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WELCOME ADDRESS BY THE AG. DIRECTOR-GENERAL, MR JONATHAN M. JUMA, mni, AT THE 2017 NATIONAL INSTITUTE DISTINGUISHED ANNUAL LECTURE, 24TH NOVEMBER 2017

PROTOCOLS

 

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to yet another epoch making event - the 2017 Distinguished Annual Lecture of the National Institute. This is the crowning intellectual activity of the Senior Executive Course and we are highly honoured and privileged this year to have as our Distinguished Lecturer, an eminent and highly revered father of the nation, a bridge builder and peace maker, a scholar per excellence, our own General Dr Yakubu Gowon, GCFR.

      

  1. The honour to deliver the Distinguished Annual Lecture of the National Institute is a privilege reserved exclusively for notable statesmen, erudite scholars and academics, and people of rare achievement and experience who can speak on critical issues with moral and intellectual authority. On this score, ladies and gentlemen, you will agree with me that our 2017 Distinguished Annual Lecturer is more than qualified to deliver this lecture. Indeed, we find no Nigerian better qualified to address the theme of this year’s lecture than General Dr Yakubu Gowon, who fought for the unity of this country, and is still crusading for its progress and development. We are therefore extremely grateful that he agreed, despite his busy schedules, to honour our invitation to deliver the lecture. I welcome Your Excellency to the Institute and thank you for accepting our invitation.
  2. I wish to welcome all other very important personalities invited to grace this auspicious occasion. Let me particularly thank the Chairman, His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the Governor of Imo State, who at a relatively short notice, agreed to preside over this ceremony. We salute your faith in the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria and commend your bold stand in declaring this at all times.

 

  1. Let me also salute the Governor of Plateau State and our host, His Excellency, Rt. Honourable Simon Bako Lalong, for his unflinching support to the National Institute. We appreciate the hospitality and goodwill of the government and people of Plateau State, the Home of Peace and Tourism, which has enabled us to carry out our tasks in a conducive atmosphere.

 

  1. We welcome the Gbong Gwom Jos and other royal fathers here present as well as and all other distinguished personalities who have come to grace this occasion.

 

  1. Each year, the Distinguished Annual Lecture addresses a very important and critical aspect of Nigeria’s developmental challenges, with a view to throwing light on the subject and proffering workable solutions to the problem. The theme for this year’s lecture is “Unity in Diversity and the Current Challenges of National Building.”

 

  1. The choice of this theme, you will all agree with me, is apt in view of the current clamour within the polity for restructuring. The media is awash with debates and discourses on this subject of restructuring. A great challenge for Nigeria remains how to build a common identity to enable us harness our diversity as building blocks for national development, rather than perceive them as obstacles to progress. I commend the strong and able leadership of the current administration in this regard. The National Institute is convinced that Nigeria will come out of these times stronger and better positioned to play its leadership role in Africa.

 

  1. I invite you all to listen with rapt attention as our Distinguished Annual Lecturer shares his thoughts on these issues and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

WELCOME REMARKS

BY

 JONATHAN MELA JUMA, mni

Ag. DIRECTOR-GENERAL

NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR POLICY AND STRATEGIC STUDIES (NIPSS), KURU

AT

THE GRADUATION CEREMONY OF PARTICIPANTS

OF SENIOR EXECUTIVE COURSE (SEC) NO 39, 2017

OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR POLICY AND STRATEGIC STUDIES (NIPSS), KURU,

 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2017

 

Your Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,

Your Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, the Vice-President, Federal Republic of Nigeria,

Your Excellency, the Governor of Plateau State, Rt. Hon (Barr.) Simon Bako Lalong and other Governors here present,

The Chief of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs here present,

Chief of Staff to the President and Special Advisers,

Heads of Para-Military Organisations,

The Gbong Gwom Jos, His Majesty, Da Jacob Gyang Buba, CON,

Management, Staff and Graduating Participants of the National Institute,

Gentlemen of the Press,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

  1. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the Graduation Ceremony of the Senior Executive Course (SEC) 39, 2017 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru. The National Institute is Nigeria’s apex Institution for policy research and training.  It was established 39 years ago to serve as “a high level centre for reflection, research and dialogue.” To achieve its mandate, the Institute conducts courses for top level policy makers and executors.  It also conducts public policy research, all geared towards the establishment of a better Nigerian society.

 

  1. The flagship training programme of the National Institute is the Senior Executive Course. Participants on the Course are drawn from the Armed Forces, the Police, Para-military and other security agencies, Federal and State Civil Services, Professional Bodies, Women Societies and the Organised Private Sector. Participants from the military must be of the rank of Colonel or equivalent in other services. Those from the Police and Para-military must have attained the rank of Commissioner and Comptroller respectively. Those from Federal Civil Service, should not be below a Director and those from the States must have attained the position of Permanent Secretary.   Participants from the private sector must be chief executive officers or very senior managers in their organisations.

 

  1. The objective of the Course is to expand the outlook and perspective of the Participants and to stretch their conceptual capacity and quality of discernment and analysis. In this respect, the Course seeks to improve the overall performance of Participants in their different professions, as well as prepare them to appreciate short and long term national planning processes.

