The president also reeled out some of his achievements in 2013.
President Goodluck Jonathan has pledged to build on the achievements recorded by his administration in 2013 to make Nigeria even greater.
The President said in his New Year message to Nigerians that despite several continuing domestic and global challenges, the year 2013 witnessed many positive developments, which the country must strive to build on in 2014.
Reviewing the various achievements, the President said his administration diligently implemented its agenda for national transformation in priority areas, including power, rehabilitation and expansion of national infrastructure, agricultural development, education and employment generation.
In spite of the estimated 1.6 million new jobs he said were created in the country in 2013 as a result of his government’s policies and actions, the President said more jobs are still needed to support the country’s growing population.
“Our economic priorities will be stability and equitable growth, building on the diverse sectors of our economy,” the President said.
In 2013, he said government commenced the implementation of the National Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP, aimed at industrializing Nigeria and diversifying the economy into sectors such as agro-processing, light manufacturing, and petrochemicals.
In addition, he said Nigeria also successfully negotiated a strong Common External Tariff, CET, agreement with the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, partners on the need to protect the country’s strategic industries from foreign domination.
As a result of his administration’s backward integration policies, Mr. Jonathan said Nigeria moved from being a net importer to a net exporter of cement, with its production capacity growing from just 2 million metric tonnes in 2002 to about 28.5 million metric tonnes today.
“For the first time in our history, we have Foreign direct investment into Nigeria has also been strong. In fact, for the second year running, the UN Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, has named Nigeria as the No.1 destination for investments in Africa,” he said.
He noted the revolution in the agricultural sector, saying his administration successfully tackled corruption in the input distribution system during the year, as farmers now obtain their fertilizers and seeds directly through an e-wallet system.
About 4.2 million farmers, he said, received subsidized inputs through the programme in 2013; a scheme, he said, has restored dignity to our farmers.
Apart from the production of over 8 million metric tonnes of additional food during the year, the President said his administration was able to bring inflation down to its lowest level since 2008 partly due to higher domestic food production.
The country’s food import bill, he said, was reduced from N1.1 trillion in 2011, to N648 billion in 2012, pointing out that this has now placed Nigeria firmly on the path to food self-sufficiency.
On achievements in other sectors of the economy, the President said between 2007 and 2013, allocation for education almost tripled from N224 billion to N634 billion, apart from additional efforts towards improved access to education in the country.
These included the construction of 125 Almajiri schools, and the establishment of three additional Federal Universities in the North, bringing to 12, the number of universities established by the present administration.
Also, about 352 laboratories were rehabilitated, while 72 new libraries were constructed in the Federal Unity Schools and laboratories rehabilitated in all the 51 Federal and State polytechnics across the country.
Mr. Jonathan also assured that his administration would continue to prioritize investments in key sectors such as infrastructure development, power, roads, rail transportation and aviation.
Apart from the completion of the privatization of four power generation companies and 10 power distribution companies, Mr. Jonathan said government was also in the process of privatizing 10 power plants under the National Integrated Power Projects, NIPP.
To ensure effective evacuation and distribution of power generated, he said an additional $1.5 billion was advanced for the upgrade of the transmission network to boost electricity delivery to beyond 18 hours per day.
To cut down on public expenditure and wastage, the president said foreign travels by government personnel in all ministries, departments and agencies would be curtailed.
He said government would complete the deployment of the three electronic platforms- namely, the Treasury Single Account, TSA; the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, GIFMIS; and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS- to curb leakages in the system.