‘Buharinomics’: Things Are Not Improving Fast Enough, Says Rewane

 

An economist and Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr Bismarck Rewane, believes the Federal Government needs to accelerate the pace at which the economy is improving.

Mr Rewane made the observation on Thursday while evaluating the performance of the nation’s economy on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

“There is no question about the fact that things are improving but they are not improving fast enough; the impact is not being felt hard enough,” he said via telephone.

The economist explained further, “That is why the demand for good governance today is very high. It’s alright to say you are doing things directionally, but the impact is not being felt.”

“The economy is not yet in optimal level of employment, output production, and investment.”

Mr Bismarck Rewane (file)

 

READ ALSOBuhari’s Administration ‘Set Us On A Path Of Growth’, Says Akande

Rewane also reacted to a statement credited to the spokesperson for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Mr Laolu Akande.

Akande had revealed earlier during the programme that the Muhammadu Buhari administration spent N2.7trillion to develop the nation’s infrastructure.

The Financial Derivatives boss, however, stated that the money said to have been spent by the government was far below what was expected of it considering the nation’s Gross Domestic Product Deflator (GDPD).

He said, “What we have to understand is that spending money nominally and having an impact are two different things.

“Laolu Akande talked about N2.7trillion on infrastructure; if you convert that to dollars in an economy which is $400billion in GDPD in one year, we are spending less than one per cent of your GDP on infrastructural investment. What we need to spend … is about 10 per cent of GDP.”

Buhari's Administration 'Set Us On A Path Of Growth', Says Akande
Mr Laolu Akande speaks during an interview on Politics Today on December 6, 2018.

 

 

When asked if there could be a further slip into recession considering the latest report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on the economy, Rewane said, “there could be, you could slide back into it.”

He, therefore, asked the government to focus more on creating an enabling environment where investment would thrive and encourage more investors to do business in the country.

Buhari’s Administration ‘Set Us On A Path Of Growth’, Says Akande

 

The spokesperson for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Mr Laolu Akande, says the Muhammadu Buhari administration has set the nation on a path of growth.

Akande stated this Thursday while highlighting the gains of the present administration in the economy during an interview on Channels Television.

“The Buhari administration brought us quickly out of recession and set us on a path of growth; we are on a path of growth if you look at the figures,” he said on Politics Today.

The Vice President’s spokesperson added, “We are doing what has been done in other countries like China and India to deal with the poverty situation.”

READ ALSO: Things Are Not Improving Fast Enough, Says Rewane

He disclosed that there was a time when about $293 million was taken out of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by a presidential order and there was no foreign exchange in the country for two weeks.

Buhari's Administration 'Set Us On A Path Of Growth', Says Akande
Mr Laolu Akande speaks during an interview on Politics Today on December 6, 2018.

 

Although he did not state if it was during the present administration or the previous ones, Akande explained that situation showed the level of poverty in the country and why Nigeria went into recession.

He insisted that the nation was in good hands and already heading towards a prosperous direction.

“The point is that we are clearly in the right direction,” he said, adding, “We are taking this country to a time of prosperity. The figures show that there is a growth”

“We came out very quickly out of recession because of the solid policies of this administration and in terms of where we are investing the resources of this country in, it is very clear that it is going to be better and better, steadily.”

Akande revealed that the Federal Government has invested not less than N2.7trillion to develop the nation’s infrastructure.

He said this was the first time a government would spend N2.7trillion in two budget cycles in the history of the country.

The Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr Bismarck Rewane, also spoke on Politics Today.

He said while it cannot be disputed that the economy was improving, the people have yet to feel the impact.

 

TraderMoni: Osinbajo’s Aide Replies Southern, Middle Belt Leaders

TraderMoni: Osinbajo's Aide Replies Southern, Middle Belt Leaders
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo addressing an audience in August 2018.

 

Professor Yemi Osinbajo’s media aide, Mr Laolu Akande, has criticised the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum over the allegation of vote-buying against the Vice President.

In a statement on Friday, Akande faulted the group for accusing the Vice President of corruption and calling for the suspension of the microcredit scheme – TraderMoni.

Following a meeting held on Wednesday in Abuja, the group had issued a statement in which it alleged that Professor Osinbajo was engaging in ‘advanced vote-buying’.

