Embezzled,  Stolen, diverted public funds must be accounted for —AP Osinbajo

     Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said, yesterday, that public resources that were Embezzled in the past few years in our country  would be accounted for by those involved in the act .

    Osinbajo stated this in a nationwide broadcast to mark the second anniversary of PresidentMuhammadu Buhari’s administration.

He also at an event to showcase the Social Investment Programme, SIP, in Abuja, yesterday, said the Federal Government was not doing Nigerians a favour by coming up with such a programme, stressing it was their right.

   On the broadcast,Osinbajo said accounting for the funds had become imperative in view of the determination of the administration to bring persons accused of corruption to justice.

According to him, “funds appropriated to build roads, railway lines, power plants, and to equip the military, that have been stolen or diverted into private pockets, must be retrieved and the culprits brought to justice.

“We believe that the looting of public resources that took place in the past few years has to be accounted for.

“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 recognize 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.”

He stated that the government had also started re-equipping the prosecution teams, and that part of the expected judicial reforms was to dedicate some specific courts to the trial of corruption cases.

The acting president disclosed that the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government was also institutionalizing safeguards and deterrents in the process.

He also noted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration spent much of its first year in office in 2016 clearing the mess inherited from the government of former president Goodluck Jonathan.

SIPs not favour to Nigerians

Meanwhile, Prof. Osinbajo has said the Social Investment Programme, SIP, of the Federal Government were not favours dispensed to Nigerians.

Osinbajo spoke at an event to showcase the achievements of the National Social Investment Programmes at Old Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja, yesterday.

Tagged: “A Smile for Every Nigerian,” the event was organised to commemorate the second anniversary of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

He said: “The Social Investment Programme is both a heart and a head programme. Heart because the pains of poverty cannot be ignored. The President, during the campaigns while we were touring the country, kept saying we must do everything to get our people out of poverty. The programme is also a head or logical common sense issue.

“A country’s economic development is a function of the number living above poverty level, our levels of poverty are so alarming that clearly some fundamental interventions by government are necessary.

“Often, our economic development plans and budgets assume a trickle down approach, mainly that if we put resources in promoting industry and commerce, jobs would eventually be created and the poorest will be reached.

“The SIP is clearly one of the largest social intervention efforts anywhere in the world. It is complicated and diverse in its scale and scope. We are proud of the men and women led by the Special Assistant on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais.

“That team is supervised by a very dedicated inter-ministerial team. The Ministers of Budget and Planning as well as Finance.

“l want to say this and this is really to our beneficiaries who are here.  When I saw the lady who was so grateful for what has been done, for the help you have received, I just want to say to all of you that we do not consider that this programme is a favour that is done to you.

“It is not. You deserve this programme because you are citizens of this country. This country can provide and we will provide. For all those who need help, we will do our very best to provide.

“I want to say that we are extremely grateful about the way you have done this. When some people talk about N30,000 for a graduate, it almost seems as if this is ridiculous, but it is clear that anyone who hasn’t had a job for years, and that is the case for so many, needs that start in life.

“I am very, very proud of everyone of you for the ways you have gone about this. You have done this with so much dignity and you have gone about ensuring that everyone who was listening to you is so extremely proud of the way you have conducted yourselves, the way you have shown so much commitment and so much dedication. This is truly the Nigerian spirit and I am extremely proud of you.”

“Beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer programme, home grown school feeding vendors and cooks, now have BVNs and bank accounts.  We have also demonstrated that electronic payment on such a huge scale across the nation is possible.

‘’Most importantly, we have ensured that our programmes are in all states, not just APC states, so much so that some of the governors in non APC states even take credit for these Federal Government programmes.

“We know that our children in public schools, many from poor homes, do not really care about whether the food is from one political party or the other.’’

Osinbajo said the next phase of N-Power would start on  June 13.

He said:  “The next phase of this programme will proceed on a surer footing. We will be reopening the portals for NPower on June 13, we are ramping up on the CCT , GEEP, and the Home Grown School Feeding. Our targets are clear, soon enough we will put smiles on the faces of millions more.”

The Acting President also stated under the Social Housing Fund Scheme, anyone earning N30,000 would be able to own a house of his or her own.

“There is also an aspect of this SIP that has not be mentioned. This is N100 billion set aside for the Family Home Fund of our Social Housing Project. The N100 billion is a yearly contribution to our N1 trillion Social Housing fund, the largest in the history of the country.

‘’The World Bank and AfDB  are contributors to the fund. From this fund, developers will borrow 80% of cost of project and counter-fund with their own 20%. The same fund will enable us to provide inexpensive mortgages for hundreds of thousands across the country who want to own homes.

‘’Anyone who can afford N30,000 will be able to buy a home under our new social housing fund scheme.

“Already, the project has started in 11 states. We expect that this Family Housing Fund will jump-start and expand construction exponentially across the country.”.

Speaking to journalists, the Minority Leader of the Senate, Chief Godswill Akpabio, lauded the programme but said government needed to do more in the area of information dissemination to sell the programme to the hinterlands.

He also warned that it should not be made a programme for only states controlled by the All Progressives Congress, APC.

He said: “I am  happy that the federal government decided to extend invitation to the minority in the Senate on this day of launching this social investment programme. I think it is a step in the right direction because the programmes of the federal government are not programmes that are targeted at any political party; they are programmes targeted at the entire citizens of the country.

“Like I said, poverty has no political party and, of course, unemployment has no political party; hunger has no political party. So, whenever a government at the state or national level initiates a programme that is earmarked at putting food on the table of Nigerians or alleviating the poverty situation or helping us to bridge the unemployment gap; we must all applaud such a programme, and that’s why I came.

“I am happy with the testimony I heard from the beneficiaries of the programme today that yes, the programme is working even though it is not very well expanded and publicised. I think the area the federal government needs to improve upon with the available resources is the area of information dissemination. A lot of local governments, a lot of unemployed youths, a lot of would-be beneficiaries, some people with skills — some people with skills who have no jobs to do are not quite aware of this programme. So, that’s one area where we must try our best to let the information trickle down to the grassroots.’’

In her remarks, Special Adviser to the President on the Social Investment Programme, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, said in line with the relevant sections of the constitution, all Nigerians were entitled to a standard of living that was inadequate.

She said: “This agenda is in line with the promises made in the APC manifesto.  All Nigerians are entitled to a standard of living that is adequate for the health and well-being of their families, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services, as well as the right to dignity and security, in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or the lack of livelihoods.’’

Also speaking, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said the programme would be institutionalized.

“This programme will be institutionalized and it will succeed. Nigeria has had many social investments programmes in the past that have failed. This one is designed to succeed, to reach the people that are in need at the right places and at the right time,” she said.

In their separate remarks, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, lauded the government for delivering on its campaign promises.

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