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Recession: We Never Had This Bad – Rep

By Tony Udemba

Oghene Emma Egoh is a member of the House of Representatives, representing Amuwo Odofin federal constituency of Lagos State, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He stated his concern for the growing hunger in the land and the discriminatory approach by the present government in its war against corruption, just as he described the whistle-blower policy as capable of reducing the spate of corruption in the country. He also spoke on insecurity and other topical issues.
What are your views concerning the fight against corruption?
There is no doubt that the government is doing its best in the on-going fight against corruption in the country, especially given the spate of discoveries of huge sums of funds both in local and foreign currencies  in the houses and business premises of some yet to be identified persons. Certainly with these discoveries,   the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is doing its best in fighting corruption which has continued to ravage the nation for too long. While this is going on,  a major concern  to most Nigerians is the pattern of discoveries of these huge sums of cash,  as exemplified by grave silence maintained by the EFCC on the ownership of the discovered funds , the premises from where the funds were hidden.  Simply put, EFFCC must tell the public the names of the owners of the recovered funds, as well as the owners of the properties where the funds were traced to. These are some of the questions on the lips of most Nigerians.
Nigerians must be saved the puzzle of guessing about the ownership of the funds.  It is not just enough to tell us that they discovered billions in some apartments or premises in Ikoyi, Victoria Island or some other places, EFCC should go the extra mile and ensure that the names of those behind these hidden funds are made public.  The truth is that everyone is getting tired of these unending entertainment going on in the country.  Rather, everyone is anxiously waiting to know the true owners of the discovered funds.
What is your take on the perceived targeting of PDP members in the anti-corruption war?
There is no gainsaying that some members of our great party, PDP, are being targeted in the on-going anti-corruption war. We are greatly concerned about  this sad development going on in the country, and continue to insist that those agencies that are in charge of the fight against corruption must operate in line with the laws and constitution of the nation. In fighting corruption emphasis must be placed on ensuring that the due process of the law is followed, and certainly not in victimizing political opponents or perceived enemies of the government.  What we want is fair treatment to everyone irrespective of political inclinations.
A situation where political opponents are hounded  into detentions, tried in the media, even before proper investigations start, is totally unacceptable. Certainly that is not the proper way of fighting corruption in the country.
How would you rate the whistleblower’s policy of the government?
I would want to commend the government for the introduction of the whistleblower policy, and most importantly for the successes so far recorded by the policy. At least we have seen, and continue to see, also on weekly basis lots of discoveries of huge sums of cash, both in local currencies been hidden by unknown individuals and personalities, in people’s homes and business premises.   It has not been too long that this policy was introduced in the nation, but you can see the amazing results recorded so far.
What is your reaction to the proposed introduction of modular refinery system in the Niger Delta region?
The proposed policy by the federal government to set up modular refineries in the oil-rich Niger Delta region is a welcome development. If fully implemented by the government it will certainly bring to a terminal end many years of illegal oil bunkering and youths restiveness in the area. The policy also has the potentials to address issues of unemployment, militancy, cultism and other violent criminal activities in the region.  But, like I said for this policy to be successful, the government must firstly, undertake a comprehensive census of operators of illegal petroleum refineries in the area to ensure that it has an accurate data of operators of such illegal refineries, as well as their locations.
