By Akpandem James, Media Adviser to the Minister of Budget and National Planning.
Nigeria will appreciate the assistance of the United States of America in providing technical support for the development of transportation infrastructure and its agricultural sector as the country intensifies work on its economic diversification project.
The Budget and National Planning Minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma told the USAID/Nigeria Mission Director, Mr Stephen Haykin who was in his office in Abuja on Friday that, though Nigeria is looking inwards for more revenue, it nonetheless appreciates external support especially in the form of technical assistance.
He said development initiatives of development partners in the Nigeria should align with the objectives of the country, pointing out that although Nigeria will like some foreign aid, its major focus is generating enough revenues locally.
Explaining the essence of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan recently launched by the Buhari Administration, the Minister said it is to restore growth to a positive and sustained path, to invest in the Nigerian people to improve their living standards, and to build an economy that is globally competitive.
To achieve this, he said government set out five key execution priorities with focus on improving the macroeconomic environment; ensuring agriculture value-chain enhancement and food security; enhancing the energy sector; developing transportation infrastructure and encouraging industrialization with particular focus on small and medium scale enterprises.
He said the Nigerian government is fully committed to good governance and has demonstrated this in the steps it has been taking in the fight against corruption which has not only drastically reduced impunity in the handling of government finances but acted as deterrence to further mismanagement.
He assured the USAID Director that any additional support received from Nigeria’s development partners will be judiciously utilized.
Senator Udoma said the US can contribute to the speedy recovery and growth of the Nigerian economy by increasing the volume of its Nigeria’s oil imports as well as allowing more Nigeria’s exports into the United States.
It could also encourage its manufacturing companies to take advantage of the proposed Special Economic Zones to set up industries in Nigeria just as they are doing in the Far East Asian countries, particularly since Nigeria is closer to the US and has a huge market.
The USAID Mission Director, Mr Haykin, said it was good to know that Nigeria is strategically aligning its efforts to move forward economically and appreciated the fact that it is much more focused on generating its non-oil revenues.
Mr Haykins said he was in the Ministry to exchange ideas with the Minister on USAID programmes as they relate to Nigeria’s development strides and to explore further areas of assistance.