•Warn States to prepare for hard times
By Lawrence Olaoye
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and the outgoing Governor of Zamafara State, Abdulazeez Yari, has hinted of an impending economic recession in the country should the government not intensify its efforts in diversifying the economy.
Governor Yari dropped the hint at the induction of the new and returning governors in the Presidential Villa yesterday, He told the returning and newly elected governors to be prepared for tough times ahead because of the dips in price of crude in the international market hinting of a possible economic recession in the country.
He said “This scenario is a wake-up call for all of you to come amply prepared to face these kinds of challenges since we are expecting the possibility of another cycle of recession by the mid-2020 and which may last up to the third quarter of 2021. Your good spirit of stewardship will make you contain the situation should there be one.”
Yari urged his colleagues to improve their internally generated revenues (IGR) as they cannot continue to rely solely on monthly federal allocation. He added that borrowing to run government affairs could not be a reliable alternative to solving the country’s economic problem.
The NGF Chairman charged the key revenue generating agencies like the Nigeria National Petroleum corporation (NNPC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Nigerian customs Service and other sister agencies to work more effectively and efficiently now that the President had signed the N30,000 minimum wage bill into law.
He also suggested that the government slams high import tariff on agricultural products such as maize and wheat in order to boost their local production and provide raw materials for the nation’s industries.
Stressing on the need to invest more in agriculture, Yari said “From records, government spends about 2 trillion Naira on oil development yearly. I believe if one third of the amount was dedicated to agriculture and mining, the state of the economy would have been different now. Some agricultural products are even more expensive in the market than oil. Malaysia, for example, is reaping a lot from palm oil to boost their foreign exchange and source of revenue to the government, while the commodity is not making any significant contribution to Nigeria’s foreign exchange even though the country sourced the seed of its palm kernel from Nigeria in the early 1970s.”
He called on the government to pay serious attention to diversification of the economy warning that the world is fast moving away from carbon fuel to biofuel and electric vehicles.
According to him, in today’s free market economy, sustainable and genuine growth could only be achieved on the basis of industrialization rather than export of primary commodities.
Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that President Muhammadu Buhari will focus more on human capital and physical infrastructural developments in his second term in office.
Osinbajo, who represented the President at the induction of the new and returning governors in the Presidential Villa yesterday, said Buhari will be working with state governors on education, especially the education of girls, health and other related services.
He said “these principles remain the President’s firm commitments to the States. In the next four years, Mr. President has made it clear that we will be focusing our attention on human capital development and physical infrastructure. We will be working with the States on education, especially the education of girls, and we have begun some deep diving in this respect with our HDI work at the National Economic Council.
“We are doing the same with healthcare. We have already started to implement the 1% of CRF in the Health Act and that was implemented in the 2018 budget and we intend to do so with the 2019 budget.
“We are also now implementing the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, but we know that budget funds alone cannot deal with the healthcare requirements of 200million people; so compulsory health insurance by law is the objective. This is to be implemented by using co-payments in order to ensure that we share the cost between individuals, the private sector and government, while the poorest 40% will be exempted from such co-payments.”