President Muhammadu Buhari has charged his cabinet ministers and financial experts to think out of the box to develop the most effective strategies for pulling the nation out of its current economic recession.
“Indeed, the challenges we face in the current recession require out-of-the-box thinking, to deploy strategies that involve engaging meaningfully with the private sector, to raise the level of private sector investments in the economy as a whole,” the president said yesterday at the opening of a ministerial retreat tagged: “Building Inter-ministerial Synergy for Effective Planning and Budgeting in Nigeria.”
He charged participants at the retreat, held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, to design how best to implement his administration’s plans to rid the country of its dependence on oil, diversify the economy and bring the country out of recession.
The performance of the economy under the Buhari administration has come under searing attacks by notable public figures in the last few days, with many asking him to buckle down and deliver on the change he had promised the electorate during his electioneering last year.
In the forefront of critiques were the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Mohammed Sanusi II, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; Prof. Charles Soludo; President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki; and the Archbishop of Sokoto Dioceses, Hassan Kukah.
They all called for more rigorous thinking through economic policies and asked the president to seek help from experts and private sector players to show him the way out of the woods.
Buhari showed that he was sensitive to these criticisms yesterday when he gathered his ministers and told them to explore more coordinated approach to the formulation and implementation of the policies of government.
He told them that there had been mismatch between government planned targets and budgetary outcomes at the national and sectoral levels in the past years, suggesting that this might have occurred because the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) had not been working together and building consensus around common national objectives.
Saying this had impeded growth and development of the country, the president explained that the retreat was apt and timely especially coming at a time when the process for the 2017 budget was in the offing and meant to correct this anomaly.
“It is in this context that this retreat has been designed to discuss issues around the state of the economy and build consensus amongst cabinet members and top government officials,” Buhari said, adding that the retreat would also serve as an opportunity to have a general overview of the economy and discuss the framework for the 2017 budget, its key priorities and deliverables.
The president, who sat through the first session, said he was ready to listen to the views of experienced economists and development experts on how best to implement his plans to rid the country of its oil dependence, diversify the economy and bring the country out of the current economic recession.
He said given that the retreat would background the 2017 budget, he expected that his ministers would come out with a determination and common position on how to have improved synergy amongst the various ministries and departments for the effective formulation and implementation of the upcoming budget.
Buhari expressed the commitment of his administration to leverage on private sector resources, through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and other arrangements, in order to augment the scarce budgetary resources at government’s disposal and accelerate investments in building critical infrastructure.
He said it was for this reason that some key non-spending agencies, such as the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) were invited to participate in the retreat.
He said: “We are confident that the level of private investment will grow as we are determined to make it easier to do business in Nigeria by the reforms we are introducing under the auspices of the Presidential Committee on Ease of Doing Business.”
The president said government would continue to strategise on how it could turn the current challenges into opportunities for the nation, particularly the vibrant youth on whose shoulders laid the future of the country.
“This is why we have embarked on measures and actions that will open up the opportunities we have seen in the power, housing, agriculture, mining, trade and investment, Information Communication Technology (ICT) sectors, tourism, transport and other sectors,” he said, assuring the youth that government would remain steadfast in its effort to ensure greater progress and prosperity for them.
Saying that the task of repositioning the economy for change was beyond the executive alone, he asked for the support and cooperation of the private sector’s domestic and foreign investors, the state and local governments, the National Assembly and the judiciary as well as all well-meaning Nigerians.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, in a private interaction with newsmen declared that part of the government’s strategies to get the country out of recession was to invest in infrastructure.
While sympathising with the suffering masses, Adeosun said the government was aware that the nation was really heading into a difficult period. She however assured Nigerians that plans were afoot to turn things around for good.
Resource persons invited to deliver papers at the one-day retreat included Mr. Bismarck Rewane, Mr. Obadiah Mailafia, Mr. Bode Augusto and Dr. Ayo Teriba.
President Muhammadu Buhari Appoints New Service Chiefs as Buratai, Others Resign
President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed new service chiefs in an effort to bring the growing insecurities in Nigeria to an end.
The appointed service chiefs are Major-General Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General I. Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao, Chief of Air Staff.
Femi Adesina, a presidential spokesman, stated in a statement issued on Tuesday.
According to him, the appointment was after Buratai and other service chiefs resigned and immediately retired from service.
The resigned and retired service chief were the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
President Buhari thanked the outgone service chiefs for their dedication and commitment towards securing and protecting the lives of Nigerians.
University Of Ibadan (UI) Goes Digital, Releases Timetable for Virtual Academic Session
University of Ibadan (UI) on Friday announced it is going ahead with resumption on February 20 despite the second wave of COVID-19.
In a statement released by the school, the First Semester of the 2020/2021 academic session will commence virtually on February 20, 2021.
The virtual academic session will last for 13 straight weeks and end on Friday May 12, 2021, while the matriculation ceremony will hold on Tuesday March 16, 2021.
The University of Ibadan also scheduled one week for the Finalization of Continuous Assessment, to begin from Mon. 17 May and ends Friday 21 May.
The rising number of COVID-19 cases has compelled the Senate to approve the virtual academic session in an effort to ensure the tertiary institution abides by the protocols established by the Federal Government to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“It, therefore, agreed that the 2020/2021 First Semester lectures will be delivered online. In this regard, students will not be accommodated on campus,” a statement from the school said.
“Senate also approved the cancellation of the 2019/2020 session. The next session is, therefore, renamed 2020/2021 Academic Session. Consequently, students who have been admitted for the 2019/2020 session will now be regarded as the 2020/2021 intakes.
“Kindly note that online opening of Registration Portal and Orientation Programme for the 2020/2021 intakes may commence ahead of the Sat 20/02/21 date indicated above,” the statement said.
House of Representatives Impeached Trump Over Capitol Invasion
The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Trump for the second time after instigating the US Capitol invasion.
Led by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, 232 representatives, including 10 Republicans, voted to impeach the outgoing president against 197 that voted for him to remain in the office for the next six days when he would handover to the president-elect, Joe Biden.
The ten Republicans were Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the party’s No. 3 leader in the House; Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington; John Katko of New York; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Fred Upton of Michigan; Dan Newhouse of Washington; Peter Meijer of Michigan; Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio; David Valadao of California; and Tom Rice of South Carolina.
Speaking before the vote, Pelosi said “a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the Republic will be safe from this man who is so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear and that hold us together.”
“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” she said, adding later, “It gives me no pleasure to say this — it breaks my heart.”
Republicans, who unanimously stood behind president Trump in 2019 during his first impeachment, were divided this time over the attack on Capitol.
A Republican representative from California, Kevin McCarthy, said “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” Mr. McCarthy said. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”
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