TRANSPERENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY KEY IN COVID-19 RESPONSE ---AGBA

 

The Honourable Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, has said that the principle of transparency and accountability was of essence as the country responded to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

Agba, who is also the Co- chair of Open Government Partnership(OGP), stated this in Abuja, during a virtual roundtable discussion of State and Non State Actors, International Organization, Open Government Partnership and Donors. 

The focus of the discussion was on ensuring an effective and inclusive stimulus and safety nets campaign for Nigeria as part of the response to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Speaking, the  Minister hinted that the discussion was aimed at improving transparency and accountability as the country responded to COVID 19, especially, with the economy sustainability plan, adding that it would rebuild citizens support for government.

“The issues that we have is the disconnect between government and the governed and because of this disconnect, there is some kind of lack of trust, no matter how good the intentions of government programmes are”.

According to the Minister, President Buhari had signed up to the (OGP) just to ensure transparency and accountability and that the Government was able to engage it's citizen as well as build trust in all that was done.

He also said that the meeting was to discuss the current transparency mechanism of government, COVID 19 Response and recovery plan. It was to further brainstorm ways of improving existing mechanism and systems, maintaining that it was imperative to use the OGP to drive public participation and ownership on some of the programmes put in place by the government in response to the global pandemic.

Agba expressed concern over the core crisis facing the country, which he outlined as:- the health, the humanitarian, the security as well as economic crisis, stressing that measures of preventing a deep recession could not be overemphasized. 

"We have had about 12 consecutive quarters of growth since the recession we had in 2016 which led to the putting in place of the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP).

The Minister pointed out that there were indications that Nigeria might be heading into a deep recession because growth was about 1.4% as against 2.5 in the last quarter of 2019, hence the introduction of programmes and economic activities that would engender growth as well as help prevent the country from plunging into deep recession.

 

Earlier, the Co chair and CEO of OGP, Mr. Sanjay Pradhan said the meeting was vital for three reasons:- To provide  massive stimulus package for the vulnerable group, MSME, create employment as well as protect jobs for the citizens of Nigeria.

Sanjay was of the view that jointly, stakeholders would achieve clarity in terms of road maps, clear roles and responsibilities by collectively monitoring the funds and ensuring it reached the beneficiaries.

"There is a huge benefit for Nigerian citizens and citizens made vulnerable by COVID 19, as far as Nigeria is a member of the Steering committee of OGP"

 

Victoria Agba-Attah

Director(Information)

29th July, 2020.

FG, KAS TRAIN ADVISERS AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANTS OF MINISTERS

The Federal Government, in collaboration with konrad-Adenauer.Stiftung( KAS), a German foundation funded by the German Government has organized a 3-day Capacity Building Programme for Special Advisers and Technical Assistants of Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The program is aimed at preparing participants to adequately participate in the effective policy formulation and decisions towards the new National Long-Term Development Plan.

Declaring the program open virtually yesterday, in Abuja, the Honorable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said that the Federal Civil Service being at the heart of Nigeria’s governance process was integral to the development, institutionalization and effective implementation of policies and plans developed under any administration.

In view of that, the Minister said “ As advisers in Federal Government, you each play an important supportive role to your Ministers and the Civil Service by providing an important link in the design and implementation of policies and plans aimed at ensuring an inclusive, sustainable and resilient economy, in line with Government’s priorities”

Concerning the global COVID 19 pandemic and the drop in crude oil prices, Ahmed reiterated that Federal Government had taken several measures to address the crisis like other primarily oil-dependent economies adding that the response to the crisis had been proactive and people- oriented.

The Minister enumerated key intervention measures by government to include: Mr. President’s early establishment of 12-member Presidential Task Force on Covid-19; the establishment of N500 billion Covid-19 crisis Intervention Fund to finance the upgrade and improvement of healthcare facilities; and the creation of Special Public Works Program to employ 774,000 people.

 Ahmed also mentioned the US$150 million to be drawn from the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (“NSIA”) Stabilization Fund to augment the Federation Account Allocation Committee (“FAAC”) disbursements, among others.

The Minister stated that, Government would continue to make critical investments in key sectors, including agriculture, infrastructure, health and education.  To do that, Ahmed said “we must sustainably address the longstanding challenge of domestic revenue mobilization through continued implementation of the Strategic Revenue Generation Initiative (SRGI) and through continued incremental fiscal reforms through the introduction of annual Finance Bills, as well as reducing the cost of governance’’

She commended the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, for leading on the development of the training. She also appreciated the German Embassy and development partners for their support in that regards while urging participants to take advantage of the programme to develop and strengthen existing collaborations across their respective Ministries.

