- …target $30b annually from non-oil exports
By Lawrence Olaoye
State governors, under the aegis of the National Economic Council (NEC), have requested President Muhammadu Buhari to hand over federal roads in their domains to them for urgent rehabilitation.
The NEC, chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, met at the State House, Abuja with most governors in attendance along with Finance minister, Kemi Adeosun and Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele.
Briefing journalists on the outcome of the meeting, Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, said he and some of his colleagues had made similar requests in the past to federal government but they were ignored.
According o him, this informed their resolve to use the NEC to approach Buhari to intervene again, especially as the roads are getting worse even as they hope to use a Public-Private Partnership for the projects.
Also, the governors have asked the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, to fashion out ways of regulating axle load of vehicles that ply the country’s motorways as roads designed to take 35 tons payload now groan under weights of up to 70 tons.
Umahi said: “State governors are very much concerned about these failures, it’s been agitating our minds and we are thinking about strategies.
“We are soliciting that Federal Government gives out some of the federal roads to states so that states can fix the roads through investors and toll the roads.
“We believe strongly that it will be more effective because with the number of federal roads being handled by federal government, there is no amount of budget that can fix it but if some of these roads are given out to state governments, they can maintain a handful of them.”
He also listed some figures in federal government accounts.
Stabilisation Account Balance as at 26 September, 2017 stands at N4.35 billion; Development of Natural Resources Account balance as at 26 September stands at N84.69 billion; and Excess Crude Account balance as at 22nd of September stands at $2,30 billion.
He further disclosed that state governments would not get he usual monthly budget support from the Ministry of Finance because in the month of September, the sharable amount from the Federation Account is N630 billion.
An agreement had been reached that the states would get such additional funds whenever the sharable amount is not more than N600 billion.
The NEC also constituted an export promotion committee headed by Jigawa State governor, Abubakar Badaru, to draw up a plan to enable easier and single access to information about export opportunities in Nigeria.
It is to be co-chaired by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, with several relevant ministries as well as Lagos, Ebonyi and Jigawa states represented.
This followed a presentation made to NEC on ‘Zero Oil Plan’ by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC); ‘States Export Development Initiative’ by the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM); and ‘Special Economic Zones as Tools for Rapid Economic Development’ by Nigerian Export Zones Authority (NEPZA).
The Executive Secretary of NEPC, Segun Awolowo, who lamented that Nigeria had lost up to $100 billion due to drop in oil revenues since 2015, explained that the zero oil plan aims at earning at least $30 billion from non-oil sources in the near to medium term as against the current earnings of about $5 billion.
“The objectives of zero oil plan is to add $150 billion to Nigeria foreign reserves the next 10 years, create 500,000 jobs, lift 10 million Nigerians out of poverty and integrate each state of the federation into the export value chain.
“The focus of the plan is on the export of rice, wheat, corn, palm oil, rubber, hides and skin, sugar, soya beans and automotive parts, among others to Netherlands, China, Iran, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, India, Saudi Arabia, and others”, he stated.
The Managing Director of NEPZA told the NEC that the major defect in Calabar Free Trade Zone is that the zones have not been linked to the Calabar Port and that there is urgent need to do so in order to make the zone a lot more effective, hence partnership between the federal and state governments as well as the private sector is needed.