Secondly, government has to ensure that these illegal operators are part of the new arrangement, and that  they are carried along as stakeholders in the project. The truth is that if they are carried along and made to be part of the modular refineries policy arrangement of the government , certainly all the issues of crude oil theft and illegal oil refining will stop, and become a thing of the past. Again, government must ensure that these operators of illegal refineries are re-orientated and trained to understand the concept and operations of modular refineries. While the government might be considering foreign technologies for the modular refineries, my advice is that it should consider some of our local technologies with the capability of providing such solutions.
What is your take on the economic difficulties in the country?
It is unfortunate that many Nigerians are passing through hard times and find it increasingly difficult to fend for their families. If you go round the country you don’t need to be informed about the level of hardship and the many challenges our citizens are passing through. We have never had it this bad.
The costs of food items and other essential commodities are in the upwards swing and simply out of the reach of the ordinary citizens. People are really suffering in the land, and I would like to urge the federal government to as a matter of urgency come up with palliative measures to bring down the costs of living and cushion the effect of the current difficulties in the country.
Another face of difficulties in the country is the astronomical rise in the number of unemployed persons in the county. The growing number of unemployed persons in the country is simply too alarming and a big problem for the nation if not properly managed . Though this presents a critical picture for the future of the nation and its socio-economic development, there is no doubt that the situation demands an urgent attention of the governments at all levels.  There is the need for the government to urgently come  up with effective policies and initiatives aimed at boosting employment opportunities in order to positively engage the huge number  of job seekers.
What is your take on the growing insecurity in the country?
It is quite unfortunate that for some years now the nation has been grappling with  the challenges of insecurity of various shapes ranging from  terrorist attacks, armed robberies, kidnappings, herdsmen attacks, youth restiveness  and other types of violent crimes. The situation is further made difficult to curb due to the rising army of unemployed persons and the challenges of an under-equipped police force.   The truth is that with a huge population of unemployed persons , it might be difficult to tame the increasing rise in  armed robberies and other  violent crimes across the land.
Again, if you  look at the sophistication of crimes  today in the country, you will no doubt agree with me that there is the urgent need for the federal  government to provide the police with adequate funding to enable them procure sophisticated weapons and equipment to frontally combat  criminal activities  across the country. I know that the government is doing its best in the fight against insecurity, but I strongly believe that the government has to do more in order to safeguard lives and property in Nigeria.
What are your views on the frequent executive – legislators faceoff ?
The three arms of the government work together, and act  as checks and balances to one another for the smooth running of the government. There is no doubt that there may be disagreements between the executive and legislative from time to time, but certainly these disagreements does not mean that they are fighting or quarrelling. One thing you must know is that in democracy there is bound to be agreements and disagreements. That is the beauty of our democracy.
What is your take on the crises facing PDP?
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is like a big family, and you will agree with me that even in big families people are bound to have quarrel. But, the most important thing is that sooner after such quarrels they still have to come together in reconciliation to forge ahead, and even be more united than before.  Though some PDP members are in court today,  I am assuring you that sooner or later, the matter will be settled and PDP will be back again in full force. Certainly I have no doubt in my mind that our great party, PDP will come out of this crises to become more stronger and united as the biggest political party in Nigeria and Africa. I am calling all our members to continue to keep faith with the party. Our party is repositioning itself to retake power in 2019.  (The Sun)

