Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said yesterday that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration had lifted millions of Nigerians out of poverty in the last three years.
He was apparently reacting to a statement by British Prime Minister Theresa May that Nigeria had the largest population of poor people.
Osinbajo said in the same period, the administration laid a solid foundation for a resilient and competitive economy, provided infrastructure and opened space for private investment to accelerate growth and development through the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) initiative.
The vice-president, who spoke in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, at the 17th Joint Planning Board and National Council on Development Planning (NCPD), identified “social investment initiatives” as the vehicles used to pull Nigerians, in their millions, away from the poverty trap.
He was represented by the Minister of Budget and Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma.
Osinbajo said the government would invest in Nigerians and give them a better life, adding: “Billions of naira have been committed to tackling infrastructural deficiencies, while resources are being utilised and projects prioritised to ensure transformation of the country.”
Speaking on the NCPD meeting with the theme: “Accelerating the implementation of the Economy Recovery and Growth Plan: The Role of Stakeholders,” he noted that the Federal Government was committed to ensuring that it delivered on the objectives and targets of ERGP.
According to him, the administration via the ERGP had revitalised fertiliser blending plants, which assisted Nigeria to save over 200 million dollar annually.
“We are proud of the successes recorded in the agricultural sector. The revitalisation of our fertiliser blending plants alone has saved the country over $200 million annually in foreign exchange and over N60 billion in budgetary provisions for fertiliser subsidies.
“This has also made it possible to purchase fertiliser at prices up to 30 per cent cheaper than previously available. We are importing less rice today than we did a few years ago.
“I am glad to note the partnership some states, such as Kebbi and Lagos have entered into in a bid to support the agricultural development and food security objective of the ERGP. I expect to see more of such model agricultural collaboration among other states,” he said.
The vice-president identified the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), security and inflow of foreign investments as areas where the ERGP had helped the country to experience success.
“I am aware that the National Committee on Export Promotion is implementing a plan to enhance export promotion and economic diversification in line with the Zero Oil Plan (ZOP) initiative. We have budgeted N44.2 billion in the 2018 budget for the establishment of Special Economic Zones in the country’s six geo-political zones to drive local manufacturing and exports.
“We are also paying close attention to the mining sector by reinforcing the Mining Regulatory Agency. About N644 million has been voted for this in the 2018 budget. We are ready to set up a National Gold Purchase Scheme. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is advancing discussions on the modalities for gold purchase towards enhancing liquidity in the sector.
“I believe that to accelerate implementation of the ERGP and deliver on its target of 7 per cent GDP growth by 2020, we need massive private investment. And that underscores the significance of the ERGP Focus Labs. I am pleased to note that this exercise has yielded positive outcome.
“In the past few months, we have taken a number of decisions that will further facilitate the realisation of the massive private investments unlocked in these labs. I think the states must be commended for their willingness to cooperate and assist in making these investments to happen.
“From our reports, some of the states have responded positively to a number of approvals that were required from them. The success of the Labs is a testimony to what partnership between the public and private sector can achieve when they work together for public good,” he added.