By Donald Ugwu
Abuja – Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday urged the three arms of government to sink their differences and partner to deliver development to the people.
Represented by Mr Ade Ipaye, the Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) to the State House, Osinbajo gave the advice at the dialogue on reforms of justice sector and campaign against corruption in Abuja.
According to him, failure of any constitutional democratic government to resolve conflict slows down the pace of governance and creates suspicion and hostility between organs of government.
He said such conflicts also encouraged bad governance, created distraction to the process of governance and tension.
Osinbajo added that it encouraged the culture of impunity and disregard for the rule of law among the political class with attendant political instability and it caused division among the populace.
“In order to avoid these consequences and for a government to deliver development to the people, it is imperative for the three arms of government to constantly bury the hatchet and focus on collaborative efforts within their constitutional responsibilities to formulate and implement effective governance laws and policies.
“All three arms must be development focused in fulfillment of their roles and be ready to subsume personal interests to the overriding public good.
“As I understand it, this is what this dialogue is about, although it will focus particularly on two key areas, i.e., reform of the justice sector and the campaign against corruption,’’ he said.
The vice president noted that the dialogue was timely as it came after Transparency International released a report suggesting that Nigeria declined in the perception index.
“We are firmly of the view that real progress is being achieved in the fight against corruption, and perception may indeed lag behind reality.
“But, as the saying goes, perception is sometimes stronger than reality, so we have to keep up the fight, until the full effect of our efforts can be clearly seen and perceived,’’ he added.
According to Osinbajo, the ranking of Nigeria by the 2017 Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index should not in any way be seen as a setback.
He advised that it should be seen as an opportunity to continue building on the many successes that had already been recorded by the government in all key sectors.
He noted that the main reason for Nigeria’s decline on the Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index was that Nigeria recorded a major decline in score on just one out of the nine internationally recognized indexes.
He explained that the index scored Nigeria low on the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Country Risk Service, with a decline from 37 points to 20 points.
“This is an index that analyses the risks of financial exposure in countries.
“The question to be asked is what changed so dramatically between 2016 and 2017?
“As we speak the budget for 2018 is under public scrutiny at the National Assembly.
“The allocation and use of public funds is guided by the budget and represents one of the key areas of consultation and interaction by two arms of government – the Executive and the Legislature.
Osinbajo remarked that the endless number of probes of the use of public funds going on within the Executive and Legislature underscored the transparency of the government to ensure judicious use of funds.
He said that what separated Buhari’s administration from others was the prudent and transparent management of national resources.
“Despite up to 60 per cent drop in revenue, we have, by stopping grand corruption, made the highest capital spending in the history of Nigeria, in the sum of N1.3 trillion in 2017.
“We are, for the first time, taking on the game-changing infrastructure projects,’’ he stated.
He said the Federal Government had given more support to state governments than any other government since 1999.
“As of September 2017, total support (excess crude account loan and Budget support facility) excluding Paris club refunds, is in the order of N876. 3 billion.
“If we add the Paris club refunds, we will have disbursed N1.91 trillion to states, outside of their regular monthly allocations,’’ he explained.
The vice president commended the Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption (PACAC) for organising the dialogue for all arms of government as it provided a platform for building on an already established relationship.
According to him, the separation of powers for the arms of government is to enable democracy to function effectively.
The PACAC Chaiman, Prof. Itse Sagay, said that all officials should purge themselves of corruption, to stand firm to criticise it anywhere.
According to him, some may have been corrupt but if they fail to purge themselves, it ridicules the entire anti-corruption process.
“Collaboration is essential; we must work together in order to succeed,’’ he said.(NAN)