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Nigeria’s Economy Shrinks Again, MAN LCCI Expect Recovery In Third Quarter

 EmefieleKemiUdom
                                               Emefiele, Udoma and Adeosun

Ifeanyi Onuba and Oyetunji Abioye

The National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday released the Gross Domestic Product report for the first quarter of this year, which showed that the economy contracted by 0.52 percent in the period.

With the negative growth rate of -0.52 percent, the Nigerian economy is still in recession.

The rate of growth for the first quarter of 2017 is, however, an improvement over the revised -1.73 per cent GDP growth rate as of December 2016.

Related: Nigeria To Exit Recession Soon, Says World Bank |The Republican News

This is the fifth consecutive quarter of contraction that the economy would record since the first quarter of 2016.

The NBS report read in part, “In the first quarter of 2017, the nation’s GDP contracted by 0.52 percent (year-on-year) in real terms, representing the fifth consecutive quarter of contraction since Q1 2016.

“This is higher than the rate recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2016 and higher by 1.21 percentage points from the rate recorded in the preceding quarter.”

However, the rate of growth, which is an improvement over the previous quarter, appears to be in line with the expectations of the Federal Government that the country will come out of recession by June this year.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had on April 29 said that Nigeria was gradually moving out of recession.

Related: Nigeria To Exit Recession Soon, Says World Bank |The Republican News

He said going by a recent statement by the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, the country would exit recession by the end of June.

The NBS in the report stated that during the first quarter, the aggregate GDP stood at N26.02tn in nominal terms, representing an increase of 17.06 percent over the N22.23tn recorded in the first quarter of 2016.

During the period under review, it explained that the average oil production was 1.83 million barrels per day, which was 70,000 barrels higher than the figure for the fourth quarter of 2016.

It added that real growth of the oil sector slowed by 11.64 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2017, representing a decline of 4.81 percent relative to the rate recorded in the corresponding quarter of last year.

Quarter-on-quarter, the oil sector, according to the report, grew by 14.86 percent in the first three months of this year.

As a share of the economy, the NBS report stated that the oil sector contributed 8.90 per cent of the total real GDP in the first quarter, down from the 10.02 percent recorded in the corresponding period of 2016.

For the non-oil sector, the bureau said growth was largely driven by the activities in the agriculture sector, particularly crop production, Information and Communication Technology, manufacturing, transportation, and other services.

It said, “The non-oil sector grew by 0.72 percent in real terms during the reference quarter. This was 1.05 percent higher than the rate recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016 and 0.90 percent higher than the corresponding quarter of 2016.

“In real terms, the non-oil sector contributed 91.10 percent to the nation’s GDP, higher from the share recorded in the first quarter of 2016 (89.98 percent), but lower than the share recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016 (93.25 percent).”

Related: Economic Recession: Nigeria Economy May Grow By 1% In 2017, Says World Bank |The Republican News

The report put the real growth rate of the agricultural sector in the first quarter of 2017 at 3.39 per cent year-on-year, representing an increase of 0.30 percentage points from the corresponding period of 2016.

For the manufacturing sector, the report stated that the real GDP growth in the sector in the first quarter of this year was 1.36 percent year-on-year, higher than the same quarter of 2016 by 8.36 percentage points.

This, it added, was the first positive growth rate recorded in the sector for over a year.

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry have expressed optimism that following the 0.52 per cent contraction of the GDP in the first quarter, the economy should come out of recession in the second or third quarter.

“The 0.52 GDP contraction recorded in the first quarter is an improvement over the 1.73 contractions the economy recorded in December 2016.  We are already on the verge of moving from the negative territory to positive territory. In December, it was -1.73 percent; in March, it was -0.52; it is an improvement,” the Director-General, LCCI, Mr Muda Yusuf, said.

“Some of the positive developments we witnessed in Q1 such as better foreign exchange policy, improvement in ease of doing business and creation of FX window will be reflected in the Q2 result that will be released later this year,” he added.

The President, MAN, Mr Frank Jacobs, said he was not surprised by the negative GDP growth number because the country was not going to come out of recession overnight.

Jacobs said, “In as much as we are trying to get out of recession, it is not going to happen overnight. We expect that from Q3, we will begin to come out of recession. The current figure only shows that we are not yet out of the woods yet. We have to see how to manage production and seek to cope with some of the challenges facing manufacturers.”

Remarking on the outcome of Tuesday’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the MAN president said, “There is a need for a special window for manufacturers to access credit at five per cent interest rate. This will help them to play their role of creating jobs and also earn revenue in order to pay taxes.”     (Punchng.com)

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Incompetent FG’s Ideas Led Nigeria Into Economic Recession, Says Soludo

 charles-soludo
                   Former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo

Tony Okafor, Awka

A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Chukwuma  Soludo, on Thursday said  poor ideas by the Federal Government’s  policy makers caused the economic downturn in the country.

He added that fixing the nation’s economy  was not rocket science.

Soludo’s position was contained in a paper he delivered at the 2017 International Conference of the Department of Business Administration of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State.

The theme of the conference was “Managing a recessed economy; options for Nigeria.”

Soludo noted that Nigeria slipped into recession barely a year after the President Muhammadu Buhari administration took over power, stressing that the inability of the country’s policy makers to rise to the challenge plunged the economy into crisis.

