Nigerians have yet to reap full benefits of 488 bilteral agreements — Minister

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Abuja – The Minister of National Planning, Dr Shamsudeen Usman, said the Federal Government’s bilateral agreements with several countries had not impacted much on the country’s economy.

He made the remark on Wednesday in Abuja when he appeared before the PDP National Working Committee to present his ministry’s scorecard and activities.

The minister said that it was unfortunate that Nigerians were not getting the full benefit of the 488 of such agreements that had been signed.

He said that the ministry had the capacity to assist other ministries to formulate policies that would be beneficial to the generality of Nigerians.

Usman also said that the ministry was presently working with some state governments to institutionalise planning procedure, adding that seven states had already bought the idea.

He said that though planning was very good, the execution was a challenge, adding that inadequate funding of the ministry’s programmes and projects was a major challenge to it.

Other challenges he said included late feedback from MDAs, absence of strategic plans in some MDAs and inadequate Information Technology hardware for MDAs networking.

In the mean time, Usman blamed the country’s electricity challenge on neglect of  the sector during the military rule in the country.

“Planning was relegated to the background during the military era and this had affected our electricity supply till today.

“During the military regime planning was relegated and for more than 30 years we neglected the power sector,” the minister said.

He, however, said that the Federal Government was doing everything possible to ensure steady electricity supply in the country.

He assured the party leadership that the Federal Government was not resting on its oars until  the power sector was transformed fully like the telecommunication sector.

The minister also said the Federal Government was doing the necessary things to achieve the country’s vision to be among the most 20 developed economies by the year 2020.

According to him, unless certain variables were considered and put in place Nigeria’s vision to be among the most 20 developed economies by 2020 may be a mirage.

He said that when the Federal Government started the documentation of vision 20:2020 in 2009 to be among the top 20 economies Nigeria was 44th among developed economies.

He added that if by 2020 the nation rises to number 25 that he would be delectable.

Meanwhile, the minister stressed the need for the National Assembly to deliberate on the National Planning and Projects Continuity Bill now lying dormant.

He said the absence of a legal framework for the performance contracting system was also a challenge to the ministry.

Earlier, the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, identified planning as a crucial ingredient of national development and a critical factor to the welfare of Nigerians.

He charged the minister to ensure the development of the country and the improvement of the people’s welfare through planning

“You are our own mirror of what the future holds for us and we will be very happy if you inform us on how to navigate our programmes,’’ Tukur said.

According to him, the party’s manifesto will be adequately implemented through planning of programmes that are geared towards its objectives. (NAN)

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