Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Saturday said that contrary to the view held by most people, recession was not a crime but a period that calls for government at all levels to rearrange its expenditure and give more priority to capital expenditure.
Governor Ambode, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the Biennial Convention of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) held in Ikeja, Lagos with the theme, “A Nation in Recession: Whither the Nigerian Media?” sighted example of the steps the former U.S President, Barak Obama took few years ago to save the ailing American economy, saying that Nigeria must be ready to toe such line.
The Governor said, “Recession is not a crime, it’s just a notice to say that you rearrange the way you do your public expenditure. That’s what President Obama did. Yes, there was a burst in 2008 and 2009 but he was very bold enough to put public money into General Motors and even the airlines and that is what is missing in this country.
“You need to increase the capital expenditure to help companies, to help other people and even help the government to get the system out of recession. That’s the only template that works.”
Governor Ambode said the State stood in the gap for Nigeria during the period of the economic recession, assuring that his administration would continue to show leadership, demonstrate capacity and be relentless in its pursuit of excellence despite the daunting challenges.
He said the current recessionary climate not only taught some hard lessons but presented a new challenge as well as an opportunity to think outside the box to change Nigeria’s story from “business as usual” to “business unusual”.
He said with the recession, the rate of unemployment soared as a result of the economic outlook, lay-offs and shut-down of businesses stating that the national unemployment rate rose to 13.9 percent in 2016 from 10.4 percent in 2015; while the unemployment rate in Lagos State increased from 18 percent in 2015 to 27 percent in 2016.
But the Governor said that his administration took definite steps to arrest the trend, recalling that on assumption of office, he created new ministries while some were realigned in a bid to fashion out ways of creating job opportunities for residents.
Besides, Governor Ambode said what his administration did in the last two years was to commit huge resources to capital projects, premised on the fact that the nation had no choice but to spend its way out of recession and create platforms that will stimulate job creation and decidedly reflate the economy.
“Today, with our GDP at US$136billion, Lagos is Africa’s fifth largest economy just because we have been prudent and resilient as well as taking on board the useful opinions and analysis that the vibrant media have ceaselessly provided.,” the Governor said.
Governor Ambode also said that despite the shortfall of federal transfers occasioned by the dip in oil prices, his administration made conscious decisions to partner with the private sector through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to bridge the funding gap to deliver key/strategic infrastructure projects especially the Fourth Mainland Bridge; Oshodi Transport Interchange; Badagry Deep Sea Port; Lekki free trade zone, and Lagos Smart City projects, among others.
While commending the Guild of Editors for its outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the growth and development of the media and free speech in Nigeria, Governor Ambode tasked the media to live up to its major responsibility of advancing the cause of good governance.
“Your role in this pursuit of resilience, therefore, is to lend the needed support in bringing our noble efforts to public consciousness. With your vital partnership, we are hopeful that other governments can borrow a leaf from the Lagos Model and translate same in their respective domains to promote good governance to the greater benefit of humanity,” he said.
He assured that the State Government would not rest on its oars, but would continue to initiate and execute programmes that will make Lagos the investment haven of Africa and the tourism destination of the Continent.
Earlier, President of the NGE, Mrs. Funke Egbemode, said the Convention afforded members the opportunity to rub minds and fashion out strategies that would help to stabilise the nation’s economy, but also the media industry in business.
The event which attracted the who’s who in the Nigeria Media Industry also saw the Guild conduct elections into various offices. Mrs Funke Egbemode was re-elected Chairman (unopposed ), Suleiman Gaya was elected Deputy President, Victoria Ibanga was returned unopposed as General Secretary, while Ray Echebiri was elected Treasurer, among others.