Full text of Speech by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, at the launch of Africa Atlantic Gulf Of Guinea Fisheries Limited, an Initiative by the Presidential Amnesty Programme and private sector partners to train 2,500 Nigerians, which held at the State Banquet Hall, Abuja, on Friday, 24th May, 2019
*VP’s Speech delivered by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Matters, Office of the Vice President, Mr Edobor Iyamu
I am delighted to be here today to witness the inauguration of a landmark initiative aimed at improving the lives and wellbeing of young Nigerians in the Niger Delta, and contributing to the growth of the Nigerian economy.
In the last four years, our administration has focused on reviving the Nigerian economy and repositioning it for true, inclusive and diversified growth. You will all recall the situation we inherited in 2015, and the economic recession that shortly followed, which led to the development of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
I am delighted to note that two years on, the ERGP has greatly justified its existence. Nigeria emerged from the recession in the second quarter of 2017, and since then has enjoyed eight consecutive quarters of growth. And just last week the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics released data that showed the healthiest first Quarter growth since 2015. Inflation is down, and manufacturing confidence has consistently been on the rise for more than two years. There is still a long journey ahead of us, towards the levels of growth that the ERGP envisions, but we are well on our way, and will not be resting on our oars.
Today’s ceremony is especially gladdening because not only does it advance the goals of the ERGP, it also brings together in one initiative several of our economic development priorities: Ease of Doing Business, Jobs, Young People, the Niger Delta, and Agriculture and Food Security.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, in 2017, I travelled extensively around the Niger Delta, visiting communities and listening to their stories and their views on what the Federal Government ought to focus on. It became very clear to me that people were seriously counting on our administration to depart from the longstanding pattern of paying lip service to the development agenda for the region. For too long the people of the Niger Delta have had to endure failed promises and neglected aspirations.
The jinx that attended the Ogoni Clean-Up until recently is a very telling example of this. Years after the UNEP Report, there appeared to be little or no political will or determination to implement the recommendations, until the Buhari Administration emerged.
From the start we have left no one in doubt as to our commitment to set the ball rolling. I am delighted that, after two and half years of painstaking preparation and putting in place the proper governance and accountability frameworks, the much-awaited remediation of Ogoniland has finally commenced.
It is, of course, a long term task, and it is important for us as stakeholders to keep this in mind and not expect any overnight successes. It is also important that we continue to join hands to ensure that the progress we are seeing is not slowed or rolled back in any way.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, this initiative being launched today is a public private partnership bringing together the Presidential Amnesty Programme, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and private sector partners, including Concept Amadeus, and a number of Greek technical partners. The project will build 100 fishing trawlers – in Nigeria – and also train about 2,500 young Nigerians from the Niger Delta – beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme – in fishing techniques and the fishery value chain generally.
Nigeria is a country blessed with immense agricultural resources and potential. Much of that potential has hitherto remained unexploited, and we are very determined to change this. For this reason, this initiative is very much welcome, as it will significantly scale up our domestic fish production and build capacity and value within the fishing industry. It will also produce substantial savings in foreign exchange, considering how much we currently spend annually on the importation of fish.
I commend the Presidential Amnesty Programme, and the office of the Special Adviser to the President on the Niger Delta, who have worked hard to ensure the successful implementation of this project.
I would also like to express our gratitude to all the technical partners, who conceived and designed the project, and have demonstrated commitment to ensuring that it succeeds and delivers on all of its objectives.
Let me use this opportunity to reiterate the support and commitment of the Federal Government to the success of this project. It is interesting to note that this initiative is actually one of the earliest success stories of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Focus Labs, which we set up in 2018 to resolve the most urgent bottlenecks hindering the progress of business and investment in Nigeria.
It is our hope not only that this project will expand and cater to thousands more young Nigerians, but also that this partnership becomes a model that can be replicated in other agricultural value chains, across the country.
On that note, I have the honour and privilege of officially launching the Africa Atlantic Gulf of Guinea Fisheries Limited, the Special Purpose Vehicle that will implement this transformative agricultural partnership.
I look forward to hearing about and seeing the success stories and testimonies from this partnership. I thank you for listening.