By Emmanuel Oloniruha (NAB)
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, shas advised newly-elected and returning governors to gear up for possible economic recession in Nigeria in mid-2020.
Yari, who is also the Governor of Zamfara State, gave the advice at the opening ceremony of an induction of new and returning governors, organised by the NGF Secretariat on Monday in Abuja.
He said that due to the drop in the price of crude oil from 114 to 75 dollar per barrel in the mid of 2014, it became very difficult for many states to even pay salaries.
“This scenario is a wake-up call for all of you to come amply prepared to face these kinds of challenges especially since we are expecting the possibility of another cycle of recession by the mid-2020.
“This may last up to the third quarter of 2021. Your good spirit of stewardship will make you contain the situation should there be one.
“Also as members of the National Economic Council, you must work hand in hand to boost the economy in tandem with the global best practices,’’ the governor said.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his numerous interventions that saved the states from debilitating economic challenges, as well as exit of Nigeria’s economy from recession.
He said that at a point, 27 states were experiencing difficulty in settling their workers’ monthly salaries, development of infrastructure and effective service delivery.
“Mr President’s intervention through bailouts from the capital market through the Central Bank of Nigeria, infrastructure development funds, Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, budget support, London and Paris Clubs refunds have significantly saved the situation,’’ he said.
Yari, however, stressed the need for states to work harder to boost their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to enable them to execute more projects and reduce over-dependence on the federation account.
He also advised governors to look inward by boosting their revenue generation and also utilise the accruing revenue to execute projects that would touch the lives of the ordinary people.
“You must not forget the high expectations of our people on us; now that the democracy is maturing day in day out, the challenges of governance and service delivery are more demanding.’’
The NGF chairman lauded the current administration’s focus on agriculture, including Anchor Borrowers’ Programme through which about N200 billion had been expended.
He, however, added that the amount was inadequate if Nigeria must satisfactorily tackle the issue of insecurity in the country.
He said that Nigeria needed to go to the next level by slamming high import tariff on other agricultural products maize and wheat in order to boost their production and provide raw materials for local industries.
“From records, government spends about N2 billion on oil development yearly. I believe if one third of the amount was dedicated to agriculture and mining, the state of the economy would have been different by now,’’the governor said.
He also said that revenue agencies must be made to work more effectively especially now that President Buhari had assented to the National Minimum Wage bill of N30, 000 per month.
Yari, who decried Nigerians’ negative attitude to payment of taxes in full, said that individual and collective contributions in ensuring prompt payment of taxes could help the government to achieve all its objectives.
He said that the forum organised the induction programme to support the new governors in developing the essential skills for modern day governance that would re-position them for their post campaign responsibilities.