Yar’Adua’s 7-point Agenda and Vision 2020: Political slogan or Economic Growth Mechanism

Yar’Adua’s 7-Point Agenda and Vision 2020: Political slogans or Economic Growth Mechanisms?

By Tanimu Yakubu Ph.D
Chief Economic Adviser to the President

PROTOCOLS

I wish to commence by thanking the Nigerian Guild of Editors for affording me, as representative of the Yar’Adua Administration, this opportunity and others in the past to communicate to the Nigerian populace the vision and philosophy behind the Administration’s actions and the rationale for reliance on Mr. President’s 7-Point Agenda to bring succour to our National economy. I feel extremely delighted to be invited to this conference today, as there can hardly be a richer gathering of media personalities, and therefore the opportunity for communicating our message more effectively.
Today’s discussion comes less than a month after Mr. President signed the 2009 Appropriation Act into law, an Act we in the Administration feel marks the actual commencement of the implementation of the 7-Point Agenda. It is heartwarming to note therefore, that the Nigerian Guild of Editors who have the capacity to explain Government action, or lack of it in a manner that no propaganda campaign can do. are pro-actively leading the effort to educate the Nigerian people on the Administration’s actions.
It is not lost on Government that the multitude of slogans describing government policy intentions can be confusing. But while the Nigeria Vision 2020 remains what it; name connotes: a vision, an aspiration and a long term view of where we intend to be by the year 2020, the Administration’s ongoing development agenda is define d by the 7-Point Agenda. It is important to note that the 2009 Budget, as conceived, is a clear demonstration of the Government’s determination to achieve its long-term vision objective through faithful implementation of the 7-Point Agenda, which itself is a medium term development strategy. In attempting to rationalise if the slogans, Vision 2020 and 7-Point Agenda are mere political sloganeering or are, in fact economic growth mechanisms, there is need to briefly ‘ describe the nature and structure of the 2009 Federal Government Budget.   
The Budget this time around was premised on the need to, partly, address the historical bottleneck to budget implementation and performance in the country, and also, to achieve the well defined deliverables that constitute the 7-Point Agenda. The preparatory process in the budget followed a more focussed approach, emphasising the need for a people-centred budget, the outcome of which is a bold-step in the introduction to Nigeria of a comprehensive result-oriented, performance-based budgeting system, backed by appropriate monitoring and evaluation structures and strategies. Because the budget was based on the vision of Mr President, it  necessarily means that the various items of the 7-Point Agenda provide the focal points for assessing the success or failure of the 2009 budget.
Let me quickly highlight some of the measurable targets and outputs envisaged in the 2009 budget.

