Democracy Day: Nigerian govt investing in people, building economy – Buhari

Democracy Day: Nigerian govt investing in people, building economy  – Buhari
May 29 21:55 2018

By Ahmed Idris

President Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday that the present administration is investing in people and building the economy in order to put the country on the path of sustainable growth and progress.

The President said this while addressing the nation in a nationwide broadcast in Abuja to mark this year’s Democracy Day celebration.

He said the present administration has executed an expansionary budget and developed the Strategic Implementation Plan in order to engender growth.

“This administration has therefore focused on revamping the ailing economy it inherited in 2015. In 2016, Government executed an expansionary budget and developed the Strategic Implementation Plan. For the first time, 30% of the budget was earmarked for capital expenditure which represents an upward review when compared with the 2015 budget. The SIP was followed by the development of a comprehensive medium term plan – the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017 – 2020.

“The broad strategic objectives of the ERGP were to; Restore and sustain economic growth; Build a globally competitive economy; and Invest in our people. The implementation of the ERGP has started yielding results. The National Bureau of Statistics reports that the economy grew by 1.95% in 1st quarter 2018, which is a good performance when viewed against -0.91 in 1st quarter 2017 and -0.67% in 1st quarter 2016 respectively,” he said.

The President said the country’s foreign reserve has improved to 47.5 billion USD as of May, 2018 as against 29.6 billion USD in 2015, adding that inflation rate has consistently declined every month since January, 2017.

He said the Focus Labs conducted by government in three key sectors of the economy namely, agriculture and transport, manufacturing and processing, and power and gas have yielded significant prospects for investments and job creation to the tune of US$ 22.5 billion with a potential for creating more than 500,000 jobs by 2020. T

According to him, these investment generation initiatives are expected to increase capital inflows in the form of foreign direct investment, stressing that there is a high prospect that the cumulative investments from the first phase of the Focus Labs would hit US$39.2 billion by 2025.

Under agriculture, the President said the country continues to pursue a strategic food security programme built around self-sufficiency and minimization of import dependency.

“As a result, rice importation from other countries has been cut down by 90 per cent which has a direct impact on foreign reserves. The Social Investment Programmes (SIP) has been created as a means to graduating our citizens from poverty through capacity building, investment and direct support. The major strategic objective is to restore livelihood, economic opportunities and sustenance for the poor across the country.

In the area of power generation, the President said Nigerians from all parts of the country continue to report better power supply and less use of generators.

This, he said, underscores the effectiveness of the methodical plan to deliver incremental and uninterrupted power supply to our homes, markets, offices and factories.

He said the country achieved 5, 222.3 MW representing the highest peak of power generated onto the national grid and delivered to customers in December, 2017.

“With new facilities, repairs and rehabilitations by Government and private investors, generation capability now exceeds 7,500 MW,” he said.

The President said the present administration is committed to lawful interventions to ensure the operators of the distribution business live up to expectations especially in the areas of distribution capacity, service delivery, collection efficiency, and metering to eliminate contentious estimated billing.

The President said the transportation sector continues to undergo a series of reforms in order to sustain the international best practices and ensure safety and security.

He said the nation’s major airports have witnessed reconstruction of runways, installation of navigational equipment and new international terminals due for commissioning in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Enugu. “Bilateral Air Services Agreements between Nigeria and the governments of other countries will significantly open up new flight routes,” he said.

He said the retains its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Category 1 status, after a routine international audit, and that a new maintenance, repair and overhaul facility with capacity for aircraft C-checks and other comprehensive levels of maintenance was established in Lagos which would save the country an estimated $90 million annually.

The President said giant strides have been recorded over the past three years to improve road transport infrastructure in all geopolitical zones of the country, stressing that the railway sector has received tremendous attention as the present administration is committed to the goal of linking all state capitals in the federation by rail network to ease the movement of goods and passengers.

He said the federal government has continued to support fiscal sustainability at the sub-national governments through the implementation of the Budget Support Facility which was accompanied by the 22-point Fiscal Sustainability Plan.

“Thus, bailouts funds were made available to States to ease their fiscal challenges and other obligations including payment of salaries. In addition, a total of 73 Ecological Fund projects for the control of gully erosion in different communities across all geopolitical zones have been completed in the last three years and are undergoing commissioning while 53 other projects are ongoing. The execution of these projects has generated 357 skilled jobs and 1,350 unskilled jobs during this period,” he said.