Mr. Chairman, distinguished guests, as part of our short to medium term planning, we have developed a strategic implementation plan for the 2016 budget, permit me to share some of the key highlights:

A. This Strategic Implementation Plan articulates 6 thematic Strategies which will constitute the short-term priority of the Federal Government over the next 12 months. Accordingly, the Federal Government is focused on implementing about 33 Priority Actions under the 6 themes in the 2016 Fiscal Year, in the certain strategic areas including some of the following:

B. Lasting Changes in the Policy Environment, National Security and Governance, Achieve an Appropriate Foreign Exchange Regime, Increase low interest lending to the Real Sector we need to move toward a single digit interest rate; Maintain Capital Spending in the Budget at a minimum of 30%; Complement this with funds from the Infrastructure Fund for commercial projects; Intensify the Implementation of Public Financial Management Reforms to Grow Revenues and Cut Costs. But not to cut staff numbers, you cannot say you are creating jobs and then cutting jobs; Maintain Sustainable Debt Management Strategy; Introduce Fiscal Incentives to Improve Collections; Intensify the Fight Against Corruption by increasing Transparency, Accountability and Compliance with Law and Order; Intensify Public Procurement Reforms in Projects to obtain Value for Money and cut Cost; Sustain the Fight Against Insurgency, Kidnapping and Other Violent Crimes, Terrorism, Cyber-Crimes, Piracy, Oil Theft and Illegal Mining.

C. Activities. Intensify the reorientation of the populace through Integrity Campaigns; Diversifying the Economy by Fast-tracking Industrialization, Agriculture and Agro-Allied Processing, as well as attracting investment into the Solid Minerals, Tourism and Entertainment Sectors; Implement Measures to Achieve Self-Sufficiency & Become Net Exporters of certain agricultural Items: rice-2018, tomato paste-2016, wheat-2019. Increase local production of maize, soya, poultry & livestock, so as to achieve self-sufficiency: deadlines to be announced in due course; Revitalize and Expand Agro-Allied Processing to intensify local production and processing of cassava, cocoa, cashew, fruits and sesame seed; Utilize 5,000 hectares of Irrigable Land in the 12 River Basin Development Authorities and utilize 22 Dams for Commercial Farming activities by prospective investors; Develop Dadinkowa, Gurara and Oyan  dams with 82.5 MW capacity contribution to the National Grid.

D. Adopt and Implement a Roadmap to Stimulate Investment into the Solid Minerals sector,  and plug Revenue Leakages in the Sector; Implement the National Industrial Revolution      Plan and Launch the ‘Made in Nigeria’ Campaign; Increase Manufacturing Capacity through the operationalization of Industrial Parks, Free and Export Processing Zones, etc.

E. Enhancing support facilities to provide increased financial, technical assistance, networking and information to new investors and existing enterprises; Implement the  Road map to Increase Private Sector Investment in Culture, Tourism, Entertainment and Sports; create high-technology innovation hubs to support growth in the Digital and Technology Sectors.

F. Priority Critical Infrastructure, focused on increasing investment in Power, Rail and Roads, etc. Optimize the 7,000MW installed capacity and ensure associated infrastructure to Fuel, Transmit and Distribute this capacity. Ensure Tariff includes all costs of Transmission, Generation and Gas at new price, and Distribution Company costs required to operate, maintain and upgrade distribution networks; Resolve all Issues on Gas Pricing, Tariffs and Payment Assurance. Conclude Roadmap on Gas Development; Complete the Kaduna-Abuja and Ajaokuta-Warri Rail Lines scheduled for 2016; commence the construction of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge Line; and finalize negotiations for the Calabar-Lagos Rail Project; Undertake the rehabilitation and construction of 31 major Road Projects scheduled for 2016 to restore degraded sections of the Federal Highways network and to Establish Connectivity over a distance of 2,193km (through public works projects, maintenance works, PPP and other interventions); Complete the Rehabilitation of 4 Airports (i.e. Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt.

G. Oil and Gas Reforms Adopt & Execute a Comprehensive National Oil & Gas Master-Plan (‘NOGM’) as the roadmap for the Petroleum Industry’s Development, Diversification, Privatization & Governance. Adopt & Execute a Roadmap of Gas Development & Flare Elimination; Set a deadline to be Self-Sufficient in Refined Petroleum Products & become a Net Exporter Work with the National Assembly on the passage of a Revised Petroleum Industry Bill (‘PIB’) or Bills to give effect to the NOGM & to resolve Fiscal & Governance Issues of the Sector, & Eliminate Gas Flaring; Conclude negotiations to deal with all funding gap issues in the Upstream Sector.

H. Ease of Doing Business – Move 20 places up global Ease of Doing Business Rankings, by implementing fast track measures for business approvals, acquisition of land titles, etc.  (Nigeria is currently ranked 169 out of 189 countries by the World Bank – 2015 Survey). Fast-track visa application and issuance processes.

I. Social Investment – Implement Social Intervention Programme and specific Health /  Education projects included in 2016 Budget; Health Sector Interventions including      Flagging off the Revitalization of 1 Primary Health Centre per Ward (a total of 10,000  nationwide).

The Social Investment plans include the following:

*Train and deploy 500,000 unemployed graduates as volunteer teachers who would be paid on the job while they seek jobs in their chosen careers.

*Homegrown School Feeding for primary school pupils across the country paid for by the government.

*Micro-credit scheme that provides very soft loans to a million market women, artisans, traders.

*Creating innovation and technology hubs/ parks on a large scale and skills acquisition & vocational training for over 300,000 non-graduate youths.

* Conditional Cash Transfer where one million poor and vulnerable Nigerians would receive N5000 monthly.

*Bursary awards for tertiary education students of Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths, STEM.

Finally, as indicated by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari gcon, in his 2016 Budget Presentation speech, this Administration remains committed to economic diversification through import substitution, and export promotion, in order to build a robust and resilient economy, as a lasting legacy for generations to come. This Strategic Implementation Plan therefore represents a significant step along this Journey to Change.

In conclusion it is important to underscore the point that we shall remain engaged with the Nigerian people, including stakeholders in the economy. For instance we intend to start a quarterly meeting with members of the private sector and other economic stakeholders soon and thereby create a forum for engagement on an ongoing basis. Town-hall meetings at the presidential level would also be resumed across the country to explain progress and address the challenges with our people.

While the task of revamping our economy is a considerable one, our determination as an administration is firm and unrelenting. We urge the Nigerian people to remain patient and indeed expectant. We acknowledge the pains and are concerned by them. Which is why we are working diligently to address the tough challenges inherited from the nation’s past. Like I said at the beginning of this message, the plethora of challenges facing Nigeria could be overwhelming, and with it the multitude of things requiring decisive action. We are taking action and in due course they would produce satisfying outcomes, for they are borne out of a leadership that has no other agenda but the progress and greatness of Nigeria.

I thank The Nation for this opportunity to share a few thoughts and look forward to an interesting and engaging exchange of views.

Thank you for your kind attention!

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media & Publicity.