States have shared N1.9trillion Paris Club Refund and Budget Support Facilities to enable them meet their obligations to workers, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said yesterday.
According to him, at the inception of the Buhari administration in 2015, 26 of the 36 states were not up to date in their wage obligation to workers.
“ The Budget Support Facility to states has gone a long way in cushioning the shock experienced by the federating units which resulted from the sharp drop in prices of crude oil in 2016.
“So our support to states has remained unprecedented in the history of administration in Nigeria,” he said.
Osinbajo spoke in Abeokuta at the fourth edition of the Ogun Investors’ Forum, which ends today.
The theme of the programme, which is ”Consolidating Gains and Accelerating Growth.’’
Osinbajo said that the Muhammadu Buhari -led administration had continued to extend equal and unbiased support to states, regardless of party affiliations.
“ We have been sensitive, attentive and responsive to their needs while our programmes and policies have been developed with the states in mind.
“ The Anchor Borrowers Programme has continued to provide cheap credit to small holders farmers across the nation.
“The President’s Fertiliser Initiative has ensured that farmers across Nigeria have direct access to fertiliser.
“We have continued to feed about seven million primary school pupils in 21 states of the country,” Osinbajo said.
He explained that the administration had been able to reverse the trend of corruption that existed in the country when it assumed power in 2015.
He added that the government also reversed the underfunding of infrastructure with N1.3 trillion allocated to capital projects in 2017 – the highest in the country’s history.
“ We have continued to block leakages and increased funding of core sectors, like agriculture and transportation by as much as 400 per cent.
“External reserves are in highest level in five years while inflation rate has dropped for 13 consecutive months.
“We have done all these and more in spite of the fact that we now earn 60 per cent less than Nigeria earned in 2014 and thereby show that we can achieve more with less revenue, with prudence and sincerity of purpose,” he said.
The Vice President suggested a sub-regional economic summit among Ogun, Lagos and Benin Republic towards leveraging on the economy of proximity of both Lagos and Benin Republic to the state.
He added: ”We have launched and implemented a comprehensive economic recovery and growth plan. We pursued peace in the Niger Delta, we focused on improving our business environment, we scaled up our investment in agriculture and infrastructure and aggressively worked at expanding Nigeria revenue base.
”Perhaps most importantly, we have reversed the grand corruption in public finance and impunity which attended the conduct of public business especially in the past five years.
”The main reason for Nigeria’s growth is not just a matter of our relying heavily on a single commodity; it is the fact that proceeds of that single commodity were regularly hijacked consistently by a few.
”In the so-called strategic contract with NPDC, the promoters of those companies made away with about $3billion, almost a tenth of our reserves at a point.
”At the moment, we are in the course of getting the $3 billion to build roads; the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road, the second Niger bridge, the Enugu-Port Hacourt road, the East West road, the Sagamu-Benin-Ore road, the Kano Maiduguri road, the Abuja-Lafia road, the Akwanga-Keffi road plus the Lagos-Abeokuta road.
”It is important for us to understand that our country’s problems must be analyzed on the perspective of what our real issues are. We can’t talk about the Nigeria economy without the plight that was caused years ago by people simply stealing the resources of this country.
”In one single transaction, the sum of N100 billion and $289 million in cash were released three weeks to the 2015 elections. That money was essentially embezzled.
”When you consider that in 2014 when the price of oil was at an average of $110 a barrel, only N99 billion was spent on power, works and housing; agriculture and transportation got 14 and 15 billion Naira respectively.
”So, the total spent on capital in 2014 on those areas have mentioned was just N153 and over N150 billion was released and shared in three days, this is the enormity of what we are talking about.
“There’s no country in the world that can survive on grand corruption and that is what we are talking about and that is why it is important for the Federal Government under President Muhammad Buhari to reverse that grand corruption,” he said.
Ministers of Finance Kemi Adeosun and Agricultural and Rural Development Audu Ogbeh said Nigeria had the capacity to grow its GDP at 7 per cent by being focused.
Ogbeh, who rued the 9% interest rate being charged farmers by the Central Bank of Nigeria as being prohibitive, said 5-7% would be more reasonable.
Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun said his administration was poised to bequeathing a lasting legacy and provide a model of development that is impactful and sustainable for the state.
Amosun highlighted his achievements in agriculture, infrastructure, security and investment.
Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon expressed confidence that with rule of law and accountability, Nigeria would navigate out of her economic doldrums.
Calderon, who delivered the keynote address at the Forum, said knowledge from research had shown that the economy of nations without rule of law and accountability would only remain stagnant at 0% or be crawling only at 1%.
The ex- president explained that the economy of a country could grow for as much as 34% with rule of law and accountability, regardless of its geographical location, culture, leadership ability or even the natural resources.
He cited Singapore as a nation with no much national resources but remained one of the best economies in the world because of rule of law and accountability.
”It is important to have a country that is rules by law and not by man,” Calderon said.
Source: The Nation