President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the newly inaugurated Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to come up with ideas on how to help government take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. He met with the Council at the State House, Abuja on Wednesday.
To achieve this, he called on the council headed by Prof. Doyin Salami to coordinate and synthesize ideas and efforts from the various employment generating agencies of government and come out with answers about the best way forward..
He noted that though Nigeria has exited the recession the reported growth rate is still not fast enough to create the needed jobs to meet the national ambition of collective prosperity, because the country had to tread carefully in view of the mess his government inherited.
He spoke further: “Many of the ideas we developed in the last four years were targeted at returning Nigeria back to the path of growth. I am sure you will also appreciate that during that time, our country was also facing serious challenges especially in the areas of insecurity and massive corruption. Therefore, I will be the first to admit that our plans were conservative. We had to avoid reckless and not well thought out policies.
“However, it was very clear to me after we exited the recession that we needed to re-energise our economic growth plans. This is what I expect from you.”
The President was pleased that the council thought it was necessary to domesticate the government’s policies to reflect our local realities.
“We are grateful for the cooperation we are getting from our friends abroad but we must move forward with homegrown solutions. This is the only way to ensure the suitability and sustainability of policies.
“Suitability is essential for effective implementation while Sustainability is critical as any decision made today will impact future generations,” he added.
He urged the council to focus on primary data collection, because most of the statistics quoted about Nigeria today are developed abroad by the World Bank, IMF and other foreign bodies adding that some of the statistics on Nigeria are wild estimates and bear little relation to the facts on the ground.
“This is disturbing as it implies, we are not fully aware of what is happening in our own country.
“We can only plan realistically when we have reliable data. As you are aware, as a government, we prioritised agriculture as a critical sector to create jobs and bring prosperity to our rural communities.
“Our programmes covered the entire agricultural value chain from seed to fertiliser to grains and ultimately, our dishes. As you travel in some rural communities, you can clearly see the impact. However, the absence of reliable data is hindering our ability to upgrade these programmes and assure their sustainability,” he noted
He assured the council that all key Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) will be available to meet and discuss how to collectively build a new Nigeria that caters for all, adding that the council was free to coopt, consult and defer to any knowledgeable person if in its opinion such a move enriches its deliberations and adds to the quality of its decisions.