He said the recession was avoidable had proactive steps been taken.

He said, “Poor ideas transcended over superior ideas, and we went into recession which was slightly avoidable. That is why academics must be alive to their responsibility of nudging us to reality; the reason I commend you for this international conference.

“Success and failure are all in the mind and only those who persist get to their destination.

“The recession Nigeria went into was largely avoidable and for things to change for the better, Nigeria cannot afford intellectual isolation because there is a need for exchange of ideas among intellectuals from various fields to put things right.

“Though economic crisis started in 2007 when most countries were witnessing recession, the Nigerian economy was growing because of the power of ideas of the people in charge. Instead of sustaining the growth, we drove the economy into this recession.

“For example, between 2010 and 2014, oil price was above $100 per barrel but we were unable to accumulate foreign reserve. When I took over as the CBN Governor, foreign reserve was about $10bn and we kept growing it on an annual basis as a deliberate policy such that it was over $45bn by the time I left.

“In 2010, I warned that if oil price went down to below $40 per barrel, most states would not be able to meet their obligations and that was exactly what happened. So, the problem was that we were not saving and we were even borrowing to implement recurrent expenditures.

“We were borrowing for consumption and for capital projects with the result that all the money we spent was borrowed at a time.

“When the oil price slumped, some people in government even felt that it was not going to last and continued their spending spree. Some also felt that the exchange rate could be fixed and some of us warned that doing so would result to high inflation.

“And when the problem manifested, a fire-fighting approach was adopted by the CBN which decided to give bailout to states. Because of these responses, the economy witnessed a shock and we thought we could reinvent economic theory and principle as a unique Nigerian approach.”

The former CBN boss, however, expressed optimism that the recently launched economic recovery plan of the Buhari government could lead to recovery, especially as there was a mounting pressure on government to perform because election was approaching.

He advised that the number of items in the exclusive list should be reduced in favour of states.

“We do not have to be running to Abuja for everything and that was why I was surprised when some people canvassed that local governments should be going to Abuja to take their allocations directly,” he said.

According to him, the first step should be to revert the control of minerals to the states, which he said should pay taxes to the Federal Government.  (Punchng.com)

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80-year-old Man, Wife, Children Arraigned In Court For Stealing Food

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An 80-year-old father, Musa Akano, his 45-year-old wife, Kehinde, their two children and one other person were on Wednesday brought before a Chief Magistrate’s Court, sitting in Iyaganku, Ibadan, Oyo State, for alleged burglary and stealing food items from a shop.

The accused were arraigned on four counts of conspiracy, burglary, stealing and receiving stolen goods.

The prosecutor, Shalewa Hammed, said the children of the couple – Musa, 17, and Idowu 11 – on May 8, 2017, conspired with the other accused, Azeez 17, to burgle a house on Ogunde Street, Apete, Ibadan, around 8pm to steal foodstuffs.

The prosecutor also said the accused broke into a shop belonging to Mrs. Olugbomi Jolade, to steal bags of rice, beans, beverages and other household items worth N34,700 on the same day.

He said the couple acted as criminal receivers who also specialised in selling stolen items.

“The offences committed by the accused contravened sections 517, 413, 390 and 427 of the Criminal Code, Cap 38, Vol. II, Law of Oyo State of Nigeria, 2000,” he stated.

The Chief Magistrate, Mrs. A. F. Richard, granted the accused bail in the sum of N50,000 with two sureties each in like sum.       (Punchng.com)

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World Bank Blames Nigeria’s Forex Crisis On Fixed Exchange Rate

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Currency notes

Everest Amaefule, Abuja

The World Bank has blamed Nigeria’s enduring foreign exchange instability on the fixed exchange regime in the official forex market.

In a publication on African economies titled: ‘Africa’s Pulse,’ the World Bank singled out Nigeria and Angola as two countries that had yet to experience stability in the forex market despite rebound in the prices of commodities being exported.

