Osinbajo speaks on APC’s agenda

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo

Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the running mate to Nigeria’s All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, says Muhammadu Buhari will oversee the defeat of Boko Haram, should he win next year’s election.

Answering questions on Twitter during a specially-arranged question-and-answer session, Osinbajo said Buhari would end the corrupt management of defence funds, which is responsible for the ill-equipment of the military.

“The current administration has politicised Boko Haram. The corruption around the defence funds has created a situation where soldiers are not well equipped/motivated,” he said.

“GMB wiped out Maitatsine, another Islamic insurgency in his own administration, by sincerely identifying the problem as a challenge to the authority of the state to maintain law and order.
“The administration took command and funded the military transparently and that is what we need to do to end insurgency.”

He also spoke on APC’s strategy for reducing the bite of unemployment on youths, acknowledging that 80 per cent of fresh graduates are unemployed.

“The focus of APC is on jobs jobsjobs! The question we ask about every policy is: how many jobs will this produce. We have three broad approaches.

“We expect every state will be supported to create 20,000 jobs directly funded. The FG will also match the creation for every additional job created over the 20,000 mark.

“Post Youth service: FG will pay a stipend to every ‘youth corper’ for a year while they are looking for employment and in that year we will give vocational training.

“FG will undertake a massive public works programme. This is expected to have the multiplier effect of producing hundreds of thousands of jobs. FG will give tax breaks and recognition to employers of labour who provide a certain minimum number of jobs.”

Osinbajo dismissed claims that his party and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were no different in ideology.

“The APC in an ideological sense is left of centre. In other words, its focus is on policies that will impact the lives of the common man,” he said.

“We have social programmes such as social welfare (first in Africa), free education, mass employment, universal healthcare insurance and free meals programme in primary schools. The difference is in the ticket; integrity is key.”

Asked how he would tackle corruption, he said: “One of the fundamental problems is that there is no consequence for corruption. I think that what everyone will agree to about a Buhari government is that it will not tolerate corruption.

“If the Number 1 citizen has a clear and uncompromising anti-corruption stand, then the anti-corruption policy will work. If Number 1 and 2 have a strong stance on anti-corruption, then our policy can succeed.

“In Lagos state, we were able to deal with judicial corruption by dealing with issues of renumeration and strict policy on consequence in sanctions where judicial personnel were found to be corrupt. That model can be replicated.”

On plans to proportionately reduce the country’s dependency on crude oil, he said: “Let me begin by saying that the problem with our mono resource dependency is compounded by the fact of corruption. When you have all your earnings coming through the NNPC and it has been captured by corruption, it means that the major income of the country has been taken over by a few. It never trickles down to the people.
“The first solution is to deal with corruption in the NNPC and free up that resource to benefit the people.

To diversify the economy, there are three approaches that the APC proposes. The first is agriculture: it provides an opportunity to give millions a chance to earn a living and export. A major plan is a commodity board approach where we assure farmers of a minimum payment for their produce.

“If you’re producing cassava, government assures you that they would buy cassava off you at a minimum price. There will be a value chain created : storage. Agro allied benefits from cassava alone: starch, ethanol, feeds production will be stimulated. Also, Nigerians are naturally traders and we must create an environment that allows Nigerians to trade not only locally-produced goods but from around the world.

“Dubai is a trading outpost for the world today, which doesn’t produce most of what it trades. Nigerian digital technologists with the great ideas they have can compete with their Indian and western counterparts. That we believe will create an explosion in Tech inventions, applications and jobs.”

Responding to the question of whether unknown Nigerians with formidable CVs could offer Nigerians hope in politics, he said: “Yes, when I served as Lagos state’s attorney general, I was even less known. I was teaching in the university, but I was prepared due to my engagements with the major issues and problems of governance in Nigeria and carried out reforms in the system of administration of justice which with humility have been hailed locally and internationally as models.”

He further said religion should not play a role in politics, although the moral values and ethics from religion should inform both policy and action in government.

“People introduce religious bigotry into government when they have nothing to offer the people,” he said.

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