The statement read in part, “Meeting expressed utter disappointment in the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo for his continued corruption of the electorates in a funny scheme named Tradermoni.

“We noted his odious outing with this corrupt act shortly before the Osun governorship election when he went to dole out cash to would-be voters and distributing forms in which beneficiaries were asked to fill in their PVC details and phone number.

“We demand immediate suspension of this scheme in the manner the VP is going about it presently as it shames the whole anti-corruption campaign of the administration. It is pure bribery of voters!”

Akande, however, described the call by the group as unbelievable and unfortunate.

He noted that such demand was an attack on the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Osinbajo’s aide added that it was a direct confrontation with the millions of Nigerians who benefit from all the programmes, especially those who would be receiving the collateral-free loans by the end of the year.

He said, “It is deceitful for anyone or group to accuse the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, of advance vote-buying through TraderMoni, a micro-credit scheme designed to assist the bottom of the pyramid petty traders nationwide.”

“We do not think the Nigerian people are up for sale, nor can they be bought. Such suggestions are an insult to our collective identity. And calling for the suspension of a scheme that improves the businesses of ordinary, hard working Nigerians, like petty traders, is not only unfair but an attack on the common man.”

Akande explained that the present administration started the SIPs in 2016, and the TraderMoni scheme was part of them.

He insisted that it was false to insinuate that the scheme was meant for advance vote-buying when it was conceived two years ago.

FULL LIST: Mamora, Keyamo, Kelani, Others In Buhari’s Board Appointment

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday approved the constitution of the Governing Boards of agencies and parastatals and appointed some appointees to fill the board positions.

According to a statement from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the President also appointed 209 chairmen and 1,258 members.

Boss Mustapha, who announced the latest massive batch of appointees also said more appointments are on the way.

READ ALSO: Buhari Appoints 1,258 Board Members For Govt Agencies

Among the list of the newly appointed head of the agency include Adeolu Akande who is to head the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and to work alongside Hon. Kazeem Salako, Dr Lawal Bello Moriki, Hajia Binta Mohammed, Mr Uche Onwude, Rt Hon Abdullai Bello and Sen J.J. Akpanunudoedehe

To head the Abuja Investment And Infrastructure Centre is Senator Oloruninbe Mamoora to work alongside Engr. Dan Oji, Tony Ejinkeonye, Mike Ohiani, James Egah Ndaye, Hon. Danjuma Dauda, Engr. Dahiru Dasin, Polycarp Nwabueze Udah, Ugochukwu Beke, Grp Capt. Zagi Rabo Z.

Festus Keyamo will be serving on the board of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation alongside Alhaji Garba Buba, Bello Garba, Gen. J.O.J. Okoloagu, Mudashiru Mustapha and Adewole Adeleke.

Also named in the new appointment is popular cinematographer and filmmaker, Tunde Kelani to head the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB).

Former governors of Ekiti State, Niyi Adebayo and Segun Oni were also in the list. Adebayo will be in charge of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) while Oni who is a vice-chairman of the APC is posted to Nigerian Export Processing Zone while Senator Ayo Arise will chair Sheda Science and Technology Complex.

SEE FULL LIST OF THE APPOINTEES HERE: FG-CONSTITUTE-BOARDS

Osinbajo Flags Off Lagos-Ibadan New Rail Project

Yemi Osinbajo Flags Off Lagos-Ibadan New Rail ProjectNigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday performed the ground breaking for the commencement of work on the new Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project.

It has been another busy day for the Acting President who flew into Lagos State for the commissioning, shortly after swearing-in the new Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

Speaking at the ceremony which took place at the Nigerian Railway Compound in Ebute Metta, Professor Osinbajo restated the Federal Government’s resolve to revive and modernise rail transportation in order to ease pressure on the nation’s roads.

The Acting President, in statement made by public by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, said: “I am extremely pleased and honoured to be here this morning for the ground breaking ceremony of the Lagos-Ibadan section of the Lagos -Kano standard gauge railway project. This is an epochal moment in our national life in many ways.