The report stated, “The rebound in commodity prices and improved growth prospects in some countries have helped stabilise commodity exporters’ currencies.

“However, with the Nigerian naira and Angolan kwanza remaining fixed against the US dollar, the imbalance in the foreign exchange market remains substantial in both countries.”

The report also mentioned Nigeria as one of the countries in the region where there were substantial risks in the banking sector due to a number of factors, including non-performing loans and policy uncertainties.

The World Bank said, “Banking sector vulnerabilities remain elevated in the region, including in Angola, CEMAC countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. Foreign exchange restrictions, policy uncertainty and weak growth have affected the soundness of the banking sector.

“Non-performing loans have increased, and profitability and capital buffers have decreased. Several proactive measures have been introduced to contain risks to financial stability, including through increased provisioning and by intensifying monitoring and supervision of banks.”

On inflation, the report stated that although inflation remained very high in the region, it had started to ease but singled out Nigeria and Angola as two countries where inflation was rising as a result of the depreciation of currencies in the parallel exchange market.

The report added, “Inflation in the region is gradually decelerating from its high level in 2016 but remains elevated. Although a process of disinflation has started in Angola and Nigeria, inflation in both countries remains high, driven by a highly depreciated parallel market rate.

“Inflation eased in metals exporters, because of greater currency stability and lower food prices due to improved weather conditions.”

The National Bureau of Statistics, however, reported that inflation in the country had continued to increase until it reached a peak in January.

According to the NBS, the inflation rate reduced from 18.72 percent in January to 17.78 percent in February. By March, it further went down to 17.26 per cent. The inflationary figure for April has yet to be released by the bureau.   (Punchng.com)

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Buhari’s Government Economic Model Can’t Work, Says Emir Sanusi

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Niyi Odebode, Eniola Akinkuotu and Godwin Isenyo

The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi ll, on Wednesday, faulted the present administration’s economic model, saying it would not work.

Sanusi, who spoke at the Kaduna State Economic Summit in Kaduna, the state capital, also berated northern leaders, saying the North-West and the North-East remained the poorest parts of the world.

The monarch, who spoke on the theme ‘Promoting investments in the midst of economic challenges’, said the North, as a region, constituted the highest of the nation’s population, but lacked the necessary indices for progress.

Sanusi, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said the Federal Government was borrowing unsustainably.

He noted that currently, Nigeria was spending 66 per cent of its revenues to pay interests on debts, saying such a model would not work.

Sanusi stated, “The Federal Government of Nigeria is spending 66 per cent of its revenues on interests on debts, which means only 34 per cent of revenues is available for capital and recurrent expenditures.

“That model cannot work. If you look at the 2017 budget of the Federal Government, I sometimes wonder what Nigerian economists are doing? In the 2017 budget presented by the Federal Government, the amount earmarked for debt servicing is in excess of the entire non-oil revenue of the Federal Government, but that is not the problem. The problem is that it is a budget that is even going for more debts.”

He wondered when the Federal Government would stop borrowing if the government was spending 66 per cent of its revenues to pay interests on debts.

The emir said government at all levels should realise that borrowing had reached its limit and should therefore look for ways to attract investments.

“Growth can only come from investments. It cannot come from consumption.  It cannot come from government balance sheet. It cannot come from borrowing because you cannot borrow unsustainably,” he said.

…faults loan from China

Sanusi also faulted the Federal Government on its plan to borrow money from China.

The monarch added, “We have governors; they go to China and spend one month on a tour and what do they come back with, MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) on debts.

“China will lend you $1.8bn to build light rail. This light rail will be done by the rail workers from China. The trains will come from China. The engines will come from China. The labour comes from China. The driver is Chinese.

“At the end of the day, what do you benefit from it? Your citizen will ride on a train and when you ride on a train, in northern Nigeria, in a state like Kano or Katsina, where are you going to? You are not going to an industrial estate to work. You are not going to school?  You are not going to the farm. You borrow money from China to invest in trains so that your citizens can ride on them and go for weddings and naming ceremonies.”

