Presidential Policy retreat holds at State House

Timothy Choji, Abuja

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday opened a two-day Presidential policy retreat at the State House Abuja.

The retreat is to fashion out ways of governing Nigeria in the next four years.

Addressing participants, the President tasked participants to come up with policy recommendations that will help his administration deliver on the campaign promises he made to Nigerians.

“We are committed to consolidating the successes of the last first term, in creating an avenue, such as the nation’s investment and resources are geared towards sustainable development. We will implement structures that will accelerate speedy execution of these initiatives,” he said.

Furthermore, the President urged participants, who comprised of top government officials and state Governors, to come up with key policy proposals that will help government accelerate growth and economic development across the country.

President Buhari assured that his administration will continue to provide incentives for sustainable economic growth and job creation.

“We have witnessed eight quarters of consistent though marginal growth of the economy over the past two and half years. We have made progress in the agricultural sector especially in food production and processing through our food security and anchor borrowers programmes, which provide concessionary credit facilities to farmers in crop production as well as large scale investors in food processing and manufacturing.

“To consolidate on these and other successes, we will continue to provide incentives that will facilitate investments and create jobs in key important substitution programmes,” he said.

The President reminded the participants that the outcome of their deliberations will only be advisory.

He said: “In line with the ‘Next Level’ strategy of our party, the All Progressives Congress APC, which seeks to consolidate on our achievements over the past four years, this policy dialogue session has been conceived to advise the government over the next four years to deliver on our promises in a manner that reflects true changes to the livelihood of our people.

“You are also to discuss and propose for federal government’s approval, key strategies and high impact initiatives to stimulate economic growth and development.

“These concerted effort require the convergence of various stakeholders, cutting across the private sector, development partners and industry experts, to dialogue and forge a way forward.”

Also speaking, National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress APC, Adams Oshiomhole advised the Federal and state governments not to use pension funds in the custody of National Pension commission (PENCOM) as stop gap measures to fund budget deficits and infrastructure development.

Oshiomhole lamented that poverty has continued to ravage Nigerians despite efforts by the current administration to address the scourge

The APC Chairman, who stated that the fund was originally initiated to provide long term loans for housing development, called on the retreat participants to come up with implementable policies to address Nigeria’s social economic crises.

“Everywhere in the world, people have access to credit. We have to drop a system where unless you have stashed away millions of Naira, you can build a house in Nigeria

“We know what the challenges are, but now, we need practical solutions to deal with the issue but the problem is how. Why is it that in Nigeria, if you have to buy a car, you must have come up with all the money needed.
We have all travelled all around the world, 10% of your salary is all you need to buy a car.

“We must stop PENCOM money from being borrowed and used for the purpose other than addressing social needs of Nigerian workers. The fund was originally meant to address primary social purposes”, adding that “poor people’s money must be used to address the challenges of the poor,” Oshiomhole stressed.

Those at the retreat included Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, business moguls Aliko Dangote, Jim Ovia and former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn.

State Governors included those of Kebbi, Plateau, Kano, Kaduna, Kogi, Imo, Bauchi, Ekiti, Edo, Borno and Lagos.

Ime Njoku