“First, it signals the determination of our President and Commander-in- Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, to modernise the national rail system in keeping with his promise to the Nigerian people. If there is a project close to the heart of the president, it is the rail project which he promised the nation upon assumption of office. The President himself made a visit to China, and reopened the negotiations on the Chinese support for this project.

“Second, this ceremony also marks the commencement of our plan to move speedily to improve links between Lagos, which is the national economic nerve centre and major port to other state capitals and towns across the country.

“Thirdly, our ground breaking today reflects the plans of the Federal Government to build a globally competitive economy with first grade infrastructure. The critical role of infrastructure, and for this purpose railways, in this strategy is underscored by our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, as well as the 2016 and 2017 budgets. We have made provisions for matching funds in the 2016 budget to complement the concessionary loans taken from the Peoples Republic of China, and our appreciation goes to the Chinese Government and the Chinese Exim Bank, who are, and have always proved to be reliable partners to Nigeria.

A Boost To Economic Activities

“And some may be aware that we have the entire Lagos-Kano standard gauge track as well as the Lagos-Calabar railway track in the 2017 budget, negotiations on the Kaduna-Kano portion of the track is now completed and this phase is next in line.

“We have already provided our portion for funding Lagos-Calabar rail as well and we expect that negotiations on the foreign component of the funding will be finalised in the next three months and that the Lagos-Calabar project as well will come on stream.

“An active and vibrant railway system confers many benefits on the society and our ultimate goal is to restore a railway-using culture for both commercial and personal transportation. We are confident that the national rail project will create up to half a million jobs and facilitate the movement of over 3.2 million tonnes of cargo per annum.

“It will also reduce the burden on national highways, thus reducing the deterioration of the road network and increasing the lifespan of our roads. Indeed by helping to reduce freight cost, the railway network will support efforts to diversify the economy and enhance our export potential.

“Just as several of our cities are being known as railway towns in the past, we expect a boost to economic activities along the railway lines that will eventually cut across the entire country. To achieve this objectives, the Federal Ministry of Transportation has completed visibility studies for up to 13 routes which has been identified for connecting state capitals and major commercials centres to the rail network. We should begin to see significant activities in this regard very shortly.

Fast And Efficient Train Service

“It is important however, to have viable self-sustaining and self-improving railway service. It should be one that is not reliant on government funding which may not be available at all times. It should be one that could be upgraded and improved over time and not left to decay due to management issues or lack of attention. This is why the Federal Government supports the replacement of the 1955 Railway Act with a legal framework that opens railway projects in the country for greater private sector participation. In this way, we expect to ensure the resources and management to run efficient modern and reliable train services.

“Let me conclude by acknowledging the vigorous and energetic efforts of the Honourable Minister and his team in the Ministry of Transportation to get us to this point. The Honourable Minister of Finance also deserves to be commended for the efficient and competent handling of financial negotiations.

“But I think it bears repeating: that Rotimi Ameachi’s bulldozing approach to ensure that we are here today on this first day of construction so quickly!

“I am confident that we will see the same zeal and result in project executions so that the construction of the railway lines will be completed on schedule. Just for emphasis, as a reminder to our excellent partners and manufacturers CCECC, we are looking forward to a fast and efficient train service between Lagos and Ibadan within the projected time frame, which is on or before December 2018”.

UN Security Council Meets With Osinbajo

UN Security Council Meets With OsinbajoNigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has assured the visiting United Nations Security Council mission that steps are being taken to ensure that human rights culture is institutionalised in the Nigerian Military to avoid negative reports of human rights abuse.

Professor Osinbajo said this during a closed door meeting with the UN delegation at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

He, however, noted that it was time for the international community to take another look at the international legal instruments and conventions that govern warfare and conflicts in the light of the unconventional and brutal operations of terrorists and insurgents around the world.

“We must, on a global scale look again at how to deal with these new challenges.

“We need to look at the governing conventions, as well as what type of legal categories and recognition of law we should give them.

“We need to re-examine how to deal with these individuals according to law,” the Acting President said in a statement issued on Monday by his spokesman, Laolu Akande.

He also assured the UN team that the Federal Government would progressively review the Rules of Engagement by the military and across the nation’s security system while taking human rights issues into consideration.

Professor Osinbajo added that President Muhammadu Buhari’s Social Investment Programmes which include the Conditional Cash Transfer, the GEEP Micro Credit scheme and the N-Power job programme would cater to the developmental needs of the northeast.

