President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday charged state governors to seek for ways to improve their Internally Generated Revenues (IGR).
The first term administration of President Buhari had released series of bailout funds to state governments to meet up with their financial obligations in the face of economic recession.
Buhari spoke while inaugurating the new National Economic Council (NEC), with tenure from 2019 to 2023 at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Council is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
While urging the new NEC to press forward with key initiatives, Buhari asked them to specially focus on security, education health and agriculture.
Attaining progress in the four areas, he said will ensure a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.
Buhari said “Going forward, States must in the next four years find ways to increase internally generated revenues, improve VAT collection and increase agricultural output without disrupting business activities.
“I also want you to work with the Federal Agencies and the service providers in ensuring that broadband infrastructure is made available all over the country. Information and Communication Technology is the future of work and we must not allow ourselves to be left behind.
“Let me restate the high expectations on NEC as a veritable source of articulating policies and programmes that are expected to drive growth and development, secure our environment and take the country to the next level.
“Your Excellencies, the challenges that confront us in the next few years, especially in the areas of security, human capital development and employment for our youths are monumental and historic. But we are more than equal to the task.”
Noting that NEC was established by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), as amended, he said that by virtue of Section 153 and paragraph 18 of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution, NEC has the mandate to advise the President on economic policy of the country and in particular, co-ordination of the economic planning efforts, and programmes of the three- tiers of Government.
He said that he was happy that the Council made very significant progress, holding an unprecedented total of 38 meetings and setting up 10 Ad-Hoc Committees to address various issues of national concern during his first term of office,
In the course of its deliberations, he said that the last NEC came up with a total of 173 resolutions, cutting across eight areas, namely; a. Agriculture and Solid Minerals; b. Investments Promotion and Industrialization; c. Monetary and fiscal stability; d. Infrastructure; e. Health and Education; f. Revenue Generation; g. Security and h. Support for States.
He said that the resolutions were designed to energize the various sectors of the Nigerian economy to which the eight areas relate.
Initiatives brought about by the NEC resolutions, he said, are either implemented already or at different stages of implementation across the country.
“Together, they have proved to be of utmost importance in dictating the pace of national development.
“I therefore urge the NEC Coordination Team to press forward with key initiatives that will strengthen the implementation mechanism, enhance cooperation across States and further promote joint deliberations, peer learning and experience sharing, under a very strong Monitoring and Evaluation Framework.
“Your Excellencies, I want you to pay special attention to the four major issues of security, education, health and agriculture in the coming years of this tenure. As you are no doubt aware, our successes in these four areas will go a long way in lifting our people out of poverty and secure our future for sustainable growth and development.
“On Security, government will continue to rate security of lives and properties as top priority on our agenda. We are firmly committed to securing the territorial integrity of our nation, while confronting the remnants of terrorists, bandits and other criminals across the country.
“There must be collective and deliberate efforts by all to improve the security of lives and properties across the country. Security is a bottom to top operation. Everybody must be involved for total success.
“On education, I want to stress in particular the need to take very seriously and enforce very rigorously the statutory provisions on free and compulsory basic education. Section 18(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended places on all of us here an obligation to eradicate illiteracy and provide free and compulsory education.
“Section 2 of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act provides that every Government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.