Buhari Identifies Key Sectors to Revive Economy

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R-L; President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo at the National Economic Council Meeting retreat at the State House Conference in Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE
  • Targets 10,000MW electricity generation by 2019

Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari monday in Abuja identified five key sectors which the country must focus on to revive the economy.

In a welcome address he delivered at the opening of the two-day National Economic Council retreat holding in Abuja, Buhari said the challenges militating against development in agriculture, power, manufacturing, housing and the health care sectors must be squarely addressed to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

The president expressed regret that despite huge oil revenues, the nation’s health sector remained undeveloped, forcing Nigerians to spend $1 billion yearly to get medical treatment abroad.

He lamented the state of the health sector and said urgent measures must be put in place to improve health facilities in the country.

“In attacking the challenges of this sector, we could start with more funding for health centres to improve service delivery. The World Bank and World Health Organisation (WHO) could be persuaded to increase their assistance,” he added.

The purpose of the retreat as outlined in the retreat concept notes is to generate immediate, medium and long-term viable policy solutions to the economic challenges facing the country at both the federal and state levels.

The president, who noted that inadequate power supply continues to undermine the country’s capacity to develop in all sectors, said his government would generate 10,000MW of electricity in the next three years. “In 2016 alone, we intend to add 2,000MW to the national grid,” he added.

Stressing that the incessant outages in the country were not a laughing matter, he said: “This sector has been privatised but has yet to show any improvement in the quality of service. Common public complaints are:

•Constant power cuts destroying economic activity and affecting the quality of life.

•High electricity bills despite power cuts.

•Low supply of gas to power plants due to vandalism by terrorists.

•Obsolete power distribution equipment such as transformers.

•Power fluctuations, which damage manufacturing equipment and household appliances.

•Low voltage which cannot run industrial machinery.

Buhari said insufficient electricity was the problem of past governments but will be properly looked into by his government, also promising to conclude the privatisation process started by his predecessor.

“These are some of the problems, which defied successive governments. In our determination to change, we must and will put a stop to power shortages.

“Key points to look at here are: privatisation – we are facing the classic dilemma of privatisation: public interest vs profit motive. Having started, we must complete the process.

“But the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the regulatory authority, has a vital job to ensure consumers get value for money and the overall public interest is safe-guarded.

“Government is to fast-track the completion of pipelines from gas points to power stations and provide more security to protect gas and oil pipelines.

“Power companies should be encouraged to replace obsolete equipment and improve the quality of service and technicians,” he said.

While expressing concern at the inability of manufacturers to access foreign exchange for their raw materials, goods and services, the president ordered a fresh campaign to patronise Made-in-Nigeria goods. On this, he said all uniforms in government-sponsored institutions should be sourced from local factories.

“From information at my disposal, if we aggregate public views from the grassroots, city dwellers, economic managers, consumer groups, the labour unions and other stakeholders of the economy, there is near unanimity about the ills of our economy. But naturally, there are divergent views about solutions.

“I am going to throw at this gathering, some random policy options filtered from across the spectrum of our stakeholders on four (4) selected sectors of our economy.

“These are: agriculture, power, manufacturing and housing. (The president eventually added health care as the fifth.)

“I have not touched education, science and technology pointedly because these related subjects require a whole retreat by themselves.”

On agriculture, Buhari said that both peasant and mechanised farmers agreed with the general public that food production and self-sufficiency required urgent government action.

However, he noted that “for too long government policies on agriculture have been half-hearted, suffering from inconsistencies and discontinuities”.

According to him, the country’s real wealth is in farming, livestock, hatcheries, fishery, horticulture and forestry.

In order to address some of the challenges facing the agricultural sector which he said included rising food prices and the importation of subsidised food products, the president directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to mobilise banks to make credits available to farmers.

Buhari said: “First we need to carry the public with us for the new initiatives. Accordingly the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the states should convene early meetings of stakeholders and identify issues with a view to addressing them.

“Inform the public in all print and electronic media on government efforts to increase local food production to dampen escalating food prices.

“Banks should be leaned upon to substantially increase their lending to the agricultural sector. Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should bear part of the risk of such loans as a matter of national policy.”

On the manucaturing sector, the president said: “It grieves me that so many manufacturing industries in the country today are groaning and frustrated because of lack of foreign exchange to import raw materials and spare parts.

“Painful though this is, I believe it is a temporary phase which we shall try to overcome but there are deeper, more structural problems bedeviling local industries which this retreat should identify and proffer short and long-term answers to.”

In order to address the problem associated with high cost of borrowing money, Buhari directed CBN to create more incentives and ease credit terms for lending to manufacturers.

He also said that the Infrastructure Development Fund be fast-tracked to unlock resources to address infrastructure deficiencies.

“There should be more fiscal incentives for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which prove themselves capable of manufacturing quality products good enough for export,” he added.

On housing, the president put Nigeria’s housing deficit at about 16 million units.

He said: “In our successful campaign to win the general election last year our party, the APC, promised to build a million housing units a year. This will turn out to be a very tall order unless:

“The federal government builds 250,000 units and the 22 APC states together manage another 250,000 units; then we invite foreign investors together with local domiciled big construction companies to enter into commercial housing building to pick up the rest.”