 This, in her words, “will further strengthen your work and better position you to help drive the development and implementation of integrated policies and plans.”

In her remarks, the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Her Excellency Birgitt Ory, highlighted on three necessary elements of good governance and their roles in meeting global development challenges, namely: Institutions, Diversity and Ownership.

Speaking further, Ory said, Institutions should be effective, reliable and transparent. She said this was important for political accountability and economic development.

On Diversity, the Ambassador explained that strong institutions did not only need to be efficient but they also needed to be inclusive adding that the link between good governance and diversity was a very important one in current times. ‘’Our task as 21st century citizens are to embrace diversity and to turn it into a source of energy for progress. Diversity is – and should be – a source of strength, not a source of division. This is our experience in the European Union. And this is a very important aspect of good governance in our modern age”, the Ambassador emphasized.

On Ownership, Ory noted that good governance needed ownership. She therefore charged all to strive for good governance, enhance opportunities and contribute to meet current challenges.

The program facilitated by Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation will feature the following topics: Public Policy as a tool for National Development, Public Service Rules and Executive Orders, Developing Council Documents, Strategic Plan Formulation, Policy Analysis and Forecasting; and Strategic Media Communication of Government Policies, etc.

Participants will be trained in batches.

 

Victoria Agba-Attah

D(Information)

20/7/2020.

Nigerian Government is committed to combating violence against women, girls-Agba …commends effort of UN, EU through Spotlight Initiative  

Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, says that the Nigerian government is committed to the global effort at decreasing violence against women and girls by intensifying collaborations with international partners in the fight against the scourge.

Agba restated the commitment on Friday in a welcome address he delivered at the first bi-annual meeting of the National Steering Committee for the Spotlight Initiative in 2020 held at the United Nations’ auditorium in Abuja.

The Spotlight Initiative specifically backs a national action to end violence against women and girls amid the COVID-19 pandemic while the Initiative’s National Steering Committee provides overall strategic policy and political direction on implementation of the spotlight programme.

The Committee is also responsible for improving coordination and accountability in the three-way partnership among the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and the Government of Nigeria.

Agba said, “Decreasing violence against women and girls requires global solidarity, a multi-pronged approach, and sustained engagement with multiple stakeholders,” adding “I therefore wish to restate the government of Nigeria’s commitment to all agreed international obligations in this regard.”

The minister recalled the cases of the 22-year old microbiology student at the University of Benin who was on May 28, this year, reported to have been raped, brutally assaulted and later died; and, the 18-year old student of the Federal College of Animal and Production Technology, Ibadan, Barakat Bello, who was on June 1, this year, also reportedly raped to death in her home after returning from Qur’anic lessons.

According to him, “incidences such as these make it imperative for all stakeholders to do everything possible to ensure that women and girls in Nigeria have the right to live in dignity and free from violence.”

Agba said that the European Union/United Nations Joint Spotlight Initiative therefore represented a veritable tool for such partnership.

“Let me at this point, on behalf of the Government of Nigeria, express our Country’s gratitude to the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) for their joint efforts at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, as well as other initiatives that are targeted at achieving gender equality and women's empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he stated.

The minister further said that the Spotlight Initiative aligned with Nigeria’s national priorities as encapsulated in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020, whose successor plan, the Nigerian National Development Plan had, as an important pillar, ensuring that women issues were very well captured.

Agba declared that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had, in the last five years, worked hard to address some of the issues confronting the nation in the area of violence against women and girls.

He assured Nigerians and other stakeholders that the government intended to build on the gains of the past in order to conclude the work of changing, in a fundamental way, all issues relating to violence against women and girls.

Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, acknowledged the support that Nigeria had received from the Spotlight Initiative and urged all hands to be on deck in order to achieve a desirable outcome.

EU Ambassador to Nigeria and Head of Delegation, Mr Karlsen Ketil, said the committee identified the need for more encouragement at state level and for scaling up high-level actions.

Ketil submitted that the current national outcry over different rape cases provided a momentum for immediate action and called for a nationwide virtual townhall meeting to discuss the issue with members of the public on the way forward. 

 

Victoria Agba-Attah

Director  Information

June 7, 2020.

BUDGET AND NATIONAL PLANNING, STAKEHOLDERS MEET ON LAKE CHAD BASIN REGIONAL STABILIZATION

 

The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the Budget and National Planning arm has met with Representatives of Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), African Union Commission (AUC) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for Information and Sensitization Mission on the Lake Chad Basin Regional Stabilization Strategy, in Abuja.

The purpose of the forum is to ensure a clear understanding, knowledge and appreciation of the Regional stabilization strategy and engender national level coordination and collaboration with relevant stakeholders in the implementation of the strategy.

