Don’t divert public funds for campaigns, private pockets, Osinbajo warns

Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo
  • As INEC receives 41 applications for registration

THE Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday warned against the possible of diversion of funds  meant for public services  by political office holders for campaigns or other purposes.
Osinbajo, who handed down the warning in Abuja yesterday at the 2016 Annual Conference of the Mallam Bashir Yusuf-led Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), said that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government recognised the critical role of opposition parties in deepening democracy but stressed that they should be careful with public funds.
Represented by his Special Assistant on political parties, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Osinbajo said the anti-corruption war being fought by the Federal Government was not targeted at opposition parties in the country but aimed at bringing sanity to the polity in order to sustain democracy in the country.
He explained  that when the current government took over from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) -led government in May, last year, it investigated and found out that a huge chunk of money meant for the purchase of arms to eliminate Boko Haram in the North-east was diverted, hence, the need for probe.
Osinbajo said investigations had revealed that huge sums of money voted for security was diverted into private pockets while part of the money was used for campaigns by the PDP, which was in power then.
He pointed out that the dangerous trend could not be allowed to continue, saying that IPAC should play critical role in educating political parties, the general public and ensuring that democracy survived in Nigeria.
According to him, “Politics and elections should not be war or depletion of public resources. Never again will government agencies be used in favour of any political party to win elections.
“The war against corruption is not targeted at the opposition parties. What government is doing now is that money meant for essential services should not be diverted for campaigns or any other purposes,” he said.
Osinbajo recounted the experience of the military who were fighting the Boko Haram insurgency during the regime of the former president, Goodluck Jonathan, saying:”some military men went to the battle with 10 bullets, some went with nothing while others went with obsolete weapons.”
This came just as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC Professor  Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed that the Commission had received a total of 41 applications from political associations seeking for registration as political parties.
Represented at the occasion by a National Commissioner, Professor Anthonia Simbine, promised   that the commission was doing the needful on all the applications and would make its decision on them public when vetting was concluded in line with the provisions of the law. The INEC boss stressed the need for a vibrant opposition so as to assist in deepening democracy in the society.
Also speaking, Senate President Bukola Saraki, represented by his Special Adviser on legal and constitutional matters, Ibrahim Tukur El-Jadi said: “we must all understand that to truly developed and sustain the flames of Nigeria’s democratic fires, we must fan these flames with ideologies. We must work towards creating a system of responsible political behaviour both within and outside our parties – letting our supporters know that violence in all its forms will not be tolerated by party and its proxies.
“To put an end to violence in politics, we must go a step further by imposing strict and heavy legal and political sanctions on those that may choose to perpetrate violence on behalf of our parties.”