Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has attributed the economic recession recently witnessed in Nigeria to the unchecked rate of corruption.
Osinbajo stated this yesterday in Abuja at the House of Representatives Summit on Economic Recovery.
He said: “the reason for the recession is corruption. Unbridled corruption and waste; I think it is important for us to emphasize that, so that we do not think that the recession was just something that occurred in a cyclical fashion just another economic occurrence.
“No! It was not another economic occurrence, it was unbridled corruption on a scale that was unprecedented anywhere in the world, is what we experienced in Nigeria. It is important that we emphasize it so we don’t walk this way again.
“The figures speak for themselves. Between 2013 and 2015 with oil prices averaging up to $110 per barrel, sometimes going to as high as $150, the government of the day somehow contrived to increase national debt from N7.9 trillion to N12.1 trillion while reducing external reserves from $45 billion to $28 billion as of May 2015.
“Of course, we all know that there was very little by the way of investment in infrastructure and capital projects. In fact in 2015, capital spend was less than 11%. So there was very little to show for where this money went.
“A few weeks before the last elections; how large sums of money, a 100billion in cash ostensibly for security. Another $289million in cash was paid out in the same period. No country can survive that kind of unbridled waste and corruption.
“We must never forget, that corruption is perhaps, the most outrageous cause of our economic decline.
“Aside from barefaced stealing or waste of resources, the inflation of contracts and other procurements ensures that the cost of infrastructure necessary for development will always be unaffordable.
“So if what we should spend on building a 200km road ends up being spent on a 20 km road, there is no way we are going to make any progress and there is no way we won’t end up in some kind of economic decline or the other,” he said.
He added that “we were running an unstable economic structure. Oil alone contributed 70% of budgetary revenues and 90%, perhaps more than that, of our foreign exchange revenues.
“Up to 50-53% of the non-oil sector was dependent on the oil sector. Consequently, the fortunes of up to 60% of the Nigerian economy, rested on this volatile sector. This shaky foundation was masked in the past by high oil prices, but as soon as oil prices fell, the weakness showed.”
The Vice President said two of the other major causes for the deepening of the recession were the intractable delays in the budget approval process and the long procurement processes.
He said: “If the budget process takes up to 5 months of the financial year and procurement is another 3months we have already ensured that the economy will be at a standstill for most of the year.
“The truth is that no developing economy can afford the luxury of prolonged executive/legislative wrangling over the budget. Developed economies with strong and independent private sectors may be able to cope, but Nigeria simply cannot.
“Budgetary delay in a situation of national economic emergency, and the hardship encountered by so many, is simply wrong and unacceptable. Neither the executive nor the legislature can excuse itself. It is wrong for us to hold up the budget for that long.
“The delays of course, will ensure that money will not flow into the economy, and that capital projects will not be done.”
Osinbajo, however, commended the support of the National Assembly, noting that the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) was a collaborative effort with the legislature and private sector.