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Social investment, Digital economy, top Buhari’s achievement -Osinbajo

Reflecting on the achievements of the Buhari administration over the past seven years, the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs), digital economy and ease of doing business reforms, rank high among gains recorded by government during the period.

This was the view of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, on Monday in Abuja at the Ministerial Retreat organised to evaluate the progress made in the implementation of the agenda of the Buhari Administration.

He spoke on the topic “The President Muhammadu Administration, Reflections On The Journey So Far”.

Reflecting on the overall lessons over the past years, the VP said, “our experience has shown that it is quite possible to run large-scale programmes for the benefit of ordinary Nigerians in a fair and transparent manner.

“Using technology reduced the problems of human agency and discretion. Running such large programmes fairly goes a long way in encouraging ordinary Nigerians to believe and trust in the Government they voted into power.”

Speaking specifically on the implementation of the SIPs, Prof. Osinbajo said “the fourth game-changing achievement of our government is the Social Investment Programme. This is an important ideological and policy statement for our party and government.”

Justifying the adoption of the policy, the VP said “we took the view from the inception of the government that especially in a largely poor society must provide well-thought-out social safety nets, for the poorest and most vulnerable and interventions for the young unemployed.”

The VP added that aside the School Feeding Programme for public primary schools, now feeding close to 10 million school children across the country, “the award-winning microcredit scheme for informal traders under the Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme, the likes of TraderMoni, FarmerMoni MarketMoni e.t.c.,” represents a major the achievement of the administration.

He listed “interventions for the young unemployed population through the N-Power programme, beginning with the employment of 500,000 and now with presidential approval engagement of 1 million, and creation of aNational Social Register with 46 million persons in over 11 million poor and vulnerable households from across the Federation,” as other high-flying achievements of the administration.

In the area of digital economy, Prof. Osinbajo noted that “the rapid expansion of Broadband access” and birthing of “6 Unicorns in the midst of two recessions”, underline the impact of the administration’s efforts in the area.

According to the VP, “In August 2019, the broadband coverage was 33.7% and today it is 44.65%, representing close to 13 million new broadband users. There were 13,823 4G base stations and we now have 36,751, representing a 165.86% increase. The percentage of 4G coverage across the country also increased from 23% to 77.52%.
“Between 2015 and now, in the midst of two recessions, Nigeria now has 6 Unicorns. These are digital companies valued at over $1 billion each, at least one of them is valued at $3billion, bigger than most Nigerian Banks. These include the companies Flutterwave, O-Pay, Andela, Interswitch, Jumia, Piggyvest and Paystack.”

Speaking further about impact, the VP explained that “what will become the biggest contribution of the digital economy to Nigeria’s economic growth is the deployment of 5G technology. We now have Presidential approval for the 5G policy.”

His words: “In terms of density, 4G allows connection to about 1 million devices in 500 square kilometres, while 5G will allow the same number of devices in just 1 square kilometre. There are also very fast data rates of the 5G and more efficient energy usage.

“Also, the cost of data has crashed from N1,200 per GB in 2019 to about N360 today, making it easier for Nigerians to connect to the Internet. Now the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has embarked on the National Information and Communications Technology Infrastructure Backbone II, (NICTIB II) to connect 20 States with fibre optics that had not been connected in NICTIB I.”

Another area the administration has recorded remarkable progress, according to the VP is “with expanding the digital identity database. From less than 40 million people with National Identification Numbers (NINs) in 2020, we now have 90,268,742 NIN records as at end of September 2022.”

“Digital identity is profoundly important for the entire economy. It assures democratized access to basic services, like health, education and banking, and enables the inclusion of millions in the digital, economy.

“Another key strand of Nigeria’s digital journey is the stellar performance of our FinTech companies, the growth of which was supported by the Central Bank of Nigeria in terms of granting new categories of licences and providing clear regulatory guidelines for payment service providers. This has led to an explosion in participation with the value of digital transactions in Nigeria rising to N286 trillion ($690 billion) in 2021,” the VP added.

“The Ease of Doing Busines reforms”, is another game-changing achievement of the administration, according to Prof. Osinbajo.

The VP said the reforms impacted Nigeria’s global rating, stating that “between 2016 and 2019, Nigeria moved up 39 places in the World Bank Doing Business rankings and was twice named as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world.”

He said “PEBEC, has since 2016 implemented 160 reforms. These include digitization of company registration, tax payment, and the visa-on-arrival process. Legislative reforms with the active collaboration of the National Assembly which includes The Secured Transaction in Movable Asset Act 2017 and the Credit Reporting Act, 2017.”

The VP noted that “these two Acts enable MSMEs to enjoy financial inclusion and facilitate access to credit by legalizing the use of movable assets as collateral, improving transparency and enhancing risk management in credit transactions.

“To date, over 700 billion Naira worth of assets have been listed on the National Collateral Registry. This is important because now we have a register of collaterals. If you have used your movable asset as collateral, it is listed somewhere.”

“Also, there is the new Companies and Allied Matters Act, containing extensive business facilitation provisions and the Omnibus Bill which would codify Executive Order 001 on Transparency and Efficiency,” he added.

He also mentioned Justice sector reforms particularly the establishment of small claims courts for the settlement of commercial disputes under N5 million, as major reform that enabled the growth of MSMEs.

According to him, “Lagos State was the first to establish this in 2018 and today, over 4,000 suits have been heard in 19 Courts across the State, significantly reducing the cost and time of commercial litigation for MSMEs.

“Kano, Ogun, Edo, Ekiti, Nasarawa and Jigawa States Judiciaries have also commenced operations, with Bayelsa, Kaduna, Sokoto States and FCT Judiciary on the verge of launching their own Small Claims Courts in the near future.”

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