 

  1. Every year, Mr. President approves a particular theme on an issue of national importance for the Course Participants to research into and make recommendations based on their findings. The theme for SEC 39, 2017, as approved is “Science, Technology & Innovation (STI) for the Development of Agriculture and Agro-Allied Industries in Nigeria.” Your Excellency, the theme was structured into six sub-themes, namely:
  2. Understanding Science, Technology & Innovation (STI), Agriculture and Agro-Allied Industries;
  3. Historical Development of STI, Agriculture and Agro-Allied Industries in Nigeria;
  • STI Frameworks for the Development of Agriculture and Agro-Allied Industries in Nigeria;
  1. Impact of STI on the Development of Agriculture and Agro-Allied Industries in Nigeria;
  2. Issues and Challenges of STI for the Development of Agriculture and Agro-Allied Industries in Nigeria; and
  3. Strategies for the Development of Agriculture and Agro-Allied Industries in Nigeria through STI.

 

  1. These sub-themes were located within the NIPSS extant Course Modules which encompass subjects such as leadership, policy and strategy; understanding the Nigerian State; Science, Technology and Innovation; economic and management studies; international relations; defence and security; and peace and conflict studies. The curriculum for the Senior Executive Course is broad-based, rich, elastic, flexible and well-suited to engage any theme in any sector that Mr. President may direct Participants to focus on. Most importantly, Your Excellency, the resource persons and course facilitators are usually drawn from among the best within and outside Nigeria.

 

  1. Besides the lectures, the Senior Executive Course also has a field component, which sees Participants engage in various study tours within Nigeria, Africa and outside the African continent. The States and countries of visit within and outside Nigeria are determined on the basis of the theme of the Course. The essence of the study tours is to enable participants to interact with critical stakeholders in the sector of their focus with a view to generating key information that will help them in addressing the demands and expectations of their course theme.

 

  1. Participants of SEC 39 toured 12 States in Nigeria, namely; Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Cross River, Enugu, Imo, Jigawa, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Plateau and Taraba.  The African countries visited are Tanzania, Morocco, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Namibia and South Africa; and those outside Africa are Brazil, Hungary, Turkey, Indonesia, Israel, and Thailand. The Participants also visited key Strategic Institutions in the country that are relevant to the theme.

 

  1. It is important to note that the Course is also designed to ensure active participation in group work and full engagement in individual work through Course assignments such as Challenging Career Experience, Individual Essays, Group Reports and Individual Research Projects. Inculcation of strategic skills in Course Participants to be able to respond to emergencies and crisis situations is also part of the Course curriculum. This is achieved through a one-week intensive Crisis Game that is part of the Course Module on Peace and Conflict Studies.

 

  1. I am pleased to report, Your Excellency, that the Participants of SEC 39 have been well-equipped, through rigorous and intensive research and training, to contribute to government’s economic diversification policy and programme. I therefore, wish to formally congratulate the Participants for their doggedness, courage, hard work and team spirit throughout the period of the Course.

 

  1. Your Excellency let me place on record the generosity of SEC 39 Participants, both as a group and as individuals, in donating various items to meet evident-needs in the community. As a legacy project, Senior Executive Course 39 refurbished the Institute’s Printing Press hall and donated a Digital Suite containing direct imaging printing machines.  This will greatly facilitate the publishing effort of the Institute.  Furthermore, the SEC commissioned a Hall of Fame located in the Library, which will showcase personalities and issues of historical significance to the Institute.  Beyond the Institute, the SEC has also donated a water borehole with accompanying reticulation to the Kuru community.  The project will alleviate water problems, particularly in the Berom community secondary school.  This gesture will certainly cement further, the cordial relationship existing between the Institute and it immediate host.  It will also improve the health status of the Kuru community, through provision of clean portable water.  We have received generous gifts from individual Participants, notably construction of Gazebo huts for relaxation, a golf pavilion, vital hospital equipment for our Medical Centre, and audio visual aid equipment.  We are grateful for these acts of generosity and goodwill by the Participants.

 

  1. Still on donations, I will also like to thank the Alumni Association of the National Institute and the Federal Road Safety Commission for assisting us to acquire vital kitchen equipment. This gesture has gone a long way to alleviate problems of obsolete and dilapidated equipment in the NIPSS Restaurant and will help the Hospitality Services Department serve future courses better.  We also appreciate the Nigeria Labour Congress for refurbishing the Participants Car Park through provision of longspan roof covers.  The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has also recently donated 50 computers and accessories under the Tertiary Institution Knowledge Centre Project.  We remain very grateful for all these acts of generosity.

 

  1. Let me use this opportunity to thank the Government and good people of Plateau State in general and our host, the Kuru community, in particular for the cordial relationship that has existed between us. Management appreciates the goodwill and immense support of the Plateau State Government to the National Institute over the years, which has facilitated a peaceful and quiet atmosphere conducive for research, training and reflection. I also want to appreciate the leadership of the Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI) for ensuring that the interests of the National Institute are promoted and protected at all times. We sincerely appreciate AANI’s role in the campaign to ensure the National Institute is accorded its proper recognition in national affairs.

