29 November 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday that higher electricity tariff was indispensable as he urged Nigerians to prepare for a new regime.
He spoke at the Sixth Presidential Business Forum held at the old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The forum, which focused on agriculture and its value chains, had the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbe; the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah; officials of government agencies and stakeholders in the agriculture sector in attendance.
He said, “There is no question at all about the tariff increase, however, the government was not going to implement it now but was working towards cleaning the electricity value chain.”
According to him, the N700 billion Payment Assurance Guarantee (PAG) set aside by government was payment to ensure uninterrupted payment for gas and liquidity in the power sector.
The PAG was to fund a smooth transition “from where we are to a much more market-determined policy for electricity”.
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that a committee is set up to explore the use of government’s intervention funds in agriculture.
“I’m chairing a committee to look at how to not only use intervention funds but how to monitor the use of intervention funds.”
Osinbanjo also explained that the government would not bring down interest rate overnight. “The way out is by some kind of intervention and that’s what the President has asked that we do,” he said.
The government was refining the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and other intervention funds for agriculture with a view to making them more effective in assisting farmers.
Among other issues which the vice president spoke on at the forum included the gridlock at the Apapa and Tincan ports in Lagos as well as land ownership, titling and clearing.
Giving an overview of the progress made in Agriculture, Mr. Ogbeh said Nigeria’s import of rice has dropped by about 95 percent from 644, 131 metric tons in September 2015 to 20,000 tons in September 2017.
According to him, there are 12.2 million farmers growing rice in Nigeria, mainly in states such as Kebbi, Jigawa, Kano, Ebonyin and Nassarawa. “We should be almost certain to meet our needs in local rice production,” he said.