Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
After months of waiting, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday finally launched the four-year Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) in Abuja, declaring that his administration would henceforth drive aggressive economic growth with the same zeal it has deployed to fight corruption and insecurity.
The plan, spanning the years 2017-2020, was launched by the president in the council chamber of the Presidential Villa ahead of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
He was joined at the launch by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari; Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma; the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Govermor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, among other members of the Economic Management Team.
The president, who said he was glad to launch the plan, added that the government would deploy the same commitment it had employed to fight corruption and insecurity to improve local content and transform Nigeria from an import-dependent nation to a producing economy where the country would consume what it produces.
He also said the plan would serve as a veritable platform for the economy to thrive.
Buhari said his administration would remain committed to his electoral promise to change the way of doing things in Nigeria and consequently change Nigeria for good.
He challenged the state governors to draw inspiration from the plan to articulate economic programmes for their respective states. He also appealed to Nigerians to co-operate with the government in its drive to achieve the objectives of the plan.
He equally called on the National Assembly, the business community and the civil society organisations to embrace the plan.
Buhari, who commended the economic team under the leadership of the vice-president for developing the plan, further explained that it would improve security, tackle corruption and grow the economy.
He also listed other objectives of the plan to include agricultural revolution, infrastructure development and social interventions, stressing that the ERGP would provide the roadmap for Nigeria’s economic breakthrough.
While introducing the plan earlier, Senator Udoma said it had three cardinal objectives, namely: to restore security, fight corruption and guarantee economic recovery.
Furthermore, Udoma who described the plan as the fulfilment of Buhari’s electoral campaign promise to promote and reinvigorate the economy, added that the plan would restore economic growth, invest in Nigerians, boost a competitive economy, and build a self-reliant economy where Nigeria will consume what it produces and also export same to foreign countries.
Udoma also said the plan consisted of 60 interventions which he said would touch various spheres of the nation, make the market function better and promote discipline, integrity, social justice, national cohesion and inclusion.
Other features of the plan as listed by Udoma included stabilising the economy, expanding the economy, improving energy consumption, transportation and driving industrialisation.
He said in the bid to ensure effective implementation, a special delivery unit would be established in the presidency to monitor the implementation process with a view to ensuring that the objectives are implemented “with vigour, focus and success”.
Yari, in his remarks, described the plan as a significant landmark which provides the basis for inclusive growth and development.
He assured Nigerians that state governments would co-operate with the federal government to achieve the objectives of the plan.
Also speaking, Hon. Dogara said such an event usually gladdens the hearts of students of development economics, pointing out that the plan has set out to address all aspects of development in Nigeria.
Recalling that the plan drew inputs from relevant stakeholders across the country, he said the National Assembly was not left out of the consultations.
However, Dogara recalled that at various times in the nation’s history, good and strategic development agendas had been developed but failed at the point of implementation.
He said he was glad that a unit meant to monitor the ERGP’s implementation had been proposed to forestall failure and pledged the co-operation of the House of Representatives to ensure it is well implemented.
In the same vein, Saraki described Wednesday as a day of restoration of hope as he echoed Dogara that the proposal for the establishment of implementation unit was cheery, in view of several unimplemented goals in the past.
He also said besides the unit, everyone has a responsibility to ensure that the plan is well implemented.
He disclosed that some bills that are currently before the Senate including the bill on ease of doing business and Made-in-Nigeria goods were initiated to serve as impetus for the plan’s success.