Nigeria Will Continue To Embrace Transparency In The Extractive Sector – Osinbajo

Nigeria will continue to embrace transparency in the extractive sector because it is in the country’s overriding national interest to do so, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this during a bilateral meeting with the Chairman of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Mr. Fredrik Reinfeldt, on the side-lines of the just-concluded EITI Beneficial Ownership Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia.

He said, “Transparency in this sector is very important for Nigeria. It is in our enlightened self-interest to do so because of the strategic nature of this sector to our economy. So we are doing this more for ourselves.

“These are commitments that we made with all sense of seriousness, not because we are looking for applause or commendation, but because we are convinced they are in our best interests.”

At the bilateral meeting on Monday, the Vice President reaffirmed the Buhari administration’s commitment to a sustained EITI implementation in Nigeria and the establishment of a publicly accessible register of the ultimate owners of companies operating in the country.

Earlier in his keynote address, Prof. Osinbajo had noted that the EITI implementation was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s anti-corruption drive, and the commitment the President made at the May 2016 London Anti-Corruption Summit.

The Vice President pledged that the administration will continue to support the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) to deliver on its mandates.

The EITI Chairman, a former Prime Minister of Sweden, commended Prof. Osinbajo for his “outstanding speech” at the opening plenary, and pledged that the EITI board and secretariat will continue to support Nigeria in its initiatives. Reinfeldt also praised Nigeria for attaining “meaningful progress” at the last validation despite the complexity of EITI operation in Nigeria.

Validation, which provides an independent assessment of EITI implementation, is used to assess whether a country implementing the EITI has met the requirements for compliance with the EITI Standard.

The EITI, a global standard to promote prudent management of oil, gas and mineral resources, is implemented in 52 countries, including Nigeria, which signed up to the initiative in 2003 and started implementation in 2004. The implementation of EITI in Nigeria is backed by the NEITI Act 2007. Nigeria is regarded as one of the leading EITI-implementing countries as its operations have shaped the evolution of the global body.

The EITI Beneficial Ownership Conference brought together representatives of governments, companies and civil society groups to exchange ideas and share practices on how to end secret ownership in the extractive sector in all EITI-implementing countries by January 2020.

Others at the bilateral meeting include the Minister of State for National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who is also a member of the EITI board; the Nigerian Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr Hakeem Balogun; and the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio. Accompanying the EITI chairman were Mr. Eddie Rich and Mr. Pablo Valverde, both of the EITI Secretariat in Oslo, Norway.

 

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FG Open To Stronger Partnerships And Collaborations With Private Sectors, Says Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has said that the federal government is is open to stronger partnerships and collaborations with the private sector to build infrastructure and make the necessary progress in the economy.

Prof. Osinbajo spoke today when he received on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, a delegation from the US-Africa Business Centre comprising of President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Zenith Bank Chairman, Mr Jim Ovia; US Ambassador, Mr Stuart Symington; representative of the US Chamber of Commerce, Scott Eisner, among others.

According to him, “we have always been committed to private sector leading the way in the economy and that is so important to us because if you look at what government can actually provide even in terms of resources that government has, we really don’t have a choice than to depend on the private sector.’’

The Vice President said, “the whole attitude is that we are trying to get everyone in government to understand that business has a choice, capital has a choice, and we should make ourselves as welcome as possible.’’

“So, what we have been trying to do is to create an environment that makes it easy for the private sector to do business. We have an Industrial Competitiveness Advisory Council that meets regularly with senior members of government especially those concerned with the economy,’’ Prof. Osinbajo added.

The Vice President added, “we think that there is a lot that can be done, there is a lot of room for investment and a lot of room for collaboration and we look forward to a lot more areas that we can work together to develop.’’

On his part, the representative of the US Chamber of Commerce, Mr Scott Eisner, said the delegation’s visit was in recognition of the Buhari administration’s friendly economic policies and the preparedness of US business owners to invest in the Nigerian economy.

He said the centre comprised of over three million members is committed to working with governments across Africa in achieving key economic targets and also contribute in the development of critical infrastructure.

Mr Eisner commended the Federal Government for its policies on the economy especially its ease of doing business initiative among others.

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Corruption: Nigeria’s Greatest Challenge, Says Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has said that corruption remains Nigeria’s single greatest challenge and the problem associated with it could strongly be described as cancer.

Osinbajo said this at  a jointly organised workshop by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the National Judicial Institute (NJI), on capacity building at the NJI, Mohammed Bello Centre, Jabi, Abuja, on Wednesday, October 25, 2017.