He said “we are already disbursing the cash transfers in some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and host communities,” adding that the present administration was implementing a micro-credit scheme while using the Social Investment Programmes to resuscitate the local economies, including through the Anchor Borrowers’ plan for farmers.

The Acting President further urged the international community to support the Federal Government in the area of humanitarian response, describing the challenge as “massive”.

He hinted that the government was also in the process of passing a Northeast Development Commission bill that would deal with some of the long term developmental issues.

The Security Council members were led to the Presidential Villa by the UK Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Mathew Rycroft.

The team comprises of all the five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council.

Speaking earlier at the meeting, Ambassador Rycroft praised the Nigerian Government for its handling of the humanitarian challenge in the Northeast.

He called for a long term developmental outlook in the region to address the issues of good governance, human rights, women’s participation, economic revival, education and jobs.

The delegation is leaving Nigeria with a pledge that the United Nations Security Council would play its role well in assisting the Nigerian Government to tackle the challenges in the conflict zones.

Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geofrey Onyeama, said the Federal Government is pleased with the tour of the northeast by the Council.

He assured the team that Nigeria would leverage on it to access all the funds needed for the rehabilitation of the IDPs in region.

The meeting was attended by some members of the Federal Executive Council and top government officials including the Minister of Defence, Major General Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama.

Others are the Minster of Budget and Planning, Udo Udoma; Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu; Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jubrin; the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin.

Time For Nigeria, U.S To Deepen Relationship Based On Trust – Osinbajo

Time For Nigeria, U.S To Deepen Relationship Based On Trust - OsinbajoNigeria’s Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, says the time has come for both Nigeria and the United States to deepen the long-standing relationship between the countries based on mutual trust.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to the Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, on Wednesday, revealed Mr Osinbajo’s position.

According to the statement, he made the call for strengthened relations at the Presidential Villa, while receiving the Commander of the U.S-Africa Command, General Thomas D. Waldhauser and the American Ambassador in Nigeria, Honorable W. Stuart Symington.

“We will be very open and willing to build a relationship based on trust, so that we would benefit from it and of course our relationship as nations would benefit tremendously from it,” the Acting President stated.

He also observed that Nigeria’s relationship with the U.S, was a very important one, “and has been so for many years, even so now at a time like this for us”.

Osinbajo further stated that the Federal Government is appreciative of the U.S’ support over the last few years.

According to him, “it is the belief of the Buhari presidency that the United States is committed to helping us with some of our challenges especially in the Northeast”.

He also explained that issues around human rights concerns in the country, should be viewed against the context of an unusual kind of warfare with terrorists and insurgents.

“The kind of warfare we are engaged with in many ways are unprecedented for our military,” the President said, while noting the sheer brutality and mindlessness of terrorists who he believes are “prepared to kill children in their sleep, abduct girls and prepared to die, even using teenage girls as suicide bombers.”

He restated the readiness of the Buhari administration to end the problems “as quickly as possible”.

While emphasising on the support of the U.S so far, he stated that the Federal Government is open to more U.S military cooperation and also assistance in dealing with the consequent humanitarian situation in the northeast.

“The U.S has been a reliable partner we can trust, especially from what they have done in the past, we want to see how much more you can do for us and the region,” Professor Osinbajo stated.

In his remarks, the head of the U.S Africa Command, expressed the readiness of the government to “accelerate” its contributions, adding that there is a sense that “we want to get on and solve the problem”.

General Waldhauser, also noted that his visit to Nigeria is about developing further “the friendship and trust that we have in common,” while also agreeing with the acting president that the brutality shown by the terrorists is what we have never seen before”.

Also airing his views, Ambassador Symington, said he had just concluded a visit to all the geo-political zones of the country and has concluded that “Nigeria is one of the greatest countries in the world with the potential to change the world”.

Osinbajo Again Reschedules Visit To Ondo State

Yemi Osinbajo, Ondo State, Laolu AkandeNigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday suspended his planned visit to Ondo State for a second time.

Professor Osinbajo, however, apologised to the government and people of the state for postponing the visit, citing weather conditions for the decision.

