The Federal Government of Nigeria has defended its economic management style, saying despite 60% less revenue, it had by stopping grand corruption, made the highest capital spend in the history of the country at N1.3 trillion in 2017.
The Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, speaking at the first Kogi Economic and Investment Summit in Lokoja, on 13th February 2018 said, “As of September 2017, total support (excess crude account loan and Budget support facility) excluding Paris club refunds, is in the order of N876. 3 billion if we add Paris club refunds we will have disbursed N1.91 trillion.
“We are for the first time taking on the game-changing infrastructure projects.”
TEXT OF HIS SPEECH
I am pleased to be here at the First Kogi Economic and Investment Summit, 2018. I must confess that I have always been fascinated by this extraordinary State, Kogi. It essentially captures the key essence of our nation. With a confluence of the two major rivers that define the geography of our country and a true confluence of diversity and culture. It is notably in Kogi State that we have Emirs, and Obas, two different traditional monarchies co-existing with firm historical roots.
These confluence of rivers Niger and Benue, confluence of cultures and traditions are further complimented by a confluence of resources. With fertile arable land that makes Kogi a leading producer of cashew, a potential major rice producer, a respected fishing community among others; as well as a bed of some of the most prolific solid minerals including coal, limestone, iron ore and tin.
This is undoubtedly the Confluence State. This State is also the undisputed gateway between the North and South, a strategic position that makes Kogi the only state in Nigeria to share boundaries with 10 other states including the Federal Capital Territory, made up of states of the North, the Southwest, Southsouth and Southeast. Kogi’s location is therefore not just remarkable as a matter of Nigerian geography, but also, our economy.
I am glad to say that everyone I have met so far is so upbeat about the potentials and possibilities of this wonderful state, from your Governor to his Deputy to every other Kogite I have spoken with. I have encountered an optimistic belief in your own abilities and prospects which tells me there is hope in the land, regardless of what the challenges might be. I am also personally excited for what you and I see that is possible, economically and in other ways, in Kogi State.
Within a few months of his assuming office, His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello presented me with the New Direction Blueprint of his administration. I must say I found it both ambitious and farsighted. I also hear that there is a 32-Year Infrastructure Masterplan being developed, with a plan to pass it into law to ensure sustainability.
This long-term thinking, digging deep roots, ensuring that plans are well thought out and sustainable is the way of the future. This administration deserves all commendation for this, which is why an Economic Summit here in Kogi State is one that would understandably generate considerable local and international attention.
The summit is timely as it is strategic, not only to draw attention to the confluence of opportunities in Kogi, but also to reinvigorate and inspire the people of Kogi as you are reminded of prospects your state has to offer, and the possibilities that are unique to the state.
We in the Federal Government recognize these vast assets Kogi has, in natural resources and geo-location, but above all human capacity. A gifted, hardworking and entrepreneurial people with a record of producing renowned businessmen and women, and historically, a strong civil service workforce.
But Kogi’s history, and its present, pale in comparison to its incredibly promising future, powered by the energy and optimism of its young and able workforce. It is to these harbingers of the greatness of tomorrow that we must devote much more resources and creativity to providing relevant education. I am glad to see that this features prominently in the plan.
Our recognition of Kogi is not misplaced. You are host to the biggest steel industry in Nigeria – the Ajaokuta Steel Company, and one of the largest cement factories in Africa, Dangote Cement Company, Obajana and also the highly prolific Jakura marble factory.
We have now resolved the legal issues holding down work in the Ajaokuta Steel Complex. We are currently reviving the 110 MW power plant which will service the steel complex and the rest of it will go into the grid to add to the electricity supply from the Geregu NIPP, all of which should benefit power supply in Kogi.
The technical audit of the Ajaokuta complex is also on and we hope that this will soon be completed to enable the conclusion of the investment process. Maximizing Ajaokuta’s production capacity will unlock a key area of our economy as steel is not only critically needed, it is also versatile in many respects.
Also, as we speak, work is going on, on the Itakpe-Warri-Ajaokuta rail and the rail route is being extended to Abuja so that the entire mining corridor is covered by rail. When completed, this will be a major trunk rail line for movement of steel, other goods and people.