North-West, North-East the poorest parts of the world –Emir

He stated that the North-West and the North-East would have been the poorest in the world, if they were a nation.

Sanusi added, “We are living in denial. The North-West and the North-East, demographically, constitute the bulk of Nigeria’s population, but look at human development indices, look at the number of children out of school, look at adult literacy, look at maternal mortality, look at infant mortality, look at girl-child completion rate, look at income per capita, the North-East and the North-West Nigeria, are among the poorest parts of the world.

“As far back as 2000, I looked at the numbers, Borno and Yobe states, UNDP figures: Borno and Yobe states, if they were a country on their own, were poorer than Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

“Nobody saw this because we were looking at Nigeria as a country that averages the oil-rich Niger Delta, the industrial and commercial-rich Lagos, the commercially viable South-East, and you have an average.

“Break Nigeria into its component parts, and these parts of the country are among the poorest, if it were a country. And we do not realise we are in trouble.”

Sanusi said for the region to leap forward developmentally, it must fix it social and religious problems.

He pointed out that women and children must be loved, not beaten, adding that the region must do away with the 13th century mindset of religion and culture.

Sanusi stated, “Other Muslim nations have pushed forward girl-child education, they’ve pushed forward science and technology. They have pushed forward the arts. We have this myth in northern Nigeria, where we try to create an Islamic society that never existed.”

He added that the northern Muslims had adopted an interpretation of culture and religion that was rooted in the 13th century mindset, which refused to recognise that the rest of the Muslim world had moved on.

He recalled that books, preaching love, were being burnt in northern Nigeria, calling for a better interpretation of Islamic views so that  better life  could be provided for women and the girl-child.

Sanusi stated, “We need to understand the roots of the problem of northern Nigeria. Burning books, it happened in Kano. What is the crime of those books? They were writing about (love), and love apparently is supposed to be a bad word.

“In a society where you don’t love your women and you don’t love your children, you allow them to beg, you beat up your women, why should anyone talk about love?

“We have adopted an interpretation of our culture and our religion that is rooted in the 13th century mindset that refuses to recognise that the rest of the Muslim world has moved on.

“Today in Malaysia, you wake up and divorce your wife; that is fine. But you give her 50 per cent of all the wealth you acquired since you married her. It is a Muslim country. In Nigeria, you wake up after 20 years of marriage, you say to your wife, ‘I divorce you’, and that’s it.

“Other Muslim nations have pushed forward girl-child education; they’ve pushed forward science and technology. They have pushed forward the arts. We have this myth in northern Nigeria, where we try to create an Islamic society that never existed.

“We are fighting culture, we are fighting civilisation. We must wage an intellectual war, because Islam is not univocal. There are many voices, there are many interpretations, there are many viewpoints, and we have for too long allow the ascendancy of the most conservative viewpoints. The consequences of that are that there are certain social problems.”

…knocks Yari over comments on meningitis

Sanusi also knocked the Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, on his comments on meningitis, which has killed no fewer than 200 persons in the state.

The governor had, on Tuesday, blamed the deaths from meningitis attack on the sins of the people against God.

But Sanusi said he was pained that a governor should make such an outrageous statement when he was supposed to look for vaccines to stop the deaths.

“I’m sorry about a current issue yesterday (Tuesday). Two hundred people died of meningitis in a state, the governor was asked and he said it was God’s curse on us for the sin of fornication, which does not happen in America, which is why they don’t have meningitis,” he said.

The monarch,  who has a degree in Islamic Law,  added that such a statement shouldn’t  have come from the governor, insisting that he(Yari) should have treated those who had contracted the disease.

He lamented that while Nigerians were thinking of how to come out of the economic recession, the executive and National Assembly were busy fighting each other on political issues.

Sanusi stated, “If you have been reading and watching the news for the last one month, the big and concerned news politically is about leadership but unfortunately, the conversation is not about electricity, infrastructure, education, health care.

