President Muhammadu Buhari gave a speech at the U.S/Africa business forum where he promised never to allow Nigeria slump back to the days of lazy and dangerous dependence on increase or decrease in price of crude oil, again.
Buhari stated that Nigeria is gradually on the rise as his government has set up workable modalities to drive the economy out of recession and reposition the country and Africa as a destination point for every investor.
Excerpt from his statement on the theme: “Making ‘Africa Rising’ a Reality in Nigeria,” the President said Nigeria and Africa rather than watching and hoping for the price of commodities to rise, should seize the opportunity to lay a foundation for the kind of economic growth that transforms the lives of our people.
Buhari said that one of Nigeria’s biggest challenges during the boom years was the failure to convert the benefits of high commodity prices into more jobs and significant improvements in standards of living.
“Now that we are face to face with the vulnerabilities somehow hidden during the years of plenty, we should turn away from the unhelpful habits of the past and chart a new course. Since I signed the 2016 budget into law in May, Nigeria’s Ministry of Finance has released more than 400 billion naira for infrastructure spending — more than the total amount spent in 2015.
“In the face of dwindling oil revenues, we are turning to debt. We have begun raising a $1 billion Eurobond, our first in three years. We are also raising debt from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Chinese Ex-Im Bank and other development finance partners.
“Unlike in the past, when borrowed funds were frittered away on unproductive ventures, we will ensure their investment in the revival of stalled road, rail, power and port projects, and in agricultural initiatives that will significantly boost domestic production of food.
“For far too long we have under-invested in infrastructure — the most critical element for creating sustainable economic growth. The net effect: an avoidable high cost of doing business in Nigeria.”
Buhari restated that government’s main priority is to create an atmosphere for private-sector capital to thrive, adding that Publish-Private Partnership will be used to support game-changing private-sector projects in power, refining, gas transportation and fertiliser production.
He also expressed confidence in the security system set up to ensure that monies intended to revamp the country’s infrastructure would never again go into the hands of corrupt officials and their collaborators.
The President also said:
“We are as committed to playing by the rule of law as we are to accounting for every naira and recovering them for our treasury. These were funds meant to build roads and railway lines and hospitals and schools, and to equip our military — which has for the last seven years been fighting one of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world.”
The President spoke on persistence efforts of the security agencies to recover billions of naira from looters as well as the Military’s relentless battle to restore security back in the northeast states of Nigeria. He stated the fact that the economic recovery plan is already showing positive results,with investment’s share in gross domestic product at its highest since 2010.
Buhari informed that the government Social Investment Program — the most ambitious in Nigeria’s history — will begin this month, September. He said the first year into the programme will provide cash transfers to 1 million of Nigeria’s poorest people, hot meals to 5 million primary-school children, cheap loans to more than 1 million artisans and traders, and job opportunities in health care, agriculture and software and hardware development for half a million young people.
However, he stated that for Nigeria and Africa to achieve all objectives, she would need robust and reliable partnerships like that of the United States.