At Vice Presidential debate, opposition candidates slam Sambo over electricity claim

Vice president, Namadi Sambo

Vice President Namadi Sambo said on Sunday that nearly N200 billion has been saved by the Federal Government following the discovery of about 60,000 ghost workers in its employ.

He disclosed this while responding to questions on corruption during the debate organised for the vice presidential candidates of the 14 political parties ahead of the February 14 election.

The debate, which was boycotted by the vice presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Yemi Osinbajo, was organised in Abuja by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON.

Mr. Sambo, who is the vice presidential candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was paired with Bello Umar of the United Progressives Party, UPP, and Seidu Bobboi of the Kowa Party.

Stating that corruption was not an event, the vice president said it had however become a cancer in Nigeria and to treat a cancer would involve a lot of things.

He noted that before the civil war, there was no armed robbery in the country but that despite the killing of robbers by firing squad, the menace did not abate.

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Mr. Sambo said the Jonathan administration had been able to put in place measures to stem corruption particularly in the civil service, among which is the e-payment and the strengthening of government institution.

According to him, this approach had yielded result as over 60,000 ghost workers had been discovered and nearly N200 billion had been saved.

He also said the government had stemmed corruption in the agricultural sector with the reform it introduced in fertilizer distribution.

The vice president said the PDP had transformed Nigeria since 1999, particularly in the last four years that Mr. Jonathan had been in power.

“Our party has successfully changed Nigeria in the last four years under the leadership of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. We have been able to transform this country by having a leading economy in Africa,” he added.

He stated that when the current administration assumed office in 2011, the country was generating only about 2,000 megawatts but that it had now risen to about 4,500 megawatts.

“When we came in as an administration four years ago, power generation in this country was only about 2000 megawatts but today we are generating 4,500 megawatts and this will continue,” he said.

“There is no doubt that people are already reaping the effect of this additional power generation in Nigeria. As I speak we have added 10 new power plants in Nigeria and 100 percent has already been completed.

“We have constructed 3,500 kilometers of transmission lines and also 295 injected substations completed. So by that we have added 4700 megawatts to the existing infrastructure that will come. We have taken the right direction on power. We are building hydro power plants. People are feeling the positive change of this transformation.”

He said contrary to reports, only about 100,000 barrels of crude are being stolen in Nigeria, but that government had taken various steps to ameliorate the problem by liaising with the foreign refineries that buy the stolen crude.

Mr. Sambo said the government had begun the process to reform the Land Reform Use Act. According to him, a Committee headed by Peter Adeniyi had already completed a report and presented to the National Economic Council, NEC, which he chairs.

He said the report had been reviewed while inputs from the state governments were being awaited.

On the security challenge in the North East zone of the country, Mr. Sambo said the government “will do everything to ensure that we arrest this problem; we are strengthening the security arms and we are ensuring that our military personnel are properly kitted and equipped.”

Stating that the government was taking necessary actions to ensure that those affected by the insurgent activities were taken care of, the vice president said already 12 local governments hitherto under the control of the insurgents in Adamawa State had been recovered.

Mr. Sambo pleaded with Nigerians to vote the PDP in the election because of the wealth of experience he and Mr. Jonathan had brought to governance.

Mr. Umar said if elected, the UPP government would focus on solving the security problem confronting the country. He said the party already designed policies to achieve this.

He disagreed with Mr. Sambo on the economy and insisted that “the economy of the country is in the state of collapse.”

He also faulted the vice president on the state of power generation in the country, saying the government was not doing enough.

Mr. Umar said the UPP government would “go to nuclear to generate energy in order to put an end to power problem in Nigeria.”

The UPP vice presidential candidate said his party’s government would initiate land reform, strengthen technical and vocational education, set up a committee to advise it on the industrialisation of the country and give anti-graft agencies free hand to fight corruption.

On his part, Mr. Bobboi of the Kowa Party, said the power situation in the country had not changed from what it was 13 years ago contrary to Mr. Sambo’s claim.

He said if elected Kowa Party would build additional refineries in the six geo-political zones.

“That will reduce the number of pipes and it will reduce the vandalisation of pipelines,” he said.

Apparently referring to the controversial election of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, and the removal of the leadership of the Ekiti House of Assembly, Mr. Bobboi taunted the PDP government not adhering to the rule of law.

“Leadership problem is a very critical issue. Leadership should be seen as servant of the people and not a ruler of the people. We require purposeful leadership that can work with the people, not centralized leadership, not leadership that is incoherent, but one that should adhere to the rule of law, not leadership that says 16 is higher than 19 or seven higher than 19,” he said.

“Kowa believes that leadership should be focussed, responsible and allow the people to participate.”

Mr. Bobboi, whose party’s presidential candidate is a woman, Oluremi Sonaiya, said there was a need for a paradigm shift from “paternal system of leadership to maternal system of leadership.”

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