I am delighted to be here with you today for this very important meeting of the National Council on Development Planning (NCDP) taking place in this historic and dynamic city of Kano. I must say how honored i am to be so warmly welcomed. I thank the Kano State Government under the leadership of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje for the warm hospitality extended to me and all participants here. Similar appreciation goes to the leadership of the Ministry of Budget and National Planning for the arrangements made to ensure the successful convening of this meeting.
This Council meeting is well timed and well thought out, as it enables effective partnership and cooperation amongst all tiers of government to envision our collective future while tackling the challenges facing the economy. Your deliberations will also complement the on-going process of articulating the medium term sector strategy 2017-2019 and the 2017 Budget.
The focus of the 2016 NCDP’s meeting is on “National Strategic Planning as Vehicle for Attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria” This focus is appropriate indeed.
It shows the intrinsic link between planning and expected outcomes, in this case the SDGs. The adoption of the SDGs in September 2015 was intended to place our world on the path of sustainable development by the year 2030.
The 17 SDGs which combine economic, social and environmental objectives are intended to be universal unlike the Millennium Development Goals which were meant solely for developing countries.
The universal application of the SDGs and their 169 targets show that they are a menu of options. This allows implementation to take account of different national realities, capacities, policies and priorities. In the Nigerian context, some of the issues that must engage our minds relate to economic diversification, boosting economic growth, eradication of extreme poverty, promoting social inclusion, creating jobs and stemming environmental degradation including climate change.
The empirical evidence from across the globe has shown that national strategic planning is very critical for attaining structural transformation and sustainable development. The countries of East Asia have proved this convincingly even though their development was largely private sector driven.
Such plans provide strategic direction, coherence and coordination. They are indeed a framework for guiding the activities of all stakeholders towards achieving a common goal. Planning specifics such as goals, targets and indicators which embody the SDGs also enable tracking, monitoring and evaluation.
Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen-
Successful implementation of strategic plans and attainment of the SDGs entail partnerships as encapsulated in Goal 17-which is about the need to create (global) partnerships in order to attain sustainable development. Accordingly, just as the Federal Government seeks international partnerships at the global level with regard to rules and resources, we also seek partnerships at the national level. Such domestic partnerships entails working closely with the States which is one of the main reasons for the establishment of NCDP. Other essential partnerships are also being built with other sectors of society especially the private sector which is the indisputable engine of growth in successful economies.
Let me now speak about some of the things that the Buhari Administration is doing with regard to strengthening short and medium term planning. We have strengthened the link between budgeting and strategic planning by merging the National Planning Commission with the Budget Office of the Federation. We have adopted Zero-based Budgeting which compels the interrogation of public expenditure at micro levels and allows effective deployment of limited financial resources to areas and sectors with the greatest need. We have used a short-term strategic implementation plan to guide the 2016 budget and just yesterday the Federal Executive Council approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the Fiscal Strategy Paper which are fully consistent with the SDGs and AU Agenda 2063.
The strategic priorities of the Federal Government in the area of tackling insecurity, combatting corruption and growing the economy will undoubtedly find expression in any medium term plan. The same is true for the policy interventions in the Strategic Implementation Plan notably with regard to the policy, security and governance; diversification of the economy; power, rail and roads; oil and gas reforms; ease of doing business and social investments.
The commitment of the Buhari Administration to promoting broader macroeconomic and structural reform is obvious in our push to mitigate supply-side constraints. With the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector there has been a significant increase in the availability of petrol throughout the country with savings of N1.4 trillion on subsidy payments alone. Also a more flexible exchange rate regime will help to ease the pressure on the external reserves. In the short run of course there will be consequences for inflation, but we expect that with the greater clarity we are seeing in the implementation of the policy by the CBN, the foreign exchange market will stabilise, and confidence will be restored.
With regard to diversification, agriculture is a major priority of this government. The obvious gains are food security and a reduction in the financial burden and pressure on foreign exchange resulting from importing foods that we can produce. We are therefore looking to self sufficiency in a number of key types of produce including rice, wheat and tomato paste, while scaling up the export of traditional and non-traditional crops like cocoa, cassava, cashew and sesame seeds.
