Nigeria’s Vice President Kashim Shettima, has identified stability as one of the primes in the economic agenda of the President BolaTinubu-led administration for the year 2024.
This is coming as the National Economic Council (NEC) on Tuesday appealed to the Organised Labour to shelve its planned Tuesday, October 3, 2023 strike, saying President Bola Tinubu remains committed to the welfare of Nigerian workers.
The Vice President, who spoke Thursday
at the 136th meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) held in the Council Chamber of the Atate House, Abuja, stated that government at the federal, state and local government levels must remain committed to reevaluating their priorities, streamlining processes, and making bold decisions that would reflect key social issues, including social protection, social investment and nutrition.
NEC, a statutory body that has the mandate to advise the President on the nation’s economic affairs, is chaired by the Vice President, with the Governors of the 36 states of the federation, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Minister of Finance and other stakeholders as members.
In his opening address at the NEC meeting titled, ‘Planning for Stability: Our Agenda for Economic Growth in 2024’, Shettima reminded the governors and other members of NEC that the weight of the tough decisions to rescue Nigeria’s economy depends on their cooperation and goodwill.
He noted that what has set President Tinubu apart as a Nigerian leader is the courage to embark on fixing the country’s economy through bold reforms.
Identifying stability as a major priority in next year’s economic agenda, the Vice President said, “It took courage to embark on fixing an economy hindered by decades of political lip service. But that’s what has set President Tinubu apart: his bold reforms to reposition the economy and save it from further erosion”.
NEC at the end of its meeting appealed to the organized Labour to stay action on the plan to commence an indefinite, nationwide strike from Tuesday, October 3, 2023.
Briefing newsmen at the end of the NEC meeting at the State House, Abuja,Governor of Plateau State, Caleb Mutfwang, who disclosed NEC’s resolution on the proposed labour action also said Council asked all the 36 state governors to resume negotiations with labour leaders at the state level.
Mutfwang said NEC was of the opinion that continuing on the path of dialogue would be the best option for the economy, especially at the state’ level.
His words: “Council noted the notice by the national leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress to proceed on an indefinite strike from October 3, 2023.
“The Council noted further the implication of this strike for the economy and the nation and thus urged members to continue to engage with the leadership of their respective states and to appeal to them to shelve the action and continue on the path of dialogue with the federal government. This is the appeal of Council”, the governor said.
Explaining the grounds for NEC’s appeal further, Plateau Governor described the situation of most of the states when the various governors took off on May 29, noting that many of them were just coming out of prolonged industrial strikes, adding that enforcing a new strike at this time would further damage the economy.
He, however, appealed for more time for government to work on addressing the concerns of Labour, even as he noted that there are feelers indicating that leadership at every level genuinely wants the issues raised by the Labour addressed once and for all.
According to him: “NEC actually expressed genuine concern on the situation in the country and appreciates the concern by Labour to have those issues addressed. That is why NEC is appealing for patience, appealing for time to be able to address the concerns of Labour. We also believe that Mr. President will be addressing the nation first of October and some of the concerns of Labour will be appropriately addressed in the President’s speech.
“It is therefore important that… it’s a federation, so whatever happens Labour is represented in all the 36 states and the FCT and NEC is appealing that discussions should continue at the state levels because there will be peculiarities as to the issues to be addressed concerning the demands of Labour, therefore dialogue is the way to go.
“The nation is at a very critical moment at this time, some of the states, when they took over on May 29, the workers were on strike, some of those issues have just been resolved for the workers to return to work. To ask them to go back immediately, it’s going to further damage the economy.
“Therefore NEC, while expressing genuine concern about the situation in the country, appeals for calm and patience and I want to believe that the leadership across the nation at this point in time wants to truly address the issues that concern Labour and the general populace and move the country forward”.
Responding to a question on the probability of the administration drawing up a supplementary budget, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa state, said there was no need for such yet, going by the presentations before the NEC, hence no supplementary budget as at yet.
Speaking to a question around the $3 billion loan taken by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) to achieve stabilization of the Naira against foreign currencies, Governor Sule said the new team at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would require some time to put its acts together to be able to take steps to achieve the stabilization.
Also speaking at the briefing, Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, said Council threw its support behind the eight point agenda of President Bola Tinubu, which it says has the key to Nigeria’s development.
“The meeting appreciates all the eight-point agenda of President Bola Tinubu and his investment drive around the world and measures he has taken so far”, he said.
The Minister said the Council was satisfied with the collaborations between the central and State governments in Nigeria and advised the sub-nationals to explore opportunities that now abound in the energy sector in line with the new Electricity Act.
His words: “In particular the meeting agreed that there should be vigorous implementation of key resolutions in collaboration between the States and the Federal government. One of the resolutions highlighted is the energy sufficiency for sustainable economic development, government at all levels should promote the migration of heavy duty industry system from fossil fuel to gas infrastructure as well as acknowledging that the new Electricity Act empowers States and individuals to participate in all components of the energy sector”.
Bagudu stressed that state governments were encouraged to carry out energy audits in order to determine their energy needs as well as explore areas of collaboration with the private sector based on their competitive advantages.
Also speaking, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, said Council, after receiving the report of the special Committee on impact of Flood and Disaster Across the States in Nigeria, adopted the groupings of the States according to what they suffered from flooding.
Wike listed the states under their various categories to include “Group A: (states with over 15 points (most affected) Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Rivers, Enugu, Kano, Oyo, Yobe, Zamfara.
“Group B: (States with 10-15 points)Cross River, Delta, Jigawa, Kwara, Ondo.
“Group C: (states with less than 10 points) Katsina, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, FCT”, he said.
According to him, the council directed the National emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to immediately provide intervention to the affected States adding that a road map would be developed and articulated by NEC in collaboration with the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum.
Also, the governor of Katsina State, Dikko Radda, gave an update on the distribution of palliatives, as presented by the chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, and governor of Kwara State, Abdulraman Abdulrazaq.
Radda, who disclosed to journalists that the federal government had released N2 billion to each state and the FCT, added that the NGF Chairman informed Council that members were making progress and urged them to re-double efforts as states looked forward for more interventions.
Also speaking, Accountant-General of the Federation, Mrs Oluwatoyin Madein, said the chairman of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, made presentation to the NEC on the fiscal policy and Tax Reforms, disclosing that the Committee was set up by President Bola Tinubu to review and redesign Nigeria’s fiscal system with respect to revenue mobilization through both tax and non-tax; quality of government spending and; and sustainable debt management in addition, the committee will identify relevant measures to make Nigeria an attractive destination for investment and facilitate inclusive Economic growth.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Communications, Stanley Nkwocha, gave details of balances in the nation’s excess crude and other accounts as follows: Excess Crude Account, $473,754.57; Stabilization Account, N34,936,868,803.58; Development of Natural Resources, N128,330,636,441.14.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja