By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja – Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says there is need for the relevant ministers and stakeholders to expedite action on the plan adopted to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 disruptions on the economy.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, said the vice president made the call while presenting an overview of the Economic Sustainability Plan(ESP) at a 2-day First Year Ministerial Performance Review Retreat at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja.
He said even though the Federal Government had commenced the implementation of the N2.3 trillion stimulus package, the economic distortions and hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic required urgent action.
The retreat was organised for Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and top government functionaries.
“We are already in ‘Day 67′ since the plan; nothing is going to happen by magic, we have to simply do this stuff.
“We got to ensure that we have the money and ensure that day by day, we are measuring our achievements and trying to ensure that we do the things that we need to do.
“And we simply are not favoured by time, every single day the poverty situation and the economic distortions deepen.’’
According to Osinbajo, everybody recognises that the only way out of the present problem is to ensure that production is funded, consumer spending enabled so that people can go and buy things; thereby putting money in peoples’ hands.
The vice president said that the Mass Agriculture Programme was envisaged to engage many farmers.
“So far, we have enumerated at least four million farmers; these are farmers, who are tied to their land and we have the geo-statistics that shows where their land is and we have about four million of them.
“And we expect that, with each state contributing acreage for farming, we will be able to do significant numbers; the ESP is designed in such a way that in each one of the programmes, we are engaging as many Nigerians as possible.
“The expected outcome for Agriculture, even if each farmer employs an additional person, this will result in an additional 4 million jobs and even more jobs along the value chain; we also will be looking at developing rural roads to reduce post-harvest losses.
“Then guaranteed off-take of the produce; the way the programme is designed is that, we have anchor farmers who are big farmers; they engage several thousands of farmers and they ensure that these farmers have all of their requirements and they guarantee the off-take of their produce.
“We have done the survey and it is very evident that so long as there is funding, we will be able to do this programme.”
He said that under the Mass Housing Programme, 300, 000 homes would be built across the country.
The vice president said that efforts were being made to ensure that the price of those homes did not exceed N2 million.
On the MSMEs and Solar Power components of the plan, Osinbajo said they were also focused on creating jobs.
The vice president said that under the ESP, agriculture required N637.2 billion funding and would provide 5,000,000 jobs.
“The Solar power project funding requirement is N152.4 billion is expected to provide 250,000 jobs.
“The Mass Housing programme with a funding requirement of N217.3 billion is expected to create 1,500,000 jobs; while Public Works funding is N52 billion to provide 774,000 jobs: and N100 billion is required to provide 500, 000 jobs in the SMEs.
“I think that if we are able to implement this faithfully, if we are able to ensure that we bring in the resources, then we certainly will be able to turn around, the economic fortunes of Nigeria.
“The truth is that, if you look at stimulus packages all over the world, what has happened is that, in many economies that have been able to lessen the impact of COVID-19, the funds have been provided and they have been provided at great pains,’’ he said.