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 We’ll inherit worst economy in Nigeria’s history – Osinbajo

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PostSubject: We’ll inherit worst economy in Nigeria’s history – Osinbajo   2015-05-21, 05:21

The Vice President-elect, Prof. Yomi
Osinbajo, has said the Muhammadu
Buhari-led government will inherit
the worst economy ever in the
history of the nation.
Also, a former British Prime
Minister, Tony Blair, has advised
Buhari to take advantage of the
country’s current level of public
support for him to take hard
decisions.
Osinbajo and Blair spoke during the
opening of a two-day Policy
Dialogue on the Implementation of
the Agenda for Change, which
began in Abuja on Wednesday.
Osinbajo put the nation’s local and
international debt profile at US
$60bn with a 2015 debt-serving bill
of N953.6bn, representing 21 per
cent of this year’s budget.
He noted that an estimated 110
million out of the nation’s over 170
million population, were living in
extreme poverty while the largest
chunk of the benefits of the
nation’s wealth was going into the
pockets of a small percentage of
the population.
According to him, the nation’s
dwindling oil revenues has made it
difficult for 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states
to pay salaries.
He said, “We are concerned that our
economy is currently in perhaps its
worst moment in history. Local and
international debts stand at US$
60bn.
“Our debt servicing bill for 2015 is
N953.6bn, 21 per cent of our budget.
On account of severely dwindled
resources, over two-thirds of the
states in Nigeria owe salaries.
“Federal institutions are not in
much better shape. Today, the
nation borrows to fund recurrent
expenditure.”
Osinbajo said the manifesto of the
All Progressives Congress “offers a
vision of shared prosperity and
socio-economic inclusion for all
Nigerians that leaves no one
behind in the pursuit of a
prosperous and fulfilling life.”
According to him, the goal of the
policy dialogue is to interrogate
the positions and propositions
before a wider audience and to
launch a robust public conversation
on policy directions and priorities
that would help inform the
incoming administration’s
approach in the next four years.
He added that the “forum
exemplifies the sort of consultative
and consensual approach to policy-
making that the APC and the new
administration intend to model in
office.”
The Vice President-elect also
declared that the dialogue
intended to explore a wide range
of policy priorities including the
diversification of the economy in
the wake of dwindling oil
revenues.
To achieve this, he said, the
administration would engender
job-led growth through the
revitalisation of the agricultural
sector in pursuit of job creation and
food security, improving the
regulatory frameworks in the most
strategic sphere of economic
activity.
Blair, who was represented by a
former Secretary of State for Trade
and Industry, Mr. Peter Mandelson,
explained that with the current
state of affairs, the task ahead of
the incoming administration was
indeed a daunting one.
Drawing from the experiences of
the Labour Party in Britain, Blair
said the first rule of governance “is
be true to your word; be true to
your mandate.”
He urged the Buhari-led
administration not to be afraid to
take hard decisions but said it must
remain mindful of the timing of
such decisions.
Blair also advised the
administration not to attempt to do
everything at once but to ensure
that things were done with proper
planning along with a commitment
to deliver.
He said, “You will have more
goodwill and moral authority to do
the difficult things at the beginning
of your term than at the end.
President (Joko) Widodo of
Indonesia was elected in July last
year, with huge public support.
“One of the first things he did when
he was inaugurated in October was
to smash Indonesia’s hugely
expensive and inefficient, yet
popular fuel subsidy.
“A policy decision which had
toppled a previous administration
and consistently brought people
out on the streets, he decided to do
it straight away when he had the
authority that was the time.”
This, Blair explained, cushioned the
effect of the recent fall in oil prices
in the world market on the
Indonesian economy.
He also stressed the importance of
communication which, he said, was
vital in democracy because “it is
both the means of convincing
people and getting them to keep
following you once you are
elected.”
“Strategy without communication
is like a car without headlights,” he
added.
The British politician also stressed
the need for the government to
focus on priorities and ensure
service delivery.
Blair also advised the
administration to create a
mechanism that would focus on its
priorities even in the midst of other
challenges.
Earlier in his welcome address, the
Director, Policy Research and
Strategy Directorate of the APC, Dr.
Kayode Fayemi, had said, “The
phase of policy conception is over
and we are entering the phase of
execution, governance and of
providing tangible developmental
deliverables.
“The challenge of translating ideas
into policy and praxis now looms
large.
“Given the degree of work that has
been put in by the directorate and
our well-documented national
problems of policy
implementation, the focus should
now be on evolving an institutional
framework to deliver the agenda
for change.”
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