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VP Osinbajo assures economic growth, job creation

The Nigerian economy is set for effective growth and job creation with a renewed focus on digital economy, significant value addition in agriculture, oil & gas while boosting productivity.

This was contained in a statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande after a virtual interaction at the World Economic Forum Country Strategy Dialogue on Nigeria.

During the virtual meeting, Prof Yemi Osinbajo said the cornerstone of the nation’s strategy would boost productivity, especially agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals, digital services, tourism, hospitality, and entertainment.

The WEF Dialogue series held in select countries is aimed at promoting productive conversations about key axes of growth and investment.

President Muhammadu Buhari on June 24, 2020, approved Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), developed by the Economic Sustainability Committee chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who the President asked to lead its implementation.

The implementation of the ESP, created and saved about 2 million jobs.

In Agriculture, Prof Osinbajo explained that federal government was working on increase in production of rice, and other value chain such as storage, transportation, processing and marketing. 

“Part of the whole idea of getting the orientation right is to align our policy orientation in order to achieve the objectives of the new strategic direction. One key thing in terms of getting the orientation right is jobs creation. The basic question with every programme and policy of government is how many jobs, direct and indirect, will this create.” Prof Osinbajo stated.

The Vice President said “we are also looking at reciprocity for incentives, we have a very robust incentive regime but we think it’s time to really look at reciprocity”.

The Vice President noted that loosening restrictions on trade is another issue of concern.

On electricity, ”rather than expending energy on managing the distribution of 5000MW that is currently being transmitted through the National Grid, “the focus must be on increasing the supply of electricity including through allowing mini-grids, pushing solar power connections and allowing integrated power companies to emerge.” Prof Osinbajo noted

The Vice President identified digital economy a big investment opportunity in the next couple of years.

He said “we have a $600million Innovation Fund with the African Development Bank which we hope will really energize the industry”.

“Nigeria has 6-7 Unicorns and all came between 2016 and now, in the middle of two recessions. It does show you how much energy and how much traction the whole technology space is gaining.”

Speaking on the new National Development Plan, Prof Osinbajo noted that the new strategic direction will enable the country to achieve a GDP growth rate that is higher than the rate of growth of the population and enable more social inclusion.

Prof Osinbajo noted that in monetary policy terms “a key issue is the availability and cost of accessing foreign exchange. 

Vice President explained that the Buhari administration’s policy would address unemployment, health insurance and Climate Change, among others.

On Health Insurance, Prof Osinbajo said that “we have a new health reform plan and one of the central issues is universal health insurance.

In its introductory report on the Strategy Dialogue on Nigeria, the World Economic Forum noted the response of the Federal Government to the economic fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The forum says “the Nigerian government reacted swiftly with a COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund and a stimulus package of N2.3 Trillion as part of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP)” which boosted its economic growth and helped the country exit recession.

Participants at the event were Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning of Nigeria, Hajia Zainab Ahmed; Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum; and the Managing Director/CEO, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, Mr. Uche Orji.

Editing by Adeniyi Bakare