Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo says government is committed to the promotion of local quality products, as the country diversifies in the wake of the recession that has affected the economy.
The Vice President made the call at a grassroots town hall meeting with traders, artisans and representatives of various interest groups in Kano, as part of the Vice President’s one day working visit to Kano State, North-West Nigeria.
He was however quick to identify the fall in the price oil, pipeline vandalism and corruption as the reasons behind the difficult situation the country was passing through.
“There are two reasons why there is a recession in Nigeria. The most obvious is that oil prices fell after that, the production pipelines and export facilities were being blown up, such that at a point we were loosing over a million barrels a day, loosing almost 60% of our revenue in the process. When you loose such amount of money especially in foreign exchange, there is no way you will not be in serious economic problem.
Secondly, corruption affected us because years went by, especially in the past five years the country was not saving at all. A lot of the money was embezzled. So we got into office no finding any buffer and when we got into trouble, there was nothing to fall back on,” he explained.
The Vice President told participants at the meeting that President Muhammadu Buhari was worried about the economic situation of the country and government was not relenting in its efforts to revitalise the economy.
He said: “Not one day passes by that I speak to President Muhammadu Buhari that he does not speak about the hardship that people are going through in this country. Everyday he talks about that. He always says we know what we must do about the situation. If you lose about 60% of your revenue and you import almost everything, then you will be in trouble.”
Professor Osinbajo, who noted that President Buhari was a trust worthy person, called on all citizens of the country to give him the needed support, in order to improve the fortunes of the country.
He pleaded with citizens to be patient, as government maintained its focus on
ameliorating the situation.
The Vice President said farmers and food processors would be encouraged to produce enough for the country in line with government’s desire to attain food sufficiency.
“We must grow what we eat and that is the message that the President has been emphasizing. If we don’t grow what we eat, we will run into trouble,” he emphasized.
He added that government, would introduce policies that will encourage food processors, to protect local producers as well as encourage export.
“From now on, we are going to make sure that we promote policies that encourage farmers and small scale industrialists especially those who are processing anything that we are growing for export and we will use what we make. That is the stand of the Federal government,” the Vice President stated.
Private sector engagement
Professor Osinbajo said government was aware that it could not do it alone and was engaging the private sector through the Public Private Partnership PPP, as contained in next year’s budget.
On complaints by some local manufacturers and food processors that it is always difficult for them to get registration numbers from the National Agency for Drug and Food Administration and Control NAFDAC for their products, the Vice President pledged to look into the matter, adding that “NAFDAC needs to encourage, not discourage them.”
Speaking earlier, Kano State Governor, DR Abdullahi Ganduje said in line with government’s effort to address the present economic challenges, plans had been concluded by the state government to establish an ultra modern market worth N500 billion, to be named Kanawa economic City.
He said the State had since established 38 microfinance banks with an agency governing their activities was also in place, all in a bid to boost business activities in Kano and its environs.
He stated that the popular Kantin Kwari market in Kano metropolis was also being given a facelift to the tune of N500 million.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Dr Okechukwu Enelama and his Women Affairs counterpart, Mrs Aisha Alhassan also took time to explain government’s economic strategies, to participants at the meeting, as they also sued for support for the current administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Vice President, who soon after arriving Kano, proceeded to the Dangote Tomato Processing Plant Kadawa, along Kano-Zaria road, where he encouraged the private investor to keep doing the good work for the country.