 

  1. The National Assembly, through the Senate and House Committees on Inter-Governmental Affairs, which have oversight responsibilities over the National Institute, has been very supportive. We appreciate and will continue to cherish the cordial relationship between the Institute and the National Assembly.
  2. Your Excellency, let me place on record the immense support of the Office of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the National Institute. His Excellency, the Vice President, despite his very tight schedules, has always paid special and vibrant attention to the affairs of the National Institute. The recent approval for payment of Peculiar Allowance to our Research Staff has greatly boosted their morale and has resulted in higher productivity.  Most importantly, the role of the Office of the Vice President in the ongoing effort to amend the NIPSS Act to give it greater focus and impact, is another demonstration of the government’s determination to place the National Institute on an enviable height in contributing to national development.

 

  1. While I do not intend to bore you with the numerous challenges that confront the National Institute, please permit me, Your Excellency, to draw your attention to critical human resource gaps in the Institute. In particular, the Directorate of Studies, which is saddled with the responsibility of coordinating the Senior Executive Course, urgently needs the services of senior, experienced and reputable academics and bureaucrats to join the Directing Staff team.  We, acknowledge the appropriate steps taken to actualise this and hope that action would be concluded by the end of this year to enable us commence the next course with the full complement of directing staff.  Secondly, the National Institute premises is littered with dilapidated infrastructure, especially staff housing and operational vehicles and equipment. We will, therefore, be very grateful, if Your Excellency would approve special financial intervention to address the replacement of operational vehicles and the rehabilitation of vital infrastructure.

 

  1. Once again, I welcome you all. While I wish you a pleasant and joyful graduation ceremony, it is my sincere prayers that God will take you back to your respective destinations, peacefully.

 

  1. Thank you very much.

 

OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT

PRESS RELEASE

NIGERIA WILL NOT RETURN TO YEARS OF WASTE & CORRUPTION, SAYS VP OSINBAJO @ NIPSS GRADUATION

*Economic speech details trajectory of the Buhari presidency, offering policy insights

"We must pay attention to what we are seeing today, and some of the shameless noises of those who brought our nation to its knees, many of whom still have looted funds in their possession, trying to rewrite history and hoodwink the populace again. We say never again."

"But with 60% less revenue, we started a series of bailouts for the States, to enable them pay salaries and pensions. With 60% less revenue, we were able to provide about N1.3trillion for capital expenditure, the largest amount for capital in our nation’s history."

"For the first time in five years we saved $500million, and invested another $500million in the Sovereign Wealth Fund. Today our external reserves stands at $35billion the highest in the past four years."

 

SPEECH BY THE VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, AT THE 2017 GRADUATION CEREMONY OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR POLICY AND STRATEGIC STUDIES, KURU, PLATEAU STATE, ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2017.

 

It is a special pleasure to be here at this graduation ceremony, of the Senior Executive Course 39 of 2017 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, and I bring you the very warm felicitations of President Muhammadu Buhari, President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  I congratulate the participants of Senior Executive Course 39, for your excellent performance and your elevation to the privilege of Member of the National Institute, mni.

 

Your presentation to Mr. President last week, Friday 17th November, on the theme “Science, Technology and Innovation for the Development of Agriculture & Agro-Allied Industries in Nigeria,” was both scholarly and practical, and will be an important reference in refining and implementing policy in this important area.

 

I also congratulate families and friends, and especially spouses of participants on this joyful occasion.

 

NIPSS occupies an important place in our national policy discourse, especially through its policy-relevant training and research outputs.  Notably, the NIPSS alumni provide a patriotic repository of knowledge that is very often deployed in support of national development objectives.

 

Today’s event is significant.  It is at once a celebration of success, and in many ways, also symbolic of the opportunities that will arise from completion of a year of rigorous learning and reflection, for you, and the Federal Government. And it also provides me an opportunity to share some thoughts on the trajectory of our national economic development with the Nigerian policy elite, to which distinguished group, you now rightly belong.

 

I am going to focus on the economy, where we are, and where we are heading in the next 12 months. What are the policy choices we have made? Why have we made those choices? Are those policy choices working?

 

From the very beginning of our administration when Mr. President asked me to head the economic management team, he made it clear that in his view, the major reason for the slow development of our nation and the poverty of millions of our people, was corruption and mismanagement of public funds & resources. And that fighting corruption and mismanagement of public resources was as much an economic imperative, as it was a law and order issue. I agreed.

 

We, from that point, put in place structures that would ensure prudent and transparent management of resources. In July 2015, the President ordered that all MDAs funds should be paid into the Treasury Single Account. This ended years of MDAs keeping secret bank accounts, in some cases putting public funds in fixed deposit for interest far below market rates. Banks would then lend money back to government by buying treasury bills at substantially higher interest. Today, government knows exactly how much we have, and we are saving significantly.

 

Early in 2016, an Efficiency Unit was set up under the Federal Ministry of Finance to reduce wastage, plug leakages and foster greater fiscal transparency.   The Efficiency Unit has enforced several deliberate cost-cutting measures including the removal or reduction of sitting allowances for civil servants in many cases, and saved over 1 billion a year, stopping the procurement of souvenirs, and printing for government programmes, we saved another N1billion.

 

By reviewing travel expenditures, and negotiating procurement discounts, we saved N15billion. We have also removed or reduced meals and refreshments for meetings, and saved another N1billion annually.

