Prioritise security, agric, health, education, president urges council

President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the National Economic Council (NEC) with a charge to the members to priotise child education, health, agriculture and security in the coming years.

The council is made up of the 36 state governors and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Those that statutorily attend its meetings are Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF); ministers of finance, budget and national planning, agriculture and the minister of state for petroleum.

The vice president serves as chairman while the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning is secretary to council. The NEC, established by virtue of Section 153 and Paragraph 18 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), advises the president on economic policy, coordination of planning efforts and programmes of the three tiers of government.

Inaugurating the council yesterday at the State House, Abuja, Buhari stated that while his administration was making efforts to provide free, basic and compulsory education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age, it was, however, criminal for parents to keep their wards away from school.

He, therefore, urged the NEC Coordinating Team to come up with initiatives that would strengthen the implementation mechanism, enhance cooperation across states and promote joint deliberations, peer learning and experience sharing under a strong monitoring and evaluation framework.

The president said his administration would continue to give attention to the security of lives and properties, reiterating government’s commitment to securing the territorial integrity of the country while confronting the remnants of terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements nationwide.

Acknowledging government’s primary responsibility of providing security, he charged the states to also play their pivotal role in this respect.

Buhari harped on execution of free and compulsory basic education to eradicate illiteracy.Reminding the NEC members that their inauguration was a call to action, the Nigerian leader urged the governors to rally round their local council chairmen in ensuring that the schools offer the right opportunities and provide teachers with the necessary materials for basic education.

He revealed that the Federal Government was implementing the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund with the hope to cover at least 65 per cent of the population by 2023 up from the current 12.6 per cent.The president further tasked the members to do more on diversifying the economy.