Mr. Osinbajo said this on Monday at a book presentation of an Ibadan-based elite group, House of Lords, which published a book titled “Nigeria: The Challenges of Growth and Development”, at the University of Ibadan.
The vice president said the country cannot sustain the shocking level of public sector corruption.
“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,” he said.
“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,” Mr. Osinbajo said, according to a statement signed his spokesperson, by Laolu Akande.
Mr. Osinbajo said the amount “is more than half of the current foreign reserves of the country”, currently at about $27 billion.
He told the audience made up of top Nigerian elites drawn from academics, business and the professions that what the Muhammadu 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 dislodge 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,” he said.
Mr. Osinbajo said the events of Nigeria’s recent past have shown 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”.
The vice president said implementation of the 2016 budget, which he described as Nigeria’s most ambitious ever, would begin in the next few days.