Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

Nigeria’s Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, has said that, contrary to speculations in some quarters, that the president Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress, APC, government will not divert capital project funds in the 2018 budget for political purposes in the coming 2019 general elections, contrary to speculations in some quarters.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on November 7, 2017 presented a budget of N8.612 trillion to the National Assembly, which focuses on massive infrastructure development including some major and strategic roads, rail and power projects, among several others.

The Vice President, who was represented by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. kemi Adeosun, at a lecture delivered to Course 26 participants at the National Defence College NDC in Abuja, Sunday, also said that the administration adopted the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) as a response to the recession toward restoring growth and reducing Nigeria’s vulnerability to external shocks.

He however reiterated the Federal Government’s resolve towards boosting the country’s economy through infrastructure development.

In a statement issued by the Minister’s spokesman, Mr. Oluyinka Akintunde in Abuja, the Vice President said the Federal Government’s capital budget would be strictly deployed to fund infrastructural projects across the country, adding that the Federal Government would retain the capital budget in spite of the forthcoming elections in the country.

The title of the lecture is “Economic Dimensions of National Security: The Nigerian Experience”.

While responding to speculations that the capital budget would be used for the general elections, Osinbajo said the current administration would not divert capital project funds for the forthcoming elections. “This administration remains committed to infrastructure spending at the high levels of the past two years and the completion of major ongoing projects.” The statement said.

It also reiterated the commitment of the Buhari’s administration to its programme of transformation, jobs and wealth creation across the country.

The Vice President noted that the improvement in security was vital to Nigeria’s economic growth, human security and realisation of national defense and security requirements and therefore assured that the Federal Government would continue to play a key role in ensuring national cohesion by promoting social inclusion as a key state objective.

“Economic development is a springboard for improved national security because it comes with growth which enables more resources for a growing population. “National economic development means that a country can meet its national security needs without depending on outsiders for the provision of its defense and security needs. “Depending on food and energy imports makes a nation vulnerable to external pressure,” Osinbajo said.

He further explained that the ERGP was initiated to address macroeconomic balance, increase contribution of agriculture, manufacturing, mining and high value services to the economy.

On the Social Investment Programme, the Vice President disclosed that about 200,000 N-Power jobs had been created under the programme while 250 million meals had been served under the Home Grown School Feeding Programme.

He added that 300,000 micro loans had been issued under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, expressing optimism about Nigeria’s economic outlook for 2018, noting that the Federal Government expects the economy to grow by 3.5 per cent. “The inflation projection of 15.74 per cent by end of 2017 was achieved and there is good reason to believe that the ERGP target of 12.42 per cent by the end of 2018 can be achieved. “With regard to foreign exchange reserves, the level of 40.3 billion dollars achieved by end January is already quite close to the amount of 43.53 billion dollars projected in the ERGP for the end of this year. “Given the current state of the oil market, this is a target that can readily be achieved,” he said.