Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday in Abuja said the Federal Government remains committed to collaborating with the private sector to ensure growth and development of the Nigerian economy.
Osinbajo, who spoke on “opportunities, productivity and employment: Actualizing the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP),” at while declaring open the 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit, said the Muhammadu Buhari administration continues to keep fate with several issues raised at last year’s edition, including the power sector, where generation has increased from 3000 to 7000 megawatts. The constraint today, he told the gathering, is distribution, which is being tackled with independent metering directive issued by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission in August.
“The eligible customer regime allows a willing-seller/willing-buyer arrangement in the sale of power. While the independent metering directive allows independent entities aside from registered power distribution companies to sell and install meters to customers and be paid directly as collections are made from metered customers.
“This will break the distribution gridlock and there is good cause to believe that we will achieve the 10,000MW envisaged in the ERGP,” he added.
He also noted the availability and stability in the foreign exchange rate, which has encouraged inflow of capital in the second quarter of 2017 of about $1.8bn, almost double the $908m imported in the first quarter. This, he continued, has been encouraged by the weekly interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), despite which the nation’s forex “reserves have risen to about $33bn and end users have increased access to foreign exchange partly due to increased export earnings and remittances as well as the introduction of a dedicated transparent window for Investors and Exporters (NIFEX).”
The economy, Osinbajo continued, has also been diversified heavily into agriculture thereby creating a large number of jobs, besides serving as an important source of raw materials and forex.
“The Anchor Borrowers Programme launched by the President in 2015 has benefitted up to 200,000 small scale farmers and attracted investments of up to N43.92bn from participating institutions.
“What is particularly encouraging is that we are moving steadily towards self-sufficiency in rice and also scaling up in eight other commodities and produce that are vital for food security but which can also be exported.
“The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative has resuscitated 11 blending plants with a capacity of 2.1 million metric tons with the product being sold to farmers at N5,500 without subsidy and far less than prevailing market prices.
“But the best news is the enthusiastic response of the private sector. Wacot opened its 120,000 metric tons parboiled rice plant in Kebbi in August. Indorama opened its 1.5m metric tons fertilizer plant, while Dangote announced its investments in 1 million metric tons of rice mills,” the Vice President added.
One other issue of great concern at last year’s edition of the annual summit, he continued, was the loss of a significant amount of crude oil production of up to one million barrels per day, which has being resolved through a series of stakeholder engagements in the Niger Delta and production restored to nearly 2 million barrels per day.
“At the same time, the debt overhang preventing required additional investments in the oil sector has been addressed through the plan to pay off Joint Venture cash call arrears. There is renewed confidence in the sector and we are already seeing significant investments, he added.