According to Osinbajo, reason why Nigeria built no major new roads or no new infrastructure in the last 6 years, despite earnings from oil in excess of $100 dollars a barrel, is largely because of corruption.

“The Vice President, in his speech, stated that the escalation of the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast was on account of the fact that billions of dollars allotted to the purchase of arms for our military, was cynically embezzled by senior military and civilian government officials.

“In the last administration, two weeks before the elections, cash in excess of N100billion and over $250 million, was released in a few days ostensibly for security purposes. The aggregate sum released was more than some States earned in a whole year. That is the enormity of the embezzlement that we are talking about.

“Corruption threatens our security, health, education and even our corporate existence. GAVI, the global fund for provision of vaccines for the poorest in developing countries, stopped providing funds to Nigeria for alleged mismanagement of funds by the Ministry of Health officials between 2011 and 2013. Nigeria had to refund $2.2million. These were vaccines and drugs meant to fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, amongst the poorest of the poor of our country.

“The enormous resources in the hands of perpetrators today is used to subvert justice, to bribe pliable senior government officials, to bribe in some cases judicial officers, to subvert the legislative process and, of course, even to subvert the press. The problem with corruption is that it is a cancer. It may be terminal if not checked. The failure of African States, civil wars and destruction of lives and livelihoods, is the result of failure of institutions largely caused by endemic systemic corruption.

“It is because of the existential nature of the threat of corruption, that collaboration between the Judiciary, the Executive and of course the Legislature is imperative.

“In working together, all of us in these institutions, the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature, are mindful that by the nature of systemic corruption all institutions are affected one way or the other. But we must come together and we are coming together, as a patriotic gesture to rescue our nation from looming disaster,” Osinbajo said

 

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Osinbajo To Attend Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Conference In Indonesia

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, is embarking on a two-day working visit to the Republic of Indonesia, during which he will address the opening plenary of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Beneficial Ownership Conference taking place in Jakarta, Indonesia, from Monday 23rd October to Tuesday 24th October, 2017.

At the conference, the Vice President will speak on a range of issues concerning Nigeria’s extractive industry and general reforms embarked upon by the Buhari administration in the extractive sector of the economy, among other issues. Other world leaders and top government dignitaries speaking at the event include the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo; Minister of National Development Planning in Indonesia, Bambang Brodjonegoro; EITI Chair, Fredrik Reinfeldt; among others.

This year’s conference, which will focus on using beneficial ownership information to achieve national priorities for the extractive sector and to improve natural resource governance, has as its theme: “Opening up ownership – sharing practice, building systems”.

Hosted by the Government of Indonesia and other partners committed to working on beneficial ownership reform to showcase best practices so far, the conference will discuss challenges, provide peer learning and exchange experiences.

According to the organisers, the conference is coming in the aftermath of the Panama papers scandal that implicated some highly placed individuals with links to the extractive sector across the world. The EITI last year agreed to adopt new rules on disclosing beneficial ownership for all extractive companies operating in its 52 member countries.

Nigeria joined the EITI to promote prudent management of revenues from its abundant natural resources to reduce poverty and ensure sustainable development. The NEITI is the Nigerian national sub-set of the global EITI.

Moreover, the Buhari administration is renowned globally for its position on anti-graft issues, and its campaign against corruption, which is manifest in the reforms initiated across spheres of government business and in key segments of the private sector.

The EITI has held a global conference at least every three years since 2003, bringing together all stakeholders of the EITI. So far, there have been seven conferences till date.

While in Jakarta, the Vice President will also hold bilateral talks with his Indonesian counterpart, Jusuf Kalla.

Prof. Osinbajo will be hosted to a state reception by the government of Indonesia.  He will also meet with representatives of the Indonesian business community, the Chairman, International Board of EITI, and African Group of Ambassadors accredited to Indonesia.

The Vice President, who has left for Jakarta, is expected back in Abuja later on Tuesday.

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FG To Complete Second Niger Bridge By 2019, Says Osinbajo

The Federal Government has assured citizens of its commitment to complete the second Niger Bridge before the end of 2019.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stated this on Friday in Onitsha at the official flag-off campaign of Mr Tony Nwoye, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Anambra.

He said that N2 billion had already been paid to the contractors as mobilisation fees for the take-off of the bridge project.

Osinbajo said that all projects embarked on by the Nigerian Government would be completed without exception including rail and federal roads.

