Right of Reply: A Package of Lies From Gbenga Adefulu and Tope Fasua by Etim Etim

Right of Reply: A Package of Lies From Gbenga Adefulu and Tope Fasua by Etim Etim

Editor's note: Veteran journalist, Etim Etim has taken the duo of Gbenga Adefulu and Tope Fasua to the cleaners for their piece against Vice President Yemi Osinbajo where certain allegations were made against the Nigerian number two citizen.

Without a doubt, the entry of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo into the presidential race about two weeks ago has changed the dynamics of the contest, disorganised his opponents, and angered many godfathers who had hitherto assumed that the presidency is theirs for the asking. These moneybags, with dubious sources of wealth and narcotics-driven paranoia, did not anticipate the mass support that followed the VP's declaration. They've been startled and flummoxed and s a response, supporters of these enraged aspirants have resorted to writing several misleading statements, lies, and malicious articles to malign Prof Osinbajo and mislead the public.

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Etim stated that the article authored by Gbenga Adefulu and Tope Fasua is false and misleading. Photo credit: Aso Rock Villa
Source: Facebook

Two of these writers are Gbenga Adefulu and Tope Fasua. I do not know what these two people do for a living, or their academic background and career path, but their recent articles betray a lack of depth in business and economics, and contain a huge dose of misleading and false assertions that may mislead the less informed Nigerians.

I am duty-bound to debunk their falsehoods.

The first falsehood is that the VP is the head of the Economic Management Team and National Economic Council, and the two bodies have not achieved much.

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It is important to state that the Buhari administration has not constituted an Economic Management Team, as previous administrations did. There is, however, the constitutionally recognised National Economic Council (NEC) which is chaired by the VP and consists of state governors, CBN governor, and some ministers. There are however officials whose main suit is the management of the economy. They include the CBN governor; the minister of finance; minister of industry and investment; DG of Budget Office; the petroleum minister, etc. The NEC has made significant achievements in managing the Nigerian economy in the last seven years, chief among which are getting the country out of two recessions in 2016 and 2020 and achieving steady GDP growth in the last two years. Today, our GDP has recorded over 2% growth quarterly since last year.

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NEC was also responsible for designing and implementing the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), the N3 trillion economic plan launched in 2020, that helped in supporting the economy during the pandemic. Part of the achievements of the Buhari administration in the last seven years, in which the VP played a significant role is the nation's attainment of self-sufficiency in rice production (national output was 9 million metric tonnes last year, up from 5.4 metric tonnes in 2015). The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative that has led to massive domestic production of fertilizer and its drastic fall in price is a major success of the administration. The substantial investments in the revitalization of the nation's infrastructures including roads, bridges, and railway development are unprecedented in our recent history.

Contrary to the falsehood peddled by the two writers that the VP is responsible for managing the exchange rate of the Naira, I wish to state emphatically that the management of our exchange rate is an exclusive responsibility of the CBN. By the CBN Act of 2004, the CBN is a very independent institution; and its board and organs like the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC). Not even the president has the powers to interfere in CBN's Monetary Policy. MPC meets every quarter to determine interest rates and other monetary guidelines. Blaming the VP for the Naira exchange rate shows a lack of understanding of the roles of the various institutions of government. But I recall that the VP has early this year called for a more transparent means of managing the value of the Naira, rather than the current arbitrary system that promotes arbitrage and reduces confidence in the value of our currency.

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The pledge by the VP to continue the policies of the Buhari administration has befuddled many a commentator who misconstrue the loyalty of the VP to the government and his commitment to his duty. Adefulu believes that the VP is wrong in pledging to build on the achievements of the Buhari administration. If Adefulu lives in Nigeria, he would have travelled on the newly rebuilt Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Mile Two-Oworonshoki road in Lagos which were left decrepit by previous administrations for years; and the newly built Lagos-Ibadan rail service which carries thousands of Nigerians every day.

These are part of the achievements Osinbajo would build on. Osinbajo will certainly extend these rail networks to other parts of the country like the south-south and southeast regions. In addition, the VP will make Nigeria self-sufficient in other food crops like maize and wheat, a continuation of the Buhari agenda on domestic food production. Prof. Osinbajo has promised to continue the war against terrorism and violent crimes and the fight against corruption.

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Levelling allegations of ingratitude against the VP has been the cornerstone of the Bola Tinubu campaign. They keep repeating the insane statement that the Osinbajo candidacy is a betrayal to Tinubu. Many Nigerians are making a mockery of this assertion everywhere it is mentioned. Yet, Adefulu shamelessly repeats the same nonsense in his article. As I said in my last article titled ''Why they are moving against Osinbajo'', those touting the theory that the VP has betrayed Tinubu have reduced the Nigerian presidency to Tinubu's heirloom - an object that has belonged to his family for several generations, to which nobody else dares contest for. It is a poor sense of judgement for Tinubu's sole strategy to be based on accusing Osinbajo of betrayal. Nobody wins a major presidential ticket by making his sense of entitlement a national embarrassment.

Tope Fasua's misleading claim that the VP has been pushing the economy to integrate with cryptocurrencies is another proof of lack of depth. I wish to state that the VP was rather advocating for a better regulatory framework for the new payment systems as an outright ban of cryptocurrency would only drive the activity underground. It is therefore notable that the CBN has recently launched the Naira e-wallet and its popularity among the investing public attests to the VP's position for proper regulation. Similarly, the VP's support for the growth of the fintech subsector and financial inclusion has been legendary. Prof Osinbajo has been encouraging young Nigerians to keep up the pace with technology and the emerging economy.

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Osinbajo is one of the most broad-minded and cosmopolitan public officials. His staff members are of different religious faiths from different parts of the country. The VP is equally sensitive to our diversity, in addition to being acutely aware that Nigeria's strength lies in welding our differences together. Adefulu's talk of the VP being biased towards RCCG members is therefore an insult to the huge Christian community in our country.

Fasua's negative comments on the Ease of Doing Business show how little he knows about the role of the private sector and its concerns. The EoDB is a set of activities systematically implemented by the government to create a conducive environment for the growth of businesses. The initiative was first mooted and suggested by our private sector operators and supported by the World Bank.

I urge Nigerians to discard all misleading statements against Prof Osinbajo. He is the right person to succeed President Buhari.

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