Economic Summit: FG commends Dangote’s complementary economic revival efforts


…Grand corruption, Nigeria’s biggest obstacle to growth – Osinbajo
The Federal Government has lauded the complementary roles being played by the largest indigenous conglomerate, the Dangote Industries Limited (DIL), in the transformation of Nigeria’s economy, saying the company deserved to be encouraged.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who gave the commendation on Monday during the opening of the 24th Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) in Abuja, said the company had proved a worthy partner in government’s effort at diversifying and revitalising the economy especially through its backward integration in Cement and Sugar.

He stated that the government is very proud of the management of Dangote Industries Limited and aligned itself with the Dangote brand as it adds value to Nigeria’s economy.”

Osinbajo said, “We align with Dangote as a brand. Its uniqueness, acceptability and popularity is second to none and the brand has shored up activities in the nation’s industrial sector”.

The Vice-President, who led the leadership of the NESG and top government officials to the Dangote booth at the NESG Summit, said he could confirm that Dangote is a value adding entity, noting that, “The management has been up and doing, everyone knows Dangote products.

The Daily Times recalls that Dangote brand was voted as the best brand among 50 leading brands in Nigeria recently by the Brand Nigeria, a brand rating agency.

Recently, women entrepreneurs in Abuja, at a gathering convened by the American Centre, rated Dangote brand as the leading brand in Africa and described the Company as a true indigenous band which model they would aspire to copy to grow their businesses.

Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the biggest obstacle militating against Nigeria’s development is grand corruption.

Osinbajo described grand corruption as a situation where public servants and political office holders dipped their hands into the treasury to divert public funds into private use.

Osinbajo expressed this concern on Monday during the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) plenary on corruption and rule of law, in Abuja on Monday.

He said that whenever he wants to sack a public official that has been found to be corrupt, he gets many calls from religious and political leaders not to do so.

The Vice President said the Nigerian elite are often times in the way of getting rid of a corrupt official.

He said that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was doing so much to tackle grand corruption and systemic corruption.

The Vice President said that since he became vice-president, he has seen how much impact corruption can have on a country and it is more than he ever imagined.

Osinbajo further noted that poverty situation has also become one of Nigeria’s biggest challenge in the last 30 years.

“By 2050, Nigeria will become the World’s third most populous nation and over 60 percent of Nigeria’s population will be youth. High oil revenue does not translate to job creation because grand corruption is the biggest problem of Nigeria,” the Vice President added.

Ngaire Woods, the founding dean of Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, who moderated the plenary, asked Osinbajo to tell the summit who called him when he wanted to sack the corrupt person.

Osinbajo said: “I would like to refer to the Nigerian elite, and it’s probably not fair to be that broad, but practically, every segment, because people who have access to you, they could be political leaders, religious leaders, business leaders, whoever has access to you.

“We have a system where people just feel like, ‘why don’t you just give this guy a break?’ Which again is part of the problem. You don’t get one call, you get several calls.”

Osinbajo said one of the most frustrating parts of the fight against corruption for him is the slow pace of prosecution.

The Vice President , however, added that the two conviction of former executive governors secured by the Federal Government has shown that the hand of justice may be slow, but it would eventually catch up.

The professor of law said reforms are important, and the Federal Government has embarked on a number of them, including the criminal justice reform, but the Federal Government cannot reform state judiciaries.

The Daily Times recalls that Osinbajo as acting president, sacked Lawal Daura, former Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS).

He was also involved in the suspension of Ayo Oke, former Director General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).

Speaking further, Osinbajo said that the present administration has been doing much to provide infrastructure, support private sector, create jobs and alleviate poverty.

He said, “We’ve invested so far N2.7 trillion on infrastructure, highest so far in the history of the country. Also, N120.6bn was distributed by the CBN to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). We have provided enabling environment that led to the establishment of 11 fertilizer blending plants today.

A total of N1.9 trillion Budget Support Fund has been given to states so far. Our social investment programme is the largest in the history of the country as N2.6billion has been spent so far for social investment. Over N15billion been given as TraderMoney.”

Earlier in his address, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen Udoh Udoma, said the theme of this year’s Summit is “Poverty to Prosperity: Making Governance & Institutions Work”.

“This topic provides another opportunity for us to examine the progress we are making in the achievement of the programmes, policies and objectives of the ERGP.

This is because the ERGP specifically deals with this subject. I refer, in particular, to page 115 of the ERGP which states, ‘Good governance at all levels is crucial for the success of the ERGP.

“The ERGP will improve governance by entrenching transparency and fighting corruption; reinforcing security, reforming the public service, and strengthening coordination with sub-national governments,” Udoma stated.

In his welcome address, Chairman of NESG, Mr. Asue Oghodalo, commended the efforts of the Federal Government at developing a blue-print for sustainable economic development, but noted that Nigeria had never been short on plans, adding that the challenge had always been execution.

According to Ighodalo, the summit recommended that the government should develop a transparent approach to monitoring and evaluation of the ERGP, which must be holistic and harmonized across the respective ministries, departments and agencies.

“Our observation is that though the Federal Government has implemented significant aspects of the ERGP, we expect the implementation process to continue unabated, particularly in the run up to the general elections in 2019.

“There is no better time than now to keep our eyes on the ball because, no matter the outcome on 16 February 2019, we must all work to ensure that we still have a strong economy to build on, the morning after.

“Last year, the Nigerian economy started its recovery from the recession it experienced in 2015/2016 – the 1st in more than two decades; with positive, though tentative, output growth.

“We have seen 5 successive quarters of growth since March 2017 evidenced by the modest improvements in key economic indicators; cost of living, measured by headline inflation, declined steadily for 18 consecutive months, (although we notice a slightly upward blip in the past 2 months).

“Foreign Reserves also hit a 5-year high of $48 billion end Q1 2018 (again there has been a decline as the Central Bank strives to maintain currency.”

“Government has also commendably implemented its policies of providing for the poorest of the poor amongst us,” he said.

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