The Presidency has said Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, did no wrong in his last year’s approval of the sum of N5.8bn fund for the supply of food to about 1.8 million internally displaced persons, IDPs, without the knowledge of the national assembly.
Laolu Akande, the Special Adviser to the Vice President, stated this on Wednesday when he appeared as a guest on Channels TV’s political programme, Politics Today, in Abuja.
The House of Representatives had in a report accused Osinbajo of illegally approving the release of the fund from the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for food that were not supplied.
However, Akande in declaring his principal innocent of the alleged crime, explained that at the time the VP gave the approval, the nation was facing a looming food crisis and there was need for the executive to act fast.
He further said that during emergency situations, the Public Procurement Act supported such executive approval for fund without necessarily going through legislative vetting.
He said: “The VP was Acting President when this matter happened. He had the full compliments of power to approve the fund meant for an emergency situation.
“Before the fund (N5.8bn) was approved, the World Food Programme and some international food agencies came up with a report that says their own funding was declining and there was going to be a shortfallof about 85 percent in the food supply to about 1.8 million IDPs.
“So, it was an impending food security challenge and we had to act fast and promptly.
“The Acting President constituted a presidential committee that had the Minister of Finance, the (senior) Minister and Minister of state for Budget and National Planning, the CBN governor, and quite a few other relevant agencies to develop a plan to avert the impending disaster. It was an emergency situation.
“Under the Public Procurement Act, there is a provision for such emergency spending. So, it is within the powers vested on the executive that was exercise by the then Acting President, in this case, to make the approval.”
On the infractions allegedly committed by the then Acting President in ordering the drawing of the approved funds from the nation’s consolidated revenue, Akande said: “If you want details of where the money was sourced from, when it was done, and who did it, the Finance Minister can give a detailed information about that.
“The issue here is that the VP as Acting President had the authority to approve the money in that (emergency) circumstance, and clearly, within our laws. Nobody can question that; and that is the fact of the matter.”