We’ll leave Nigeria better than we met it – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration is determined to leave a better Nigeria for future generations.
The president stated this at the closing ceremony of the Presidential Policy Dialogue Session held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday.
He said: “From the presentations, discussions and exchanges, I could clearly see the patriotism and commitment you all have for this country.
“This gives me hope that we will surely leave a better Nigeria for future generations to come.’’
On the two days Policy Retreat, the president observed that several case studies were presented on how different countries successfully addressed various issues confronting them.
“I listened carefully and attentively throughout all the presentations and the subsequent exchanges in the question and answer sessions. What was very obvious is that the journey for each country was different.
“A good example is on infrastructure development. The path adopted by Ethiopia is from my understanding, the complete opposite of Brazil.
“This is also the same when it comes to agriculture, where Brazil adopted large scale mechanised agriculture while Ethiopia took the out grower and contract farming model.
“The same can be said when you compare the oil and gas policies of Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States as shown in one of the presentations.
“Like my brother, the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia mentioned, the only right answer is the one that is tailored to your specific needs,’’ he said.
Buhari, however, maintained that while benchmarking Nigeria against other countries, “we must not lose sight of the laws, regulations, geography, culture, history and many other factors that makes us Nigerians.
“Some of you may remember me saying some years back that what we need are “made in Nigeria solutions for our uniquely Nigerian problems”.
He said already in agricultural sector, the country had partnered with the Kingdom of Morocco to revive dozens of abandoned fertiliser blending plants across the country.
He added that the Federal Government had also introduced the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme that provided cheap credit to small scale farmers to buy the right inputs that would lead to enhanced yields.
The Nigerian leader disclosed that his administration had successfully developed the food security programme that provided capital to large scale food processors to enable them to off-take the grains produced by these farmers.
He stated that the government introduced policies that restrict imports to support the consumption of locally produced food items.
“Through these interventions, we were able to systematically address some of the value chain issues confronting agriculture.
“This led to significant job creation in the rural economy and savings in our foreign reserves. They also led to a lowering of food prices,’’ he said.
On infrastructure, the president revealed that through the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, his administration had invested in strategic projects across the country such as the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos Ibadan Express Way and the Abuja – Kaduna – Kano highway.
He, however, noted that in Agriculture, the government was just an enabler, as it linked the farmers to input suppliers and off-takers while providing extension services.
“In infrastructure development, we decided to build the roads ourselves for now.
“As a nation, the limited experience we have on road concessions have not been very positive. But that, he said, we will continue to explore,’’ added.
On the key proposals made by the experts at the policy retreat for the federal government to consider over the next four years, the president assured that the incoming Federal Executive Council (FEC) would deliberate and implement the relevant strategic initiatives.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the resource experts at the policy retreat had recommended that the federal government should;
“Stimulate significant investments in the industrialisation of agriculture; Develop policies that will facilitate private sector participation in infrastructure projects;
“Introduce policies and regulatory changes that will unlock growth potentials in the petroleum sector – both upstream and downstream;
“Aggressively improve the ease of doing business by reducing bureaucracy and improving inter agency collaboration;
“Providing incentives for investors especially in agriculture and power sectors;
“Facilitate construction of mass and affordable housing to propel economic growth and reduce the massive housing deficit;
“Launch of a consumer credit scheme with the Banking Sector for citizens to have access to long term and affordable mortgages and consumer credit;
“Address our security challenges by working in collaboration with the private sector;
“Fix the power sector by addressing some of the regulatory uncertainties and operational shortcomings of the key players;
“Drive efficiency in public service delivery through realignment of the Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDAs) and implementation of e-governance solutions.”
Buhari, who noted that most of the proposals were targeted at the federal government, however, charged state governors to do their part especially in the areas of education and health care.
According to him, education and health care are within their constitutional responsibilities.
“As you are aware, some of my Ministerial nominees are currently undergoing their screening at the National Assembly.
“God willing, the proposals from this session will be discussed and finalised with them in the coming weeks as they take on their portfolios,’’ he said.
The president reiterated the determination of his administration to implement initiatives that would lift Nigerians out of poverty through mass employment and social safety nets.
“This is achievable with the right fundamentals in place. We must all keep in mind that a successful economy is one where prosperity is felt by the majority,’’ he maintained.
Buhari thanked members of his party (APC), developmental partners, captains of industries and private sector representatives, industry experts, and all the other speakers and panel members at the retreat.
NAN reports that the president later hosted the participants as well as the resource persons to a dinner at the new Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.