ABUJA—The Federal Government said, yesterday, that its greatest priority is to bail out poor Nigerians from abject poverty by providing social protection that would lift their standard of living and also diversify the productive base of the economy to agriculture.
The Federal Government also said that it will strive to reform the judiciary and education system to fight corruption and curtail impunity in the system as there would be no mercy for looters of the economy, just as it justified the reason for granting financial bailout to states.
Speaking at the 21st Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, tagged Tough Choices: Achieving Competi-tiveness, Inclusive Growth and Sustainability, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said: “We want to bail out the poor by providing social protection.
“Millions of people die on a daily basis as a result of abject poverty. They are completely alienated from the economy. So, we need social intervention to improve the lives of these people. This improvement will come from education, health, feeding, among others.
“We are called upon to clean the mess and rebuild the institutions ravaged by corruption over the years, terrorism in the North-East, and huge rise in socio-economic problems in the last few years, while education of millions of children have been stalled for years.
“To effectively compete for international and local investments, we need to improve our position on economic indices.
“This calls for huge investment in infrastructure to power the economy. But as we take the tough macro and micro decisions, we are compelled to redress the increase in high rate of poverty and inequality, rising unemployment and insecurity.
“It requires rethinking of the citizens. This is why our economic model will involve substantial social safety investments over the next few years.”
On judicial reform
President Buhari said the judicial system as a pace setter in the country had promised to replicate discipline in its profession and fight corruption in the same manner with the executive arm of government.
According to him, “the reform in the judiciary will centre on increase in remuneration and strict adherence on merit in the appointment of judges.
“We need to put a reform in place to stop corruption in the judiciary in a manner that people in the system will know that government is serious.
There will be recognition for merit and they will be well paid. We will not give room for judicial indiscipline.
Justification for state bail out
“We recognize that there was a drop in states’ revenue due to the drop in oil price. This led to the inability of some states to pay salaries.
“In realising this fact and the fact that many of them have very little internally generated revenue, IGR, government responded with the ball out.
“As much as I am not absorbing any state from financial recklessness, it was done in three aspects: first, as a viable commercial loan to the states at N600 billion and the states are to pay from federation allocation.
“We thought that the best thing would be to work out a way that the banks will take Federal Government bonds over the same period, meaning that states will now be owing Federal Government that will in turn do the deduction from federation allocation.”