The National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo Thursday in Abuja approved N100 billion proposal to support the take-off of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
The plan was conceived by the council to serve as a panacea to the protracted crisis between farmers and herders in different parts of the country.
Briefing journalists in the State House after the meeting, Ebonyi State Governor and Chairman of the Sub-committee on Herders-farmers Crisis, Chief David Umahi, said the committee briefed NEC on the N100 billion proposal to support the project.
According to the governor, 80 per cent of the amount will come from the federal government as grants to beneficiary states while such states will contribute the 20 per cent balance.
Umahi also explained that the NLTP proposal is not targeted only at cows, adding that the current proposal was conceived to cover a period of 2019 to 2028 with six proposed pillars.
He also said the council resolved that trans-human West African protocol needed to be looked into with a view to containing the movement of cattle without registration and monitoring into the country.
Umahi added that the project which was an exclusive programme conceived by NEC in consultation with the federal government, was distinct from the suspended controversial Ruga settlement scheme, emphasising that participation in the plan by states is voluntary.
“The plan is not targeted only on cows but a wholistic strategy to address animal husbandry. The plan has six pillars through, which it aims to transform the livestock production system in Nigeria along market-oriented value chain while ensuring an atmosphere of peace and justice.
“The six key pillars include: economic development (investment), conflict resolution, justice and peace, humanitarian relief and early recovery – that is to internally displaced persons (IDPs) – human capital development and cross-cutting issues, such as gender, youth, research and information and strategic communication.
“The committee proposed implementation guidelines to guide federal government and states. N100 billion budget was proposed to support the project. The federal government is to contribute 80 per cent in grants to support the project while states will contribute land, project implementation structure, personnel and 20 per cent cost of the project.
“Council resolved today that there is need to look at the trans-human West African protocol. You cannot allow such movement of cattle without registration and monitoring. Council emphasised the need to continue to establish that the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) is a creation of NEC and state governors and of course, Minister of Agriculture is also a member of this committee and Minister of Interior is also a member, and it is entirely distinct from Ruga.
“NEC adopted the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) in January 18, 2019 and it is a creation of National Economic Council, of course , in liaison with the federal government. States will determine whether or not to participate.
“Federal government did not impose this plan. Participation remains voluntary. What we are talking about is National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) which is a product of NEC in liaison with federal government,” he said.
Also briefing journalists, the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, said a 13 man ad-hoc committee on oil theft and pipeline vandalism that he chaired submitted its report to the council with the discovery of 22.6 million barrels of crude oil loss valued at about $1.35 billion only in the first half of 2019.
Obaseki also said the figure would rise to well over $2.7 billion in 2021 unless deliberate efforts were made to address the menace as he proceeded to give a breakdown of the losses.
He lamented that despite these huge losses, no one has been brought to justice, pointing out that slow prosecution or insufficient prosecution of culprits of vandalism of pipelines and oil theft has continued to encourage the continuity of the menace.
He said: “The ad hoc committee discovered that there were huge losses. In fact, the NNPC reported to the committee that the 22.6 million barrels of crude oil valued at approximately $1.35 billion were lost during the first half of this year. And if this situation is not contained in two years, we would have lost in excess of $2.7 billion.
“The losses that were recorded in the first half of the year were broken down as follows: The Nembe Creek Trunk-line lost 9.2 million barrels, the Trans-Niger Pipeline lost 8.6 million barrels, the Trans-Focados Pipeline lost 3.9 million barrels; Trans-Escravos Pipeline lost 877,000 barrels.
According to Obaseki, the committee, among others, recommended the need to restructure the maintenance and ownership of oil pipelines; evolvement of a legal framework to ensure that criminals are made to face the wrath of the law with their assets confiscated.
He added: “That there should be special courts to trial offenders and also have a special legal task force to coordinate the prosecution of arrested offenders as well as trained special judges to handle cases of oil theft.
“That NNPC should be encouraged to engage with the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to identify the markets for stolen petroleum products across the continent. That the governors of the oil producing states should set up actions to develop the communities that are most prone and through which these pipelines run with their 13 percent derivation allocation as well as implement programmes that will be impactful and make life easy for the people.
The governor also said the council resolved that the recommendations should be presented to President Muhammadu Buhari as the Minister of Petroleum for final decision on their implementation, adding that NEC chairman also asked the NNPC to make a presentation to the council on the state of petroleum and other products being smuggled into the country.
In the same vein, Gombe State Governor, Inuwa Yahaya, briefed the press, saying Secretary to the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, gave an update report to NEC on the status of enabling business environment in Nigeria.
According to him, Oduwole told the council that the ongoing reforms in Africa as reported by the African Development Bank Economic Outlook in January 2019 and World Bank Ease of Doing Business 2019 Report, showed that Nigeria was ranked 146 with micro, small and medium enterprises constituting 90 per cent of businesses in Nigeria.
Yahaya also said NEC was told that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020 had positioned Nigeria as a force in the emergence of a competitive economy, adding that the committee was mandated to move Nigeria to top 100 in the forthcoming 2020 World Bank Ease of Doing Business index.
The governor also said NEC learnt that Nigeria moved up 24 places in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking with 32 Nigerian states – Kaduna, Enugu, Abia, Lagos and Anambra – recording improvement in their ease of doing business environment.
Yahaya also disclosed that governors sought a clarification from the council chairman, Osinbajo, on what would be the relationship between NEC and the newly constituted Economic Advisory Council, saying “the vice-president explained that those councils are advisory for the benefit of Mr. President while NEC is established by the Constitution,” adding that “they are to complement one another. He added that NEC could be briefed regularly on the activities of the Economic Advisory Council with the permission of Mr. President.”