The vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has said that Nigeria’s problem is not in new ideas or starting projects, but it is the lack of rigour and discipline to complete projects and maintain them.
Delivering a keynote address at the 2017 Leadership Newspapers Awards and Conference themed ‘Towards Financially Viable State Governments’ held in Abuja on Thursday, Osinbajo declared: “One of the challenges with governance in Nigeria today is that penchant for dismantling or dismissing everything inherited. President Buhari insisted when we assumed office that we must ensure the completion of projects started but abandoned or uncompleted by previous governments before starting new ones.”
He called on governments to look beyond their tenures and lay good foundation for their successors.
“Governors have to think beyond four or eight year cycles. There must be a commitment to laying a foundation that our successors will build on, and for successors to be ready to build on foundations laid,” he said.
The vice president said the federal government will continue to implement policies that will create more jobs and grow the economy.
“Creating an enabling environment for business is another must-do. We have pursued this goal aggressively since 2016, and I’m pleased to note that we’re already started seeing the results. We have reduced business registration times, we’ve implemented a functioning Visa on Arrival system, launched an online system for filing taxes, among other reforms. By dismantling the bureaucratic obstacles in the way of businesses and investors, we are hoping to unleash the full potential of private enterprise; the kind of enterprise that creates jobs, that grows the economy, and produces future tax revenues for the government.
“This conversation about creating financially viable states should therefore be viewed through the lens of the medium to the long term. There will always be the temptation to prioritize raising internally generated revenue at all costs. If this is done in a manner that stifles today’s entrepreneurs and investors, then clearly there will be a great price to pay down the line,” he added.
However, he lamented that the federal government and the sub-national units cannot survive outside a mono source of revenue.
“Without federal allocation most cannot survive. Indeed, the problem of the states is the same as that of the federal government; a complete reliance on a source of revenue that is extractive, and so requires no creativity or productivity whatsoever.
“Most resource-rich nations and sub-nationals in the developing world end up being poor and financially unviable because making easy revenues from the extraction of resources is habit-forming; a habit of easy money without effort, few jobs are created because there is no value added. So Japan, Singapore and South Korea with no significant natural resources are some of the most successful economies, because they create enough jobs for most of their population,” he said
Nevertheless, the vice president said there is a new thinking stressing that government had taken steps to diversify the economy.
“There is a focus on agriculture, and especially value-adding by processing along the agro-allied value chain, creating jobs, reducing imports and exporting more. Since all the land is in the states anywhere, except, of course, for the Federal Capital Territory, the states that have created the most jobs are those that focused on agriculture and the value chain.
“Rice-producing states, for example, have witnessed a tremendous rise in the prosperity of their people. So states like Kebbi, Jigawa states have noticed a significant improvement in the earnings of farmers and of people, and certainly more farmers,” he said.