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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said yesterday that Nigeria lost about $15 billion to fraud in security equipment spending during the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administration.

He assured that the government would generate 7,000 megawatts of electricity in the next 18 months.

Osinabjo spoke at the book presentation of the Ibadan-based elite group, House of Lords, which published an indepth analysis by experts titled: “Nigeria: The challenges of Growth and Development, “ at the University of Ibadan (UI).

Noting that the Buhari presidency has kept on a sustained fight against corruption, Osinbajo said the country simply cannot sustain the shocking level of public sector corruption in particular.

Osinbajo, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, said: “When you look at the sheer amount of money that have been embezzled, the sheer amount of money lost from any of these various cases of corruption, you will find that far too much has been lost.

“It was discovered a few days ago that the total amount of money lost just to corruption in part of…and provision of security equipment in the military is closer to 15 billion US dollars.”

While the nation’s foreign reserves are now around about $27b, Osinbajo noted that the $15 billion “is more than half of the current foreign reserves of the country”

He told the audience of top academics, businessmen and professionals that what the Buhari Presidency is “trying to do is to ensure that there are consequences for corruption and we try to send a message that anyone who is found to have been corrupt would not only lose the property they have stolen but will also pay for it in terms of the sanctions of the law.

“I believe strongly that it is important to send a message that no public officer can steal the resources of this country and expect to escape. I hope the message would be loud and clear and it will inform behaviour in the future.”

“By the grace of God in the next few days, we will begin the implementation of one of the most ambitious budgets in our history. Ambitious, not just in its size, but more in its broad range of fiscal and other socio-economic policies,” the Vice President added.

The Vice-President said that that the Federal Government plans to generate 7, 000 megawatts of electricity within the next 18 months.

Osinbajo said power remains a major challenge the Federal Government had been facing, and which the government is determined to solve.

Osinbajo said that the nation was faced with the problem of conveying gas to the power plant, adding that the pipeline, which remained the easiest method, was frequently facing vandalism.

“Early in the life of this administration late last year and early this year, power generation was possibly at its best.

“Nigeria, for the first time was actually generating 5,000megawatts, which was the first time it will happen in the history of the country.

“On February 14, the Forcados Export Terminal was blown off, effectively ensuring that 40 per cent of our gas that goes for power is no longer used for the purpose.

“This situation led to the immediate loss of 1,500 megawatts of power. It is our priority that the pipeline project is completed so that gas will be adequately supplied to the power plant,” he said.

He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had two weeks ago ordered full mobilisation of the military for the protection of pipelines in the country.

Osinbajo said: “The limits of the growth and development of most nations largely depend on the strength of the value-driven influence of their elite, indeed it is evident that the reason for the development and growth of most societies is not resources, but values (otherwise African countries will be the most developed.)

Citing Singapore to back up his submission, he noted that the reason why the “tiny, resourceless island is richer than most of sub-Saharan Africa, with its vast resources is values: hardwork, integrity, innovation promoted by a committed elite, Thus, the custodian elite especially in largely poor and illiterate societies, has a huge responsibility.”

He said that responsibility is what he called “The burden of privilege.”

Continuing, the Vice President said: “I have argued elsewhere that the privileged or the elite, both individually and collectively, have a responsibility, an obligation to society, to plan it, organise it, order or reorder it and above all, to make sacrifices for it, for the maximum benefit of all.

“This is the burden of privilege. It is their -elite-obligation individually and collectively to chart the course for the millions. They define and house the ethos and the public sense of the people.

“It is their expected role to find common cause across professions, vocations, ethnicities and faiths, defining the minimum terms and conditions for the safety, security, growth and prosperity of the community.

The Vice President lamented that to a large extent the ethical space has been vacated by the Nigerian elite.

“In its place are all manner of excuses and false justifications of bad behaviour. Today, ethnicity and religion protect corruption and abuse of power. Mediocrity is encouraged by the subjection of merit to variations of quota systems. Quotas are not in themselves wrong, but must be the exceptions not the rule.”

He gave three principles that the Nigerian elite ought to accept and pursue to ensure nation’s growth and development.

The first, he said, is integrity, a rigorous maintenance of transparency, accountability in governance

According to him, the second is the discipline of implementation, which encapsulates planning, timeliness and precision.

While, the third, he said, is the rigorous enforcement of rules, law and order.

Reviewing the book, Prof. Jide Osuntokun said the writers have carefully highlighted the various challenges bedevilling the nation and how they could be corrected for national growth and development.

“Nigeria’s problem is structural and systemic, and it could be structurally and systematically addressed,” he said.

Mr Oba Otudeko, the Chairman of the event, said there was no other better time to discuss the development of the nation than now when they have the company of people who cares.

He described the “House of Lords, Nigeria” as a collection of people whom the interest of Nigeria and the welfare of the citizens were paramount in their minds.

NAN also reports that the House of Lords, Nigeria was founded fifty years ago and presently parades 34 members, with Prof. Ayodele Desalu as the “Leader.”

The event was attended by prominent citizens including investment banker, Mr Fola Adeola; Prof. Idowu Olayinka, U.I. Vice-Chancellor Prof. Oladipo Akinkungbe and hosts of others.