Osibanjo confirms who nominated him as VP, speaks on recession, Sharia law bill

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In a bid to allay fears following the sponsor of a “Sharia expansion bill”, by Abdullahi Salame (APC-Sokoto), Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday said Nigeria is not interested in the bill at least for now. While allaying fears over a possible amendment of Sharia law to cover more jurisdiction, Osinbajo said such an amendment was not possible within the confines of the legislature alone.

Speaking yesterday in Lagos at a ‘State of the Nation’ colloquium organised by the Coalition of Nigerian Apostolic Leaders, he said: “First of all, it is not right at all that the Federal Government is interested in any Sharia bill. Every bill that is a government bill must come from the Attorney- General of the Federation.

“This Sharia bill was presented by somebody within the National Assembly and my understanding is that it has not even passed the second reading. “But lets even assume that it did, you can’t change a Nigeria law without a constitution amendment.

Sharia is in the Constitution since 1979 and it applies to Muslims on issues of marriage, inheritance and others. Any change, whatsoever, cannot come by the way of amendment within the National Assembly, it has to be by Constitutional amendment.

“Aside from both the Senate and House of Representatives, amendment of Constitution must go to two-thirds of the states; 24 states must say they want it. So, it is not possible, we should not waste our time and energy on it,” he said.

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On when the recession may likely end, Osinbajo said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was working assiduously to ensure that the impact of challenges in the country becomes a thing of the past in the next few months.

The vice-president identified the drop in crude oil prices and massive corruption under the last administration as the two major reasons for the current economic recession. According to Osinbajo, the government is not retreating from its promise of ensuring stimulation of the economy especially on massive spending on infrastructure from the budget, adding that the lack of savings for the rainy day by the immediate past administration hugely contributed to the depletion of the coun-try’s foreign reserve which also had effect on the foreign exchange.

“The two main reasons for where we are obvious; drop in oil prices and two, corruption. Anything else you’re looking at is just a manifestation of the two. When Trans Focado was bombed we lost 40 per cent of gas generation. Once there is problem in oil, there is problem in the economy. “We could have avoided what happened in the North-East but $15 billion arms funds was stolen.

There is no economy that can withstand that kind of shock. When people say don’t talk about what has happened in the past, it is ridiculous. If you lose half of your foreign reserve there is a shock on the economy”, he noted.

While stating that the efforts of the government to block leakages have started yielding fruits, he highlighted some of the measures used in embarking on fiscal prudence as the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the I-pay policy.

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“With the fiscal prudency, we are controlling how government funds are spent for efficiency and that has saved billions. With the TSA we are able to ensure that government revenue is well accounted for and to control how government expenditure is received and spent.

“You heard when they said a highly placed military officer received, N585m from others’ salaries with the electronic platform, Ipay those kinds of anomalies are no longer possible. Then government is working to increase tax compliance. 700, 000 new companies have been registered.”

Speaking on why law enforcement agencies have not made any arrests from the budget padding scandal that rocked the House of Representatives, the Professor of Law says the agencies are at liberty to carry usout their duties without any influence. He said: “As a rule, the president does not ask that anything be done, he has given all the agencies the complete authority on what they need to do, every agency has complete authority.

“Nobody can say he needs a phone call before conducting his operations, or that the president will say go and arrest him or her. Everybody knows what they have to do. We are committed to ensuring that where there are proven cases of corruption, we will not overlook such.”

Osinbajo, who encouraged Christians to participate more in politics, said: “I wasn’t nominated for the VP position by the church but by the party’s national leader, a former governor, under whom I served as a commissioner nominated me. My nomination has opened the door for Christians.”

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Though he did not mention any name, it is obvious to clsoe observers, he was referring to Senator Bola Tinubu, who is the national leader of APC and former governor of Lagos State.

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