In addition we have also opened up the inland waterways for movement of goods. During the tenure of Boss Mustapha (the current SGF) as the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, the Baro port was dredged. This makes Kogi one of the most business ready industrial and manufacturing zones of the country, with a working complex of rail, power and a port.
Your Excellency, Ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that our country has unbelievable potential but three issues hold us back 1. Corruption 2. Corruption 3. Corruprion.
This is largely what is responsible for inconsistencies in policy and failure to complete projects.
May I say with respect that what sets President Buhari’s leadership from others is prudential management of the national resources. So despite 60% less revenue, we have by stopping grand corruption made the highest capital spend in the history, of the country in the sum of about N1.3 trillion.
We are for the first time taking on the game-changing infrastructure projects. So, we are today building the Lagos-Kano standard gauge rail, we started with the Lagos-Ibadan portion of it beginning from the Lagos port at Apapa. We are also building after 40 years the Mambilla hydro project, Second Niger Bridge is going on daily and we have signed up for the Lagos-Calabar rail project.
We are daily increasing power supply and once we conclude some strategic transmission projects, we would see a truly appreciable improvement in domestic and industrial power supply.
Also, we have given more support to State Governments than any other government since 1999. As of September 2017, the total support (excess crude account loan and Budget support facility) excluding Paris Club refunds, is in the order of N876. 3 billion and if we add Paris Club refunds, we will have disbursed N1.91 trillion.
As I make this point, you must understand that this is not a gift from the Federal Government. These in many ways, are entitlements of the state governments, some of them are loans but no previous government has used those funds in the way that we have used them to assist the states in their times of needs. So, the N1.91 trillion which we have disbursed to states has helped the states in so many ways not only in their recurrent expenditure but also supporting some of their capital expenditure.
We have experienced an agricultural revolution, doing close to 15 million metric tons of paddy yearly. We used to spend almost $3 billion on rice importation, now rice importation is cut by 80%.
We have also been actively partnering with the private sector and the States. With the Private sector we have through the Quarterly business forum and the Industrial council, collaborated actively with the sector in many respects. We believe that the private sector is the key to the economic growth of this nation.
When we talk of investment and we talk of what Kogi state will be in the next few years, a lot is going to depend on how we are able to attract private sector money into this state so that all of our dreams and all of our plans can come to reality.
Your Excellency, the Federal Government’s commitment to business and industry is well matched by our determination to offer opportunities to young people, to artisans, traders and even the poor and vulnerable.
Our programme of Social Investment to the tune of N500 billion is the largest Social Investment fund that has been invested in this country. In our N-Power programme we have so far given jobs to 4,495 beneficiaries here in Kogi State, another 7,724 have been pre-selected for the next phase employment. The NDE will also provide technical and vocational training to 3000 young people in Kogi this year. We have also given loans to 4,534 small businesses under our Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme.
Another 7,914 are awaiting their own loans. We are giving cash transfers of N5000 a month to 12,269 households or 36,259 beneficiaries here in Kogi State. We expect to add 22,250 households or 88,571 beneficiaries by the end of the year. We have also trained 276 cash transfer facilitators here in Kogi State.
As you may know, I am here in Kogi both for this summit and also to inaugurate the Kogi State MSMEs Clinic. This is a special project that Federal government is doing across the States to promote and encourage medium and small businesses.
So, I am here today with the heads of government agencies that are important in granting approvals and licenses to small businesses such as, NAFDAC, SON, CORPORATE AFFAIRS COMMISSION, BANK OF INDUSTRY, and the FIRS. They will interact with owners of businesses with a view to resolving their problems with registration or pre investment approvals. We are also planning to set up a one stop office here, which will have NAFDAC, SON and other regulatory agencies permanently stationed in Kogi State.
Your Excellency, I congratulate you and the people of Kogi on this auspicious occasion and look forward to continuing to work with you in expanding and sustaining prosperity within your state, and for our nation.
God bless Kogi State and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.