REPORT ON THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY PLAN POLICY DIALOGUE HOSTED BY THE NIGERIAN GLOBAL AFFAIRS COUNCIL ON AUGUST 8TH, 2020
The Policy Dialogue aims at Analyzing what impact the Federal Government National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) will have on the Nigerian Economy. Will it enable the Economy to rebound in the immediate to medium run? What are the other direct Interventions to help the Economy by the Federal Government?
The Covid-19 Pandemic has affected economies globally and set the world economy in a different direction and our Great Country Nigeria is no exception from the impact of the global pandemic. This and many other reasons led the government to draft a National Economic Sustainability Plan, which is meant to revive the economy and enhance economic growth and development, whilst enhancing standard of living for the citizens of the country, most especially the poor and low-income earners.
To discuss this plan, its impacts on the economy and the citizens, the NIGERIAN GLOBAL AFFAIRS COUNCIL through its Public Policy Dialogue Initiative, featured a panel made up of NIGAC Non-resident Policy Fellows: Mr. Emmanuel Haruna and Mr. Opeyemi Adeshola alongside hosting a Public Servant and Appointee of the Present Government in the person, Mr. Ajuri Ngelale who serves as the Special Adviser to the President on Public Affairs. The Dialogue was moderated by the President-in-Council, The Nigerian Global Affairs Council, EldaDavid Kehinde Samuel.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs (SSA-PP), Mr. Ajuri Ngelale stated that the NATIONAL ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY PLAN is very essential due to its Local Content Utilization Component that states that over 80% of the Manpower and Resources/Raw Materials to be used will be sourced locally from Nigeria in creating value for Nigerians. He said that the plan is diverse and expansive, that is, it will cut across all ethnic and religious groups to ensure equity in distribution of Labour opportunities and resources.
According to the SSAP, the NESP was broken into 5 components that includes:
a. Jobs for Food Program
b. Rural Off-grid Solar Program
c. Federal Government Housing Scheme
d. Special Public Works Program
e. Presidential Power Initiative
f. Payroll Support Survival Fund
g. Future of Work
h. Gas Expansion Project
Jobs for Food Program: The SSA-PP, iterated that based on the plan and discussions, the state government will provide the Federal Government with 20,000-30,000 hectares of Land for Cultivation of High Value Export Agricultural Commodities. This will help in creating job opportunities for the youths and also create a cross generational transfer of sustainable agricultural production value chain of the future. Processing and Storage of this produce will also be enhanced through mechanized agriculture. Agricultural processors will be set up across all, local government area in the country, and storage of this produce will be of great priority, so as to replace foreign produce with local produce.
Rural Off-grid Solar Program: Through this program, the Federal Government will be engaging the services of 250,000 Graduates who will work as Solar Panelist Technicians building and deploying Off-grid Solar Panels and light infrastructure to rural communities that farms, local primary health centers, schools in rural communities and market places, the ultimate goal is to ensure that rural farms also have light they can use to preserve their commodities when harvested. The rural off-grid program will train then deploy these graduates in the business of solar panel, so they are able to continue to apply these skills after the program has closed. They will build 25 million solar panels over the course of 5 years which will be distributed in rural communities.
Federal Government Housing Scheme: On the aspect of Housing, he emphasized that its great to understand the problem first before proffering solution to the sector. The constitution gave ownership of land to the state government through the LAND USE ACT. Therefore, the federal government will need to reach an agreement with the state government and other protocols that need to be observed before the federal government can be given the liberty to access the land for its purpose. All these protocols are usually more strenuous for the Private Sector, who tends to inflate the price of houses due to the resources spent in observing the bottlenecks for land acquisition from the state government. However, the federal government through the NESP will be proffering solution to the housing problem by utilizing and purchasing bulk buying of local building materials and qualified expert labour for the construction of these housing scheme across all states of the federation. Upon the completion of these 300,000-mass social housing scheme, it will be sold for 2 million naira each with no interest attached to it. The central bank will make payment to the contractors, whilst taking ownership of the houses, while the government use an automatic vetting process and certain criteria’s in allocating these houses to the low income and middle-income earners of the Nigerian population. The citizens who qualify for these houses, get to pay N25,000 monthly till they pay up the N2,000,000 million purchase prices for the house and all this is at a zero-interest rate.
