• Ex VP insists restructuring not negotiable
By Lawrenca Olaoye and Lateef Ibrahim
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that his predecessor, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s, concept on restructuring was vague.
Osinbajo, while responding to Atiku’s criticism of his position that Nigeria does not need geographical restructuring but prudent management of its resources, in a letter addressed to an online medium but made available to newsmen yesterday, noted that Atiku’s concept of restructuring was understandably vague, because he sought to cover every aspect of human existence in that definition.
According to him, Atiku’s concept of restructuring meant cultural revolution without bordering to unravel it.
However, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in a swift response on Tuesday rejected Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s assertion that his (Atiku’s) ideas on restructuring were vague, saying restructuring was a necessity, not an option.
Osinbajo summised that Atiku proposed a structure that gives everyone an opportuni ty to work, a private sector driven economy.
Agreeing with the concept, the Vice President said such had been accommodated in the government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), including it’s Ease of Doing Business Programme.
Osinbajo wrote “If, however, this is what he describes as restructuring, then it is clear that he has mixed up all the issues of good governance and diversification of the economy with the argument on restructuring.
“Good governance involves, inter alia, transparency and prudence in public finance. It involves social justice, investing in the poor, and jobs for young people; which explains our School Feeding Programme, providing a meal a day to over 9 million public school children in 25 States as of today. Our NPower is now employing 500,000 graduates; our
TraderMoni that will be giving microcredit to 2 million petty traders;
our Conditional Cash Transfers giving monthly grants to over 400,000 of the poorest in Nigeria. The plan is to cover a million households.
“Surprisingly, Alhaji Atiku leaves out the elephant in the room – corruption. And how grand corruption, fueled by a rentier economic structure that benefits those who can use political positions or access to either loot the treasury or get favorable concessions to enrich themselves. This was a main part of my presentations the Minnesota Town Hall meeting.
“In arguing for good governance, I made the point that our greatest problem was corruption. I pointed out that grand corruption, namely the unbelievable looting of the treasury by simply making huge cash withdrawals in local and foreign currency, was the first travesty that President Buhari stopped.
“In the final analysis, restructuring in whatever shape or form, will not mean much if our political leaders see public resources as an extension of their bank accounts. This, I believe, is the real issue.”
He also reinstated his belief in the creation of state police and devolution of powers for there to be stronger states.
According to him, restructuring on the basis of creation of more states as recommended by the ex-President Good luck Jonathan’s 2014 Constitutional Conference would be counter-revolution considering the fact that most states, as presently constituted, are unsustainable.
The former Vice President, in a statement issued in Abuja, accused Prof Osinbajo of making a U-turn on the issue of restructuring.
Atiku has similarly challenged Vice Prof Osinbajo to explain the wisdom in the federal government’s sharing of $322 million Abacha’s loot only to obtain a $328 million loan from China for ICT development in the country.
Atiku’s demand followed the Vice President’s response to Atiku’s criticism of Osinbajo’s rejection of “geographical restructuring “ as a solution to the nation’s problem.
The statement by Atiku, titled ‘Restructuring is a necessity, not an option’, reads in part, “ I have been in the forefront of the discourse on restructuring since the 1995 Abacha Constitutional Conference and to the best of my knowledge, there has not been any term like ‘geographic restructuring’.
“It is a strange concept, not only because it is not what the restructuring debate is all about, but also because the words of the Vice President, which prompted my response where clear, unambiguous and unequivocal.
“Mr. Osinbajo said, ‘the problem with our country is not a matter of restructuring.’ That I disagree with and so do many other Nigerians.
If the Vice President has changed his stance, I welcome it, but we should not use one finger to hide behind semantics.
“For the Vice President to say ‘Alhaji Atiku’s concept of restructuring is understandably vague, because he seeks to cover every aspect of human existence in that definition’, is most unfortunate.
“Devolution of powers and resources to the states. Matching grants from the federal government to the states to help them grow their internally generated revenue position.
The privatisation of unviable federal Government-owned assets.
“A truly free market economy driven by the laws of demand and supply.
“Replacing state of origin with state of residence, and passing the PIGD so that our oil and gas sector will run as a business with minimal governmental interference.
“I am hard pressed to see how these clear and specific ideas can be described as ‘vague’. One would have thought that if anything is vague, it would be the idea of ‘geographic restructuring’ whose meaning is hanging in the air.”