“The APC government is a government that will do everything it has promised. We are not making promises for nothing. The second Niger Bridge, we have been talking about it for a long time, but for the first time, the President went by himself to negotiate the facility to do that second Niger Bridge. That is why the second Niger Bridge is in our current budget and we have provided for it”.

“In fact, I am being reminded that just two days ago, the Sovereign Wealth Fund paid N2billion for that same project. (Sum paid to the contractor Julius Berger for early works) We will definitely see our second Niger Bridge, we will not make promises we cannot keep” he said.

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Denies Plan To Contest 2019 Presidential Election

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday said he had no plan to contest the 2019 presidential election.

According to Reuters, Osinbajo said this when he was asked at the Financial Times Africa Summit in London if he had considered running.

“None of that is on the cards,” the Vice-President reportedly said.
It will be recalled that Osinbajo had earlier disowned a group known as Osinbajo Volunteers, which is campaigning for his election as President in 2019.

His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, had asked Nigerians to disregard the group, adding that he had nothing to do with them.

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Why Nigeria’s Economy Is Working Under Buhari – Osinbajo

The Buhari Presidency is making specific efforts to enable the private sector to thrive specifically by undertaking extensive ‘ease of doing business’ reforms, in addition to on-going investment in infrastructure, says Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof Osinbajo stated this today at the Financial Times Africa Summit holding at the Claridge’s Mayfair Hotel in London noting that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari in the past months has been working assiduously to improve macroeconomic conditions.

“After a continuous slide in growth since 2014, the trend of growth in GDP has turned around with a modest growth of 0.55% in the second quarter of this year while inflation, though still somewhat high, has declined from its peak of 18.7% in January 2017 to about 16% today,” he stated.

Speaking to a global audience made up of international business leaders, investors, public sector officials, media gurus and intellectuals, the Vice President noted that ‘the outlook going forward is quite positive based on improvements in oil prices and production and the trend of leading indicators such as positive purchasing managers indices, a revived stock exchange and increasing foreign exchange reserves.

Highlighting some of the efforts of the Buhari Presidency in agriculture and power, the Vice President drew attention to the significant progress achieved in the ease of doing business initiative of the Federal Government stating that “in the first stage, reforms were introduced under a 60-day national action plan focused on eight areas that make it easier to register businesses, obtain construction permits, get credit, pay taxes, get electricity, trade across borders, facilitate entry and exit of people and register property.”

Continuing, Prof Osinbajo said  “practical examples of success include leveraging the use of technology to fast track business registration and payment of taxes, a functioning, tried and tested 48-hour electronic visa procedure, and an Executive Order mandating greater transparency and efficiency across all government agencies. The reforms have led to reduction in cost and time, as well as greater transparency for small and medium sized enterprises in particular.”

“Following the 70% success rate achieved in the first phase of the ease of doing business reforms, we recently embarked on a second national action plan which will have 11 areas of focus and will run for 60 days from October 2017,” he added.

The Vice President equally noted that Nigeria is an investor’s delight because of the opportunities which the Nigerian economy offers, specifically emphasizing that “the opportunities are enormous indeed.”

He added that the Buhari administration is “nevertheless determined and optimistic that Nigeria will along with the rest of the continent bring about an Africa that works for all its people and contributes to global growth and prosperity.”

During his keynote address, the Vice President observed that the theme ‘What Africa Works’, is appropriate and remarked that with Africa’s experience in the past few years, it is clear that “what makes Africa work, is what makes economies work any where; honest visionary leadership and good governance, letting the private sector and markets lead,  diversification from resource based revenues, developing the potential of the human resources available.”

The Vice President noted that Africa “can demonstrate with clear examples that what makes Africa work are the ingenuity and resilience of the people, especially its 70% youth population,  leadership and good governance, allowing the private sector and markets to function, focusing on infrastructural development, and the incredible opportunities that abound.”

The summit was also attended by a number of Nigerian dignitaries including Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, the Emir of Kano, HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, and Mr. Yemi Cardoso among others.

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Seeks Establishment Of Endowment Fund For African States

Establishing an endowment fund for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states is a timely initiative that will put members on the path of sustainable growth and development,Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has said.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Wednesday when he received, on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, a delegation from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) comprising its Chairman, Ambassador Amadou Diop, Secretary General, Dr Patrick Gomes and other dignitaries.

He said: “setting up of an endowment fund like the one proposed will, in a way, guarantee an independent ACP because if our development partners continue to give us the kind of support that they are giving now, they will definitely want to determine our course of development in the future.’’

