The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said on Tuesday that the present administration should be commended for changing the economy from a rent culture to a productive economy.
Amaechi said this during the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Focus Labs Open Day ceremony held in Abuja.
According to him, the rates of importation have being reduced drastically, encouraging more production of farm products.
“The ERGP was an eye opener on what drives the economy, when we talk about ERGP, it is not only about economy growth but sustenance of the economy growth.
“I continue to argue with my friends in politics, when they say we have caused hunger and I say no, we have rather brought food and I ask them what offence has President Buhari committed.
“And they will say no money in circulation, investors ran away and I tell them, they are not correct, that the only offence Mr President has committed is that:
“He is changing the economy from a rent culture to a production economy; the direction we are going now is to take away that rent culture to a productive economy.
“We banned the importation of tomatoes to encourage those producing tomatoes in Kano and that makes it my responsibility to ensure that the narrow gauge line from Kano to Lagos function properly, “ he said.
He said that the government was encouraging Nigerians to produce more and export rather than depending on importation, which would not help the economy.
Amaechi said that the narrow gauge lines would commence properly in 2019, stating that the main agreement cost $45million for the interim phase and $2.7billion for the entire project.
The minister said that the narrow gauge interim phase will enable initial rehabilitation of the rail lines before the commencement of commercial activities.
He said that transportation alone would contribute a total of 3.52 billion dollars, which in turn would create 18,366 jobs in the staple and cash sub-sectors toward the overall ERGP investment.
Meanwhile, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that ERGP focus labs have helped agriculture in the area of exportation and farm management.
He said that previously Nigeria was importing agricultural products that they could have been exported; saying that in the last two years agriculture export has increased to 180 per cent.
According to him, rice importation was brought down to 95 per cent even though there are still challenges with smugglers, which government will take a definite action on soon.
Ogbeh said that private investment in agriculture was the way to success, adding that government cannot own a farm.
“Government cannot own a farm, if they do, they will fail woefully.
“The key challenges facing agriculture today are access to credit, access to land, land analysis, land management, and security on farms.
“Market access, standardisation, quality control and nutrition, all through these focus labs we have learnt a lot that, if government engages in triangle partnership with private sector great things can happen.
“We don’t have good managers of agriculture, so the ministry has introduced a farm management programme to train the younger ones on farm management,“ he said
The government launched the ERGP in 2017 to restore growth and provide strategic economic direction for the country from 2017-2020.