President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Federal Government would pursue more business reforms to accelerate progress recorded in its recent Ease of Doing Business ranking, to properly position Nigeria in her march to become a post-oil economy.
Speaking at the two-day Edo State Alaghodaro Investment Summit, Friday, in Benin City, the president said that the reforms to ease the business climate has brought changes to registering businesses, issuance of visa on arrival and tax collection.
President Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, said government alone cannot bring about the much-needed development the country, as partnering with the private sector is also key in driving economic growth and progress.
He maintained that Edo state is blessed with the required natural resources to drive economic growth and future progress.
“I am impressed and delighted at the way the governor is going about his work. He is bringing his energy, network and intellect to bear,” President Buhari said.
According to him, “One of the things that have impressed me about this summit, is the presence of the private sector. There is no way things can happen at the center without bringing it to the subnational level.
He added that “there are noticeable improvements in paying taxes, registering businesses and many more. The Ease of doing business reforms are going to domesticated at the state level. Edo state is one of the states to lead that with the discussions at this summit.”
Welcoming his guests to the event, the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, said that Alaghodaro Investment Summit was conceived to consolidate on the journey that started nine years ago. He said, “We have done a lot in the last twelve months. We have recorded some institutional reforms, as the key to development is by repurposing institutions for optimal results.
The bastion of reform is in the civil service and the bureaucracy in government. We have embarked on processes that are making the civil service more efficient and productive to ensure smooth service delivery.
“We are determined to rebuild the civil service and improve on the capacity of the entire government workforce. A fully computerized staff training school has been built at the Government House.
“I am glad to inform you that one of the events in this summit is to sign a memorandum of understanding between the United Nations training institute and the Edo State Government. The other institutional reforms include revenue collection, where we have insisted that government revenues should be collected and accounted for.”
Noting that the state’s reforms are yielding results, he said, “By deploying technology, including persuasion, education and enlightenment, and law-based sanctions in revenue collection, we have increased local government revenues by 500 percent in the last six months.”
In the area of infrastructure, he said the government’s interventions are very visible, noting, “We have resurfaced, reconstructed and are constructing over 500km of roads across the state.”
On job creation, Obaseki said, “In order to fulfil our promise to create 200,000 jobs in the four years, we have created 12, 000 jobs and have commenced the reconstruction of our technical colleges, so that they can train qualified artisans who can be self-employed and provide services to others.
Noting that the state is pursuing an aggressive industrialisation drive, he said, “Our goal is to utilise our endowments, particularly the available energy and logistical advantage so that we can become a major industrial hub. The ground-breaking ceremony of our multipurpose Benin Industrial Hub will be done by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.”
In his keynote address, President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, said that for too long, the Nigerian economy depended on crude oil.
“The state’s strategic focus on institutional reform, economic revolution, infrastructural development, social welfare enhancement, environmental sustainability, as well as culture and tourism, are key to transforming the economy. This government is very ambitious and they need all the support,” he said.
According to him, “achieving the pattern of economic growth where productivity, export competitiveness and employment is not just a matter of lofty ambition, it calls for active search for solutions to numerous problems impeding the flow of investment to drive this vision. Moreover, underlying each of these challenges is a deeper and more pressing question: how can we establish a sustainable relationship between the private sector and government.”
Noting that this relationship has to be mutual to drive investment, Dangote said that “the relationship between public and private institutions has to be symbiotic and not adversarial.”
The chairman of the Alaghodaro Investment Summit 2017, Mr. Asue Ighodalo, said that the summit would outline the strategies and actions that would usher Edo State into the future.
He explained that the summit would evaluate the conditions that will make the state a competitive subnational investment environment in Nigeria.
“Edo state has demonstrated zeal and commitment which indicate that the state means business and ready drive economic growth. The state has shown the resolve to advance the commitment of the All Progressives Congress in creating economic growth and development in Nigeria,” he said.