Bagudu: Tinubu Committed to Reforms, Economic Resuscitation

Bagudu: Tinubu Committed to Reforms, Economic Resuscitation

•Seeks lawmakers’ support amid current challenges, says tough times will soon be over

•Moghalu urges president to reshuffle cabinet, restore investor confidence

Chuks Okocha and James Emejo in Abuja

The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Abubakar Bagudu, yesterday said President Bola Tinubu remained committed to ongoing reform aimed at reviving the ailing economy.

The minister also emphasised that despite the prevailing volatility, the president’s determined efforts to resuscitate the economy were on course.

Bagudu spoke while receiving members of the House of Representatives Committee on National Planning and Economic Development, led by its Chairman, Hon. Ayokunle Isiaka, who were on an oversight visit to the ministry in Abuja.

This comes just as a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Chairman of the Africa Private Sector Summit, Kingsley Moghalu, yesterday, called on Tinubu to restore investors’ confidence in Nigeria and reshuffle his ministerial cabinet.

Moghalu, gave the advice yesterday, during an interview on ‘The Morning Show,’ ARISE NEWS.

Speaking further, Bagudu said, “Our strategy is very clear. We want to achieve a higher rate of growth that is all-inclusive; reform the macroeconomic policy to ensure that we generate more revenue; and have a foreign exchange market that is rule-based and can generate investment and investors’ confidence.”

He said though the strategy is currently faced with some volatility, the federal government would overcome the prevailing challenges.

The minister said, “I am proud to say we are clear about how to handle the challenges. Of course, in the immediate, we have to respond more to support the vulnerable populations and those who are otherwise affected.

“But our strategy is very clear and we appreciate that the National Assembly fully supports all the bold and commendable measures that have been taken even while calling for more interventions to ensure that constituents who are affected by the reform efforts are supported until we tide over the storm, which I believe will be soon.”

He said Tinubu was determined to return the nation to a plan-based budget regime, informing the visiting committee members that new legislation was being put together to properly align budgeting with national planning.

Bagudu said, “We have been instructed by Mr. President to restore the sanctity of a plan-based budget because without a plan, you will continue to wobble and everyone you are dealing with around the world wants to appreciate whether you have a strategy and whether you are confident in your strategy.

“Implementation challenges can come from time to time, challenges that are caused by other external and domestic factors. But the clarity is whether we have a strategy or not. It is very important to appreciate this point so that even when challenged, we keep to the strategy.”

He said, “Our objective is to stick to a plan-based budget. For Mr. President, the budget is the shortest-term plan. We should never look at the yearly budget in isolation. Part of what President Bola Tinubu wants to change, which he had done in Lagos State, is that the budget must always derive from a plan.

“This is where the committee, in my humble view, can be more assertive. If the plan we have agreed with as a nation is not working well, let’s change it. But as long as we adopt it as the plan, let it drive all other activities.”

The minister appreciated the cooperation between the executive and the legislature in the last eight months, saying both had demonstrated that democracy was not antagonism but cooperative federalism where every part works together to do things in the interest of the nation.

He said, “We presented a budget in a short time, and the National Assembly in its wisdom considered the budget and even decided to increase it based on its wisdom and challenges that are being faced.

“Mr. President appreciated that that was democracy at work. We do not have all the answers, it’s not a monologue, it’s a dialogue. We demonstrated to the world that we can cooperate and get our priorities right. I think that is a very commendable show of democracy in action. I am sure that will encourage other countries, particularly countries in our neighbourhood.”

Speaking earlier, Isiaka underscored the critical need for synergy between the ministry and the committee to deepen an effective budgetary system and commended Bagudu for his dedication and expertise in driving the nation’s budgetary process.

Presenting his committee’s work plan and proposal on the budgeting process to the minister for his consideration, the chairman explained that it was an initiative aimed at fostering a conducive environment for economic development, attracting investments, and enhancing the welfare of citizens through refined strategies.

