Osinbajo to Nigerians: ‘We agree with you, things are bad’

By Wahab Akanji, Abuja

Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has reacted to series of protests embarked upon by Nigerians in Lagos and Abuja, saying the Federal Government is aware that the nation’s economic is biting hard on the people of the country.

Recalling the similar remark by President Muhammadu Buhari few months back, Osinbajo said that he has gone round the country and the complain from the people on the economy is similar to what the protesters are complaining about.

According to him, the rot of many years cannot be addressed overnight, adding however that the Federal Government is committed to turning around the trend and place Nigeria on the path of growth.

He spoke during the opening ceremony of the consultative forum between the Economic Management Team and the Private Sector on the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja.

He said: “We are in a serious economic situation and the president was particularly concerned about the lot of the common man. And I quote him, “Recession today for many… for some it’s means not being able to pay school fees, for others not being able to afford high cost of rice and millets and for most of our young people recession means joblessness…

“I for one have been across the states and even today some people are out on the street protesting that things are difficult. What we are saying to every Nigeria is that ‘we hear you loud and clear’, and we are determined to recover the economy. You have a right to demand for a better economy and we are committed to see it happen.

“Years of deterioration cannot be reversed over night. Again it has to be said that it’s our business, it’s our duty to ensure that we put the Nigerian economy on the track of recovery.” he said

He said that the government had to intervened three times to states in the past 18 months ?to enable them have enough resources to pay salaries.

He added: “And the last intervention was in December when we paid the Paris club refund to the states. This is funds that the federal government was owing states since 2005. This was to enable states pay their workers and we tend to believe that this is what is being done.”

?He also spoke about the social intervention fund the government is embarking upon to ameliorate the poor economic situation.

This, he said, included payment of N5,000 a month to the poorest citizens, the home grown feeding programme in several states, and providing credit facility to 1.6 million traders and artisans.

Stressing the importance of engaging the private sector to the economic recovery growth plan, he said that the federal government on its own cannot do it.

“Your partipation is your own commitment to the future of our country and to those coming behind us.” he stated

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, said the principle of the plan included tackling all constraints to growth, promote national cohesion, social inclusion, upholding core values.

Noting that the key to its success is execution, he said that a special unit will be set up to drive the plan to cover 2017 to 2020.

He said that it will focus, among other things, on agriculture and food security, energy, small businesses and industrialization, stabilizing micro-economic environment.

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