Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Our anti-recession, growth battle strategy, by Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday renewed his administration’s commitment to delivering on the electoral promises of the All Progressives Congress (APC), with the launch of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). He said the rolling plan (2017 – 2020), which was unveiled at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, will not only take Nigeria out of recession but place the economy on the path of growth. According to him, his administration has recorded some gains in the fight against corruption and national security. The President said: “As we all know, this administration inherited numerous challenges. Our political campaign was based on the recognition of the difficult situation Nigeria was in and the need to bring positive and enduring change. And we remain committed to our electoral promise to change our way of doing things and to change Nigeria for good. “We are committed to delivering on the three key areas that we promised – that is improving security, tackling corruption and revitalising the economy. Security in the Northeast 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.” Buhari assured all that his administration was handling the economic challenges with the same commitment demonstrated in the fight against corruption, against terrorism and militancy. “The ERGP,” he said, “brings together, in a single document, all sectoral plans for agriculture and food security, energy and transport infrastructure, industrialisation and social investments. “It builds on the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) and sets out an ambitious roadmap to return the economy to growth; and to achieve a seven per cent growth rate by 2020. “Our aim, simply put, is to optimise local content and empower local businesses. 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 Government, are committed to do, to create the enabling environment for business to thrive.” According to him, state governments have critical roles to play to ensure the success of the plan, which he described as a national programme. He urged states to draw inspiration and strategic direction from the ERGP to articulate their economic programmes, particularly in the development of the real sector. The President urged Nigerians to support the administration to attain its objectives, pointing out that the ERGP contents were no longer alien to a cross-section of Nigerians because it was developed in consultation with stakeholders, including the National Assembly, state governments, the business community, labour unions, academia, civil society groups and development partners. “I am pleased to present this ERGP for use by the Nigerian people, our friends and partners and to guide our development efforts over the next four years”, Buhari stated. The Minister of Budget & National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, said that the Plan has 60 interventions and initiatives to be implemented in the next four years. Udoma, however, said that the government would be focusing on five of the interventions. His words: “Right from when he (Buhari) was campaigning, he has shown single-minded commitment to change Nigeria in a fundamental way. “He promised three things – first, to restore security, particularly in the Northeast; second, to fight corruption, and third, to repair the broken economy. And the cabinet was sworn in in November, 2015, he gave us our marching orders. “This ERGP is therefore a fulfillment of his promise to re-invigorate the economy. Whilst the ERGP is being formally launched today, its implementation is not starting today. “This is because the plan puts together in one place, for easy access, all the sectoral plans that the government has been working on, from inception, including the Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget proposals which were submitted to the a National Assembly in December last year. “The broad objectives of the ERGP are to restore growth, invest in our people and build a globally competitive economy. As our President has repeatedly said, our hope is to build a self-reliant economy; a country in which we can grow what we eat, use what we make and produce what we consume. “…A country which embraces the world of technology; ideas and investment from everywhere but domesticates these ideas for the use of the people; a country which produces high quality goods, not just for our own consumption but enough to export to our neighbours, and, indeed, the world. “Our aim is to create a culture where Nigeria continuously seeks ways to add value to the resources we have been blessed with. In short, our aim is to change Nigeria, and change for good. “To achieve this, the plan articulates up to 60 interventions and initiatives, that must be executed and/or completed within the next four years to tackle, and to remove, impediments to growth; to make markets function better; and to leverage the power of the private sector.” He, however, said that it will be archived without compromising the core values of the nation, such as discipline, integrity, social justice, self-reliance and patriotism. “And, of course, all the initiatives in the plan will be implemented in such a manner as to continue to strengthen and promote national cohesion and social inclusion.” The minister listed five areas of priority as: stabilising the macroeconomic environment; achievement of agriculture and food security; expansion of energy infrastructure and driving industrialisation principally through local and small business enterprises. Delivering a goodwill message, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, said that the plan is not only important to the Federal Government, but also to the state governments because of its inclusive growth. He assured that governors would take ownership of the plan at the state level. Senate President Bukola Saraki said: “We must make it work, it has to work.” House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, pledged the support of the lower chamber to the implementation of the plan. Dogara said: “I have no doubt that if successfully implemented, it will usher in the turnaround we all desire.”


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