Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has urged executors of the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) of the Federal Government to ensure their activities change the current socio-economic situation in the country.
Osinbajo said this in Abuja on Tuesday while receiving a portal donated by the management of the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) for use in the monitoring and evaluation of the School Feeding Programme under the SIP.
The acting President stated that the private sector has an active role to play in the implementation of government schemes.
He, therefore, called on all stakeholders to participate in such programmes with commitment.
“Our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan really does assume a lot of private sector participation.
“And we expect that participation to be real and this is the sort of thing we are talking about.
“I don’t mean just the CSR type of involvement but involvement even in the thinking through how these could be done.
“We are thinking of doing real a game-changing activity.
“For example in agriculture; we recognize now that we have got to be able to produce enough rice for our people between now and possibly the end of 2018.
“We must absolutely stop the importation of rice; there is no reason a country our size with all the arable land that we have cannot produce enough rice for our own consumption and of course export as time goes on,’’ he said.
He noted that a lot was already going on especially in the Northern borders.
Osnbajo, however, disclosed that the important thing was that the act of growing rice cannot in itself yield the produce for consumption without the milling aspect.
“Looking at our milling capacity, which is one of the reasons we are not getting enough rice to the markets, the milling capacity is quite low.
“But there are a few private sector individuals and companies that are coming into milling now but we really need game-changing activity in that respect,’’ he stated.
The acting President said some of the mills in the country were very reasonably small mills adding that the country needed to have about 200 metric ton of milling.
According to him, there is a private investor who has signed up and looking at a million metric tons of milling which he described as huge compared to what the country had some three months ago.
He said such was the type of game-changing types of investments which the government wanted the private sector to do which could not be provided by government alone.
The Acting President noted that government could only provide a fraction and could not be providing infrastructure for business when it could not manage such efficiently.
He said he was excited about what the FCMB represented and had been doing.
He congratulated the organization for being pro-active and “a company that thinks along with policy makers and with other persons concerned about the Nigerian economy’’.
Osinbajo expressed Federal Government’s gratitude for the strong support the FCMB had made to the School feeding programme and other efforts of government.
He said he found the donation impressive because the bank recognized that the business of government should not be left for only those elected or appointed.
“All of us must be participants because the consequences for good or for ill affect us all,’’ he said and urged other corporate organisations to emulate the bank.
He said the portal would be extremely useful because the Home Grown School Feeding programme “is clearly the largest of its sort in Africa’’.
“There is no school feeding programme that matches it in size of complexity as we are dealing with literally millions of school children.
“And because it is a home grown feeding programme it means there are linkages with agriculture and the entire value chan.
“It is complex and we are not importing food or selling ready-made food; you have vendors and market people involved in it as well as cooks.
“it is a very involved process and that is why this portal is very important because it helps us with the technical aspects to update ourselves, monitor and screen all that is going on,’’ Osinbajo added.
The Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais, noted that the bank had engaged the government in December 2015 and offered the portal as its Corporate Social Responsibility CSR).
She said she was happy it became a reality and being something that the scheme had to take ownership of to be able to engage the states and other participants.
“It is the first step, we have an enterprise programme office to host all our information so we need to engage with all of that to come up with all we require for a seamless process,’’ Uwais said.
The Managing Director of FCMB, Mr Adam Nuru, while making the presentation thanked the Federal Government for initiating the HGSF programme to improve the wellbeing of the children.
He said the bank got involved in the scheme to demonstrate its value as a financial institution committed to delivering exceptional services for life changing opportunities for its customers and the country at large.
According to Nuru, the portal is an information hub to aid remote monitoring and evaluation of the HGSF programme.
He said the portal had the capacity to accurately capture data of all school pupils and had a software for parents, teachers and other stakeholders to send daily feedback on the scheme’s field activities.