By Akpandem James, Special Adviser (Media) to Hon. Minister of Budget and Planning.
* Urges planners and experts to develop measures to accelerate momentum
Top planners, policy experts and managers in the country have been urged to focus attention on the development of more measures capable of sustaining and accelerating the momentum of activities in the country’s economic recovery and growth efforts.
Budget and National Planning Minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who made the call in Minna, Niger State, on Thursday at the 16th Meeting of the National Council on Development Planning (NCDP) was hopeful that deliberations at the three-day conference will focus on strategies to drive further the successes achieved so far in the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
The major thrust of the meeting with the theme “The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan: Roadmap to Inclusive Growth, Resilient and Competitive Economy”, was to work out efffective ways of using the ERGP as a roadmap to achieve inclusive growth and build a resilient and competitive economy.
The Minister was optimisitic that the result of such deliberations will lead to the achievement of the goal the Buhari Administration set for itself of building a sustainable, inclusive and diversified economy.
He urged participants at the conference to always remember that the administration’s goal is to be the economic powerhouse of Africa; a country where, as President Muhammadu Buhari said, must be able to “grow what we eat and consume what we make”; as well as produce enough for the African continent.
He stressed that economic transformation of Nigeria has always been an important element of President Buhari’s agenda for the country, a commitment which led to the packaging of the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) and the ERGP to address the challenging economic situation he inherited. The measures introduced under the SIP and the ERGP have had an immediate impact.
While acknowledging that achievements so far recorded is an indication that government is moving in the right direction, he however noted that there is still more work to be done and cautioned against complacency.
“We have more work to do to sustain and accelerate the momentum. With an estimated population growth of almost 3%, a growth rate of a little over 1% can hardly be felt. We need to work hard to ensure that we achieve our ERGP growth target of 3.5% for 2018 and 7% by the year 2020,” he stressed.
He was optimistic that “if we keep on working hard and sustaining the tempo there is no reason why we cannot achieve a growth rate of up to 10% in succeeding years. Nigeria has the people, we have the energy and we have the resources to achieve this. Let us not relent until we are growing at a rate that can turn us into the economic powerhouse of Africa, and even the World.”
The Minister explained the import of the Malaysian style lab that will soon kick off in Nigeria. “We have set up a special implementation unit to ensure effective delivery of the ERGP. In the coming weeks, this special implementation unit will be running sector-focused style labs in Agriculture and Transportation, Power and Gas, and Manufacturing and Processing.
“To help us in running these labs, we have retained PEMANDU, which was the Malaysian agency that spearheaded the transformation of the Malaysian economy using these labs. PEMANDU will act as consultants to support the members of our implementation unit.
“For each lab we will assemble relevant stakeholders (in the public and private sectors) into unbroken weeks of intensive working sessions to brainstorm on practical steps to overcome identified challenges in the selected sector. We will be reaching out to all the States to participate in these labs. The central objective of the labs will be to harness private capital to finance projects across the country. Indeed, at the end of each lab the participants would have developed very detailed implementation plans with identified funding support.
“Both public and private sector participants, from within and outside the country, will be invited to participate in these labs. Some of the staff we have already retained for this purpose are available in this meeting to interact with you and give you more information on the proposed labs, as well as all other implementation initiatives”, he added.
The Minister expressed his appreciation to the Governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, and the people of the State for accepting to host the meeting. He commended the governor for his passionate zeal in transforming the State through the continued search for solutions to the challenges that affect our common interest as a people, and as a nation.