Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has assured that with government’s focus and commitment, there will be a turnaround in the Nigerian economy in 12 to 18 months.
Speaking at the Quarterly Presidential Business Forum held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday, he said the Muhammadu Buhari administration has the discipline to deliver on the promises it made.
Osinbajo, who said government has identified critical areas to deal with and was, working hard on providing solutions, urged the private sector to partner with government to move Nigeria forward.
He said: “When Mr President launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (EGRP) sometimes in April, one of the things that he emphasised was the fact that we have made up our minds as to where we are going.
“And I think that we have the discipline to be able to do so, but this is a complex environment, is a complex economy and I think that we must trust the government.
“And I have said this repeatedly, that in some sense we are fortunate to have a leader like the president who at least we know, a straightforward and honest, and committed to ensuring government expenditure is spent the way it should be spent, and that people don’t do what they like.
“To that extent, I think we have the right environment at least in terms of government discipline and all of that, to be able to deliver on the promises that we have made.
“And all I will just want to say to the private sector is to be sure that we have enough willing and able partners.
“There is no way we can ever be perfect. I mean government is a behemoth where there are so many problems and issues.
“But do not doubt for one moment at all, our commitment to ensuring that we are able to deliver on the promises that we have made.
“Day after day, night after night we are working on these things. Practically every night, we work on these issues.
“I believe very strongly that Nigeria will turn around. I have no doubt in my mind that if we are focussed even in the next 12 to 18 months, if we are focussed, we will certainly see a turn around.
“And I really would want you to join us in being able to ensure that this happens to the Nigerian economy.”
Noting that commitment must come from both the government and the private sector, the Acting President added: “What we have done is that we have identified certain critical things that must be done. We know that there are certain things that if we do them, they will move the nation forward.
“And those things are one, just as a general thing, stabilizing the macro economic environment, second, energy sufficiency, power and petroleum, improving transportation infrastructure, achieving agriculture and food security.
“On each and every one of these items, certainly progress is being made, and of course fighting corruption, controlling government expenditure, controlling leakages and all of that. On everyone of these items progress is being made.”
In her remarks, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, stated that government cannot provide essential services because the budget size is too small.
According to her, the nation’s budget which is six percent of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP), is lowest than that of Nigeria’s peers in Sub-Saharan Africa one of the lowest in the world.
According to her, “Our budget size is too small and that means we can only pay salaries in some cases and we don’t have money to deliver essential services.
“There simply isn’t enough money in government to do what government wants to do,” she said, adding:
“Our budget size is too small and what does that mean? It means we can pretty much pay salaries but we cannot deliver essential services.”
She stressed that this was because not enough tax was being paid in the country.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Ismaila Isah Funtua, Vice Chairman, Mainstream Energy Solution, maintained that government must increase electricity tariff to have uninterrupted power supply in the country.
He revealed that GENCOs operators declined to speak openly at the meeting with Osinbajo because they believed that serious decisions could not be taken at the meeting.
He said: “We asked for a private meeting where serious decision could be taken and whether government like it or not, they have to review the tariff of power in this country.
“All those playing politics with it that they do not want to increase people do not want to hear of this.
“This is my cell phone, you pay for it even before you make use of it. And nobody is controlling their tarif,f they charge what they want and all of us we have at least one cellphone.
“Therefore, government needs to do the needful. If government wants power, then they cannot continue subsidizing for people.”
The Managing Director of Egbin Power Plc, Kola Adesina, in his own remarks, regretted that the country was celebrating the generation of only 4,000mw.
According to him,”a nation as great as ours should not be celebrating 4000megawatts. That is ridiculous to say the least.”
“So, every one of us, the public and private sector, must get down and ensure that we rapidly grow the system, that value chain, to ensure that we steadily grow to the extent to enhance availability of supply to our people.”