…Says govt’ll assist farmers in rice production
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA — Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said, yesterday that without commitment to hardwork, no amount of praying and fasting would take Nigeria’s economy to the desired growth.
He noted that great economies were built by men and women with patriotic zeal and not spirits, calling for all hands to be on deck to revive the economic fortunes of the country.
Osinbajo spoke during an interactive session with senior civil servants on the recently signed three executive orders on the ease of doing business in Nigeria held at the International Conference Centre, ICC, Abuja.
The Acting President also emphasized the need for Nigerians to launch vigorously into agriculture, especially in rice production for food sufficiency, pledging that government would subsidize rice production.
He said: “Great economies and great nations, prosperity and abundance of nations and communities are created by men and not spirits. No matter how much you pray or fast, our country cannot grow without some of us deciding to do the hardwork that makes nations work.
“I am a pastor, a spiritual person, and I understand the law of sowing and reaping. It is a spiritual law that has tremendous physical implications. Every time that we delay, or frustrate what we can do today, leaving it till tomorrow, we hold back the future, we too must reap what we have sown by experiencing delays.
“If you help others to achieve, if you help your nation, you have sown good seeds, you will find help and you will prosper too.
“So, don’t see this as government policy. Understand it as personal policy. In the third executive, we addressed an issue which the President, Muhammadu Buhari has described as a cornerstone of our economic policy, The Buy and Use Nigeria Policy.
“The President said at the launch of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan that we must grow what we eat and make what we use.
Govt’ll assist farmers in rice production
“Just to give an example, we eat a lot of rice, and we import most of it. Yet we can grow enough rice to serve Africa. So we started a self sufficiency in rice.
“It is our own business, as government, to ensure that we introduce the same kinds of help and assistance to our farmers by subsidizing the production and by subsidizing even farm to market of rice so that our rice will be competitive.
“But I can assure you that in the coming months, our rice will compete with rice anywhere else in the world. But it starts off by being more expensive.”
Warns civil servants against stifling businesses
Osinbajo, who underscored the need to invest into the future, told the civil servants that government policies could not be fully implemented to produce positive result without their input.
He said civil servants were strategic to making the executive work, warning them against stifling businesses by delaying their registrations.
“Every generation of people owes the next generation a debt. That debt is paid by ensuring that we provide the means for the next generation to survive. Or at least we have a duty to ensure that we do not destroy the means of survival and prosperity of the next generation.
“But there are some people in every generation who have a special burden, a more important role than others in preparing for present prosperity and future abundance.
“These group of people are called public servants, you and I who are here today. I have served in the public service most of my adult life. As a university teacher, adviser to Minister and Attorney General, I earned a salary so I understand how salary increases can be such good news. But most importantly, I learned of the power of the public service to change the social, economic and political story of a nation.”
“The power house of the economy, the fastest and most efficient job creator are private businesses, both small and large, investments, both local and foreign. Everyone who starts a business invests in an existing business or expands a going concern, creates opportunities for jobs, jobs mean money in people’s pockets, it means that whole families can survive, live well and pay taxes, so that government can continue to provide services, build schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure.
“But small or large businesses cannot be created or can be frustrated out of existence if the environment for doing business in a country is harsh or difficult. It is the public service that provides the services that determine whether the business environment will be friendly and welcoming for business or whether it will drive away business and destroy opportunities for job creation.
“When I say public service, I mean the executive, judiciary and the legislature. So when a potential business owner wants to register a company, collect tax clearance certificate or obtain NAFDAC registration or SON certification, or expatriate quotas, or any other papers, approvals or certification from government, and we do not willingly and efficiently help him or her, we are killing the jobs and prosperity that he would have created.
“Every time we say come back next week to someone for something we can do today, we postpone prosperity of one person but in reality, we postpone the prosperity of so many who would have earned something from the business.
‘’So every time a public officer is an obstacle to business in any way, he attacks the prosperity of our economy and he attacks our future because it means our children cannot find jobs,” Osinbajo said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okey Enalemah, while making a presentation stated that promoting transparency and efficiency in business environment was key to realizing the objectives of the orders, urging the civil servants to imbibe the culture of discipline transparency.