Abuja—President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has unveiled an eight-point agenda to turn around the economy and make life comfortable for all Nigerians.
The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Wale Edun, presented the “Roadmap for the Economy”, which was considered at the maiden Federal Executive Council meeting held yesterday.
Edun, who briefed State House reporters, listed the agenda as including food security; ending poverty; economic growth and job creation; access to capital; improving security; improving the playing field on which people and particularly companies operate; rule of law; and fighting corruption.
He said FEC examined the eight priority areas and identified targets to deliver in the next three years.
Edun said the president gave marching orders to the ministers to roll out policies and programmes within weeks to turn around the economy and make things better for all Nigerians.
Edun said the council agreed that the economy was not where it should be.
On the focus of FEC, the minister said: “First, he (President Tinubu) congratulated everybody and emphasised the high expectations of Nigerians and he encouraged us to be bold and courageous and innovative and to act with urgency in delivering a better life to all Nigerians.
“Essentially, we went through an exercise of looking at where things stood, regarding the economy, the growth rate, the exchange rate, inflation, unemployment and so on.
“The overriding conclusion is that we’re not where we should be and we also examined the president’s eight-point agenda, that is the eight priority areas for moving the Nigerian economy forward and for delivering to Nigerians and those are basically food security; ending poverty, economic growth and job creation, access to capital, particularly consumer credit, inclusivity in all its dimensions, particularly as regards youths and women, improving security, improving the playing field on which people and particularly companies operate, rule of law and of course, fighting corruption.
“It is around those matrixes that the plans and the targets of what will be delivered in the next three years or so were identified, discussed and imputes were given by various ministers and we’ll now go away with the marching order to refine further the targets in particular and within weeks to start rolling out policies and programmes to turn around the economy and make things better for all Nigerians.
“That really is the substance of what the discussions were all about.”
Edun said the Tinubu administration met a very bad economy with inflation at 24 per cent and “An unacceptable high rate of unemployment.”
Asked to describe the kind of economy the government met on ground, he said, “Per capita has fallen steadily, inflation is at 24 per cent, unemployment is high, you know they are rebasing the way in which it’s calculated.
“Either way, it is high and youth unemployment is even unacceptably high, these are the key metrics that we have met.
“We met a bad economy and the promise of Mr. President is to make it better.”
He said the present administration would not rely on borrowing as he had pledged to be transparent, honest and accountable to the people.
Asked how states would repay the N5bn palliative loans since they were for consumption.
He said, “Clearly, the federal government is not in a position to borrow at this time.
“Rather, the emphasis has to be on creating a stable, macroeconomic environment, stable inflation, stable exchange rate, an environment within which people can come and invest and thereby increase production and further grow the economy.
“Because, of course, through oil revenue, the federation earns dollars and if those dollars are feeding through, at let’s say, 700/750 or so naira to one dollar as opposed to 460 where it was before; clearly, that is repairing the finances of government are federal, state and local government levels. So, that’s the plan.”
Also briefing, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Ali Pate, said that critical sections of the health value chain would be exploited to improve the economy and create jobs for Nigerians.
He said the president was responsive to the need to set the economy on the path of progress with his move to remove subsidy on petrol from the first day on his inauguration.
Pate said, “One element that is key and underlying all of those efforts is the people, Nigeria’s most important asset is its people, its youthful population and the human capital that is bestowed in that youthful population.
“So, Mr President’s vision includes the idea of harnessing the human capital of our youthful population, to achieve prosperity for everyone.”
Earlier at the inaugural FEC meeting, Tinubu had charged ministers to look beyond titles and offices and stay focused on the day-to-day task of their individual and collective contributions to the transformation of the economy for the uplift of Nigerian households.
He said the hopes and aspirations of 200 million fellow Nigerians rested on the ministers’ daily actions and that he will provide the focused leadership required stopping failure in its tracks so that sustainable progress can be achieved.
Tinubu said that anyone thinking that appointments were fixed term were mistaken, but expressed confidence that the carefully selected cabinet members know that his government was a new one with a new approach and a new mandate to deliver for Nigeria without any lamentation or excuses.
“We have the talent. We have the level of intellectual capacity required to turn this country around.
“We will make sure that the country is on the right path to succeed on behalf of more than 200 million Nigerians who rely on us,” he added.
He said the country would rely on the experience, skill, intellect and networking of those who had been appointed to make headway in the challenging times, and failure would not be explained away under his watch.
“You and I know that expectations are high, and these are tough times. We must work hard and move ourselves to create a buoyant economy that will serve Nigeria.
“We have an employment rate that is unacceptable, and we are facing threats from climate change. In order to turn things around, you have been selected to perform your utmost best. Our policy implementation will reform the economy, ensure inclusive growth, and strengthen security for peace and prosperity. Without security, there can be no investment,” he also said.
Tinubu reminded his cabinet that he is only one man and that their innovative thinking to solve problems will shape his leadership as a president who listens.
“It is in your hands now. I am ready to listen and to cooperate. I am ready even to be corrected.
Only God is perfect. You have been asked to fetch water from a dry well. The challenges are great, but we will deliver for Nigerians. I am happy to be the captain of this vehicle.
“It is a great commitment that you have made to the country. Since your inauguration as a minister, you have become a servant for the people, serving all of the people, all of the time,” President Tinubu said.
While reacting to a question, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite expressed confidence that the target of the president to create 50 million jobs for the teeming youthful population of Nigeria would be achieved through collaboration of her ministry with relevant ministries, departments and agencies of government.
She said investment offers were already coming up in different sectors of the economy, including oil and gas, health, solid minerals and agriculture.
The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris Malagi said the president charged the cabinet members to be transparent in their dealings, especially in disseminating necessary information.
Meanwhile, an economist, Prof. Ndubisi Nwokoma, said the finance minister should focus on a short term plan of addressing the imbalance in the economy triggered by the two policies of the government –fuel subsidy removal and naira floating, which he said were not well thought out.
Nwokoma who is the Director, Centre for Economic Policy Analysis, University of Lagos, said, “In my view, what the minister needs to do is to address the current imbalance in the economy.
“The two policies that they brought out have not been well managed. He should look at his job from two perspectives–the short term and long term. These areas he listed are long term issues beyond six months.
“He should focus on the short term, the immediate term, to stabilise the foreign exchange market because everything he is doing there would not work until the market is stabilised.
“Secondly, stabilise the economy because of the ripple effect of the fuel subsidy removal.
“There are still ripple effects, the price of fuel is going up and they talk about bringing back the subsidy in some forms and all kinds of instability in that sector which affect transportation.
“So that should be the focus of the minister – to stabilise this market based on the policies that they brought out which were not well planned.
“So the other ones, which are longer terms are the rule of law, insecurity and all that, there cannot be food security when we people cannot get inputs, when manufacturers cannot get inputs to produce and then you talk about the food and beverages industry, they need foreign exchange to operate.
“Definitely, both in the areas of agriculture and manufacturing, they need to stabilise the market so that they can gain access to foreign exchange, that is the immediate term, which I think the minister should focus on.”