Politics

A few questions for Professor Yemi Osinbajo

Are Nigerian youths now asking questions?
I want to first congratulate you for throwing your heart into the ring and publicly declaring your intention to contest for the office of the President in the 2023 general election. I am glad that you finally made your intentions known after months of keeping “we Nigerians” guessing and speculating. Your entrance into the race enriches the democratic space and broadens our choices. For me, however, you have brought yourself to the podium and it thus offers a much needed opportunity to interrogate you on your stewardship since 2015. I know that you know very well that your decision puts you on the hot seat. I also know, like many other Nigerians do, that you are capable of answering any question that arises from your stewardship to our country thus far. So, please, do not shy away from the following questions.

First, I will like to take your mind back to 2015 when you boarded a BRT bus at Ojota in Lagos and openly campaigned for the joint ticket that Muhammadu Buhari held with you. On that fateful day, you publicly declared that Buhari was the only person who could end insecurity and rescue this country. Sir, looking back from 2015, would you say the same thing again? If you would, why? If not, why? I ask this given Nigeria’s ranking as the 16th most dangerous country in the world and the seventh in Africa behind Sudan, DR Congo, Libya, Central African Republic, Somalia and South Sudan, as ranked by worldpopulationreview.com.

Secondly, sir, when you assumed office in 2015, Nigerians were made to understand that you would oversee management of the economy while your principal addressed corruption. A lot of Nigerians welcomed the idea because they saw you as much more cerebral, better educated and much more in touch with reality than your principal who had become locked in the past. So, they looked forward to you to work out solutions to problems that had held the country down in the areas of power generation and supply, industrialization, job creation and poverty reduction. Sir, how do you feel that, under you supervision, and/or management of the economy, Nigeria became ranked as the poverty capital of the world while the power grid collapsed more frequently than in the past? How also do you explain the fact that you campaigned in 2015 with reviving existing refineries and improving on the capacity of Nigeria to refine its crude locally by building more refineries but now have to fall back to depend on Dangote Refinery while being unable to resuscitate just one of the existing refineries?

Prof, sir, prior to the general election in 2019, you toured markets in the country where you publicly and openly shared cash at N10,000 to each trader. Many Nigerians saw that as vote-buying because of the conditions attached to it. However, you later explained it away as TraderMoni. Later, your office was to announce that the money was loan to traders. In an analysis by BudgIT, it was claimed that TraderMoni gulped about N3 trillion. Many Nigerians think this amount is exaggerated. Please, sir, would you kindly tell Nigerians how much the government you are part of spent on TraderMoni and, secondly, what is the tenor of the loan and how much has been refunded by the beneficiaries? Are there also loan defaulters? If there are, what has your government done to recover the loans?

Sir, just this April, national coordinator of National Social Investment Programme, Dr. Umar Bindir, disclosed that the government you are part of spends N12 billion monthly to feed schoolchildren under the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme. Before that, sir, in February, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, disclosed that your government increased the daily meal cost from N70 to N100 per child and, as a consequence, your government would spend N1 billion daily to feed schoolchildren. Please, sir, I believe Nigerians would want to know how much exactly your government has spent on this programme since it began. Also, how do you measure the impact of this spending on the programme as it affects school enrolment and retention of children in school?

Vice-President Sir, in your speech at your declaration, you described your principal as a “true Nigerian patriot” and added that you would want to continue from where he stopped. By this sir, do you suggest that the President’s leadership policy of 97 per cent against 5 per cent is a true act of patriotism, which you intend to continue with? Do you also suggest that the allegations of nepotism and exclusion against the government you are part of is an act of patriotism, which you intend to push forward and expand, if you get the chance? Sir, do you equally suggest that the lethargic handling of what your government prefers to call herders/farmers’ clashes is another act of patriotism? Tell us, would you, if given the opportunity, handle the issue with the same gloves as your principal did? Most Nigerians think that the government you are part of is indeed clueless with regard to how to navigate Nigeria out of troubled waters. Do you suggest that this seeming cluelessness is progress in the act of patriotism? Would you tread the same road?

Sir, in your speech, you promised “justice for all and observance of the rule of law.” That is a great promise, sir. But, first, tell us how you feel with the handling of anti-corruption cases against former government officials, including ex-governors, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, etc., especially with the observed practice where corruption cases of those who defect to the ruling party are literally abandoned while those who remain with the opposition party are prosecuted with vigour. Are you comfortable that corruption cases against your party members and officials have stalled in the courts? Sir, what would you do differently to get those cases off the shelves and decided upon so as to deliver justice to the accused and the society?

Sir, your government promised to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty. However, many Nigerians believe that, instead, it has taken 100 million people into poverty, with the ravaging impact of hyper-inflation and stagnant minimum wage. Sir, what exactly do you intend to do differently to cause a drop in the inflationary trend and drop the prices of petrol, cooking gas, diesel, Jet-A1, food, electricity, medicines and even housing?

Sir, I would like to let you answer these questions for now. But, before I go, sir, let me ask this: Nigerians have strongly clamoured for restructuring. In August 2018, you said Nigeria’s problem was not restructuring because, as you put it, “it is about managing resources properly and providing for the people properly.”

However, you argued also that “those who have the resources want to take all of it, while those who do not have want to share from others.” You made this argument because, according to you, “…we went to court to contest the idea that every state should control, to a certain extent, its own resources; 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.”

Sir, do you suggest that restructuring is the same thing as resource control or simply about it? How about restructuring the security system to allow for state police structure? Lastly, with benefit of hindsight, if you get to become President, would you push for the restructuring of Nigeria? If yes, where would you begin? If no, why?

Thank you for now. Waiting to read your response, sir.

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