Buhari called for a review of the relevant laws to make the process of acquiring statutory rights of occupancy shorter, less cumbersome and less costly.

He further suggested: “Court procedures for mortgages cases should make enforcement more efficient. The Ministries of (Power) Works and Housing should upgrade its computerisation of title registration system for greater efficiency.”

  • Toby

    One million new houses each year. First quarter of 2016 is gone, minister in charge of housing is still reading hand over notes?

    • sikiru biobaku

      Lol

  • Make Nigeria great again

    Buhari is still in campaign mode

    • Lawrenece Ifo

      Hahaha.

  • JayGeeX

    Good morning, Oga Presido…

  • RICHARDSON

    This is just platitudes. I remember the same President Buhari, during campaign days prior to the 2015 elections, telling us that he will run a market-led economy.
    Well, he has failed to run a market-led economy because he did not and still does not know what market he was referring to.
    It just amazes me that we have got ourselves to this calamitous state of living. Workers, including federal government staff, are owed salaries; escalating cost of living; now, all elections initially end as “inconclusive”; people are gagged; our oil proceeds not being paid into our coffers; electricity generation and distribution at their lowest ebb; the sanctity of life is no longer guaranteed etc.
    Yet President Buhari does not see that the problems are from his camp!
    All the freedoms we were progressively enjoying under the former administrations are quickly eroding and there is palpable fear everywhere!
    Oh, please, dear God in Heaven forgive our trespasses and come to our rescue today in Jesus name. Amen.

    • Jon West

      You will never be forgiven , you black jokers of Nigeria. You will suffer for years in the economic and political wilderness for inflicting a fossilised relic on yourselves in the second decade of the second millennium. To hell with Nigeria!!!!

  • Jacob Ajayi

    One of the fathers of Nigeria, a legal luminary and international jurist has been on Campaign since 2010 presidential elections telling who would hear him that Adequate and Stable Electric Power is the biggest and most important key to Economic Development in Nigeria. This Octogenarian who was awarded Usuman Dan Fodio award of Excellence in Sokoto in 2010 spoke about the importance of electric power as the engine to economic development of Nigeria in his acceptance speech at the Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto in 2010. He also called on the then President Jonathan to devote all he’s got towards providing adequate and stable electricity in Nigeria. Thank God, this our father who was championing the case of Electric Power in Nigeria in 2010 is alive and well. We have the will and the resources to generate, transmit and distribute more than 17000 MW of electric power in Nigeria. We have known this since 2010 and the proposal could be dust off and put to work. Enough of our crying over Power as if we do not know what to do about it! Talk is cheap, let us roll up our sleeves and get to work on tackling the main clog in the wheel of our economic development. Jobs will be provided, factories will produce cheaply and Nigeria will be booming again with life. Let’s Go Nigeria!!!

    • Bakwus

      Well said…you are a talker too. Taking lengthy words to describe a person instead of simply stating his name and move on with your contribution.

      • Jacob Ajayi

        You are too young to understand…… your observation is noted.

  • vic

    YES YES, A GOVERNMENT OF WILL BE, WILL BE AND WILL BE, ONE YEAR INTO ITS LOUSY AND DEAD SLOW ADMINISTRATION.

  • Lawrenece Ifo

    So he is still identifying key sectors??
    Hahahaha.

    • vic

      yes indeed, buhari is a joke of the 21st century.

  • To my purview, the President is armed with crude basic technique to help take Nigeria out of the woods to a sustainable path of greatness, my concern is the President’s lieutenants, are they on the same page with the president or they are thinking of something else? By the President’s order that made-in-nigeria goods be patronized, this in itself is a huge step and strong political will for Nigeria’s charted economic success and boom.

  • Nze

    Nigerians already know that Buhari and APC do not prepare well on how to save this country.
    Their manifesto was clearly written by a few journalists good at blowing grammar without any grass root research.
    The question now is: what is preventing them from doing the right thing since after the election?

    • Jon West

      You support his being President, but you cannot understand how he can govern Nigeria? How silly can people be? No wonder you young people, deprived of a knowledge of your own very recent history by bad education and sheer ignorance, elected this relic of Nigerian political and economic antiquity to superintendent your affairs in the second decade of the second millennium, when the rest of the world is on automatic pilot to progress. Now you can regret at leisure.

  • NinjaK

    Walai This is a MAJOR MAJOR ERROR!
    This man, Buhari, contested over a 14-year period.
    And he is just identifying “KEY SECTORS TO REVIVE ECONOMY” a good TEN MONTHS in Office???? We are really doomed!

  • Jon West

    O Certificateless One!! You have no clue about what your role is in the position that the imbeciles, who occupy this Lugardian zoo thrust you into in 2015. You are still making promises , three years away from your exit and having done nothing in your first year? How did our imbecile population, especially the Afonja tendency of Southwest politics do this to ourselves?

  • Olanrewaju

    Immediately the APC were declared winners of the last general elections they spent the month between then and the inauguration and even more months after inauguration fighting amongst themselves how to share the loot. Political office holders /appointees should have been identified before elections to allow the govt hit the ground running. Change as their mantra was supposed to be a seismic shift from the way the PDP were running the country. This mantra has now shot the APC in the foot. Nigerians deserve better than the way they are currently been treated.