Buhari Inaugurates Economic Council, Pledges Accountability

NECThe National Economic Council (NEC) has been inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The inauguration of the council headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), took place on Monday.

In his remarks, the president described the task of growing the economy as enormous, tasking council members to work towards ensuring the nation surmounts her challenges.

Buhari also assured that his administration would ensure transparency, integrity and accountability.

He restated his administration’s commitment to tackling insecurity, corruption and other social vices.

“You may recall, that in my inaugural speech, on May 29, 2015 I stated that the primary objective of this Administration is to tackle insecurity; youth unemployment, through the revival of agriculture, solid minerals mining, as well as small and medium size businesses. I also highlighted pervasive corruption; fuel and power shortages; public service reforms; and the need to allow every tier of Government to exercise its constitutional responsibilities, among others. We are fully committed to embarking on sustainable visionary initiatives and programmes that will restructure and transform our national economy. We are also committed to ensuring collaboration and facilitation of the International efforts to combat threats of cross-border terrorism, sea piracy, refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), financial crimes, cybercrimes, climate change; the spread of communicable diseases and other challenges of the 21st century.

“I urge you all to ensure that we surmount these enormous challenges facing us as a country by working to support economic policies, which the government will soon unveil to grow our economy and finance our external promises.

“I am pleased to note that the Council meetings have, over the years, been very constructive and productive, and the key outcomes as well as recommendations translated into Government policies at the Federal and state levels.  This has not only facilitated national economic planning, but also lead to over- all political harmony. It is also reassuring to note that steps have been taken in the past to strengthen the effectiveness of the Council in its role as prime adviser on developments in the economy. This process must be geared up substantially especially in the difficult times that we have now found ourselves. The National Planning Commission must continue to work to arrive at workable consensus on Government policies among the various tiers of Government, which is a prerequisite for sustained growth and development.

“Your Excellencies, it is evident that the task of ensuring growth, job creation and equity, is quite enormous. Consequently, we must kick-start this process by cultivating a culture of prudent management of resources at all levels of Government. This will entail looking inwards to secure sustainable ways of increasing Internally Generated Revenue (IGR); and harnessing growth potentials of each State to supplement the Federation Account allocation to States. The States are also encouraged to embark on projects that will meet immediate needs of the people taking account of available resources. I therefore urge Council members to consider, as a matter of urgency, exploring efficient means of gradually liquidating all unpaid salaries of staff, which have brought untold hardship to thousands of families.

“I would like also, as a former Governor myself to remind us the need for neighbouring states to cooperate closely on projects such as interstate and feeder roads, soil erosion, desertification and other developmental programmes. Our country is one and we who have the responsibility to run it lead by example. As far as is possible there should be distance between politics and development programmes.

“On its part the Federal Government will abide by the provisions of Sections 80 and 162 of the Constitution and ensure more accountability, transparency and integrity in the Distribution of the Federation Account.  All Revenue Generating Agencies such as Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Customs Services (NCS), Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) amongst others shall comply with stipulated Financial Regulations and Administrative Instructions in their remittances into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

“On Insurgency, the Nigerian Armed Forces have shown renewed commitment and made steady progress in the fight against Boko Haram. Nigeria, under the auspices of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the Republic of Benin is collaborating with the Republics of Niger, Chad, Cameroun and Benin to consolidate cross-border and international efforts at eradicating the insurgency.  I am also happy to reiterate that following my invitation to Germany early this month by the G7 Nations who have shown concern about the Insurgency and promised to intervene to restore the destroyed infrastructure, schools and hospitals amongst others, I have directed the front line states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa to articulate realistic assessments, costs, locations on Local Government by-Local-Government of affected facilities for submission to the President of the G7 for further verification.  In addition, the requirements of the Military have been prepared by the Service Chiefs for the consideration of the G7 Nations”, the president said.

Prof. Osinbajo is presiding over the inaugural meeting of the council at the moment.

The NEC, which has the 36 state governors and FCT Minister as well as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as members, is saddled with the responsibility of advising the President on economic affairs of the country.

It also serves as a clearing house for economic issues between the states and the federal government.

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