 

We stopped the siphoning of funds through ghost workers by insisting that all MDAs must be on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) across government, and also mandated the use of BVN. Over 461 Federal MDAs have been captured on the system thus far, with the objective being able to enroll all of them. We are now saving N25billion a month, from cleaning up the payroll in this way. The President has also ordered all Armed Forces personnel to be captured on IPPIS.

 

It is important to understand, what these measures to block leakages and stealing of public resources mean for economic performance. I will demonstrate that impact.

 

When we came into office, over 22 States were owing salaries. They were owing despite the fact that between 2011 and 2015, Nigeria earned its highest ever revenues from oil. Oil was selling at between $100 and $115 a barrel. Yet reserves between 2014 and 2015 fell from $35billion to $28billion in April 2015. When we came into office, oil prices fell as low as $28 a barrel, the unrest in the Niger Delta, especially the vandalization of pipelines and oil and gas assets reduced the production at some point by over a million barrels a day. Revenues dropped by as much as 60%.

 

But with 60% less revenue, we started a series of bailouts for the States, to enable them pay salaries and pensions. With 60% less revenue, we were able to provide about N1.3trillion for capital expenditure, the largest amount for capital in our nation’s history.

 

For the first time in five years we saved $500million, and invested another $500million in the Sovereign Wealth Fund. Today our external reserves stands at $35billion the highest in the past four years.

 

We have made the point, that Nigeria is not poor because it has no resources, it is poor because a lot its resources are stolen or mismanaged. We can do a lot more with far less, if we don't allow stealing.

 

Now let us for a moment, reflect on where the Nigerian economy is today. The economic focus and direction of the Buhari administration is set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan - the ERGP.  The plan is based on a set of principles, broad principles, and certain key action points including eliminating corruption in government procurement and processes, prudent management of resources, social inclusion, overcoming constraints such as power, petrol and skills shortages, promotion of the private sector, and use of the market mechanism where possible.

 

We have worked hard to keep faith with these crucial principles. In particular we are committed to ensuring that Nigeria does not return to the years of corruption and waste, where people at the highest levels of government simply converted to private use, funds and public resources meant for the building of public infrastructure and the provision of services.

 

We must pay attention to what we are seeing today, and some of the shameless noises of those who brought our nation to its knees, many of whom still have looted funds in their possession, trying to rewrite history and hoodwink the populace again. We say never again!

 

Distinguished guests ladies and gentlemen, today, regarding our economy, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The darkness is giving way to the light. Let's begin with the macroeconomic story.

 

The decline in growth which started in 2014, has been reversed with the third quarter figures released earlier this week, showing that the economy has truly exited recession with the growth of 1.4%.

 

A further analysis of the Q2 2017 GDP results indicates that the recovery was driven largely by the performance in agriculture, industry, solid minerals and crude oil and gas production.  Agriculture, which is a main focus of this administration, as stated in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), grew strongly throughout 2016 despite the contraction in the overall economy, continued to grow in 2017 recording a 3.06% growth in Q3 2017.

 

Industry which had contracted for nine consecutive quarters, but recorded its first positive growth of 1.45% in Q2 2017, and it has grown stronger in Q3 2017, growing by 8.83% compared to a contraction of -12.66% a year earlier. This represents the strongest growth in industry since Q2 2014, when industry grew at a similar rate of 8.97%.

 

The oil sector also grew strongly, partly due to actions of government which has led to stable oil production and an improved situation in the Niger Delta, as well as oil prices remaining steady. Oil production GDP grew very strongly by 25.89% in Q3 2017 compared to 3.53% in Q2 2017, and a contraction of -23.04% in Q3 2016.

 

Inflation continues to fall from a peak of 18.72% in January, to 15.91% today.  Similarly, as noted earlier, our reserves are now at about $35 billion while the exchange rate regime has been stabilized. We are confident that the Naira will continue to appreciate.

 

One of our biggest priorities as a government was making the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us better. Right from the presidential campaigns that preceded our coming to serve, we had made it very clear that we would be a government for the poor and vulnerable. We designed an ambitious Social Investment Programme to accomplish this, comprising four initiatives; a jobs’ scheme for unemployed graduates, a micro-credit scheme targeting SMEs, a Home-grown School Feeding Scheme, providing one free meal a day to primary school pupils, and a Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme for the poorest Nigerians across the country.

 

The Social Investment Programme kicked off a year ago, with the recruitment of 200,000 young Nigerian graduates for the first phase of N- Power. These young people have been deployed across the 774 Local Government Areas of the country, as Teaching Assistants in public primary schools, Public Health Assistants in primary health centres, and as Agricultural Extension Service Assistants in various agricultural programmes.

 

Today, a year later, we have just pre-selected an additional 300,000 young unemployed graduates, and they will be further engaged in the N-Power programme.

 

The Home Grown School Feeding Programme now provides a free, nutritious meal, one a day to over 5 million children across 19 States, and our target is 5.5million children before the end of 2017.

 

In addition to providing nutrition for children in the first three years of primary education, the school feeding programme buys food from local farmers, and employs almost 55,000 cooks in 28,249 schools.  Other participants in the food value chain such as processors and transporters also benefit indirectly from this programme.

 

While we were laying the groundwork of the rollout of the Social Investment Programmes, we began to aggressively invest in plugging Nigeria’s huge infrastructure gap. One of the reasons why we are where we are today, is that over the last three decades, we failed to invest substantially in infrastructure to any appreciable degree, even as our population grew.