The apology was contained in a tweet by the spokesman for the Acting President, Mr Laolu Akande.

The planned visit, said to be in continuation of Professor Osinbajo’s tour of the oil-producing communities, was shifted from Friday to Monday, February 20.

Following the shift, the Presidency extended apologies to the Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, the Governor-elect, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, traditional rulers and the people of the state.

Niger Delta Should Have Special Development Status – VP Osinbajo

VP Osinbajo Visits Gbaramatu Kingdom in Niger DeltaNigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday paid a visit to the Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State, recommending that the region should have a special development zone status.

Osinbajo was accompanied by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu and was received in Delta State by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.

In his address of welcome, entitled: ‘We must prepare for the future’, he advocated sustainable development for the Niger Delta region.

“An Area Of Poor Infrastructure”

“The Niger Delta that we see today, including this great kingdom, is an area of poor infrastructure – few schools, few hospitals, and severe pollution.

“The Niger Delta of today, is one of daily pipeline vandalism. In 2014 alone, there were over 3,700 incidents of pipeline vandalism.

“The Niger Delta of today is one where, aside from environmental degradation, between 1998 and 2015, over 20,000 persons have died from fire incidents, arising from breach of the pipeline.

“Everywhere you go, there are signboards of proposed projects, mostly uncompleted or abandoned altogether.

“Many of the initiatives to change the story, have not been able to make the big changes required,” the Vice President stated.

Citing several examples, dating back to the 60’s, down to the present day amnesty programmes, the Professor Osinbajo said many of such programmes have not been able to meet up with their objectives.

However, he charged the people, stressing that “the future, is not a future of environmental degradation, poor infrastructure, poor roads”and the likes.

Rather, it is a future of “progress and development” but according to him, “there is no time, as the future is already here”.

He then stated that in order to ensure that the future is not worse than today, three things must happen.

Also he believes that while the government plays its own part, the people have to combine efforts with it, in order to realise the desired development.

One of such things, he stressed, was that the people “must recognise the unique environmental and terrain challenges of the Niger Delta.

“We must recognise that the Niger Delta is a special development zone for this nation.

“It means that the Federal and State governments, the National Assembly representatives, along-side the NDDC and the civil society representatives, of the Niger Delta people must sit together, develop, plan and fund an arrangement for rapid development,” he stressed.

Also, in furtherance of development in the region, Professor Osinbajo revealed that the Pan Niger Delta Forum had come up with 16 dialogue issues that would be extremely helpful in ascertaining its key development priorities.

He stated that the region must also hold some of the international oil companies, to their agreement with host communities.

“We must promote indigenous participation in oil companies,” he added.

He also hinted that in the 2017 budget, provision had been made for the commencement of the Lagos-Calabar railway. (the coastal railway).

Mr Osinbajo is expected to also visit a number of oil communities across some Niger Delta states, where he is expected to address issues affecting the region and bring an end to militant attacks on Nigeria’s oil and gas facilities.

According to a statement from the Office of the Vice President, Professor Osinbajo would also be visiting Bayelsa and Rivers States at a later date to be announced.

Spokesperson for the Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, described the move as further demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s readiness and determination to comprehensively address the Niger Delta situation.

Osinbajo Commences Interactions With Oil-Producing Communities

Osinbajo Commences Interactions With Oil-Producing CommunitiesVice President Yemi Osinbajo will be visiting a number of oil communities across some Niger Delta states starting on Monday, January 16, 2017, when he travels to Delta State.

According to a statement from the Office of the Vice President, Prof. Osinbajo would also be visiting Bayelsa and Rivers States at a later date to be announced soon.

Spokesperson for the Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, described the move as further demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s readiness and determination to comprehensively address the Niger Delta situation.

He stated: “At these visits, the Vice President will lead high-level delegations of the Federal Government that will interact with leaders and representatives of the oil-producing communities in continuation of ongoing outreach efforts of the Buhari administration towards a long lasting and permanent resolution of the Niger Delta crisis.

“The Buhari presidency is fully committed to having an effective dialogue and positive engagement that will end the crisis in the oil-producing areas, and believes that these visits would further boost the confidence necessary for the attainment of peace and prosperity in the areas and the Nigerian nation in general.”

