An economic revival plan aimed at ensuring a new lease of life for Nigerians was released yesterday by the Federal Government.
The plan includes bold economic reform, borrowing avoidable, foreign and domestic investment drive, restoration of national security, food security, job creation and promotion of ccountability.
President Bola Tinubu who reiterated his commitment to economic revatalisation said he will not permit indolence or any act capable of derailing his ‘Renewed Hope Agenda’ by any of his ministers.
He gave a marching order to the 45-member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to perform or be ready to be fired for incompetence.
The president, who presided over his administration’s maiden FEC meeting at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, advised the ministers to brace up for the challenges of governance.
Five ministers-Olawale Edun (Finance and Economy), Mohammed Idris (Information and National Orientation), Dr. Ali Pate (Health and Social Welfare), Abubakar Kyari (Agriculture and Food Security), and Doris Anite (Industry, Trade and Investment) and Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale-shed light on how they will achieve the president’s eight-point agenda.
Anite said President Tinubu was targeting 50 million jobs or Nigerians in fulfilment of his campaign promises during the electioneering.
Edun said although President Tinubu inherited a bad economy, concerted efforts will be made to change the tide.
The president, who highlighted the challenges before the ministers, charged them to gird their loins.
He alluded to the priority areas, which were emphasised in his economic programmes, urging them to embrace activities that will enhance service delivery and prevent failure.
President Tinubu said the country relied on the minister’s skill, intellect, and networking, adding that they were appointed to make a difference.
He said: “As I said during the inauguration, I am the bus driver and you are the conductors. We have to make sure this country stays on the right path to succeed on behalf of over 200 million Nigerians. We willingly accepted the appointment and I accepted the mandate of Nigerians.
“I have delegated some of these powers to you to serve the country. You are a very lucky person to be selected among millions of Nigerians and we will use the opportunity to show that Nigeria has what it takes to dig ourselves out of our problems.
“We must find a home-grown re-engineering of our finances, manage our resources and let the economy work for the people of this country.
“There are so many things some cynics will say is impossible, but in your dictionary of service, everything is possible and must be possible. We have the talents; we have the level of intellectual capacity to turn this country around.
“You and I know that the expectation is high and it’s a tough time right now. We must work hard, commit ourselves and create a buoyant economy that will serve every Nigerian. We have an employment level that is unacceptable. We are threatened by climate change. We still have underemployment.
“But to turn things around, you have been selected to perform your utmost best. The policy agenda will be set out to reform the economy to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth, and strengthen national security for peace and prosperity. Without security there can be no investment. That is true. You have to convince them and the time is now to do that.
“When you look around the world, every leader is clamouring for what they believe on what should be there policy on food security. We have declared a state of emergency. What is your goal?
“Every one of you is a member of this team, every one of you, no partitioning. We can do whatever we want from the assignment of responsibility, but all depends on you, if you stay focused, we will all arrive at a better destination and the country will be better off for it.”
He added: “We must unlock the energy and natural resources of this country. We must start producing for ourselves, and dig ourselves out of the hole. We must focus on education, healthcare and social investment that is essential for the development of our people.
“Our priority areas are defined in our economic programmes. Every area is our priority and you belong in the driver’s position to realize and make that priority a fulfilling promise to the entire nation and the continent of Africa.
“You must achieve the economic growth that is expected of us. We must feed our people. We must leverage on what we have and grow more to satisfy Nigerians. It is all in your hands now.”
President Tinubu said he was prepared to listen to the ministers whenever they have concerns.
He stressed: “I am ready to listen. Like I said to NBA yesterday, I am ready even for corrections; only God is perfect. Don’t be afraid to take decisions. That’s the burden of leadership. I know some of you are still looking for offices. I believe the SGF, COS, HOSOF will work as a team to settle you down quickly.”
Drawing a pictorial analogy of the task before the government, Tinubu said: “Imagine yourselves that in this situation you have been called upon to fetch water from a dry well. The challenges are there, but we will deliver for Nigerians”.
Edun told reporters that he presented a “Roadmap for the Economy,” noting that the FEC agreed that the economy is not where it ought to be.
He also said that FEC examined eight priority areas and identified targets to deliver in the next three years, adding that the President had charged the ministers to roll out policies and programmes to turn the economy around.
Edun stressed: “First, he congratulated everybody and emphasised the high expectations of Nigerians and he encouraged us to be bold and courageous and innovative and to act with urgency in delivering a better life to all Nigerians.
“Essentially, we went through an exercise of looking at where things stood, regarding the economy, the growth rate, the exchange rate, inflation, unemployment and so on.
“The overriding conclusion is that we’re not where we should be and we also examined the President’s eight-point agenda, that is, the eight priority areas for moving the Nigerian economy forward and for delivering to Nigerians and those are basically food security; ending poverty, economic growth and job creation, access to capital, particularly consumer credit, inclusivity in all its dimensions, particularly as regards youths and women, improving security, improving the playing field on which people and particularly companies operate, rule of law, and of course, fighting corruption.
“It is around those matrix that the plans and the targets of what will be delivered in the next three years or so were identified, discussed and imputs were given by various ministers and we’ll now go away with the marching order to refine further the targets in particular and within weeks to start rolling out policies and programmes to turn around the economy and make things better for all Nigerians. That really is the substance of what the discussion was all about.”
Edun said the Tinubu administration inherited a bad economy with an unacceptable high rate of unemployment, and with inflation standing at 24%.
He said:“Per capital has fallen steadily, inflation is at 24 percent, unemployment is high, you know m are rebasing the way in which it’s calculated. Either way, it is high and youth unemployment is even unacceptably high, these are the key metrics that we have met.”
Asked to be specific on the kind of economy the Tinubu administration met on ground, the inister said: “We met a bad economy and the promise of Mr. President is to make it better”.
The Minister said the Federal Government would in not borrow money at this time, adding the emphasis is on how to create a macroeconomic environment where both local and foreign investors will invest and increase production.
Edun said: “Clearly, the Federal Government is not in a position to borrow at this time. Rather, the emphasis has to be on creating a stable, macroeconomic environment. Stable inflation, stable exchange rate, an environment within which people can come and invest and thereby increase production and further grow the economy; Improve and create jobs and reduce poverty.
“So, the aim of all reforms at this time is to focus on what we call equity to focus on investment to attract investment investment by Nigerians. Investment by foreign direct investors and even investment by portfolio investors that want to invest in the financial aspects of the Nigerian economy, such as the stock market, such as the bond market.
“So, that is the plan. That is the expectation and it is that there will not be a reliance on borrowing. Rather, as revenues increase, as the benefit of removing fuel subsidy and the subsidy on the exchange rate, those mean more money for government at all levels.
“Because, of course, through oil revenue, the federation earns dollars and if those dollars are feeding through, at let’s say, 700/750 or so naira to one dollar as opposed to 460 where it was before; clearly, that is repairing the finances of government are federal state and local government levels.”
Anite said President Tinubu was planning to create 50 million jobs.
She stressed: “In Mr. President’s manifesto during his campaigns, he promised 50 million jobs and that’s our target. We will take it in phases; we are looking at different sectors of the economy that will contribute to this job creation chief among them is the creative industry and the digital economy, and then the agric sector, agro-processing zones, and mining, oil and gas. So we’re very confident that we will achieve this.”