By Tayo Joseph Lagos, Nigeria.
The Nigerian Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) will be driven by Science, Technology and Innovation, with the youths being targeted to deliver the Plan success, the Minister of Budget and National Planning Minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has disclosed.
Senator Udoma, while receiving the Country Representative of UNICEF, Mohammed Malick Fall, in Abuja at the weekend, said government is working strategically to address the economic challenges of the country with appropriate attention focused on young people, who are the source of the country’s economic strength.
He said the ERGP, the country’s medium term plan, is tailored in such a way that it will be driven largely by ideas and innovation, areas where the young people have comparative advantage, particularly in high-tech perspectives that will urgently transform the economy.
The Minister told the UNICEF delegation that the Federal Government was ever ready to collaborate and partner with development agencies who are in the country to assist in beneficial development programmes.
Even as he stressed the importance of financial assistance, the Minister noted that as important as funding is in executing programmes, it is not sufficient without ideas and technical assistance to guide spending. Funding, technical support and good policies are the ingredients required for successful accomplishment of projects, he added.
While acknowledging UNICEF’s assistance efforts, particularly in the areas of Health, Water, Sanitation and Youth Development, Senator Udoma encouraged the organization to always collaborate with his Ministry in its project plans to avoid overlaps with the efforts of other multilateral agencies and donor partners; and duplication of provisions in the country’s development plans.
He said the ERGP which has been concluded is expected to deliver on 5 key broad outcomes, namely: a stable macroeconomic environment, agricultural transformation and food security, sufficiency in energy (power and petroleum products), improved transportation infrastructure and industrialization focusing on small and medium scale enterprises.
The Plan envisages that by 2020, Nigeria would have made significant progress towards achieving structural economic change with a more diversified and inclusive economy. This he added, will heavily depend on young people who apart from their bubbling energy and fresh ideas, are also more technology savvy.
UNICEF Country Representative, Fall, said the organization will continue to engage with government on technical issues and as well as make available experiences from different parts of the world towards tackling challenges that fall within its assistance mandate areas.
He pointed out that policy dialogue, best practices, and experiences from other parts of the world have a better chance of solving challenges than the level of donor funding.
The Representative said UNICEF is more particular about water and sanitation challenges in its current approach to dealing with health matters because no matter the amount of focus on Health, if these two areas are not properly addressed, all the efforts would be worthless
He agreed to collaborate with the Ministry to ensure that there is an alignment of efforts in executing the agencies programmes for the benefit of the people.