April 2016- Unveiling a detailed economic agenda that specifically tackles the nation’s current challenges, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called on the Nigerian people to remain patient and indeed expectant, assuring that the Buhari administration is firmly committed to revamping the Nigerian economy and fulfilling its promises.
Acknowledging the pains currently facing the nation, Mr. Osinbajo expressed the determination of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to take decisive decisions that would positively resolve the current economic challenges.
He said, “We acknowledge the pains and are concerned by them. Which is why we are working diligently to address the tough challenges inherited from the nation’s past.”
According to him, “We are working diligently to address the tough challenges inherited from the nation’s past,” adding that the plethora of challenges facing Nigeria could be overwhelming, and with it the multitude of things requiring decisive action that have to be strategically handled.
Speaking today at “The Nation’s Forum On The Economy” in Lagos, the Vice President averred that the Buhari administration is already “taking action and in due course they would produce satisfying outcomes, for they are borne out of a leadership that has no other agenda but the progress and greatness of Nigeria”.
Unveiling the economic strategic plan, Mr. Osinbajo disclosed that the Federal Government’s blueprint would be based on a strategic implementation plan for the 2016 budget under six thematic key areas, adding that the plan, would focus on about 33 Priority Actions.
He listed the following strategic areas and some of the policy actions including the following:
A. Lasting Changes in the Policy Environment, National Security and Governance
– Achieve an Appropriate Foreign Exchange Regime
Increase low interest lending to the Real Sector we need to move toward a single digit interest rate.
– Maintain Capital Spending in the Budget at a minimum of 30%. Complement this with funds from the Infrastructure Fund for commercial projects
– Intensify the fight against corruption by increasing transparency, accountability and compliance with law and order
B. Diversifying the Economy by Fast-tracking Industrialization, Agriculture and Agro-Allied Processing, as well as attracting investment into the Solid Minerals, Tourism and Entertainment Sectors
– Implement Measures to Achieve Self-Sufficiency & Become Net Exporters of certain agricultural Items: rice-2018, tomato paste-2016, wheat-2019. Increase local production of maize, soya, poultry & livestock, so as to achieve self-sufficiency: deadlines to be announced in due course
– Adopt and Implement a Roadmap to Stimulate Investment into the Solid Minerals sector, and plug Revenue Leakages in the Sector
– Increase Manufacturing Capacity through the operationalization of Industrial Parks, Free and Export Processing Zones, etc.
C. Priority Critical Infrastructure, focused on increasing investment in Power, Rail and Roads, etc.
– Optimize the 7,000MW installed capacity and ensure associated infrastructure to Fuel, Transmit and Distribute this capacity.
– Undertake the rehabilitation and construction of 31 major Road Projects scheduled for 2016 to restore degraded sections of the Federal Highways network and to Establish Connectivity over a distance of 2,193km (through public works projects, maintenance works, PPP and other interventions)
D. Oil and Gas Reforms
– Adopt & Execute a Comprehensive National Oil & Gas Master-Plan (‘NOGM’) as the roadmap for the Petroleum Industry’s Development, Diversification, Privatization & Governance. Adopt & Execute a Roadmap of Gas Development & Flare Elimination
– Set a deadline to be Self-Sufficient in Refined Petroleum Products & become a Net Exporter
Work with the National Assembly on the passage of a Revised Petroleum Industry Bill (‘PIB’) or Bills to give effect to the NOGM & to resolve Fiscal & Governance Issues of the Sector, & Eliminate Gas Flaring
E. Ease of Doing Business
– Move 20 places up global Ease of Doing Business Rankings, by implementing fast track measures for business approvals, acquisition of land titles, etc. (Nigeria is currently ranked 169 out of 189 countries by the World Bank – 2015 Survey)
Fast-track visa application and issuance processes
F. Social Investment
– Implement Social Intervention Programme and specific Health / Education projects included in 2016 Budget
Health Sector Interventions including Flagging off the Revitalization of 1 Primary Health Centre per Ward (a total of 10,000 nationwide)
The social investment plans include the following:
*Train and deploy 500,000 unemployed graduates as volunteer teachers who would be paid on the job while they seek jobs in their chosen careers.
*Homegrown School Feeding for primary school pupils across the country paid for by the government
*Micro-credit scheme that provides very soft loans to a million market women, artisans, traders
*Creating innovation and technology hubs/ parks on a large scale and skills acquisition & vocational training for over 300,000 non-graduate youths
* Conditional Cash Transfer where one million poor and vulnerable Nigerians would receive N5000 monthly
*Bursary awards for tertiary education students of Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths, STEM.
Vice President Osinbajo also re-assured the nation on the Change Agenda in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement in his 2016 Budget Presentation speech, that “we remain committed to economic diversification through import substitution, and export promotion, in order to build a robust and resilient economy, as a lasting legacy for generations to come”.
He then underscored the necessity for continuous engagement with the Nigerian people, including stakeholders in the economy, stating that “we intend to start a quarterly meeting with members of the private sector and other economic stakeholders soon and thereby create a forum for engagement on an ongoing basis.”
“Town-hall meetings at the presidential level would also be resumed across the country to explain progress and address the challenges with our people,” he further stated.