“All the conversations are about the National Assembly, the executive, the judiciary, conflict between this politician and that politician as well as confirmation of the EFCC boss.”

Appealing to politicians, he said, “Let us stop playing politics and talk about education and health care. When we get to late 2018, you stop working and politicise, we will understand that, but for now, it is too early. You can’t be in politics for four years.”

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, berated the nation’s political class at the event that attracted captains of industry both from within and without.         (Punchng.com)

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We Will Approach Economic Challenges Like Anti-Terror Fight, Says Buhari

President-Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday assured Nigerians that his administration would approach the nation’s economic challenges with the same commitment it had put into fighting corruption and terrorism.

Buhari made the promise while launching the country’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020 at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

While saying his administration inherited numerous challenges, the President recalled that his political campaign was based on a recognition of the difficult situation Nigeria was in and the need to bring positive and enduring change.

He said he remained committed to his electoral promise to change the way of doing things and change Nigeria for good.

The President stated, “We are committed to delivering on the three key areas that we promised; these are improving security, tackling corruption and revitalising the economy. Security in the North-East and other parts of Nigeria is significantly better today than when we came in.

“With regards to our fight against corruption, as you all know, our law enforcement agencies are prosecuting very many cases of corruption. Our successes in these two areas are clear for all to see.

“I want to assure all Nigerians that we are approaching the solution to our economic challenges with the same will and commitment that we have demonstrated in the fight against corruption and in the fight against terrorism and militancy.”

Buhari said the ERGP had brought the government’s sectoral plans for agriculture and food security, energy and transport infrastructure, industrialisation and social investments together a single document.

According to him, the plan builds on the Strategic Implementation Plan and sets out an ambitious road map to return the economy to growth, and to achieve a seven per cent growth rate by 2020.

The President added that the government’s aim was to optimise local content and empower local businesses, noting that the plan was to place the nation on the path of sustained growth.

Buhari said, “We seek not just to take the Nigerian economy out of recession, but to place it on a path of sustained, inclusive and diversified growth.

“We are determined to change Nigeria from an import-dependent country to a producing nation. We must become a nation where we grow what we eat and consume what we produce. We must strive to have a strong naira and productive economy.

“The plan I am launching today, therefore, sets out what we, as a government, are committed to do, to create the enabling environment for business to thrive. The plan is a national plan, hence the role of state governments is critical to its success.

“I, therefore, wish to appeal to the state governments to draw inspiration and strategic direction from the plan to articulate their economic programmes, particularly in the development of the real sector.”

Buhari also called on all Nigerians to work with the government to ensure that the objectives of the plan were realised.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, said from when he was campaigning, Buhari had shown commitment to change Nigeria in a fundamental way.

He said the ERGP was a fulfilment of his promise to re-invigorate the economy and noted that while the plan had just been formally launched, its implementation had started earlier.

The minister stated that the plan put together in one place for easy access all the sectoral plans that the government had been working on from inception, including the Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 Budget.

He assured Nigerians that the plan would be effectively implemented.

“Whilst the Ministry of Budget and Planning will be coordinating the plan, the President has approved that a special delivery unit be created in the Presidency to monitor its implementation and remove all bottlenecks to the plan’s implementation,” he added

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, described the plan as a promise kept.

He said because the National Assembly was carried along in preparing it, the federal lawmakers would make it work.

“I pledge that we will make this work because we were consulted and we are part of it. We are also working closely with the Ease of Doing Business Committee. It is a great document and we will ensure its implementation,” Saraki stated.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, also pledged the support of the lower chamber of the National Assembly for the plan and made a case for its proper implementation.

He said, “My concern is the implementation, but we have been reassured by the minister that it will not go the way of good visions in the past that failed because they were never implemented.

“We have in the person of Mr. President a good captain. I pledge the unalloyed support of the House to the implementation of this document and we promise that we will follow through to see that this document is implemented because this nation is a burial ground for good ideas that were never implemented.”

The Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, said the plan marked a milestone in the economic management process of the country.     (Punchng.com)

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