Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said yesterday that 110m Nigerians are poor. He claimed this number was from statistics available to him.
He did not explain where the stats came from. He did not explain the yardstick for defining people as “poor”. But, most critically, he did not address what steps his government will take to reduce the number of Nigerians living in poverty.
Osinbajo was a member of the cabinet in the government of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007. He had an opportunity to help formulate policies that would reduce poverty in his state. He didn’t.
This mirrors the behaviour of his fellow All Progressives Congress (APC) party member and governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole. The governor recently criticised the “agricultural revolution” of former president Goodluck Jonathan, without a single word about what he (Oshiomhole) was doing about improving agriculture in his own state.
Criticism is part of the democratic process and a means for holding elected officials to account. But cabinet members, vice presidents and governors are required to do a bit more than criticise. They are expected to govern.
Osinbajo is in power now, has responsibility and should be running things alongside the president. He should stop posing as an outsider, pointing at what is wrong and should spend more time coming up with a programme for poverty reduction in Nigeria.
We don’t need him to tell us that people are poor. We are more interested in what he is doing about it.