Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday took stock of the two years of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and declared that positive results were clear for all to see.
Osinbajo said this in a national broadcast to commemorate the nation’s Democracy Day and the second anniversary of the Buhari administration.
He recalled that the administration outlined three areas, comprising security, anti-corruption crusade and the economy for immediate intervention on assumption of office.
Although he admitted that the economy had remained the biggest challenge of all, he said the Federal Government had introduced several measures to revamp it.
While admitting that the fight against corruption appeared slow because of the slow nature of the nation’s justice system, Osinbajo stated that efforts were in top gear to recover all stolen funds and bring the culprits to justice.
On security, he said the government’s achievements in the North-East, where the Boko Haram sect openly challenged the nation’s sovereignty, were clear enough for all to see.
Osinbajo stated that under the present administration, the nation’s military put Boko Haram on the back foot, adding that the nation restored broken-down relations with its neighbours – Chad, Cameroon and Niger – without whom the war against terror would have been extremely difficult to win.
He said, “In the last two years, close to one million displaced persons have returned home. One hundred and six of our daughters from Chibok have regained their freedom after more than two years in captivity, in addition to the thousands of other captives who have since tasted freedom.
“Schools, hospitals and businesses are springing back to life across the North-East, especially in Borno State, the epicentre of the crisis. Farmers are returning to the farms from which they fled in the wake of Boko Haram. Finally, our people are getting a chance to begin the urgent task of rebuilding their lives.
“Across the country, in the Niger Delta, and in parts of the North-Central region, we are engaging with local communities, to understand their grievances, and to create solutions that respond to these grievances adequately and enduringly.
“President Buhari’s New Vision for the Niger Delta is a comprehensive peace, security and development plan that will ensure that the people benefit fully from the wealth of the region, and we have seen to it that it is the product of deep and extensive consultations, and that it has now moved from idea to execution.
“Included in that New Vision is the long-overdue environmental clean-up of the Niger Delta beginning with Ogoni-land, which we inaugurated last year.
“More recent threats to security such as the herdsmen clashes with farmers in many parts of the country, sometimes leading to fatalities and loss of livelihoods and property, have also preoccupied our security structures.
“We are working with state governments and taxing our security agencies with designing effective strategies and interventions that will bring this menace to an end.
“We are determined to ensure that anyone who uses violence, or carries arms without legal authority is apprehended and sanctioned.”
On the fight against corruption, Osinbajo said the government had focused on bringing persons, accused of corruption, to justice.
He stated that it was the administration’s belief that public resources that were looted in the past few years were accounted for.
“Funds appropriated to build roads, railway lines, and power plants, and to equip the military, that had been stolen or diverted into private pockets, must be retrieved and the culprits brought to justice,” said the acting President.
“Many have said that the process is slow, and that is true. Corruption has fought back with tremendous resources and our system of administration of justice has been quite slow.
“But the good news for justice is that our law does not recognise a time bar for the prosecution of corruption and other crimes, and we will not relent in our efforts to apprehend and bring corruption suspects to justice.
“We are also re-equipping our prosecution teams, and part of the expected judicial reforms is to dedicate some specific courts to the trial of corruption cases.”
Osinbajo noted that the Efficiency Unit of the Ministry of Finance had succeeded in plugging leakages amounting to billions of naira over the last two years while government had ended expensive and much-abused fertiliser and petrol subsidy regimes.
He said the present administration in the last two years added $500m to the Sovereign Wealth Fund and $87m to the Excess Crude Account.
This, according to him, is the opposite of the situation before now, when rising oil prices failed to translate to rising levels of savings and investment.
On the economy, Osinbajo regretted that some companies shut down their operations through no fault of theirs while civil servants worked for months without salaries in some states.
The acting President added, “Admittedly, the economy has proved to be the biggest challenge of all.
“Through no fault of theirs, some companies shut down their operations, others downsized; people lost jobs, had to endure rising food prices.
“In some states, civil servants worked for months on end without the guarantee of a salary, even as rents and school fees and other expenses continued to show up like clockwork.
“We have been extremely mindful of the many sacrifices that you have had to make over the last few years. And for this reason, this administration’s work on the economic front has been targeted at a combination of short-term interventions to cushion the pain as well as medium to long term efforts aimed at rebuilding an economy that is no longer helplessly dependent on the price of crude oil.”
The short-term interventions, according to him, include putting together a series of bailout packages for state governments to enable them to bridge their salary shortfalls.
On the whole, Osinbajo said just as the President promised in the Budget Speech, the early months of 2017 had seen the flowering of the early fruit of all the hard work of the administration’s first 18 months.
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