Economic Recovery: We’ll Soon Assent To 2017 Budget, Osinbajo Assures

• Says N1.2tr Spent On Infrastructure In 2016
• Unite For Stronger Economy, Democracy- Saraki Urges Nigerians

Weeks after the passage of the 2017 Appropriation Bill by both arms of Nigeria’s National Assembly, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday promised that it would soon be signed into law, so as to spur the much needed economic recovery.
In a speech to mark this year’s Democracy Day or the 18th anniversary of Nigeria’s return to democratic rule for the fourth time since independence in 1960, Prof. Osinbajo, expressed happiness with the fact that for the first time in the nation’s history, a princely N1.2tr was spent on infrastructure projects in 2016. He assured that the amount would be doubled in the soon-to-be-signed budget 2017, as captured in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020, expected to build on the gains of last year’s Strategic Implementation Plan.
According to him, “that budget also provides for substantial investment to implement the rollout of Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones (SEZs), as well as our Social Housing Programme. The Industrial Parks and Economic Zones will fulfill our ambition of making Nigeria a manufacturing hub, while the Family Home Fund of our Social Housing Programme will provide inexpensive mortgages for low-income individuals and families across the country.
“These plans offer yet more evidence that we are ramping up the pace of work; the work of fulfilling all that we promised. In the next two years we will build on the successes of the last two. We have demonstrated a willingness to learn from our mistakes and to improve on our successes.”
The Vice President restated the Federal Government’s determination to fully address, in the next two years, critical issues such as: “agriculture and food security, energy, (power and Petroleum,) industrialization and Transport infrastructure.”
In the process, he promised that government would partner “the private sector, giving them the necessary incentives and creating an environment to invest and do business.
“Our vision is for a country that grows what it eats and produces what it consumes. It is for a country that no longer has to import petroleum products, and develops a lucrative petrochemical industry. Very importantly it is for a country whose fortunes are no longer tied to the price of a barrel of crude, but instead, to the boundless talents and energy of its people, young and old, male and female as they invest in diverse areas of the economy.
“And that vision is also for a country where the wealth of the many will no longer be stolen by or reserved for a few; and where the impunity of corruption – whether in the public or private sectors – will no longer be standard operating practice; a land rid of bandits and terrorists.”
Nigerians, he continued, “deserve a country that works, not merely for the rich or connected, but for everyone. And our promise to you is that we will, with your support and cooperation, take every step needed to create that country of our dreams.”
While noting that the journey to El Dorado would be necessarily take time, the Vice President said the Muhammadu Buhari administration “will not succumb to the temptation to take short-cuts that ultimately complicate the journey. We did not find ourselves in crises overnight, and we simply do not expect overnight solutions to our challenges.”
The most important thing today, he believes, “is that we are on the right path, and we will not deviate from it, even in the face of strong temptation to choose temporary gain over long-term benefit. As the President has summed it up: “The old Nigeria is slowly but surely disappearing, and a new era is rising.”
Also on Monday, Senate President Bukola Saraki, urged Nigerians to join hands towards building a stronger economy, noting that only a prosperous economy that reflects in the lives of citizens can help sustain the present democratic experience.
Saraki, in a series of tweets on his personal handle, said the sustaining democracy for so long and successes recorded so far is a testimony to the world that Nigerians are committed to its ethos.
While commending Nigerians, he called for constant striving by all to make democracy a way of life, expressing “hope that our present economic challenges will soon give way to a prosperous nation.”
Also, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki said the real challenge to the sustenance of the democracy which the country has experienced in the last 18 years was the need for a solid economy that will ensure that the citizens enjoy high standard of living and that there was even development across the country.
He urged Nigerians to support the policies of government aimed at involving the private sector in key sectors of the economy, focussing on locally manufactured goods, encouraging small and medium scale entrepreneurs, developing alternative sources of foreign exchange other than oil, directing attention to commercial agriculture and mining of mineral resources, eliminating smuggling and other activities which can sabotage the economy.
The Senate President enjoined the people to rally behind government policies to develop the economy and create a vibrant private sector by eschewing all activities which threaten the stability of the country, then “many of the problems which bedevil the nation’s politics will be eliminated and our democracy will grow from strength to strength”.
He further challenged Nigerians to consciously nurture the various institutions which make the country a democracy worth the name and said it is by building the institutions and respecting the values they represent that the nation can guarantee stability, development and consistency.