By Christiana Gokyo, Jos
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians of his administration’s continued basking in the improvement of the nation’s rankings and citation of Nigeria as one of the 10 best performing economies in the world.
He said, “we realize that our task is far from being done and will remain focused on the GRGP objective of being in the top 100 countries in terms of ease of doing business by 2020, until the average Nigerian has food on his table, has a job and is satisfied with life that he is living.”
The President was speaking through the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who represented him at the graduation ceremony of Senior Executive Course 39, 2017, at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) Kuru, near Jos, on Saturday.
He said our desire for change must be translated into strengthening ethics, especially patriotism, integrity, ethnic and religious tolerance.
According to him, “we must strive to build a fair, just and equitable society that prefers investment to consumption, and to thrift over waste and which celebrates integrity over corruption.
The president said these values are not only morally right, but they are also essential underpinnings for restoring growth, investing in our people and building a globally competitive economy.
He urged the graduates to deploy the knowledge gained in NIPSS to support the national development efforts in whatever position they find themselves.
He emphasized that, “NIPSS occupies an important place in our national policy discourse, especially through its policy relevant training and research outputs, notably the alumni provides a patriotic repository of knowledge that is very often deployed in support of national development objectives.”
The president further explained that they have put in place structures that would ensure prudent and transparent management of resources, in order that MDAs fund should be paid into the Treasury Single Account.
“It was set up under the Federal Ministry of Finance to reduce wastage, plug leakages and foster greater fiscal transparency.”.
He said the efficiency unit has enforced several deliberate cost cutting measures, including the removal or reduction of sitting allowances for civil servants in many cases, and have saved over one billion naira (N1 billion) a year.
“We also remove or reduce meals and refreshments for meetings, and saved another N1 billion annually, and stopped the siphoning of funds through the gist workers by insisting that all MDAs must be on Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System( IPPIS) across government, and also mandated the use of BVN.”
He further highlighted that “over 461 federal MDAs have been captured on the system with the objective of all of them being enrolled, which we are now saving N25 billion a month from cleansing up the payroll, and ordered all Armed Forces to be capatured on the IPPIS, too.”
He said, when he came into office, over 22 states were owing salaries between 2011 and 2015, because oil was selling between 100 and 115 dollars a barrel.
“Yet, reserves between 2014 and 2015 fell from 35 billion dollars to 28 billion dollars in April 2015; oil price fell as low 28 dollars a barrel, this follows the unrest in the Niger Delta, especially the vandalization of pipelines, and oil and gas assets reduced the production at same point by over a million barrels a day.”
Nevertheless, he said, “revenue dropped by as much as 60 percent, which is less, which we started with series of bailout for states to enable them pay salaries and pensions.”
He said, “we were able to provide N1.3 trillion for capital expenditures, the largest amount for capital in our nation’s history, first time in five years,” adding that, the federal government has also saved 500 million dollars in the sovereign wealth fund.
“Today, our external reserves stand at 35 billion – the highest in the past 4 years, which it showing that the economy has truly excited recession with the growth of 1.4 percent.”
The president also threw more on GDP, saying, “with the further analysis of Q2 2017, GDP results indicate that the recovery was driven largely by the performance in Agriculture, Industry, Solid Minerals and Crude Oil and Gas production,” adding that, “despite the contraction of the overall economy, it continues to grow with a record 3.06 percent growth in Q3 2017.
“Our reserves now is at about 35 billion dollars, while the exchange rate regime has been stabilized, and we are confident that the naira will continue to appreciate.”