It’s arrant shame Nigerians celebrate Christmas in agony, Osinbajo admits

Osinbajo

Like his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said he sympathized with Nigerians over the hardship foisted on them by the lingering fuel shortage, which is taking the shine out of this year’s Christmas celebration, describing the development as a shame.

The Vice President, according to a statement released in Abuja by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, on Monday, gave a piece of his mind when he interacted with some people who kept vigil at Oando and Hayden petrol filling stations at Lekki and Victoria Island respective, in Lagos.

“It’s such a shame that Christmas has been, to some extent, with this sort of discomfort.

”This is deeply regretted, and l know that, despite the resilience and strength of people in Lagos and the Nigerian people, we would see ourselves through this and will enjoy our Christmas and have a great new year,” he told the people on the queue where he made the surprise appearance.

Osinbajo also disclosed that the federal government was making efforts to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

“We are trying to move as quickly as we can. Obviously, people have gone through a lot of pain and anguish in the past few days, and that is deeply regretted.

“We are trying to do what we can to move as quickly as possible and there is certainly enough products to be able to solve the problem.

“We will be able to solve the problem; the short period of scarcity is quite a bit of burden, but we know that so long as products are enough and the trucks coming out and feeding the stations, this will be over very soon.

“I am going around with the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources here in Lagos to ensure that first, the trucks are being loaded from all the depots, and also looking at the filling stations to see that things are moving on very well.

“The GMD of the NNPC is also working in Abuja to see that things are moving quickly and we are moving around the country. So we expect that it will be resolved very quickly.”

Osinbajo calls for action against corporate secrecy

osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has again called for an intensified global action against vices associated with  corporate secrecy stating that “breaking the wall of secret corporate ownership is an existential matter.’’

Speaking at the opening of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Beneficial Ownership Conference today in Jakarta, Prof. Osinbajo said, “it is for us literarily a matter of life and death. Masked or Hidden corporate ownership is deeply implicated in the sad story of our underdevelopment.’’

According to him, “we know that anonymous companies are not always illegal or are not always designed to harm. But we also know that secrecy provides a convenient cover for the criminal and the corrupt. And we are not just operating from the theoretical or hypothetical standpoint.’’

He said the dangers of corporate secrecy are evident across the world and does not separate developed societies from the underdeveloped ones.

He said: “Our lived experience has shown clearly that anonymous corporate ownership could serve as vehicles for masking conflicts of interest, corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and even terrorism financing.

“But this is not just a developing world’s problem.  We live in a more inter-connected world, and anonymous companies have footprints and tentacles that do not respect the developed/developing divide.’’

According to Osinbajo, “Opacity in one section of the globe undermines openness in the other. We need to break down this wall together as we are all at risk of the evil effects of opacity in business ownership.’’

The Vice President commended the efforts of the governments of the United Kingdom, Norway, Netherlands and Denmark for leading the way in establishing public registers of the real, human owners of companies in their countries and call on other G8 and G20 countries to follow suit.

He however noted that the challenges ahead transcends establishing registers of beneficial ownership to making such registers effective in achieving the objectives for which they were all established.

According to him, “Making the register count will take a lot of work. It will be important to develop mechanisms to verify the data disclosed and to build the capacities of tax authorities, law enforcement agencies, media and civic groups and even citizens to wade through, interrogate, make sense of and use the data in the registers.’’

“We also need to move away from the illusion of a magic bullet. In fact, there are no magic bullets in the quest for openness and governance reforms. Those who profit from opaqueness will not roll over. They do not have the incentives to do so,’’ he added.

He advocated for a set of legislative measures that would “effectively discourage or totally prohibit non-disclosure agreements by governments with big corporates, and to re-evaluate the use of secret trusts to hide beneficial ownership from the prying eyes of the law.’’

He mentioned some of the measures taken by the Buhari administration in the global campaign against corporate secrecy as, “Nigeria’s membership of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and government’s commitment to the National Action Plan that prioritises the establishment of this all-encompassing and publicly accessible register.’’

Another effort worth mentioning, the Vice President noted include, “the proposal for a draft Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Bill to the National Assembly in 2016.’’

NAN