In his welcome speech, the Honorable Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs. Olusola Idowu, said that Budget and National Planning is favorably disposed to the implementation of the strategy and the recovery of communities in the region affected by Boko Haram insurgency.

He also acknowledged the effort and commitment demonstrated by the stakeholders in ensuring that the lives of those residing in the affected region return to normalcy. To achieve successful implementation of the strategy and return of stability to the region, Prince Agba urged the donors to establish maintain synergy in terms of funding. This, he explained involves ensuring that funds are channeled to areas of greater needs in order to return normalcy to the region.

 Also speaking, the Director, International Cooperation, Mrs. Elizabeth Egharevba noted that in the implementation of the strategy, synergy with the Departments of Monitoring and Evaluation and International cooperation of the Budget and Planning Ministry is of essence.

Briefing earlier, the Executive Secretary, Lake Chad Commission, His Excellency, Ambassador Mamman Nuhu, who is also the Head of Mission, Multinational Joint Task Force, stated  the aim of the visit to the Ministry to include: Building support for the strategy at the highest level in order to address the humanitarian and  development challenges in the region; raise level of awareness about those in the region(Bornu, Yobe, Adamawa) amongst others.

Nuhu harped on the role of Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning in the implementation of the strategy to include as follows: ensure the overarching strategic planning and national coordination of intervention projects; ensuring nexus between Federal and State response; allocative responsibility to stability, recovery and resilience in the affected States; complement and manage counterpart funding from Federal Government; Overall fiduciary monitoring and accountability on the implementation of the stabilization strategy and to ensure that funding for the strategy is captured at the National budget level.

 

Imaobong Udoh

For: Director Information

20/03/2020.

AGBA TASKS GROUP ON MORE POLICY OPTIONS FOR QUICK ECONOMIC RECOVERY

 

In line with Federal Government’s desire to address challenges posed by Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria, a number of State Governments across the country have reviewed their 2020 budget to align with present realities.

Many States have also begun adopting measures for aggressive diversification of their revenue base, to reduce dependency on the diminishing allocations from the Federation Account.

The Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, made this known during the 11th virtual Community of Practice (CoP) meeting of Commissioners of Economic Planning, held in Abuja, with the theme: “COVID-19: Strategies for quick Recovery of the Economy”

Agba noted that, though there had been marginal increase in the price of crude oil in the international market, the cut in daily production quota by OPEC still dwarfed the much-required revenue needed to rejig the weakened economy.

Also, as a result of the rising rate of infections, the continuous global melt, the increasing unemployment on account of layoffs in all sectors of economy, the Minister said,  the  economic growth could contract to about -8.9% in 2020, in the worst-case scenario and -4.45 in the best-case scenario without any form of stimulus to the economy.

To prevent a potential deep recession, accelerate quick recovery of the economy and carry on with the estimated stimulus package, the Minister announced that the current total estimated stimulus package by the Federal Government of Nigeria was N2.3 trillion.

This package, according to Agba, consisted of N500Billion FGN interventions fund, N1.2T CBN intervention funds, N334B BOI/Bilateral/Multilateral interventions and additional FGN support of N300B. "A common feature of these interventions is that they would create a large number of jobs, empower farmers and entrepreneurs, use up to 100% of local materials, conserve foreign exchange and have guaranteed offtake of outputs, especially in agriculture and housing."

He also said that Federal government was taking steps to increase non-oil revenue generation through VAT reforms in the Finance Act 2020, customs administration enhancement, tax incentives and exemptions, increase remittances and recovery of unremitted revenues from GOEs, increase revenues from cross-border business transactions, unlock value from FG assets that were lying idle or under-utilized, etc.

Agba therefore urged States to emulate the economic recovery steps taken by the Federal government by coming up with more policy options for a quick recovery of the economy with the following measures in mind: Adopt a targeted and integrated policy response; Deal decisively and proactively with public health safety issues; Consider a new 2020 budget across the States to reflect new realities and develop sectorial responses that addresses immediate needs, among others.

Earlier in her remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Olusola Idowu, said that the meeting was very significant as it provided participants with the opportunity to chart a new course towards the development of the country amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. “Together, we will strive towards addressing the challenges posed by the novel corona virus pandemic’’ Idowu stressed.

She appreciated various presenters, panelists, State Commissioners and other attendees saying that the dialogue was a springboard to develop workable solutions for the national economic challenge.

Dignitaries at the meeting were: DG Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agencies of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Dr. Dikko Umaru Radda, Executive Director/CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, CEO Bank of Industry, Mr. Olukayode Pitan and National Programme Manager, DFID-PERL, Ifeanyi Peters Ugwuoke, among others.

 

Victoria Agba-Attah

Director Information.

30th June, 2020.

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