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OBASANJO LAUDS ADEOSUN

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday lauded the efforts of the

Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun in steering the economy during such a

difficult period, saying time will soon prove her right.
Obasanjo, who spoke at the ongoing National Council on Finance and

Economic Development (NACOFED) in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Tuesday,

expressed optimism that things will soon be better in the country.
He said, “I want to specially acknowledge the efforts of the Minister of

Finance not because she is an Ogun State citizen, but because she is doing

a marvellous job in a difficult environment.

You are too close to what is happening now to be proved right, but time

will soon prove you right.”
Meanwhile, The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun has reiterated the

resolve of the present administration to use the opportunity created by

the current economic challenges to put the economy right structurally once

and for all in setting this nation back on the right path.
Giving the keynote address at the event opening said “Underperformance can

no longer be tolerated as the oil revenues that insulated us from the

impacts of this consistent underperformance are no longer available.”
The current administration, she said, has set out a robust plan to

reposition our economy to ensure that what we are experiencing today will

never recur in the history of our nation.
She disclosed that the Federal Government realises the fact that Nigeria’s

size, national endowments, population and future needs demand that this

economy perform at its optimal potential which it has yet to do in its 55

plus years of independence.
Adeosun explained that the drive for the economic turnaround is being led

by the effective management of public money which will act as a magnet for

the mobilisation of private capital.
“We have committed to changing Nigeria from an economic model that was

driven by consumption to one that is driven by investment. We recognise

that in the short term this is causing a dislocation as we redirect funds

from recurrent day to day expenditure to the much needed capital

investment that will drive our economic future. Nigeria’s vast economy can

only be productive and profitable when it has the enabling infrastructure

needed to unlock its much vaunted potential. Our economic plans will

provide the link between our potential and our future,” the Minister

stated.
Citing infrastructure development as the crucial factor to the attainment

of economic turnaround she said “Our diverse oil and gas sectors, solid

minerals, manufacturing, agriculture, information technology and

entertainment sectors are united by their common need for world class

infrastructure. Until we fix our infrastructure our businesses will be

hamstrung by high costs and will not be competitive.”
According to her, “This government is determined to address this through

direct and highly efficient expenditure and through collaboration with

the private sector.”
She however stressed the Federal Government has already indicated that it

has no intention of being a monopolist provider of infrastructure, saying

the government is working closely with a number of partners to bridge the

infrastructure gap and unlock the potential, noting the re-designation of

Federal roads to state roads that will enable such assets be concessioned

and tolled.

Emphasising the need for positive contribution of all members of the

federation account committee, the minister said there is need to look

beyond revenue sharing.
According to her, “Nigeria is a confederation of states and is, in my

opinion, predicated on the whole being greater than the sum of the parts

and in this regard I am looking forward to a new philosophy behind the

Federation Account. It will not be a gathering to share revenues but

rather to share ideas, best practice, opportunities and attainments that

will ensure that each state operates as an independent revenue generating

centre that is creating development based on its local endowments.

“Nigeria’s economic recovery, of which we are extremely confident, is not

a top down recovery. It will be a bottom up recovery, it will be driven

from deep within our 774 Local Government Areas, it will percolate to our

36 States and will combine into our common Nigeria. In other words, our

recovery will be driven by the activities at the micro level in Nigeria,

by groups of farmers, by collectives of artisanal miners deciding to

formalise and increase their production, by local companies creating out

grower schemes to support their raw material needs. t is when Nigerians

begin to confidently invest that the essential foreign investment will

follow. One large company that engages 3000 is very exciting but more

exciting is 3000 Nigerians taking on two additional staff as our SME’s

represent 50% of our GDP and are the real growth drivers.
We are working to act as an enabler by investing decisively in power,

roads, housing, transportation, airport infrastructure and education. To

date we have released and fully cash backed over N700Bn and we are

preparing another tranche in November. These investments are reviving

long abandoned projects across the nation and directly and indirectly

creating employment and wealth building opportunities. I think it is

safe to say that this level of sustained and targeted capital releases

has not been seen in recent times and is the direction that this

government is committed to. However, our focus is not limited to the hard

infrastructure. The soft infrastructure of our society is also receiving

attention, for the first time in our history. We have funded the social

intervention programmes with the commencement of the home school feeding

programme, the cash transfers to the poorest in our society, the job

creation opportunity for Teach Nigeria which will engage 500,000 young

unemployed graduates, agricultural extension workers, construction

artisans and low cost loans to small traders. These funds are flowing

down into our State and Local Government Areas and will directly put

money into people’s pockets and stimulate demand that will support our

efforts to get the economy moving.
She explained that The Fiscal Sustainability Plan, which was designed to

reposition State finances by ensuring widened revenue focus and cost

control as well as improved transparency and accountability, is a

partnership commitment with State Governments to jointly improve public

financial management.
“The FSP is now entering its first phase of monitoring and as we have done

in the past we shall not shy away from taking tough decisions if we see

States not meeting their commitments,” the Minister warned.
She declared that the Efficiency Unit which is also delivering major cost

savings at Federal level is now being replicated across the states.
Mrs. Adeosun closed, stating that “For this economy to move in our chosen

direction of growth and job creation it is critical that every tier of

government, every agency of government is synchronised towards our

collective aims. Maximising revenue on the one hand but making sure that

we obtain best value in expenditure on the other hand.” She urged

therefore that the deliberations over the next two days be “to share

ideas, and strategies and we expect that you will leave here with a “to

do” list of actionable plans and strategies that will ensure that all

parts of Nigeria’s public sector are aligned so that the entire nation

moves toward the progress that we all desire and deserve.”

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