President Muhammadu Buhari has advised governors of the 36 states to increase their internally generated revenue, promote agriculture and shore up their Value Added Tax (VAT).
He spoke during the inauguration the National Economic Council (NEC) session of 2019-2023 and the 95th meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the council chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari’s administration supported states with close to N2 trillion in form of restructuring of loans, refunds on federal roads, refund for Paris Club, which helped encouraged economic activities in the states, payment of salaries, payment of pensions, payment of gratuities and overall investment by infrastructural spendings.
The inauguration was witnessed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari; the Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele and the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno.
Inaugurating the NEC, Buhari urged the council to pay special attention to security, education, agriculture and health.
He said their success in the next four areas would go a long way in enhancing the standard of living of the citizenry.
While reiterating the commitment of his administration to protect the country’s territory, he said everybody must contribute in addressing the security challenges facing the country.
President Buhari said: “While the Federal Government has primary responsibility for security and will not shy away from it, the States also have a critical role to play; in particular Your Excellencies, as State Governors. You can definitely make a difference, not just by assisting the security agencies in your respective States, but also by keenly pursuing policies and programmes that forestall communal, tribal, religious and societal conflicts; policies and programs that promote education, information, dispute resolution, vocational training and youth employment.
“I have no doubt that if these four areas – security, education, health and agriculture – are actively implemented and closely monitored by NEC and the Governors’ Forum, we shall in the near future see a more peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.
“Your Excellencies, the Federal Government in the last four years has demonstrated unwavering inclusiveness in dealing with every State, notwithstanding the political leaning of the Governor or the predominant party in power at the State level. I want this to be your model at the State level. No matter which party we belong to, let us shun divisive policies and join hands together for the upliftment of our people.
“Going forward, States must in the next four years find ways to increase internally generated revenues, improve VAT collection and increase agricultural output without disrupting business activities. I also want you to work with the Federal Agencies and the service providers in ensuring that broadband infrastructure is made available all over the country. Information and Communication Technology is the future of work and we must not allow ourselves to be left behind.
“Let me restate the high expectations on NEC as a veritable source of articulating policies and programmes that are expected to drive growth and development, secure our environment and take the country to the next level. Your Excellencies, the challenges that confront us in the next few years, especially in the areas of security, human capital development and employment for our youths are monumental and historic. But we are more than equal to the task.”
Speaking at the event, Osinbajo described the council as an important body for developing, advising and implementing issues relating to the country’s economy.
NEC is established by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), as amended. By virtue of Section 153 and paragraph 18 of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution, NEC has the mandate to advise the President on economic policy of the country and in particular, co-ordination of the economic planning efforts, and programmes of the three- tiers of Government.
The NEC in the last four years held 38 meetings and set up 10 Ad-Hoc Committees to address various issues of national concern. In the course of its deliberations, it came up with a total of 173 resolutions, cutting across eight areas, namely: agriculture and solid minerals, investments promotion and industrialisation, monetary and fiscal stability and infrastructure.
Others are health and education, revenue generation, security and support for states.
Buhari said the resolutions were designed to energise the various sectors of the Nigerian economy to which the eight areas relate.
“Initiatives brought about by the NEC resolutions are either implemented already or at different stages of implementation across the country. Together, they have proved to be of utmost importance in dictating the pace of national development,” he said.
Buhari urged the NEC Coordination Team, to in the next four years, press forward with key initiatives that will strengthen the implementation mechanism, enhance cooperation across states and further promote joint deliberations, peer learning and experience sharing, under a very strong Monitoring and Evaluation Framework.