Senior Special Assistant to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, speaks with SEYI GESINDE on developmental activities of the government in the last four years, especially in the areas of economy, job creation and infrastructural development.
Nigerians have been complaining about the biting economic situation in the country and with the vice president as the chairman of the National Economic Council, what do you think is responsible for this and what is the government doing to address it?
The particular situation of an economy at any given time is an accumulation of some previous decisions, events, actions and inaction of the past. What has become clear since President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration got into office is that we are addressing some of the more fundamental aspects of the Nigerian economy. By that, I mean in the last four years, we have seen the diversification of the economy like never before.
The farmers will tell you that since we came in, things have changed. They said there were five million farmers then and now they are about 12 million. It is not my own claim, they said it themselves. And you can see with the Anchor Borrowers Programme; it has empowered over one million farmers to whom we give very affordable loans. This will be taken to the Next Level. And we are moving steadily into the diversification of the economy.
In the area of importation of rice where we used to spend over $5 million daily on rice import, the situation has changed due largely to the deliberate policy of the Federal Government in agricultural production, especially in prioritizing local rice production with the target to attain self-sufficiency.
we have started the implementation of an ambitious Social Investment Programme including the N-Power where we provided post-secondary school job programmes in the entire country. We have hired over 500,000 unemployed graduates. We are feeding about 10 million pupils once daily.
I don’t think there has been a better match in the history of this country as president and vice president than President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
In terms of the chemistry and in terms of the fact that these two gentlemen share a common commitment, personal integrity and how they balance each other out in different areas of leadership. I don’t think there’s been a better pairing. And it is not true that there was a time the president considered replacing Professor Osinbajo as running mate. That is completely false. I can tell you that very clearly.
Since we started this republic in 1999, how many people in power ever handed over power to their deputies when they were on vacation or out of the country? None of them. President Buhari is the only one that transfers powers to the vice president whenever he is on vacation. As a matter of fact, some former presidents have actually given kudos to the relationship between President Buhari and Vice-President Osinbajo.
This vice-president is somebody that understands the media and the Nigerian people and his goals, he works hard for them. He is competent and resilient. It is not very difficult to manage somebody like that because he manages himself very well.