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Govs beg Buhari to handover federal roads to state

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By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – THE 36 Governors at the monthly National Economic Council, NEC, on Thursday pleaded with the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to hand over federal roads in various states governments.

President Muhammadu Buhari chair weekly FEC Meeting

The NEC meeting under the chairmanship of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo noted that the Excess Crude Account stood at $2,309 billion as at 22nd September, while Stabilisation Account Balance was N4.354 billion as at 26th September.

The NEC meeting under the chairmanship of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo noted that the Excess Crude Account stood at $2,309 billion as at 22nd September, while Stabilisation Account Balance was N4.354 billion as at 26th September.

Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Dave Umahi said it was agreed that the governors would get a strategic plan on how to rescue the federal roads that have dilapidated.

Governor Umahi disclosed that the
Minister of Finance made a presentation at the NEC on special accounts of the federation and gave the closing balances that also included the Development of Natural Resources Account which was N84.693 billion as at 26th September, 2017.

He said that there was a gentleman agreement entered into between the Minister of Finance in the NEC and the 35 governors except Lagos State in a programme called budget support as a result of the down turn of economic challenges that endangers a number of states not being able to pay salaries.

According to him, “we came to understanding that every month the total sharable revenue in the federation account any time if it is less than N600billion, the the Minister of Finance will give each state budget support.

“We concluded that in the last twelve months and that continued for the second year. States have done very well, some states have been able to pay their accumulated salary debts and then also increased their commitment to infrastructure and generation of revenue.

“However, from July, that was not paid and in the month of August I think about seven states were paid because according to the minister, other states did not comply with the set down rules, the most outstanding of that was the non remittance of VAT from the states,

“So those seven states have been paid but more states have complied but we requested that those states that have complied should be paid.

“The good news is that in the month of September, the sharable amount is N630billion so there would be no budget support for the states.”

He further said that the minister of Budget and National Planning informed council that a new secretary of National Economic Council Mr M Alibor has resumed duties following the retirement from service of the former secretary Mrs Nana Fatima Mede.

He said Mr Alibor was the secretary to council by virtue of the fact that he was the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of budget and national planning.

Governors begged to takeover federal roads.

He said council was highly concerned about the failure of roads and that even after fixing the roads by the federal government, they collapse within six months.

He said, “We identified that the over loading is one of the major factor because in road design you take an axial load, most of the time you don’t use an axial load of more than 35 tonnes but we have noticed that a lot of our trucks carrying majorly fuel do 45,60,70 tonnes and that’s a major concern to state governors.

“We said that the minister for Horks and Housing should come up with a strategy to regulate the weight of heavy trucks plying the roads which have been fingered as the root causes of road collapse.

“Lastly the state governors are very much concerned about these failures, it’s being agitating our minds and we are thinking about strategies and we are soliciting that federal government give out some of the federal roads to states so that states can fix the roads through investors and toll the roads.

“We believe strongly that it will be more effective because of the number of federal roads that are being handled by federal government. There is no amount of budget that can fix it but if some of these roads are given out to state government and they maintain a handful of it and of course the budgeted funds in the annual budget could also be given to states.”

Also speaking, Kwara State Governor Ahmed Abdulfatah who briefed on the decision of Council on export promotion
said it had become clear that in the face of the need to truly support economic diversification, it was necessary to work a lot more in promoting exports.

He said, “And premised on this, a national committee on export promotion has been constituted to help work alongside the various institutions that will see states truly taking ownership of the process of export promotion.

“Members of this committee are Federal ministry of agriculture and rural development, federal ministry of industry, trade and investment, federal ministry of transport, federal ministry of power, works and housing, federal ministry of finance and of course, three governors will also be involved here.

“We have the Governors of Jigawa, Lagos, and Ebonyi states. CBN will also be represented, NNPC and NEXIM. The Committee is expected to draw a single plan based on various templates that have been made available to see how to create a single stop shop for accessing information on export promotion and of course, getting the right imputs correctly.

“The Committee will be chaired by the Governor of ‎Jigawa state and co-chaired by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Okechukwu Enelamah.”

Nigeria loses $100bn in two years

The Director General of Nigeria Export Promotion Council, NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo also briefed on zero oil plan by the council.

He said that NEPC made a presentation to the NEC on a plan to restructure the Nigerian economy to survive without crude oil and that the plan is called “the zero oil plan.”

He said, “Council was informed that Nigeria is going through the sharpest falls of export revenues in her history, losing over $100 billion (N30 trillion) of national export revenue between 2015 to 2017 due to the crashing oil prices, which resultant effect was recession.

“Council was informed that there was urgent need to rapidly ramp up non-oil exports as our future earnings from crude oil faces significant headwinds.

“The zero oil plan aims at earning at least $30 billion from non-oil sources in the near to medium term as against the current earnings of about $5 billion.

“The objectives of zero oil plan is to add $150 billion to Nigeria foreign reserves the next 10 years, create 500,000 jobs, lift 10 million Nigerians out of poverty and integrate each state of the federation into the export value chain.

“The focus of the plan is on the export of the following crops – rice, wheat, corn, palm oil, rubber, hides and skin, sugar, soya beans and automotive parts among others.

“Destination countries for our exports include: Netherlands, China, Iran, Germany, United KIngdom, France, Sapin, Italy, India, Saudi Arabia, among others.

Making presentation on states export development initiative by the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), he said, “NEXIM briefed Council on the “States Export Development Initiative” which is being pursued as a medium to long term strategic plan aimed at stimulating and increasing deliberate funding intervention to SMEs in the non-oil sector for attainment of its objectives.

“Council was informed that one of the major objectives of the initiative is contributing to the implementation of economic policies of the country, like the ERGP and Agricultural Promotion Policy, among others. It added that the initiative is built on schematic transaction dynamics with key features like provision of a dedicated funding of a minimum of N5 billion as a pilot phase with window for other facilities and partnership for transactional support.

“Council was further informed that the initiative will also help re-awaken the business consciousness of the states towards export and value added production especially in the areas of manufacturing, agro-processing and solid minerals.”

Speaking on presentation on Special Economic Zones as Tools for Rapid Economic Development by Nigerian Export Zones Authority (NEPZA), Awolowo said that the Managing Director of NEPZA briefed council on the need to have more special economic zones in addition to the Calabar Free Trade Zone.

“He told the council that the major defect in Calabar Free Trade Zone is that the zones have not been linked to the Calabar Port and that there is urgent need to do so in order to make the zone a lot more effective.

“Partnership between the federal and state governments as well as the private sector is needed. He urged council to ensure that the location of free trade zones should be done strictly on business consideration and not political considerations.

“He also asked council to provide incentives for free trade zones to include linkage to rail line, express ways, close proximity to utilities, airports among others.”

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