REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE VICE PRESIDENT, PROF YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, AT THE INAUGURATION OF POLICY LABS IN THE BANQUET HALL OF THE STATE HOUSE, ABUJA, ON 6 FEBRUARY, 2018.
I doubt whether anyone will disagree, that Nigerian governments, through the years have generally laid out reasonably good economic policies and plans. Our Achilles heel has always been implementation. Just getting the polices and projects done timeously and according to the plan. So the unique point of difference between our four-year Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, is that it comes with an implementation strategy and devise which has been described as Focus Laboratories or Labs for short.
This is a policy or project implementation devise; labs operate by bringing together all private and public sector officials necessary to achieve the specific policy or project objectives, in this case the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, in order to achieve the objective of over 7% growth plus exponential job creation by 2020.
We have chosen some specific areas where we are going to conduct these laboratories; the areas of agriculture and transport being in one group, manufacturing and processing in another, power and gas in another group.
These laboratories are meant to bring together private sector and public sector participants, potential investors, to think through the implementation of these specific areas of focus. They will be telling us what the problems might be, why it will not work unless we do x.y.z. And working together that way, focusing on our objectives, realizing that we cannot work without the private sector, and we have to work together. We believe that we will be able to achieve the very specific objectives that have been set out for us and these are the specific areas already mentioned.
This is why I am particularly delighted, that we are today inaugurating the core working groups for our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Focus Labs, ahead of the launch of the Labs themselves in March. This is the first stage in the process of launching the labs themselves.
I am sure that we have heard time and time again, about the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, our four-year medium term plan with the objective of restoring sustained growth to the economy. The programme outlines all the policies in various sectors of the economy designed to bring about rapid growth.
The ultimate objective of these Focus Labs is to stimulate new investments, ensure that they succeed and create jobs on the scale needed by the Nigerian economy, to achieve the objectives that we have set for it. I am particularly excited that we are set for the implementation of these labs today.
The Central Steering Committee – comprises 9 cabinet ministers in Agriculture, Transport, Mines and Steel, Industry Trade and Investment, Power Works and Housing, Petroleum Resources, Finance, Justice, and of course Budget and National Planning. They are tasked with steering the labs and driving the necessary collaboration with the private sector.
The Core Working Groups, which we are inaugurating today, comprises the senior public officials who will provide the sector expertise required to successfully run the three labs.
Let me emphasize the significance of the private sector; in some senses, we are courting and wooing the private sector because they have the resources to ensure that what we set for ourselves is achieved.
They are significant in the achievement of our economic objectives as a government, and in the success of these labs. Our administration fully recognises that the private sector ought to be the driver of the economy, mobilising and deploying the bulk of the capital required to deliver growth and prosperity, and the role of the government should essentially be to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive. I am pleased to note that these labs have been designed to function on that principle.
We are really committed to this principle and I want those participating in these labs to see it as central, we want to listen to both what the private sector and investors are saying, we want to see in what ways we can bend over backwards to accommodate what they are saying so that we can achieve our objectives. This is a partnership not just in a philosophical sense but in a practical sense.
I must commend the members of the ERGP Implementation Team, and all other parties who have been working relentlessly towards the successful launch of the labs. Let me commend the Minister of Budget and Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, whose personal commitment and tenacity brought us this far and also the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed and all the members of the teams who have worked relentlessly to ensure that we achieve the objectives of not just doing these labs but also moving forward with the implementation of the EGRP.
Let me also acknowledge the efforts of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), which has worked closely with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), in developing the new online investment profiling template, an important input for the work of the labs.
Once again, I reaffirm the commitment of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, to this initiative, and we are reporting to him directly, this is a matter that he takes very seriously indeed. I look forward to joining you in your working sessions ahead of the commencement of the labs next month.
I now hereby formally inaugurate the Core Working Group of the ERGP Focus Labs, and wish you all the best in your work in the weeks and months ahead.
I thank you for listening.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President