Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the Federal Government has spent over N2.7 trillion to service the country’s infrastructure needs.
Osinbajo says the amount represents the largest capital expenditure in the country’s history despite earning 60 percent less in the previous five years.
At the opening ceremony of the 2018 Lagos International Trade Fair, Osinbajo said, “We have focused on roads, power and our new rail network, among others. The Federal Government has been committed to policies and reform efforts geared at enhancing diversification and structural reform of the economy through massive investment in infrastructure and human capital.”
The Vice President said these policies had successfully enhanced productivity, increased the share of manufacturing in Nigeria’s total export earnings and reduced Nigeria’s susceptibilities to shocks.
“Our focus on infrastructure extends to both hard and soft infrastructure, particularly trade facilitation, quality infrastructure and the ease of doing business reforms. We have taken on the infrastructure challenges that have stifled SME growth and development in the country by seeking innovative ways to bridge the significant infrastructure gap and at the same time, creating an enabling environment,” he said.
Plans are also on the way to facilitate an innovative product in collaboration with Google incorporated to provide free WiFi in public places, he said, pointing out that the service is currently in six different locations in Palm Shopping Mall, Landmark Centre, MM2 (the domestic airport), the Computer Village and the Ikeja City Mall.
“The more interesting part is that we are asking them to roll out a market across a Nigeria. In the next few months they will be in Onitsha Main Market, Gbagi in Ibadan, Kuto Market in Abeokuta, Kaduna Central Market, the Sura Market and the Lagos Abuja International Airport.
“We think that by democraticising access to the internet, especially in public places, and in markets, so many more people can do their business and more people can receive information and this information can cheaply be delivered to them. An enabling business environment is critical.
“We have also enhanced our electronic visa process, which allows any eligible business traveller coming into Nigeria to attain visa within 48 hours of applying and meeting the conditions.
“This is in addition to a renewed mandate of a 48-hour visa processing timeline across all our missions abroad. Many of those companies coming into Nigeria can get visas on arrival and that process is the one that has been tried and tested,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, Babatunde Ruwase, president, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said the chamber had adopted a generic theme tagged, “Connecting businesses, creating value,” for the Lagos International Trade Fair, stressing that the theme is chosen to underscore the importance of relationship and interactions among businesses for the purpose of wealth creation.
He said that it was also to underline the value of interactions between producers and service providers, and the end users.
“LCCI is committed to the vision of the present administration in respect of economic diversification and self-reliance. Our programmes, advocacy activities and capacity development are geared towards the realisation of this economic aspiration.
“We recognise the imperative of non-oil sector development and the need to add value to our primary products in order to improve earnings for both the public and private sectors of the Nigerian economy. This trade fair provides a platform to identify non-oil alternatives and highlight the significance of value addition,” he said.
“As a policy advocacy group, we will continue to offer advice, input and partnership on strategies and measures to facilitate the realisation of the economic development programmes of government. However, we are pleased to note in this regard the activities of the presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), under the chairmanship of the vice president, for the various interventions of the PEBEC on business issues.”
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Author: ODINAKA ANUDU