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President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has expressed optimism that Nigerian economy is being steered on the path of growth despite the prevailing challenges.
Lawan spoke on Thursday at the Nigeria/International Monetary Fund(IMF) Article lV Consultation virtual exercise.
The Senate President said the exercise was a “veritable platform to share our experiences on steering our economy on the path of growth, despite challenges.”
Lawan catalogued efforts being made by the Nigerian government at promoting economic growth and reducing poverty in the country.
He told the participants at the virtual exercise that Nigeria had to confront the challenge of limited resources, not just because of unpredictable revenue from Oil, but also because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The problems have made us improve our efforts in the prudent management of resources, and in transparency and accountability.
“Our focus has been on sustaining investments in infrastructure and utilities, trusting in their capacities to stimulate economic activities, enhance growth, and thereafter improve the people’s standard of living.
“Government has continued with its anti-corruption crusade, aside a pledge to ensure discipline in the public expenditure process.
“Our recent experiences call for further caution in the management of resources, just as it has been another reminder of the need to increase the drive for diversification.
“Beyond Oil, greater regard is now being paid to the steel, the mining and the agriculture sectors. The potentials in these sectors are significant for revenue generation, and for job creation. They are additionally valuable in the bid to engage critical sections of the population, especially the youth,” Lawan said.
The Senate President said the youth question had lately been at the centre of national conversation, flowing from the #EndSARS protests.
“We believe that the recent crisis we had in the form of youth protest has also given us an additional idea of how much we need to pay attention to the needs of the youths in the country.
“Government has ended SARS, and now taking steps towards improving social and economic needs of youth.
“One of such is the re-launch/flag off of the National Young Farmers Scheme (NYFS), by the President on 9th November 2020.
“Our youth have become much more involved, and require greater recognition, in terms of social and economic engagement.
“The government has been additionally charged to continue with policies that seek to integrate them into the scheme of things.
“In addition to NYFS is the National Youth Innovation Programme an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development which has capacity to generate 25 Billion annually over the next three years; among others.
“We prioritize implementation, to show a sustained commitment to policies and programmes,” Lawan said.
The Senate President said the National Assembly had been as responsive as possible in the provision of legislative support to people-oriented proposals.
“This is in line with our resolve to safeguard social, economic and political stability, through value-adding actions.
“We have similarly been focused on timing of processes like the annual budget, to make it more predictable, and organised.
“Presently, we are in the middle of resolving the long-standing Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), consistent with our determination to pass Bills with caution and precision.
“We are sustaining this path of timeliness, to eliminate avoidable delays in the legislative and governance processes.
“Added to this is our commitment to our oversight functions, to ensure that implementation is in tandem with our economic vision.
“The goal of the administration is therefore hinged around a productive economy, a sustainable growth, and the reduction of poverty.
“We prepare our Budgets towards executing the National Plan for economic progress, for the good of the people. We are dedicated to this, and we welcome support, meant for their successes,” Lawan said.
The Senate President said the 2021 budget currently being processed by the National Assembly is aimed at addressing the prevailing challenges including unemployment.
“I believe we are on the right path. The budget estimates presented to us at the National Assembly have been designed in such a way that job opportunities will be created for more Nigerians to be engaged in productive activities,” Lawan said.