Critical Infrastructure
Power
(1) The Budget envisages the goal of attaining 6000MW of power generation in 2009, setting aside over N200 billion for implementing gas projects, aimed at acquiring capacity to deliver 1.2bn scf of gas to domestic market. The projects associated with the above allocation include:
* National Domestic Gas Projects
* Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline Project
* Calabar-Urnuahia-Ajaokuta Gas Pipeline
* Ajaokuta-Abuja-Kano Gas Pipeline
* Gas Supply Pipeline to PHCN Delta IV
* Gas pipelines to power plants including: Omotosho, Papalanto and Alaoji
* Mambilla hydro-electric power generation project
* Other Generation projects
* Transmission Projects
* Distribution Projects
Under the transportation sector, allocations have been made to achieve the following sub-sectoral projects:
i) Rail Transport
* Modernisation of locomotives, coaches and wagons; rehabilitation works on tracks, stations, bridges, signalling equipment and culverts; procurement of tools, crane & other railway equipment; etc.    
ii) Marine and Inland Waterways Transport
* Completion of Ajaokuta-Warri Line to Delta Steel Jetty
* Dredging cl Lower River Niger
iii) Road Transportation Nationwide Works
* Maintaining 30,000km of roads (for completion in 3 years)
* Construction and rehabilitation of 3,293km of roads
* Engineering design of 699.05km of roads
* Completion of 2,821m length of bridges
* Rehabilitation of 262m length of bridges
* Zonal intervention in road projects to cover about 2,400km of roads
* Access Roads to 6 NNPC refineries and ports
* Highways rehabilitation and construction
* Construction of 2nd Niger Bridge at Onitsha (on PPP basis)
* Guto/Bagana Bridge (on PPP basis)
* Emergency rehabilitation road works in all 6 geopolitical zones
Zonal Intervention Road Projects across all 6 Geopolitical Zones as follows:
North-Central
* 140km Length Realignment and Construction of dangerous curves along Akwanga-Lafia Road
* 120km Length Otuoacha-lbaji-Odolu-Ajegwu Road
* 68km Length 9th Mile-Otukpo-Makurdi Road Lafia
* 100km Length Otukpo-Ayangba-Ajaokuta-Okene Road
* 70km Ilorin Jebba-Mokwa
North-East
* 239km Length Maiduguri-Bama-Gwoza-Mubi with spur to Banki
* 190km Length Gombe-Numan-Yola Road Section II
* 100km Length Nafada-Gombe Abba Road                                            
* 100km Length Wukari-Mutum Biu-Jalingo-Numan Road                    
North-West
* 125km Length Kano-Katsina-Jibia Road Gusau
* 90km Length Mararaba-Panbeguwa-Saminaka-Jos
* 150km Length Kano-Dutse-Kazaure-Daura-Mai-adua-Hui
* 120km Length Zaria-Funtua-Gusau-Sokoto-Birnin Kebbi
South-East
* 90km   Length   9th   Mile-Enugu-Port-Harcourt  with   spur  to   Okpanku   and Nkomoro
* 140km Length Oba-Nnewi-Okigwe Road with spur to Alor
* 100km Length Nsukka-Obollo-Afor-Eheamufu-Nkalagu
* 122km Length Enugu-Onitsha with a spur to Inyi
* 60km Length Abakaliki-Afikpo Road with spur to Itigidi
South-South
* 92km Length Yenegwe-Okaki-Kolo-Nembe-Brass Road
* 70km Length Calabar-Ugep-Ogoja-Katsina Ala with spur to Abakaliki Road
* 50km Length Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene-Aba Owerri Road
South-West
* 140km Length Kabba-Omuo-lfaki-Ado Ekiti-Aramoko-Itawure-Erinmo-Oshogbo Road
* 60km Length Shagamu-Ajebandele-Ore-Benin Road
* 36km Length Ibadan-Oyo-Ogbomosho Road
* Dualisation of Abeokuta-Ota-Owode Road (Ota-Owode Section with spur to Igboora Bridge at Lafenwa)
Federal Capital Territory
In the Federal capital territory, the budget covered the completion of three key headquarters structures,  namely the  Foreign  Affairs  Headquarters, the Shehu Shagari Complex and the Federal Secretariat Building Phase II (Bullet House) so that MDAs   can   relocate   to   these   premises  instead  of embarking on multiple headquarters projects.

FOOD SECURITY AND  AGRIBUSINESS
The recent growth of the economy has been largely attributable to the non-oil sectors, especially agriculture.  As well as guaranteeing national food security, the Agriculture sector offers the  best opportunity for achieving rapid economic growth, neatly  increased  employment  opportunities  and  industrialisation.  The  Federal Government’s proposed expenditures in the agriculture sector is aimed at raising the sector’s contribution to GDP to higher levels through on-going projects and targets over the next 3 year  including:
* Counterpart funding tor FADAMA III, IFAD and AfDB projects etc.
* Assistance to  States’ production  initiatives through 40% contribution to financing  production   infrastructure in the State to attract agribusiness investments.
* Completion of ongoing silos projects and construction of new ones to bolster food security by upgrading national strategic storage capacity to 1 million tonnes
* Rehabilitation and construction of dams to increase irrigated lands and acquire power generation capabilities at some of the dams
* Rehabilitation and expansion of irrigation infrastructure to add 150,000 hectares in addition to optimisation of currently 220,000 hectares of irrigation infrastructure.
* Increasing land under cultivation by 5% in the next season and 15% over a period of 3 years.
* Increase in yields by 50-250% of different crops, and 20% increase in production of targeted commodity crops
* Provision of N200 billion credit for commercial agriculture development.
* 35% increase in domestic agribusiness and 15% increase in export of selected commodities.  
* Increase in fish production by 230% from 650,000 metric tonnes to 1.5m metric tonnes p.a.
* 40% increase in availability of rural infrastructure (road, energy, water and housing)
* Increase in the agriculture sector’s contribution to GDP by at least 5%.
Related to this also is the fact that Government has embarked on the amendment of the Land Use Act, in order to remove the obstacles and inconveniences of transacting in land for housing and agriculture and bring out the inherent capital in landed assets.
    
WEALTH CREATION AND HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT
Government is aware that productivity growth, equity, poverty eradication and security can all reinforce one another. And for that to happen, requires widespread access to wealth-creating assets, especially through education, the basis for acquiring skill and grasping opportunities. The 2009 budget has adequate and measurable provisions to address the issue of wealth creation, human capital development and guarantee of security to life and property.
Under the health sector, government made provisions in the 2009 Budget for:
* Completion of ongoing projects for modernisation of 7 Specialist Hospitals in Kaduna, Maiduguri, Kano, Calabar, Enugu, Abeokuta & Lagos.
* Completing of ongoing projects for modernisation of 3 Teaching Hospitals in Calabar, Awka and Ife.