Moghalu Urges Tinubu to Reshuffle Cabinet, Restore Investor Confidence

Meanwhile, Kingsley Moghalu, yesterday, called on Tinubu to restore investors’ confidence in Nigeria and reshuffle his ministerial cabinet.

Moghalu, gave the advice yesterday, during an interview on ‘The Morning Show,’ ARISE NEWS, where he also recommended that Tinubu should form a full-time Economic Advisory Council to advise him on better ways to run the economy.

According to the former CBN Deputy Governor, “To restore confidence, President Tinubu needs to reshuffle his cabinet because one of the reasons that investor confidence disappeared was when in the process of appointing his cabinet, it was too slow, and then when he made the announcement, it was largely a political type of cabinet and investors were hoping for something more technocrats to deal with the crisis at hand.”

On the ways to stabilise the economy, he also said, “The real solution to our economic crisis is to first and foremost study what brought us here, and if we fix the problems, the habits, the incompetence, the lack of will that brought us to where we are, then we have fixed the crisis and we have actually prepared the way forward for Nigeria’s economy so that we don’t keep lurching from crisis to crisis. which is what we do.”

He continued, “I recommend the formation of a full time Economic Advisory Council for the president made up of seven economics. I was very specific, and I specified the discipline is economics that those persons must be specialists in.

“And I talked about fiscal policy, industrial policy, trade policy, business economics, labour economics, agricultural economics, development economics, and political economics. It is the combination of these disciplines that form an economy.

“So, when you are being advised by an economic advisory council, it should have the capacity internally to take a full spectrum approach to the economy. And such a council should address the question of how we structurally diversify our economy away from dependence on oil or agriculture or any one particular thing.”

He also said that, “Nigeria can consider floating or issuing a N20 trillion bond to finance some projects in railways in housing in agriculture that will be nationwide across 36 states using land as a resource and as the backup for that issue and creating five million jobs within three years, that’s one possibility.

“Another possibility which is not homegrown but it’s also valid, is that we can consider taking a $30 billion IMF stabilisation programme, and I argued that even though the IMF may be a dirty word in Nigeria, but you are already doing most of the things they want.

“You are removing subsidies, people are suffering, there is anger, there is hunger in the land and you are not getting any inflows that are significant because there is no confidence.

“Investor confidence has gone from Nigeria and when investor sentiment disappears, it takes a lot of time, lots of hard work to bring it back, and so I said you might as well get the cash if you are taking all this pain.

“And I discussed the pros and the cons of taking an IMF facility, but for you to take an IMF facility, it must be a big fish. If it’s not a big fish, you are wasting your time. If Nigeria takes anything less than $20 billion, ideally $30 billion, it will be like a drop in the bucket.

“What’s the advantage is that you will get forex liquidity, you get support for your reserves, you get improved investor sentiment automatically. If you go to an IMF program, investors will return, because they know that there is a factor that they trust that is now in play. 

“And then third, there will be a bit more transparency in our fiscal management because of the conditionalities that go with that full stop the cons are of course increasing indebtedness, debt sustainability concerns, challenges to sovereignty, and the fact that it doesn’t solve the long term problem, it’s just a short term measure. But you can take it while you are planning for long term strategically and structurally, which is where we fall short.”

The former deputy CBN governor then emphasised that Nigerian leaders should focus on nation- building, saying, “Our leaders do not show the example that the citizens can actually believe in and that is why there is no faith in the government, very little trust in the government.

“Nation-building begins from the top- the people who lead, who have been entrusted to lead, must be seen to be not ethnic, not religiously narrow, they must be seen to be inclusive, they must be seen to be visionary. And it is that sense of having a vision that they must communicate to the people and show it by example.

“We have to look at our constitution because we don’t have a proper federation in Nigeria. So, when you’re talking about building a sense of nationhood, you must first of all create a sense of fairness, a sense of equality of opportunity, a sense of common destiny and shared purpose.

“The first place to begin is our constitution because this country has several hundreds or thousands of ethnic nationalities. But you need to recognise that reality, and they need to see how they are represented on how their future is assured in the Nigeria project.”

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