A strategic framework for coherent coordination of trade, industrial and investment activities is also being developed. A mixture of support instruments and incentives will be used to bring about growth in sectors that are critical for economic revitalization, especially in agriculture, agri-business, agro-processing, and SMEs promotion. It will also leverage the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan comprising Nigeria Automotive Development Plan, National Sugar Master Plan, and Local Patronage Initiative. I urge State Governments to key into and get maximum leverage from these initiatives.
Indeed, infrastructural development is being accorded priority in current interventions with total capital budgetary releases from January to July 2016 amounting to over 50% of total budget that has been released to the MDAs going to these needs. If security is added, this rises to over 70% with the Presidential Initiative for the North East being prioritized in order to give a new lease of life to our people in North East.
Some of the key Sustainable Development Goals relate to the social sector which is very much in tandem with the priorities in our social intervention programme. Just as conditional cash transfers address Goal 1 which aims to eliminate extreme poverty, we are also tackling Goal 2 which aims for zero hunger through our Home Grown School Feeding Programme which was launched in July 2016. The Teacher Corps programme to put 500,000 unemployed young graduates to work meets the objectives of Goal 4 on quality education and Goal 8 which is about employment.
In other words, our on-going interventions speak to the ultimate aim of the SDGs to get people out of poverty and address health and education issues of children and other vulnerable groups.
It is important to emphasise that neither planning nor implementation can gain much traction without strong governments and institutions . The capacity to implement is largely a function of the ability of state institutions to deliver social goods. Public health for example, eradicating Polio, AIDS, Laser fever, Ebola, depends so completely on , well funded, well resourced healthcare systems. A healthcare system organised to respond promptly, efficiently and robustly will save more lives and livelihoods than one that is less endowed. The capacity to enforce not just law and order, but social services like immunisation, public education programmes, is the very essence of Statehood.
Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me take this opportunity to highlight the African Union Development Agenda which is described as “Ágenda 2063”, to which Nigeria, has subscribed.
Agenda 2063 seeks to develop an Afro-Centric or home grown development framework that is predicated on harnessing the vast opportunities of the continent, as well as proffering solutions towards addressing the peculiar challenges African Nations are faced with in the current global sphere. It is a call to action to all segments of African Society to work together to build a common future and destiny as espoused in the AU vision. It represents a source of inspiration for the development of national and regional sustainable development plans.
The task before us therefore requires finding ways to promote partnership and collaboration in the articulation of a strategic national plan that that is aligned to the SDGs and the AU Agenda 2063. I enjoin you to participate actively in all related activities such as taking stock of the country’s performance particularly on the defunct MDGs, convening multi-stakeholders dialogues and validations at zonal levels, and the work of Technical Working Groups. Such active participation will ensure that the concerns, interests and aspirations of our people are reflected in annual budgets and national development plans. It will also quite naturally help to ensure effective implementation.
Other critical challenges we will face in mainstreaming and implementing the SDGs are in the areas of implementation capacity, needs assessment & costing, financing etc etc. Others include rationalisation of the 169 targets and identification of the ones that are most relevant to our specific needs, situation and challenges, and harnessing baseline and disaggregated data needed to monitor progress. Your contributions on how these issues can be addressed would be invaluable.
Strategic planning may sound academic or esoteric but the truth is that no modern economy has made notable progress without strategic planning. I must say that governments in Nigeria have never been short of good ideas , good intentions, or even good plans. but one of the key difficulties is just that ability to keep to the plan, plodding through day by day, doing the routine things that eventually fulfil a plan. The discipline to stay focussed over the long term is crucial to the success of any plan. To do so as a team requires even harder work, but success in any aspect of State building requires just that -hardwork.
Nigeria is well placed in terms of human and natural endowment to be a thought leader and economic role model in Africa and indeed globally. I am confident that if we remain positive, determined and focused our country can achieve such lofty goals and great heights that we have set for ourselves.
Permit me to again thank the National Council on development planning for their kind invitation to me to be here, and may I wish you a very fruitful and productive meeting and look forward to receiving the outcomes of this meeting and another invitation next year.
Thank you all.