■ 2016 budget to be signed into law next week
(Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, ABUJA)
VICE President Yemi Osinbajo has said that Nigerians impatience with the ‘Change’ agenda of the federal government is unnecessary as the administration was working behind the scene to correct the ills inflicted on them over the years.
This is even as he assured that baring any unforeseen circumstances, the 2016 Appropriation Bill would be signed into law next week.
The Vice President who spoke at the ‘Platform’, a non-denominational conference, organised by the Covenant Christian Centre in Abuja, yesterday said: “People now wonder where is the ‘Change’ that formed the crux of our electioneering campaigns, but they fail to understand that patience is also a virtue that they must have as a people.”
Osinbajo further assured that once the budget is assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, government would immediately go to work, completing power projects that were left uncompleted by the immediate past administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“The budget will become operational in the next few days,” he said, adding that it has now dawned on everyone that oil can no longer guarantee the sustenance of the economy, following the fall in its price at the international market.
He said the federal government would spearhead the diversification process where most states are found wanting.
According to the Vice President, such diversification would begin from the three key sectors of agriculture, technology and innovation as well as entertainment.
Osinbajo explained the benefits inherent in the agricultural sector, noting that Nigeria requires an average of 7 million metric tonnes of rice to feed its population annually but that foreign exchange that goes into rice importation was between N4 to N5 billion each year.
Osinbajo said such statistics spurred government to invest about N7 billion in Kebbi State rice plantations, which currently produces one million metric tonnes of rice at an estimated value of N63 billion.
On power infrastructure, Osinbajo while admitting that it was somehow inconsistent for power tariff to increase when power services were poor, advised consumers to imbibe the attitude of regular payment of bills in order for the system not to totally collapse.