Special Public Works Program: For the Special Public Works Program, the SSA-PP ascertained that the government through this plan will employ 774,000 young Nigerians who will be selected from every Local Government across the federation by a state selection committee. These committee officials are non-partisan members of the public, experts and professionals in their chosen career. The current government vow to make this plan transparent and equity focused. Those recruited to work under the Special Public Works Program will work around these areas: Road rehabilitation project, trees planting to curb desertification across the waterline areas, rural off-grid solar panel project and other indirect jobs the other components of the plan will bring.
Presidential Power Initiative: Mr. Ajuri also spoke about the situation of power in the country and stated that there are two ways to tackle this challenge: The Economic Sustainability Plan and Outside the Plan. The Presidential Power Initiative in collaboration with the siemens deal will aid in combatting this challenge of distribution of power. However, the 2013 privatization exercise which saw the borrowing of massive loans from International banks yielded little impact for which it was budgeted for. He further stated that distribution is where the problem lies in the power sector, therefore the presence of Siemens. Siemens have begun work after drafting a Roadmap for the project. The goal of this deal in phase 1 (2020- 2022) is to increase power distribution rate from 3000 – 7000 megawatts and this rate can only be reduced when there is a storm, pipeline explosion etc. This project is being handled by the Germans, though local resources will be utilized. The NESP deals with off grid, sustainable energy and solar power production. 250,000 Nigerians will be employed in production of solar panel and this will power 25 million homes equitably across all states in the federation. This project will not be a white elephant project but will rather target rural farms to help increase production and storage facility of production to reduce waste. Also, rural primary health centers, schools, SME AND MSME and homes too. This project will provide solar power to 25 million homes in 5-6 years.
Future of Work: In addition, on the ISSUE OF FUTURE OF WORK, he stated that this project is close to the Vice President’s heart and that N-POWER have taught the government to make government more accessible to the people in real-time. Working with the National Communications Commission under the Ministry of Communication and Digitization, Government working with the private sector will employ 1 million graduates where they get to work as call center agents and troubleshooters in critical agencies like FIRS, NNPC and some of those Government Agencies that have an front-end business with members of the public. Digitization of data will also be introduced, and sustainability/partnership will cut across the private sector with companies like MTN, GLO, GTBANK etc.
Payroll Support Survival Fund: For the MSME, an intervention initiative will provide a payroll support survival fund to support 300,000 MSME in other to save 1 million MSME Jobs from extinction but they have to fulfill certain criteria in other to qualify for these benefits such as;
• CAC Registration
• Electronic proof of salaries paid from Corporate Account of the company
• Tax Clearance Certificate
Gas Expansion Project: There is no doubt that Gas flaring is billions of Naira been burnt into the atmosphere and that’s why the Gas Expansion Program was initiated as part of the NESP because the future of Nigeria energy is on Gas Production and these are of two types, Compressed Natural Gas and Liquefied Natural Gas. According to the SSA-PP, demand and supply will be created for compressed natural gas, which is an alternative to liquified natural gas and the cost will be at 50% of the premium motor spirit (PMS) product. Definitely, the private sector will be partnered with on this project. He stated that every Nigerian will be made to convert their car from PMS to CNG at a small rate although optional for those who want to reduce their cost of driving their vehicles. Also, the cost of cooking gas will be crashed to wear off the use of kerosene. Oil will eventually dry off but Gas will always exist and that’s why we should diversify using other sources.
On other thoughts he shared, he noted that the funds haven’t be dispensed yet and when it does, 1 billion naira will be allocated to state government for primary education and primary health centers through the PAY4RESULTS INITIATIVE where State Governments are refunded for verifiable projects they have embarked upon in these sectors..
He also stated that the IMF and World Bank will be involved in the monitoring and evaluation of all the projects in the NESP alongside the Vice President who will be monitoring and supervising the project directly.
In CONCLUSION: Nigerians commended the plan but worry about its implementation and ensuring that these plans impacts people at the grassroot. The Nigerian Global Affairs Council will be monitoring the implementation of the NESP through its Policy Tracker Project, click here to read more about our Policy Tracker Project, we are also open to discussing with Partners and Funders focused on Good Governance and Accountability.
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