The Vice President, who pledged Nigeria’s unalloyed support for the ACP, especially in its agenda on climate change and others, urged member-nations to remain united in pursuit of the organization’s objectives.

According to him, “Nigeria remains firmly in support of the ACP because we have benefited so much from the organization. But I also want to emphasize the need for us to stay together.’’

He said: “the ACP has the potential to achieve a lot, especially in the focal areas of climate change, security and economic emancipation.’’

Prof. Osinbajo, however, emphasized the need for the group to review existing international regulations as it strives to address challenges of terrorism and armed conflict within ACP member-nations.

He commended the leadership of the ACP for the work done so far and promised to convey the group’s message to President Muhammadu Buhari.

In their separate remarks, both Dr. Gomes and Mr. Diop commended the role played by Nigeria in advancing the cause of ACP both on the African continent and the global stage.

They solicited Nigeria’s support in the actualization of ACP objectives, especially in the establishment of the ACP endowment fund.

“The key of Africa and the region is Nigeria hence the respect accorded the country by the ACP,’’ Gomes said.

Earlier, the Vice President received Mohamed Al Oraby, a special envoy of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa.

The envoy who delivered a special letter from the Egyptian President, sought Nigeria’s support for Egypt’s candidate, Ms. Moushira Khattab, in the November 2017 election for the Director-General of UNESCO.

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Visits Akwa Ibom, Commissions Projects

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Saturday, visited Akwa Ibom to commission some projects executed by Governor Udom Emmanuel, as the state celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Osinbajo, who was received on arrival by Governor Emmanuel, and other governors, was accompanied by he Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma.

 

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Inaugurates Presidential Council On SDGs

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday, inaugurated the  Presidential Council on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Osinbajo, in his speech, stated that council’s work will be crucial for resource mobilisation, prioritisation of interventions, periodic assessment, as well as the overall oversight of SDGs implementation.

A statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, quoted the Vice President as saying that this will also empower Nigeria’s girls and women, and bridge the gender inequality gap.

“Success with the implementation of the SDGs will have an impact on our cities, and on the quality of the lives of those who live within them,” Osinbajo said.

While noting that achieving the SDGs would mark a quantum socio-economic leap for Nigeria, Osinbajo urged all stakeholders to stay committed and work together to achieve the SDGs, as failure to achieve them will have grave implications for many generations.

“We are, therefore, in a real sense, a generation at the threshold of history, saddled with the responsibility of bringing about the change that will alter our development trajectory for the benefit of our people and planet,” the Vice President added.

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Video: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Shares Memorable Quotes By Late Elder Statesman, Maitama Sule

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, attended the book launch of Late Elder Statesman, Ambassador Maitama Sule.

Osinbajo, at the book launch, recalled the first time he met the late elder statesman was when he was 15 years old and shared some memorable quotes by the great orator.

His words: “Words create or destroy, they edify or humiliate. Words well spoken can uplift, can encourage, can inspire, but words are also the defining tools of nihilists, traitors, hate merchants, demigods and rascals of every kind.”

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Benue Flood: FG To Dredge River Benue, Construct Additional Drainage Systems

In a bid to combat the the incessant flood confronting residents of Benue and Kogi States, the federal government has announced plans to dredge the River Benue and construct additional drainage systems.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said this in Makurdi, on Wednesday, while addressing the Internally Displaced persons (IDPs) at the International Market camp in Makurdi.

His words: “One of the things that the President is concerned about is how we can put a permanent stop to this flooding once and for all. That is why I am here with His Excellency, the Governor, to look around and to look at the solutions we can come up with.

“In particular, the idea of dredging the Benue River is very important, creating jobs and as the young people have asked, constructing drainages, we must provide that as well.

“We must also look for realistic solutions to ending this problem once and for all and trying our very best to provide all that is required.

“I am so happy to see all of the efforts that the government of Benue State led by Governor Samuel Ortom has already made to see that this facility is running well.

“I want to thank the Nigerian Air Force too for especially providing the medical facilities here as well. And I am very happy to see that we are all doing our best to cooperate with government to ensure that this period, which is a temporary period, we are able to take care of everybody who needs to be taken care of and we will provide a permanent solution.

“At the end of the day, the intention of government is not just to be taking care of the flooding and their victims, it is to provide real opportunity for the people, that is the desire of the Federal Government and, like I said, we are working day after day on these issues.

“We will do everything that the government has promised to do for the people of Nigeria, that I can assure you.”

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