Buhari Did Not Order National ID Card Use For 2019 Elections – Presidency

President Buhari Did Not Order National ID Cards Use For 2019 PollsThe Presidency has denied claims in the media that President Buhari has given “orders” that national identity cards be used in the 2019 elections.

The statement from the Office of the Vice President was in reaction to newspaper reports on Friday which referred to the Vice President’s speech delivered on Thursday by the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Ade Ipaye at the Policy Roundtable on Identity Eco-System in the country to make the claim.

Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity, Laolu Akande, insisted that no such orders were made by the President and the said speech by the Vice President made no mention of the 2019 elections at all.

According to him, what the speech said was that the President has taken an initiative to harmonize identity management in the country so as to ensure that every Nigerian has a unique identifier.

And in the same vein, the speech added that it is the “President’s charge that the national identification number, (NIN) is used to authenticate eligible voters in the near future, as well as in the areas of access to health insurance, registration of SIM cards, access to social welfare, financial transactions, etc”.

Mr Akande then explained: “What this means is that such a unique identifier as the NIN can, when eventually issued, help to confirm age and nationality status of eligible voters, for instance. Or even help determine eligibility of persons presenting themselves for health, social welfare, financial and other available services in the country.

“The President was not giving any directive to INEC or any order regarding 2019.

“Mr. President and this administration fully respect the autonomy of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) and also very determined to preserve the integrity of the electoral process at all times.”

The full text of Vice President Osinbajo’s speech at the Policy Round-Table Meeting On Identity Eco-System is published on channelstv.com

VP Osinbajo’s Speech At The Policy Round-Table Meeting On Identity Eco-System

KEYNOTE ADDRESS OF HIS EXCELLENCY, THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO,  SAN, GCON, AT THE POLICY ROUND-TABLE MEETING ON IDENTITY ECO-SYSTEM HELD ON THURSDAY 08 DECEMBER 2016 AT THE STATE HOUSE BANQUET HALL, PRESIDENTIAL VILLA, ASOKORO, ABUJA, NIGERIA

Protocols

I am delighted to welcome you all to this policy roundtable on identity management in Nigeria. I am particularly happy with the representation of all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the World Bank and other Development Assistance Agencies here today. The importance of this policy discussion necessitated my acceptance to chair the meeting, which is aimed at optimising the benefits of digital identity and leveraging its use for accelerating development. The particular focus on harmonisation and integration of disparate government identity management databases is of course a matter of crucial importance to Nigeria.

Identity plays a pivotal role in our lives and cuts across so many sectors of the economy. As a government, we recognise the huge importance of moving towards a Digital Government. Therefore, we must embrace and harness the potentials inherent in digital identity to build and develop our country. Nations all over the world and, in particular, developed countries, have utilized identity as a foundation to transforming governance and enhancing service delivery in the areas of healthcare, agriculture, voting, transportation, financial inclusion, access to basic services and welfare programmes, amongst others.

A case in point is Estonia, a country of just over 1.3m population (WorldBank estimate in 2016). According to Digital Nomads, “Estonia currently has one of the most advanced e-government systems in the world. This includes a single digital ID that enables citizens to access all of its secure services. Applicants can obtain a digital ID that will let them register their business within a day, open a bank account, use e-tax services and sign contracts from anywhere in the world. There, you don’t need to input any data manually for your tax declaration as all data is gathered and prepared automatically. And it can make digital nomad life and business much easier.”

The Nigerian National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has commenced work on the harmonisation of all our disparate Identity Management Systems into a concise system to ensure completeness, accuracy and integrity of such a national asset. In this regard, I believe that Nigeria must use its digital strategy to establish a global reputation for technological leadership and business dynamism, building digital ecosystems in which innovation can thrive. We will invest in smart infrastructure, platforms, and services; digitise our records and classify them accordingly; review and upgrade the legal and regulatory framework; and nurture digital talent.

