By Bassey Udo
The Federal Government says it is currently putting finishing touches to the final draft of the Nigeria Agenda 2050 to replace Nigeria Vision 2020, which lapsed in December two years ago.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, on Thursday disclosed this in Abuja on Monday at the opening of the 28th Nigerian Economic Summit (#NES28) jointly organised by her Ministry and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG).
The theme of the two days summit, which draws participation from the public and private sectors, is “2023 and Beyond: Priorities for Shared Prosperity.”
This year’s Summit is themed “2023 and Beyond: Priorities for Shared Prosperity”
The Minister said the theme would direct participants to review the progress so far by the Buhari administration in terms of achievements of its polices, programmes and projects captured under the National Development Plan (NDP) 2021-2025.
During the Summit, the Minister said participants would examine how far the government has gone in implementing the strategies set out for sustainable economic growth and development as well as set priorities for shared prosperity beyond 2023.
She said discussions during the Summit would focus on four sub-themes, namely Delivering Macroeconomic Stability for Shared Prosperity; Investing in the Nigeria Future; Unlocking the Binding Constraints to Execution, and Reframing the Agenda for Transformational Leadership.
On the achievements of the present administration, the Minister said these include transformational investments in infrastructure to restore the national railways and road networks as well as completed projects complemented by ongoing investments in light rail, narrow and standard gauge rail.
Other achievements, the Minister said, include completion of Airport Terminals at Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt, in addition to the Abuja Airport Runway that is currently being reconstructed.
Other investments in airports include the safety facilities and aeronautical meteorological service delivery, with work also ongoing in the development of seaports and ancillary infrastructure.
She said the efforts of the government to ensure efficiency in the Power Sector led to the partnership with the German government under the Presidential Power Initiative (PPI) to intervene in four distressed electricity distribution companies and the constitution of the Board of the Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company.
Under the Energy Transition Plan, Ahmed said efforts were also being made to transit from the country’s reliance on oil derivatives to gas as a transitional fuel, as the country also increased renewable sources such as solar and hydro in its energy mix.
Also, she said the government was focused on unlocking the economic potential of the non-oil and high employment generating sectors to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth and development, with reforms in agriculture already yielding results.
The result, she noted, has led to an improvement in net earnings of rural farmers of about N174 billion in the areas of cassava, rice, sorghum, maize and cotton production.
In the petroleum sector, the Minister said the government was able to enact the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021 after close to two decades of inaction, leading to the commercialisation of Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited and other reforms in the energy sector.
In addition, she said the President also signed Executive Orders on promoting procurement by government agencies; promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business Environment, 2017, among others.
Despite these achievements, the Minister said the transmission of the desired impact to a wider population of the citizenry has been hampered by several factors, including the challenges of insecurity, a rising population growth rate; the fiscal impact of the subsidy on petrol as well as reduction in oil revenues due to crude oil theft and vandalism.
The Minister gave assurance that the government was taking action to address these challenges, with the country recording increased crude oil production as a result of the intervention by security agencies to address the criminality in the affected oil producing areas.
She urged the private sector to leverage on the on-going reforms by the government in the various sectors to support the government’s strive to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
To put in place the economic framework for the country’s development, the Minister said the draft Nigeria Agenda 2050, which is currently being finalised, would soon be launched by the government.
The Plan, she explained, seeks to increase the country’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP) from the current $2,085.03 (as of 2021 to $33,000 by rank Nigeria amongst the Upper Middle Income countries of the world.
“The Plan will be implemented by successive governments through Six, 5-Year Medium-Term National Development Plans and Annual Budgets,” the Minister said.
“The Nigeria Agenda 2050 has a moral imperative to lower the poverty and unemployment rate significantly, as this is the only way we can ensure sustainable broad-based growth,” she added.
She reiterated the Buhari administration’s commitment to continue investing in several initiatives to improve the quality of governance and the wellbeing of Nigerian citizens, improve infrastructure and reduce the harmful effects of corruption.
“The commitment of this administration to improving the standard of living of the populace and build an economy where growth translates to development remains unshaken,” she said.
Although challenged by a shortfall in revenues, she said the government kept its promise to prioritise capital releases to critical ongoing infrastructural projects in the power, roads, rail, agriculture, health and education sectors, with a view to strengthening the Nigerian economy post COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we implement the National Development Plan 2021-2025, the financing from government will rely heavily on domestic resource mobilisation from non-oil revenue sources through the results of the implementation of the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (SRGI) and the Annual Finance Acts. This will improve and further diversify government revenues and entrench fiscal prudence and value for money,” she said.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the NESG, Asue Ighodalo, said the Summit was being held in extremely difficult times, which demands the people to come together to push and pull the country out of these difficulties.
Although Ighodalo said some of the the difficulties the country was facing were globally induced, he insisted many others were of our own making and advised that we must retrace our steps towards recovery.
He said #NES28 Summit will provide the platform for the country to work harder than ever before, think differently and agree on creative and practical recommendations, which if implemented, will initiate a national revival and pull us out of these difficulties.
In just over six months, he said, a new federal government would be in place, with a new thinking and a different approach and attitude to governance, with a different set of personnel.
“We must do everything within our power to ensure that the new government lands running, quickly identifying, determining and implementing economic and social policies that will set us firmly on the path of inclusive, shared and sustainable prosperity,” he said.
He said the theme of this year’s summit captures the challenge before the country, adding that to share prosperity, we must be prosperous.
From where the country is today, Ighodalo said how it can become a prosperous, safe,
secure and law-abiding nation forged together as one is the challenge.
To realize the goal of prosperity, he said the country must succeed in transforming the Nigerian economy into the complete opposite of what it is today, from hardship to true prosperity, within a specified time frame.
He said the Nigeria Agenda 2050, currently being drafted, proposes a time frame of about 25 years.
This, he said, means: “there can be no further regression, we can no longer accept just marginal improvement, or even what some may deem a decent improvement.”
“We must improve at
the speed of a maglev train. We must recalibrate our visioning and specifically state that we are working towards a specified
target growth, by a specified date, benchmarking ourselves with the most prosperous countries in the world.”
“I propose that, our specified target must be; “turning Nigeria into the most prosperous black country in the world, with a GDP per capita that is at par with the OECD countries, by 2050,” the NESG Chairman said.
He said the purpose of such specific precision would be to encourage the country first to consider a different way of thinking about economic development, defined not by incremental progress, but by clear objectively measurable goals.
“If we took that kind of clear approach, it would mean – just based on today’s OECD indices – that we would need to grow our
GDP to somewhere between $4.5Trillion and $9Trillion – depending on whether we are able to remain at a population of around 220 million or continue to grow to the 450 million we have been projected to reach by 2050.
“We would need to build an economy that is 10 to 20 times the $440 billion economy we have today. So, we must set ourselves a task of growing at over 15% every year,” he said.