Wednesday, September 2, 2015 11:35 pm
*Nigeria’s Vice President spells out economic agenda of Buhari administration
*X-rays why past economic growth failed to reduce poverty and create jobs
Although Nigeria has recorded rising oil prices, GDP and foreign reserves during the last three presidencies of Obasanjo, Yar’adua and Jonathan, unemployment has remained also on the rise at the same time, making it clear that such figures including a rise in revenue by itself does not create jobs or significantly put a dent to poverty levels in the country.
This observation was made today by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, while speaking at the ongoing 45th Annual Accounting Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, in Abuja, on the topic “Repositioning Nigeria for Sustainable Development: From Rhetoric to Performance”.
While there are indeed seemingly good growth figures, Prof Osinbajo explained that such figures “can be deceptive where the structure and quality of growth are not considered.
He then asked a question and proceeded to answer thus: “So why are most (of our people) poor despite rising revenues and GDP growth? Our main revenue earners, the extractive oil and gas economy, do not by themselves create many jobs.”
He added that such is the “irony of a top-down economic model, when the major revenue earner is extractive and the value chain is poorly developed.”
Identifying the way forward from the present economic challenges, after making a comparative analysis of the previous administrations, Prof. Osinbajo called for social sector investment – investing in the people, education, job creation, national school feeding scheme, conditional cash transfer and reflating economies of the States as indices that would boost the economy.
Some of these ideas have already been put in place by the Buhari administration, including the bailout package for the workers in the country, and some others are currently being worked out.
But the Vice President reiterated that education is the basics for economic development, adding “One of the most important interventions required in the education sector is capacity building to improve teacher quality. This programme is intended to drive teacher capacity development; boost basic education; attract talents to the teaching profession”.
“Better educated population increase economic potential for productivity”, he noted.
He reiterated that the All Progressives Congress (APC) “has made a commitment to provide one-meal-a day for all primary school students that will create jobs in agriculture, including poultry, catering and delivery services”.
The multiplier effects of the introduction of the scheme include, according to the VP, 1.14 million new jobs; increased food production – up to 530,000 mt/a; attracting investor by investment – up to N980b.
Prof. Osinbajo also identified conditional cash transfer as another avenue for alleviating poverty.
He said the programme is intended to support the 25 million poorest households to incentivize vaccination, education and production. The multiplier effects of the introduction of the programme, he noted, would include: lifting millions out of poverty; putting millions into rural production; and boosting rural economy.
Investing in businesses and ease of doing business, according to the VP, government needs to improve the power sector; have one-Stop Shop for approvals; innovation and fighting piracy; diversifies the economy in agriculture – self-sufficiency in rice and wheat (staples) production, manufacturing, entertainment and technology.
On the power sector, he noted further that “despite the challenges, there have been measurable improvements over the past three months (June to August 2015)”.
He said a “26% increase in operational generation capacity (June to August 15, 2015 compared to January to May 2015); decreased in pipeline vandalism boosting gas supply; a 10% reduction in transmission losses (June to July 2015 compared to January to May 2015); reduction in red tape to remove delays blocking the 450MW Azura-Edo IPP and the 500MW Exxon Mobil Qua-Iboe IPP; the imposition of a September 2015 deadline for the submission of the DisCos’ revised tariff trajectories”.
Earlier, the President of ICAN, Otunba Samuel Olufemi Deru, appreciated the Vice President for his commitment and being able to attend the programme in person. He eulogized that this shows him as a legal luminary, a teacher, a scholar, and an administrator.