 

Much of the funds that should have been invested in infrastructure simply cannot be explained. We wasted no time addressing this. Even at a time when our resources had dropped dramatically, and with little by way of savings, we invested in roads, railway and power projects.

 

Work resumed on several projects that had been abandoned or suspended before we took office. We completed and commissioned the railway line connecting Kaduna to Abuja, the first Standard Gauge line in Nigeria. The Abuja Light Rail project, which was only half-completed when we inherited it, is now almost ready to go into operation. When completed it will be the first functioning urban light rail in Nigeria.

 

Our successful engagement with the Chinese Government has yielded fruit; construction has started on the Lagos -Ibadan segment of a new Standard Gauge railway line between Lagos and Kano, and will soon commence on the coastal railway from Lagos to Calabar, which will open up the Southeast and Niger delta in unprecedented ways. We are now providing in the 2018 budget, the commencement of work on the Mambilla hydro-electric project.

 

However, even if we invested our entire annual budget on infrastructure, it would not be enough to fill the gap. So as a government it was clear, that the greatest impact would come from the efforts of private capital, while we act as enabler and catalyst, creating an environment conducive for investors and businesses.

 

This is why we have revised and prioritized the Road Trust Fund, to enable private firms to partner with the Federal Government to build, repair, and maintain roads in return for tax credits.  Meanwhile, work continues on the long overdue Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and other major arterial roads like the Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa-Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna Road, and the Enugu-Port-Harcourt Road to mention  a few.

 

The power sector has always been one of historic concern. This dismal situation was due to factors including inadequate generation, limitations in transmission capacity and financing constraints. The problems associated with the privatization exercise itself has manifested serious constraints in the ability of the DisCos to reinvest in electrical assets.

 

Despite major investments of time, effort and resources, power supply remained in the region of about 3000MW.  We tackled these issues, and although still vastly inadequate, power supply and transmission capacity has moved up to 7000MW. There is good cause to believe, that we will achieve the 10,000MW envisaged in the ERGP, through policies enabling off-grid solutions and eligible customer arrangements.

 

So the problem today is not with generation, it is with distribution. Many of the DisCos are rejecting power transmitted to them. They claim that they are unable to sell because of the losses from collection, and the poor state of distribution assets such as transformers, last mile transmission lines and metering.

These investments should ideally be made by the DisCos, but many are so highly leveraged that they can't borrow anymore. We are exploring several options including selling down equity in the DiscCs to attract more capital.  We are also completing   some transmission and distribution projects that may be game changers in power supply story. But easily the clearest demonstration of our belief that the private sector, including MSMEs, must be enabled as they are the engines of economic growth, will be seen in the Ease of Doing Business Reforms which we embarked upon in 2016.

 

Our goal has set by Mr. President, was to move Nigeria by 20 spaces upwards in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Rankings. After a year of intensive reforms, including a National Action Plan, an Executive Order, two Acts of Parliament, and other initiatives, we surpassed our 20-place target.

 

The improvements we brought to Nigeria’s business climate include the simplifying of business registration processes, implementing a Visa on Arrival procedure, enabling better access to credit by the creation of National Collateral Registry, and the Credit Risk Bureau both set up by Law. This earned us a 24-place improvement as well as a designation as one of the ten most improved countries in the world.

 

The lesson from this is that, consistent and dedicated effort will produce results. This is the underlying theme of all the work we have put into the economy in the last two and half years.

 

In Agriculture, we were enthused by the remarkable progress so far. Throughout the recession, agriculture maintained a solid growth area, due to policy interventions by the Government.  The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has provided financing to tens of thousands of smallholder farmers, enabling them to maximise harvests, as well as connecting them to off-takers and markets.  Up to N5 billion, has been disbursed in support of almost 250,000 smallholder farmers, across 31 states, with coverage of 286,000 hectares.

 

Although it is still early days, there are appreciable results in nine commodities namely; rice, wheat, maize, cotton, fish, soybean, cassava, groundnut and poultry. The focal point however remains rice, because of our aim for food security and to reduce the huge amount of foreign exchange used in importing food, especially rice. Rice imports have now dropped by 70%, and we are producing over 7million MT of paddy rice today. The question of course is milling, we are not measuring up, and we are still recording very low figures in terms of actual production of rice.

 

The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) which President Buhari launched in December 2016, has directly led to the resuscitation of 15 Moribund Fertilizer Blending Plants, and to the production, this year, of more than 7 million bags of NPK Fertilizer, which is now available to our farmers at prices well below what they paid before the PFI.

 

Taking the lead from government’s commitment to agriculture, the private sector has also undertaken major investments in agriculture and agro-processing. Up to 300,000 metric tonnes per annum of rice milling capacity has been added in the past 12 months, including the WACOT factory in Kebbi State, and Umza Rice Mill in Kano.  Upcoming ones include the investments by the Labana and Dangote Groups amongst others. Dangote alone is investing in milling capacity of 1million MT. The President also recently commissioned OLAM’s N20billion integrated feed mill and hatchery in Kaduna.