Virtually all the developed nations have a single identifier that forms the core of their identity. For instance, in the UK, it is the National Insurance Number, which is mandatory to have as soon as a citizen turns 16 years of age and becomes eligible to work and pay tax accordingly. In the USA, it is the Social Security Number and, in India, it is called the Aadahar number. This unique number, which encapsulates the identity of the individual, is used for all of the activities relating to the identification of the person – in terms of planning for security, health, immigration, budget, etc. An accurate identity management system with quality data is no doubt a national asset to a country. It is time for Nigeria to also offer a unique identity to every person in the country.  Nigeria as a global player and a developing nation must work towards leveraging digital identity as a reliable tool for uniquely identifying its citizenry and residents and accelerating socio economic development.

I am aware that different sectors in Nigeria in response to their peculiar needs, have developed a means to identify individuals in order to perform their specific statutory functions. This has resulted in duplication of efforts, wastage of resources, uncoordinated identity approach, as well as unreliable identity information due to lack of interoperability and disconnected databases. The importance of the confidentiality of the information/data inherent in the identity management system cannot be over-emphasised. We must therefore ensure absolute integrity and security of this information.

It is important that, as a nation, we have an interoperable and connected system to verify that each person or beneficiary is who he claims to be. Our strategic plans, as a government, in the area of identification scheme must therefore converge to make harmonization and integration of the existing and new databases a reality.

Our policies must be articulated and refined in such a way that government agencies must work together; collaborate with each other, share infrastructure and government investments to serve their customers who are potentially the same citizens and residents. The fiscal cost of implementing disparate and unconnected biometric-linked identity databases is increasingly becoming a huge burden and needs to be streamlined going forward as government cannot continue to fund the unnecessary duplication of efforts and overlapping identity functions that further deplete its scarce resources. Clearly, there are potentially large benefits from the integration of the ID programs of our government institutions and we must take advantage of the opportunity that has been presented for us to get it right.

As we endeavour to resolve the identity management system challenges, we will also ensure that other forms of identification such as Drivers’ License, International Passports are aligned and in sync. The President has already taken the initiative in recognising the importance of identity and a harmonized identity management system. That is why there was a directive from my office in December 2015 for all stakeholders who have built independent identity management systems to consolidate, aggregate and integrate existing databases as a way to accelerate and scale up the national identity database so as to offer every person a unique identifier. I am aware that a lot of work has been done in this regard by all of the stakeholders represented here. However, it is the President’s charge that the national identification number (NIN) is used to authenticate eligible voters in the near future, as well as in the areas of access to health insurance, registration of SIM cards, access to social welfare, financial transactions, etc.

The development of identity program in Nigeria will greatly help the nation leverage on its potential to improve security of lives and properties, advance service delivery, and fight poverty and corruption. Achieving full scale national Identity management would boost our efforts at better tracking the movement of people, while minimizing issues with external border controls and terrorism. We have an opportunity to change and transform our country and I believe everyone here has a role to play in the growth and development of our nation through digital identity.

I want to commend the World Bank for its concern and interest in the development of the identity ecosystem of Nigeria, including the harmonisation and integration of many disparate  of government identity management databases; and for sponsoring this roundtable meeting. Furthermore, I want to also commend other Donor agencies who have expressed willingness and readiness to support the Nigerian Government in the effort to build a robust identification eco system.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, It is on this premise therefore, that I am pleased to convey the support and goodwill of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; to the World Bank, other Donor Agencies and to all the MDAs here present. He demands that you all take up the challenge of giving Nigeria a world-class identity management infrastructure, which will be pivotal to the security and socio-economic transformation of the country. His Excellency, the President appreciates your sponsorship, willingness and readiness to support Nigeria.

With the calibre of people here, I am sure that there will be in-depth policy discussions on strengthening the identity eco system of Nigeria and robust action plans to shape the implementation of the Presidential directive for the alignment of all biometric identity databases in the country.

As I conclude, I wish to stress the fact that this meeting is not for us to analyze why the policy cannot work or why more time is needed. This policy meeting is for us to reach a common understanding on what our nation needs right now, what business model and approach should be adopted in ensuring that everyone in Nigeria has a unique identity (an identifier that serves the public and private sectors alike) and consider options and strategies for  streamlining activities of MDAs and optimizing the use of scarce government resources in achieveing a common goal on identification as  an enabler.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is my singular honor and pleasure to declare this meeting open.

I thank you all and wish you fruitful deliberation.

God bless you, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Released by:

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity

Office of the Vice President

December 9, 2016