By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
The outgoing Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, said on Wednesday that integrated rural development was key to solving urban area problems, explaining that provision of opportunities in the rural areas would stem the tide of rural-urban migrations that had the potential of creating slums in the urban areas.
Agba stated this at his end-of-tenure press conference at which he listed his achievements in the ministry and highlighted President Muhammadu Buhari’s critical development intervention in the rural areas in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the president’s intervention was targeted at empowering Nigerians in the rural areas and cutting down on post-harvest losses by rehabilitating rural roads along the agro corridors through the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) and, in some cases, through direct budget fundings.
Agba said that on his watch, the Ministry ensured the emplacement of a predictable January to December budget cycle beginning with the 2020 budget, a feat he said was sustained for four consecutive years, pointing out that this changed the unpredictable annual budget cycle that the country had witnessed since 1999.
He listed other achievements to include the development of the National Development Plan (2021-2025) which is a medium-term plan, and the Perspective Plan, christened the Nigeria Agenda 2050, which was recently launched by President Buhari at a Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
He said the ministry developed a Volume III of the NDP 2021 – 2025: which covers the legislative imperatives of the NDP 2021 – 2025 to ensure continuity of the Plan and to remove the binding constraints militating against the Private Sector drive and frontline participation in funding the plan, which for instance, targets filling the $2.3 trillion infrastructure gap, which would require an annual $150b expenditure over five to ten year-period.
He explained that the recent launch of the Nigeria Agenda 2050 by President Buhari gave direction for Government’s policies for over a 30 year-period.
Agba said that on his watch, the ministry developed a framework for National Monitoring and Evaluation policy, which was also approved by the FEC and launched President Buhari.
He spoke about the development of the EYEMARK, a citizen-based web app that would enable Nigerians in the country and in the Diaspora to track execution of capital projects and report progress to government.
While confirming that www.eyemark.ng the new way to track projects, could be downloaded on android phones, the minister observed that Nigerians had yet to satisfactorily utilize the platform to play their monitoring and reporting role.
Besides, he said on his watch the ministry implemented the Grid 3 Technology, which deploys geospatial data for evidence-based decision making and promotion of effective coordination.
The minister co-chaired the GRID 3 Nigeria National Steering Committee, which works across all states in Nigeria to collect accurate, complete, and geo-spatially referenced data, relevant to a variety of sectors for planning and decision making.
As the state actor co-chair of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Nigeria, he said that Nigeria’s commitment to the principles of the OGP had culminated in improved budgetary and procurement processes, thus boosting “our anti-corruption fight through the introduction of transparency in company ownership (establishment of Beneficial Ownership Register)”
He said that the country earned Global Recognition for Beneficial Ownership Efforts and Global Recognition and Awards for OGP Commitments as well global recognition for her effort in extractive transparency, among other achievements.
Agba said that the OGP was gradually transforming the governance ecosystem in Nigeria and underscored the need for successive governments in Nigeria to sustain the OGP and even show more political will to consolidate on its successes.
The minister listed other significant achievements at the ministry to include the development of Nigeria’s food system pathways implementation strategy, and launch of Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) measuring tools, which measures poverty multidimensionally in terms of deprivations in terms of education, health, water and sanitation, and not in terms of monetarily.
He further named the Multi – dimensional Child poverty analysis (2022), Situation analysis of Children (SItAN), 2022, Review of National Social Protection Policy (NSPP), 2021, Food Systems Dialogues, World Bank-Assisted Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRIN) Projects and Nigeria COVID – 19 Action and Recovery Economic Stimulus (NG – CARES) as some of his achievements.
He said that the NG-CARES was a World Bank facility int the sum of $750 million to the states of the federation at $20m each and $15m to the FCT. He said that that it was a Programme- for -Result (PforR) facility which had eleven disbursement linked indicators from which states could choose a maximum of four linked indicators.