 

In Solid Minerals, we succeeded in tapping into the Natural Resources Development Fund, to create a dedicated fund for supporting investment in solid minerals in Nigeria. This is the first time that this is happening in Nigeria. Moreover, work is ongoing to fully exploit the bitumen resources in Ondo State, to meet national asphalt requirements for roads and other construction projects.

 

To consolidate on these efforts, we have also established a N30billion Solid Minerals Development Fund to support other minerals exploration activities across the country.

 

I have spoken about what we set out to do and what has been done so far.  Let me now speak to some of the forthcoming actions in the year ahead.

 

To start with, the Federal Government sees 2018 as a year of consolidation of the economic recovery, and the gains from improved macroeconomic management, and the extensive investments made in agriculture, infrastructure and the business environment. We are diversifying our options in power supply.

 

Our programme of energizing industrial clusters has started. That project involves providing power in existing small business clusters. For our first batch, we will be providing independent power in certain markets; the Ariaria Market in Abia State, the Somolu Printing Community in Lagos State, the Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi (Sabon Gari) Market in Kano State. This power is independent power which will guarantee constant supply 24/7. We intend to take batch by batch some of this projects to encourage small businesses.

 

Also we have provided in both the 2017 and 2018 budgets, funds for what we have described as the energizing education project. This involves providing independent power in the following universities in the first batch; the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi, Bayero University in Kano, Usumanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto, Federal University of Agriculture in Makurdi, Federal University, Ndufu Alike, and Nnamdi Azikwe University in Anambra, University of Lagos, Obafemi Awolowo University and Teaching Hospital, Federal University of Petroleum in Delta State.

 

Our emphasis going forward, will be on job creation, through scaling up of the social intervention programmes, to include artisans, but also through a massive construction effort with regard to homes and revitalization of the manufacturing sector.

 

Jobs are central to our purpose for revitalizing the manufacturing sector. The focused attention we have given to promote agriculture will be replicated in the manufacturing sector.  We recognise of course that electricity is critical for this sector and this is being continually addressed.

 

We already have policies for the automobile and tomato processing sectors, and we will continue to fine-tune other sectoral policies. In addition, we are focused on ensuring the take-off of a Special Economic Zones in six geo-political zones, dedicated to textiles and footwear for exports, and on ensuring adequate, and affordable financing to enhance the operations of manufacturing concerns. We have already provided N80billion in the 2018 budget for this Special Economic Zones.

 

Jobs are also the reason why we will be fast-tracking the implementation of the Family Homes Fund. It is an important programme for providing housing in the coming year. Our intention is to use this programme to create a large number of jobs in construction, and as well to promote widespread home ownership by providing affordable housing to be paid for through a sustainable mortgage financing system.

 

The coming year, will see even greater movement to fully utilise the oil and gas value chain. The private investments in refineries, petrochemical plants, fertiliser factories will be complemented by more gas projects, especially critical pipeline infrastructure and greater penetration of LPG in the domestic market. The start-off of modular refineries in the Niger Delta is part and parcel of this work programme. Up to 35 communities and their investor groups, have reached the right to invest stage and three of them are already preparing to ship their facilities for installation.

 

Our emphasis on supporting micro, small and medium scale enterprises, is largely because the sector is also critical for job creation.  We will continue with the MSME clinics which are being followed up with the creation of one-stop shops for Federal Regulatory Agencies across all the States of the Federation.  We will by this means reduce some of the costs and the regulatory obstacles that MSMEs face in trying to do their business. The MSME programme now goes hand in hand with the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme which provides micro loans to cooperative societies and artisans.

 

Our recent experience has shown that Government revenues are quite low for the size of our economy and inadequate to fully meet related societal demands.  Our total tax collection is just 6% of Gross Domestic Product, as compared to an African average of 17%. We are accordingly taking all necessary steps, to increase Government revenues through the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), excise taxes and improved collection of taxes.

 

Government will also ensure better management of its resources, through cost efficiencies, automated payroll systems and leveraging of its assets to ensure better returns.  The decision to reduce Federal Government holdings in Joint Venture operations, in a case in point. By this means, we will not only be raising revenues to help fund Federal and State budgets, we will in addition also be improving governance in the oil and gas sector.

 

In a similar context, as the case of JAMB has shown there is substantial under-remittance to the Federal Government by its parastatals and agencies and we will be putting a stop to this using the results of a forensic audit being undertaken as well as greater scrutiny and oversight by the Economic Management Team.

 

The infrastructure projects that I have mentioned will of course continue to be the focus of attention, until they are completed across power, roads, rail, airports and broadband infrastructure. The 25 road projects in all six geopolitical zones to be financed by the recently issued N100 billion Sukuk Bonds, will be closely monitored to ensure that they are delivered in good quality by the specified date.

 

Our efforts to improve business conditions will continue apace.  We must always bear in mind that the purpose of our efforts on the ease of doing business, is to promote the private sector and provide the right atmosphere for firms to operate profitably in order to grow the economy and provide jobs for the unemployed and those joining the labour market.

 

Thus while we continue to bask in the improvements in our ranking, and the citation of Nigeria as one of the 10 best reforming economies in the world, we realize that our task is far from being done and will remain focused on the ERGP objective of being in the top 100 countries in terms of ease of doing business by 2020.  Until the average Nigerian has food on his table, has a job and is satisfied with the life that he is living, we are far from preparing any kind of celebration.

