Thursday, 3 September 2015

Buhari to give primary school pupils free meals

Vice-President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday said the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration would soon commence giving primary school children free meals.

The vice president said the free feeding scheme was a core project of the Federal Government that would in turn yield about 1.14 million jobs and increase in food production.

Osinbajo said this at the 45th Annual Accountants Conference in Abuja.

He said the government would be investing more in the people, education and job creation.

Speaking on the topic “Repositioning Nigeria for Sustainable Development: From Rhetoric to Performance,” Osinbajo said that the multiplier effects of the introduction of the school feeding scheme would help to create 1.14 million new jobs; increase food production by up to 530,000 metric tonnes per annum, as well as attract fresh investments up to N980bn.

He said, “One of the most important interventions required in the education sector is capacity building to improve teacher quality.

“This programme is intended to drive teachers’ capacity development; boost basic education; attract talents to the teaching profession. Better educated population increases economic potential for productivity.”

“The All Progressives Congress has made a commitment to provide one-meal-a-day for all primary school students; that would create jobs in agriculture, including poultry, catering and delivery services.”

The vice president decried the high rate of employment in the country in spite of the fact that Nigeria had recorded high oil prices, Gross Domestic Product and foreign reserves during the previous administrations.

This, according to him, has made it clear that such figures, including a rise in revenue by itself, do not create jobs or significantly reduce poverty level in the country.

“So, why are most (of our people) poor despite rising revenues and GDP growth? Our main revenue earners, the extractive oil and gas economy, do not by themselves create many jobs. Such is the irony of a top-down economic model; when the major revenue earner is extractive and the value chain is poorly developed,” he argued.

Osinbajo also said there was need for the government to improve the power sector and have a one-stop shop for approvals of investments.

Other areas of focus in the Buhari economic plan, as espoused by his deputy, are innovation and fighting piracy; diversification of the economy in the areas of agriculture to achieve self-sufficiency in rice and wheat (staples) production; manufacturing; entertainment and technology.

On the power sector, he noted that “despite the challenges, there have been measurable improvements over the past three months (June to August 2015).”

He said, for instance, there had been a 26 per cent increase in operational generation capacity (June to August 15, 2015 compared to January to May 2015); decrease in pipeline vandalism, boosting of gas supply; and a 10 per cent reduction in transmission losses.

Other achievements in the sector, he said, included reduction in red tape to remove delays; blocking the 450MW Azura-Edo IPP and the 500MW Exxon Mobil Qua-Iboe IPP; and the imposition of a September 2015 deadline for the submission of the DisCos’ revised tariff trajectories.

The vice president said there was no going back on the Treasury Single Account policy of the Federal Government, saying the TSA would address issues of non-transparency, especially among revenue generating agencies.

He frowned at the activities of revenue generating agencies of government that did not remit funds into the Federation Account as and when due.