An official of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Ms. Essien Lore yesterday faulted the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which the federal government formally unveiled penultimate week, describing it as ambitious and its timeframe as relatively short.
However, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has challenged all states of the federation to devise strategies to meet people's expectation at the period of national economic crisis.
Essien, the Country Director of the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group faulted the plan at the inaugural meeting of Secretaries to the Governments of States held in Ikeja, Lagos, yesterday.
The meeting, which office of the Secretary to Lagos State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello hosted at the Renaissance Hotel, Ikeja, was attended by all Secretaries to the Governments of States under the control of All Progressives Congress (APC).
The meeting was convened at the instance of the Progressive Governors' Forum (PGF) with a view to setting strategic implementation framework for social development in their respective states.
At the meeting, Ambode noted that the APC governors "are fully committed to the vision of providing accountable and responsive leadership to citizens in spite of the dire financial strains confronting the country."
Giving background to Nigeria's economic crisis at the inaugural meeting, Essien acknowledged that the plan "is really a plan of plans because there is a number of plans underpin that particular plan."
She, thus, said the plan really "offers an opportunity to sit down and think about what are the priorities. The plan is quite ambitious. But what are the priorities that we can think about collectively?
"This is because at the end of the day, we believe the plan is for a period between 2017 and 2020. It is relatively short period of time. That is why we want to know what the priorities are. How the federal government intends to achieve what it started in the plan."
However, the country manager commended the federal government for launching an economic recovery plan, which described as comprehensive, though canvassed the need to align the objective of the Bank with the growth plan the federal government had just published.
Essien, also, pointed out the need for Nigeria to create at least 40 million jobs between now and 2030 in order to massively reduce the number of the country's unemployed population.
She explained that the bank "has discovered that there was high number of people seeking for job. This is reflection of the country's population growth. The country population is growing fast. It is estimated to have the third largest population behind India and China in few years.
"Nigeria will need to create huge number of jobs to correspond with the population. A huge number of jobs need be created between 2010 and 2030. So, there will be need for 40 million jobs within this time."
Also at the meeting, Ambode charged all states of the federation to respond decisively to revamp economic challenges in spite of dire financial and logistical crisis confronting them due to the declining growth in the national economy.
He noted that the burden "rests on all state governments, as elected representatives of the people, to devise ingenious ways and means of meeting the expectation of the people.
Ambode, therefore, said the PGF's quarterly meeting of Secretaries to the Governments of States "is one of the PGF's strategies of meeting the expectation of the electorate, hence boosting the accountability quotient of all serving governors elected under the APC."
The governor canvassed a strong peer review mechanism among all states under the control of the APC, though acknowledged that the Nigerian Governors' Forum (NGF) "has started implementing a comprehensive State Peer Review Mechanism (SPRM).
"This makes it necessary for us to frequently expose our thoughts, strategies and actions to the honest scrutiny of our colleagues. That is the very essence of the peer review effort we are promoting by this gathering."
He explained that the forum developed implementation of the State Peer Review Mechanism after the National Economic Council issued a mandate in 2007, directing all states of the federation to comply.
According to him, the core objective of the review mechanism is to help states to improve their development performance through periodic reviews of progress in the implementation of development policies, plans and programmes.