 

One of the principles underpinning our economic planning that is often overlooked is the commitment to upholding core values. Our desire for change must translate into strengthening ethics especially patriotism, integrity, ethnic and religious tolerance.

 

 We must strive to build a fair, just and equitable society, that prefers investment to consumption, thrift over waste and which celebrates integrity over corruption.  These values are not only morally right, but they are also essential underpinnings for restoring growth, investing in our people and building a globally competitive economy.

 

May I conclude by extending warm congratulations, to the participants graduating from NIPSS today.  I have no doubt that you will all be returning to your respective duty stations full of insight and understanding of our national policy space. I urge you to deploy the knowledge gained here in support of the national development efforts in whatever positions you find yourselves. The proof that you have a role to play in evidenced by the very vibrant, committed and forward looking Alumni Association that you have joined.

 

In similar vein, we must commend the Acting Director-General and Faculty of NIPSS to whom has been given the critical task of developing the Nigerian policy infrastructure, and for their commitment to maintaining the dynamic spirit of Kuru. The Federal Government is aware of some of the challenges that the Institute continues to face, we are committed to resolving them.

 

Thank you for your kind attention.

 

Released by

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity

Office of the Vice President

25 November 2017

 

WELCOME ADDRESS BY THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL, AT THE INAUGURATION

CEREMONY OF THE SENIOR EXECUTIVE COURSE (SEC) NO. 2016 OF

THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR POLICY AND STRATEGIC STUDIES (NIPSS), KURU,

ON FRIDAY 26TH FEBRUARY, 2016.

 

Protocol

  1. On behalf of the Management and staff of the National Institute, and nominees of the Senior Executive Course (SEC) No. 38, I wish to welcome you all to the Inauguration Ceremony of the Senior Executive Course 38, 2016 of the National Institute. The Ceremony is very important event in the academic calendar of the National Institute and we cherish the continued interest and enthusiasm of the various Governments and private sector organizations in sending suitably qualified nominees to undergo this prestigious Senior Executive Course at the National Institute.
  2. Your Excellency, the 38th SEC has 67 Nominees who had gone through a painstaking screening exercise conducted by the Presidency and the National Institute. I am glad to report that you graciously approved their nominations. The nominees represent a cross section of the Nigeria society which includes the Military, the Police, other Para-military services, State and Federal public services, Labor, other civil society organizations, professional bodies and the private sector. While there is no doubt that all  nominees are eminent and accomplished Nigerians, they will nevertheless be exposed to the highest level of intellectual and cross fertilizing discourses that will enable them gain a deeper understanding of our country and how to improve it, as well as widen their perspectives on Nigeria’s relations to the wider world. The policy development and implementation skills they would acquire during the Course, should greatly improve their productivity when they eventually return to their respective places of work and businesses.
  3. It is imperative to note that this is the 38th Course since the inception of the institute in 1979 and we are proud of our graduants who are all over the country, making their marks in their various fields of endeavors and callings. Let us mention here that Government pays a high attention to the conducts and outcome of this course. As you are aware, the name for each Course is given by the President of the Federal Republic. The theme approved for the 38th Course is: Strengthening Institutional Mechanism for Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Development in Nigeria. In view of our current national circumstances, we have found the theme not only apt, but also directly relevant to attempts at finding solutions to many of the social, political and economic problems which bedevil our nation. The submission of a comprehensive report containing robust and actionable recommendations and implementation strategies to Mr. President at the end of each Course is, therefore, a major requirement for graduation.
  4. I wish to use the opportunity offered by this event, to acknowledge the stream of support the Institute has consistently enjoyed from numerous benefactors, in the conducts of the training and research functions, over the years. We trust that the high level of support will be sustained in coming years.
  5. Your Excellency, I am pleased to inform you that apart from the Senior Executive Course, the Institute has, as part of its mandate, introduced another important training programme: the Policy, Strategy and Leadership Course (PSLC), which is a four-week course targeted at enhancing the managerial capacities of the middle-level officers in both the public and private sector of the economy. I am happy to inform  Your Excellency that this  course is gaining national prominence as middle to senior management officers from State and Federal, as well as private sector organizations have shown strong interest and are indeed participating in this programme.
  6. The Institute is also very mindful of its research mandate. In this regard, the Research Directorate is making its mark and is currently undertaking a nation-wide survey on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. This effort is being executed in close collaboration with the Presidential Committee on Small and Light Weapons (PRESCOM). We are optimistic that the Interim Report on the survey would be submitted early in the 2nd Quarter of this year. Your Excellency will recall that at the last Graduation Ceremony of SEC 37, 2015, Mr. President charged the National Institute, “to come up with a set of proposals for the comprehensive study of terrorist insurgencies in our nation, with a view to forestalling future occurrence”. I am glad to report that NIPSS has concluded work on preliminary aspects of the assignment and we are now looking forward to receiving the necessary financial support to accomplish the task.
  7. Before, I conclude, let me express the profound gratitude and appreciation of the Management to His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who exercises supervisory responsibility over the Institute, for the abiding support and encouragement. Let me use this avenue to also sincerely appreciate our host, the Plateau State Government for the cordial relationship it as maintained with the Institute over the years. I wish to assure Your Excellency that the Institute takes its responsibility seriously and this we will continue to do now and in the coming years to the satisfaction of all stakeholders
  8. Finally, to the nominees of SEC 38, I congratulate you once again for being found worthy to be part of the Course. Let me emphasis that each of you should consider him or herself as highly privileged to be nominated and be approved to attend this course by the President of the Federal Republic. As the saying goes, “to whom much is given, much is expected”. It is my hope, therefore, that you will rise to this presidential call to national duty by working assiduously, not only to excel in your sojourn at the National Institute, you will all re-join the greater Nigerian society as outstanding change agents.
  9. Thank you and God bless.

