The President Muhammadu Buhari administration in 2016 dedicated a greater percentage of the national budget to clearing up the ‘mess’ left behind by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo declared yesterday.
In a nationwide broadcast to commemorate the second anniversary of the Buhari administration, Acting President Osinbajo said: “Indeed, much of 2016 was spent clearing the mess we inherited and putting the building blocks together for the future of our dreams; laying a solid foundation for the kind of future that you deserve as citizens of Nigeria.”
Osinbajo said that though the existing administration had recorded a milestone in its efforts to reposition the country, the government might be unable to provide overnight solutions to the numerous challenges besetting the country. “We did not find ourselves in crisis overnight, and we simply do not expect overnight solutions to our challenges,” he said.
Highlighting the various achievements of the Buhari administration since it came into office, he cited the government’s efforts to deliver on its promise of restoring security in most parts of the country, especially in the North East region, and degrading of the Boko Haram sect.
He said concerted efforts were still on course in the fight against corruption, declaring that government was making a concrete arrangement to create special courts that would help in the speedy prosecution of corruption cases.
“We have focused on bringing persons accused of corruption to justice. We believe that the looting of public resources that took place in the past few years has to be 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,” he added.
Osinbajo noted that the government had rolled out different programmes and policies to revitalise the economy and create more jobs for the teeming unemployed graduates. He listed the social investment programmes, the ease of doing business and the recently signed executive orders as part of the policies.
According to Osinbajo, in the last two years, the administration took steps to save and invest for the future, even against the backdrop of revenue challenges.
He said: “We have in the last two years added $500m to our Sovereign Wealth Fund and $87m to the Excess Crude Account. This is the very opposite of the situation before now, when rising oil prices failed to translate to rising levels of savings and investment.
“Our administration outlined three specific areas for our immediate intervention on assumption of office. These were security, corruption and the economy. The Buhari administration is having challenges dealing with the myriad of the country’s economic problems. Admittedly, the economy has proven to be the biggest challenge of all.
“Let me first express just how concerned we have been, since this administration took office, about the impact of the economic difficulties on our citizens.
“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 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 taking long-term efforts aimed at rebuilding an economy that is no longer helplessly dependent on the price of crude oil.
“Those short-term interventions include putting together a series of bailout packages for our state governments, to enable them to bridge their salary shortfalls – an issue the president has consistently expressed his concerns about. We also began the hard work of laying out a framework for our social intervention programmes, the most ambitious in the history of the country.”
Osinbajo, who prayed for the quick recovery of President Buhari, assured Nigerians of a better future, saying that the administration would not exclude any part of the country in the developmental strides.