corruption cases have been slow, from my experience as a former prosecutor, getting cases to court is slow, the system allows a lot of inefficiencies.
“We have to try cases efficiently and secure convictions so people can see the consequences of corruption.”
He called for the collaboration of the three arms of government to make the reforms a success.
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