Speaking at the State House in Abuja Monday at the 7th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum for Private Sector Stakeholders, Osinbajo said it became so systemic in Nigeria that it is impossible to deal with it in one fell swoop.
The vice president said in a situation where corruption fights back both internally and externally, the government has to be steadfast and strategic to win the battle.
He said, "I’m not saying that corruption, under this administration, has been completely dealt with. No, certainly not. Where corruption has become systematic such as we have in our country today, you cannot deal with it in one full fell swoop, it is not possible. In any event, you still have a lot of corruption.
"There’s no way you have a system such as ours that has consistently thrived on corruption and proceeds of corruption and public financing in particular that’ll give up and say guys, the problem has been solved. No. It’s a system that has fed on corruption and it affects all aspects of governance. So, trying to deal with it is certainly not a walk in the park."
He, however, noted that corruption was being consistently fought, saying in the next few years, no matter how the administration was criticized, if it sticks to policies, especially controlling excesses and corruption in public finance, Nigeria would make the progress it deserves to make with all its resources.
The vice president said apart from stopping inpunity in public finance, the government also had to hold people to account.
The vice president said grand corruption in public finance space was the biggest problem facing the nation’s economy
He said no consideration Nigeria’s economy development could be properly and honestly done without fully analyzing corruption, especially grand corruption in the public finance space.
He recalled that despite the record of high levels of oil prices in the last administration, very little was invested in infrastructure due to leakages.
Osinbajo stated, "This is the fundamental issue in our economy. Corruption affects everything. It affects even judgement as to what sort of infrastructure to put in place or whether infrastructure will ever be complete. It is so fundamental that we can’t even think of our economy without thinking of what to do about it.
"Sometimes, when we talk about our economy, we talk about the fact that we’ve relied on single commodity and that’s one of the reasons we’re where we’re. Yes, that’s quite true, but the fact is that proceeds from that single commodity were regularly hijacked consistently by a few. That’s really the problem. If we had spent the proceeds from that single commodity the way we ought to, we wouldn"t be where we’re today. Most of the proceeds went to rent seekers in the industry and production."
He said the promoters of the companies engaged for the Strategic Alliance Contract with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Nigerian Production Development Company made away with about $3 billion, "almost a tenth of our reserves."
"There is no way if someone made away with a tenth of your reserves that you’ll not have a major economic shock. And if we don’t deal with it, if we don’t talk about it, how will we be able to discuss our economy in a real honest way with a view to ensuring that these things do not happen again."
The vice president re-echoed what he disclosed last year that "in one single transaction, a few weeks to the the 2015 elections, sums of a N100 billion and $295 million were just fretted away by a few."
"When you consider that in 2014 as the minister of finance has said that oil price was an average of $110 a barrel and only N99 billion was spent on power, works and housing and when we talk about the economy, we talk as if these are normal by every standard. Nobody should talk about the economy when you’ve this kind of huge leakages and huge corruption that completely makes nonsense of even what you’re allocating to capital projects."
The vice president said the presentation of Minister of Finance showed that N14 billion was spent on agriculture and N15 billion on transportation between 2011 and 2014.
He said while the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan spent a total of N153 billion on infrastructure in those three years, N150 billion was shared in two weeks before the 2015 general elections.
According to the vice president, that kind of thing is completely incredible and does not happen anywhere else in the world.
"And when we:re talking about the economy, we must simply understand that that is the problem. Today, with less revenue, we’ve increased capital funding by 400% as the minister has said, in power, works and housing, in defence, transportation, agriculture.
"If we want to do analysis in Nigeria, it’s either fraudulent or ignorant if we do not bring money that belongs to corruption into the mass. This is what distinguishes, in my own respectful view, this administration from the other. I can say that with what I’ve seen, if you’ve a president who is not corrupt, 50% of your financial problems are over. This is what I’ve seen, I can demonstrate it with facts and figures.
"If the president is corrupt, the entire financial system is compromised and that is what we’ve seen with the figures we have just seen. That is an absolutely important thing that we must take into account," the vice president said.