INTERNAL SECURITY
5.4.1 Under internal security Government’s prioritization has been reflected in the 2009 budget including allocations for security and community policing in 7 cities (Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Maiduguri & Onitsha) identified as having the highest incidences of criminal activity, with the view to reducing this by 40% in 2009.

NIGER DELTA
Toward implementation of the Administration’s Niger Delta Agendum, provisions have been made in the 2009 Budget for:
* New road projects such as the Warri-Kaima Road,
* East-West Road (Section I) Warri-Kaima
* East-West Road (Section II) Warri-Port Harcourt
* East-West Road (Section III) Port Harcourt-Eket
* East-West Road (Section IV) Eket-Oron
* Erosion Control Projects
* Idumuje Unor Erosion Control Project, Delta State
* Forestry Projects
* Conservation and Development of Coastal Ecosystem (Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem) G-clime (Rivers & Bayelsa State)
* Youth Training/Development Centres in the Niger Delta                           
* Digital security surveillance
* Acquisition of Marine boats and equipment
* Provision of observation posts along major highways in the country

POLICY THRUST OF THE BUDGET
There is a determination to shift focus from resource commitment to MDAs, to considering what was actually delivered by the various MDAs. To ensure improved efficiency, effectiveness and productivity of government’s expenditure, the Budget Office of the Federation, working with the National Planning Commission, Office of the Chief Economic Adviser and the MDG office, has designed a framework to monitor and evaluate the budget performance. Quarterly budget monitoring and evaluation reports will be published in line with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.
One of the challenges of the past had been the slow passage of the Appropriation Bill, which has been reversed this year as the President has already assented to the 2009 Budget Act. In like manner, there is now no constriction on funds releases with a new flexibility in the approval process. The Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved upward revisions to the approval thresholds for procurement of goods and services, combined with enhanced monitoring. As a result of the upward review of thresholds and the fact that a handful of MDAs established in-house branches of the Due Process Mechanism (DPM) outfit, the DPM has now been made easier. Most MDAs are now also more aware of the Public Procurement Act (PPA), which, no doubt, would hasten the issuance of “no objections” in contract execution.
Closing the critical infrastructure gap is a major policy thrust of this Administration.  Targeted, measurable and verifiable critical infrastructure! projects under the 2009 Budget have been prioritized to ensure their implementation. In the medium to long term, the changed infrastructural environment will make the Nigerian economy grow at an accelerated rate and lead to enhanced competitiveness,
It is equally important to recognize that new strategies of domestic borrowing, privatisation, PPP and the use of unspent capital votes have been adopted in place of the inefficient traditional ways and means of utilisation and abuse of cash calls on capital projects implementation in the oil & gas sector. The whole process is now aimed at improving cash-backing in budget implementation
and making necessary provisions to finance the development strategy in the sector and attain the highest quality of spending to increase economic growth.
Finally, a Cash Management Committee shall be established to ensure effective implementation of the 2009 budget by, among others, managing and controlling cash available to Government at any point in time and ensuring that budgetary revenues are realised and that adequate machineries are put in place for prompt collection accounting and remittance to the relevant revenue accounts on a real-time basis. This is to be set in the context of changing international environment and the challenges that this could pose for the implementation of the budget.

CONCLUSION
I have tried in the last few paragraphs to highlight the features and contents of the 2009 Budget, and attempted to explain that, while the Administration’s vision is enshrined in the Vision 2020 document, the 7-Point Agenda contains definite development targets and strategies for their achievement with well defined deliverables.
Strict pursuit of the 7-Point Agenda will widen opportunities through provision of functional infrastructure, enhanced human capital, wealth creation and increased emphasis on food security and affordable housing. Realisation of the key Agenda items in the short and medium-term, namely: addressing the challenges of the critical infrastructure gap, bringing succour to the chronic socio-economic crises in the Niger Delta, achieving enhanced human capital development, ameliorating the inadequacies of our Food sector, implementing land tenure and home ownership reforms aimed at freeing the wealth in our land resources, addressing the challenges of National security and creating a conducive environment for wealth creation, would deliver on the 2020 vision.

Thank you for listening to me.

*Being the text of the lecture – Yar’Adua’s 7-Point Agenda and Vision 2020: Political slogans or Economic Growth Mechanisms? by TANIMU YAKUBU
Chief Economic Adviser to the President Federal Republic o f Nigeria at the 5th All Nigerian Editors Conference in Hamdala Hotel, Kaduna April 1-5, 2009

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