The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said on Friday that the present administration was committed to human capital, economic and infrastructure developments to boost Nigeria’s global competitiveness.
Fashola made the statement while delivering a keynote address on “How Government Policy Affects Business, Society in National Development and Changing International Environment” at the Lagos Business School.
Speaking during a session on Social, Political and Economic Environment of Business, the minister advised critics of the administration to always consider the nation’s peculiarities when judging policies.
He said that systems of government in most African countries and globally which some analysts used as basis for calling for restructuring of the nation were faulty as Nigeria operated on different indices.
He explained that government’s strides for economic development had always been met by criticisms of analysts, who did not understand problems holistically.
Fashola added that even issues of nomination and portfolio of ministers elicited so much reactions and controversies that impacted on economic decisions because of some misinforming analysis.
Citing examples, Fashola said that some analysts misinformed the public while making submissions on government’s budget for education and health care, which he noted, were not domiciled in just two ministries.
He said that the budget of those sectors were also captured in other ministries, including works and housing, adding that the works ministry was constructing roads in some tertiary institutions.
According to him, education and healthcare sectors cannot function effectively without the Local Government, the third tier some analysts usually leave out while making assessments.
“I don’t think that arguments that Nigeria is spending less on health care and education is correct. 52 per cent of the spending is what you see in the budget. You cannot run a home without considering states and local governments spending.
“In Nigeria, spending is in three parts. Investments in education and health are not only domiciled in those ministries, it spreads to environment, works and housing ministries as well as other areas of needs.
“Today Federal Government is building internal roads in universities and the budget is captured in works not education.”
Fashola said that although primary education and primary healthcare were the responsibilities of local governments, yet some analysts blamed the Federal Government.
He said that 3,139 projects which employed more than 20, 0000 people and impacted about a million Nigerians were being executed under the government’s Sustainable Development Goals.
He said that human capital development was a priority of the Buhari regime, adding that, “no investments can be too much for humans”.
The minister said that global economies were changing and making solutions seem more difficult and that Nigeria was not an exception, calling for private sector investments and support for the nation’s growth.
He said the edge advanced economies had over Nigeria was that they developed their infrastructure early, adding that the present administration was now focusing on infrastructure development.
Fashola explained that the drive was massive such that road reconstruction projects were going on simultaneously in all states of the federation, adding that budgetary allocations had now risen from N18 billion in 2015 to N300 billion.
“If we mobilise resources from October to May, it would help us as we complete roads for the Nigerian economy.”
Fashola condemned criticisms of Federal Government’s borrowings, which he noted, were targeted toward the development of the nation’s over-stretched and dilapidated infrastructure.
Reeling out statistics, he argued that developed economies evolved through phases of borrowings to attain current status.
“I do not support debt for consumption but debt for productivity.”
He said that fusion of the academia was important because the academia “is where human capital is prepared”, adding that the collaboration would impact on all sectors.
Lamenting the negative effects of social media, organised crime and criminally, he said that every generation must anticipate and prepare to tackle the problems of technological evolution.
The minister offered graduates of the Lagos Business School opportunities for internship in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to further strengthen learning and private sector collaboration.