By Donald Ugwu
The Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has reaffirmed that policies and programmes of the present administration were deliberately targeted at the youth population in the country.
He made the assertion on Monday in a broadcast to the nation on the 2017 Democracy Day and the second anniversary of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The acting president said that Nigeria was a nation of young people, and that the government would ensure that its policies and programmes reflected that.
“Several of our initiatives are targeted at our young people, who make up most of our population.
“From N-Power to Technology Hubs being developed nationwide, to innovation competitions like Aso Villa Demo Day and various MSME support schemes, we will do everything to nurture the immense innovative and entrepreneurial potential of our young people.”
Osinbajo also stated that one of the highlights of the administration’s Power Sector Recovery Programme launched in March, 2017, was a N701 billion Payment Assurance Scheme.
He explained that the scheme was to resolve the financing bottlenecks that had until now constrained the operations of gas suppliers and generation companies in the energy sector.
He assured that the nation would soon begin to see the positive impact of the steps already taken.
Osinbajo also said that the Solid Minerals Development Fund had taken off in line with government’s commitment to developing the sector.
He said that due to the government’s unwavering focus on solid minerals development over the last two years, “the sector has, alongside agriculture, seen impressive levels of growth in spite of the recession.
“On the whole, just as the President promised in the Budget Speech, these early months of 2017 have seen the flowering of the early fruit of all the hard work of our first 18 months’’.
He recalled that in April, the president launched an Economic Recovery and Growth Plan which built on the foundations laid by the Strategic Implementation Plan of 2016.
According to him, the plan has set forth a clear vision for the economic development of Nigeria.
The acting president said that the administration opened the year with an overwhelmingly successful Eurobond Offer – evidence of continuing investor interest in Nigeria.
“The implementation of our 2017 Budget, which will soon be signed into law, will bring added impetus to our ongoing economic recovery.
“In the 2016 Budget we spent N1.2 trillion on infrastructure projects, another milestone in the history of this country; our 2017 Budget will double that investment.’’
He stated that the 2017 Budget provided for substantial investment to implement the rollout of Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) as well as the Social Housing Programme.
He explained that the Industrial Parks and Economic Zones would fulfill government’s ambition of making Nigeria a manufacturing hub.
Osinbajo added that the Family Home Fund of the Social Housing Programme would provide inexpensive mortgages for low-income individuals and families across the country.
“These plans offer yet more evidence that we are ramping up the pace of work, the work of fulfilling all that we promised,’’ he stated.
On the Ease of Doing Business reforms, he said that the administration had since followed up with implementation and execution as promised by Buhari.
“The impact of our Ease of Doing Business work is gradually being felt by businesses, small and large.
“Its successful take-off has allowed us to follow up with the MSME Clinics, our small business support programme, which has taken us so far to Aba, Sokoto, Jos and Katsina.
“We expect to be in all other states in due course.
“I am pleased to note that we are now seeing verifiable progress across several areas, ranging from new Visa on Arrival scheme, to reforms at our ports and regulatory agencies,’’ he said.
Osinbajo also recalled that Buhari promised to roll out Executive Orders in 2017 to facilitate government approvals, support procurement of locally made goods, and improve fiscal responsibility, adding that it had been fulfilled.
“We have kept that promise. In May, the administration issued three Executive Orders to make it easier for citizens to get the permits and licenses they required for their businesses”.
He also said that the orders were to mandate government agencies to spend more of their budgets on locally-produced goods, and to promote budget transparency and efficiency.
According to the acting president, the overriding idea is to make government agencies and government budgets work more efficiently for the people.