VICE President Yemi Osinbajo says it is worrisome how past Nigerian leaders, from former military president, Ibrahim Babangida; former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former President Goodluck Jonathan, spent the oil revenues that accrued to the country during their administrations.
The Vice President also said that the problems facing Nigeria are not about restructuring as being suggested in many quarters but about proper management of the country’s resources.
According to a statement on Monday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo said these while answering questions from Nigerians at a town hall meeting in Minnesota, the United States of America, on Sunday.
While relying on the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) statistics on oil revenues accruable to Nigeria under successive administrations between 1990 and 2014, the Vice-President said not much had been done in terms of infrastructure development despite the huge oil revenues realised by the country.
Osinbajo said, “Under the IBB/Abacha administrations (1990 – 1998), Nigeria realised $199.8bn.
“Under the Obasanjo/Yar’Adua governments (1999-2009), the country got $401.1bn.
“During the Jonathan administration (2010-2014), Nigeria got $381.9bn from oil revenues.
“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?
“When added together, the oil revenues that accrued to the country under IBB, Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan amounted to $982.8bn.
“One of the critical things that we must bear in mind and see is that this government, despite earning $94bn, up until 2017, we are spending more on infrastructure and capital than any previous government. So, we are spending N1.5trn on capital. That is the highest we have spent since 1990.”£
He said, “The problem with our country is not a matter of restructuring and we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into the argument that our problems stem from some geographical restructuring. It is about managing resources properly and providing for the people properly, that is what it is all about.
“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.
“So, for example, we went to court to contest the idea that every state should control, to a certain extent, its own resources (the so-called resource control debate). 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 per cent 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.”
Osinbajo said his view was that the government must create an environment that would allow people to realise their economic potential.