 

 

 Speech of His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbojo, GCON, Vice President

Of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the Inauguration Ceremony of the senior

Executive Course (SEC) NO.38, 2016 of the National Institute for policy and

Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, on Friday 26th of February, 2016

Protocol

  1. I am very delighted to be at the inauguration of yet another Senior Executive Course of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru. This inauguration has become important in our calendar because executive training at the strategic level plays a pivotal role in the life of every nation. It is even more crucial at this period in our history when we are faced with a variety of challenges caused by years of mismanagement of the national resources, which has, among other things, worsened the poverty situation in Nigeria. And the poverty questions the theme for your course.
  2. Despite its vast natural endowment, Nigeria remains one of the poorest countries in the world and is ranked as the third among countries with the highest population of people living in abject poverty in the world. This is in spite of the numerous institutional mechanisms for poverty reduction and inclusive development which previous governments are said to have put in place. Needless to say, Nigeria must rise to challenge of the moment in a focused and determined way to arrest and reverse the situation by sharpening of the policy development and implementation skills of the top echelon of its public and private sectors.
  3. It is against that backdrop and in the quest for strong actors and structures to implement programmes to reduce poverty and improve the living conditions of the poor that the Presidents, Commander-in-chief challenged participants of Senior Executive Course 38, to critically examine the important theme of “Strengthening Institutional Mechanisms for Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Development in Nigeria”. Mr. President chose this theme to enable government tackle the prevailing poverty rate in the country which has now reached an unprecedented and alarming 61 percent. It ranks 152 out of 183 countries in the Human Development Index assessment for 2014, this is quite worrisome and requires urgent intervention; and that is why one of the cardinal objectives of the inclusive development that will take marginalized and vulnerable segments of our society out of poverty in the shortest possible time.
  4. And this is ultimately what we hope you- the members of course 38 – will help the government do. As participants of this course, your selection has been deliberately made to cut across disciplines and the Senor Leadership echelons of our public and private sectors. It is necessary to have such a mixed- grill of participants because of the imperative of grooming change agents as leaders in all critical sectors of the society and economy.
  5. The immediate past participants of course 37 dealt with the theme “Repositioning Nigeria’s Educational System for Global Competitiveness”. I am happy to note that they performed very well, and government is currently considering implanting some of the recommendations of their reports. I therefore dare you to surpass their record.
  6. I hope that during your stay here, you will be able to carry out extensive and detailed research on the challenges confronting public institutions saddled with responsibility for implementing poverty reduction and inclusive development programmes in our nation. I hope your findings and recommendations will in addition show government how to strengthen such institutions. On the whole, your recommendations should be geared towards accelerating our quest for sustainable national development and improving the living standards of our people. Thus, in course of your study, you will not only seek to sharpen your intellect, analytic skills, and conceptual capabilities, but also try to examine issues affecting our country, such as corruption and security challenges, which have contributed in entrenching mass poverty in the land; and then give practicable recommendations and implantations strategies to tackle and overcome them both in the short and long term.
  7. Therefore, the challenge before the participants of Senior Executive Course 38, 2016 is to act as dispassionate researchers, patriotic ambassadors and committed agents of Change. We trust that your findings and recommendations will be consistent high quality, and the implementation Strategies you suggest will be realistic, practical and cost effective.
  8. Over the years, the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies has continued to make positive impact in our national life through providing government with qualitative advice and skilled personnel. The nation is grateful. I am happy to tell you that Mr. President and his cabinet have high regards for the National Institute; and as participants, you must rise to the occasion by working diligently to ensure that confidence of the nation in you is not misplaced. If you do that, you will not only have justified the vision of the founding fathers of NIPSS, but you will have done your part in the effort to achieve it.
  9. Ladies and gentlemen, let me use this opportunity to congratulate the management, staff and the entire National Institute community for being focused on the Institute’s mandate in spite of its many challenges, including limited funding. As the Supervising Authority of the Institute, vested with the responsibility for its success and sustainability, I charge you to look into ways of ensuring that the Institute not only maintains high standard, but improves on its enviable position as our premier policy institution with the requisite quality and professionalism.
  10. To our dear participants, I must state that the task before you is enormous, the challenges are daunting and the expectations are high. However, it is my hope that with the caliber of participants assembled for course 38, the aspirations of the Founding Fathers of the Institute will continue to be realized. While congratulating you on your nominations, let me remind you that government places a high premium on the work of the institute and the standards set by your predecessors. I therefore urge you to do your best to safeguard this. I wish you every success in this great endeavor.
  11. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is now my honor and privilege to formally inaugurate the Senior Executive Course No. 38, 2016 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies to the glory of God and for the advancement of our beloved nation and the people in it.

Thank you very much and may God bless you all.