FG launches operating model for $1trn economy 

The federal government Wednesday launched a new initiative to establish an operating model and framework for economic and financial inclusion.

The initiative, designed to combat poverty via sustainable economic growth, Blueprint reports, is a major step towards realising the 2030 target of a $1 trillion economy, set by the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration.

Senior special assistant to the president on media and information, Stanley Nkwocha, in a statement, quoted the Vice President Kashim Shettima  as saying the initiative symbolised the commitment of the Tinubu administration to enhancing financial and economic inclusion across Nigeria.

The federal government had, April 25, 2024, unveiled the Aso Accord on Economic and Financial Inclusion, a multi-pronged initiative designed to achieve universal access to financial services.

The accord represents a core pillar of the administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda tailored at transforming the nation into a $1trillion economy by 2030, and at the same time combat poverty and insecurity through broad-based prosperity.

..Idea behind the initiative

Speaking at meeting with the team and other stakeholders in Abuja, Vice President Shettima  told the gathering that the idea was to provide access to capital and eradicate poverty through legislative interventions and critical policies.

He said at the heart of every strategy championed by President Tinubu, there is always the need to prioritise inclusive economic growth and development.

 Shettima highlighted some positive results the efforts had yielded  to include the recent upgrade of Nigeria’s credit outlook to positive by Fitch Ratings, which he described as a recognition of the reform progress under the Tinubu-led government.

He said: “While such an upgrade by a distinguished institution reflects growing confidence in our economic trajectory, particularly in light of policy changes aimed at easing our debt service burden, we remain mindful of the short-term impacts of these reforms.

“Hence, we are prioritising measures to mitigate immediate effects, from the Student Loan Act, which democratises access to education, to the relentless efforts of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in combating food insecurity.”

In view of the administration’s belief that its approach to inclusive growth must be strategic and sustainable, the vice president  said economic and financial inclusion was elevated to the agenda of the National Economic Council (NEC), where all governors of the 36 states and the FCT minister participate in crucial policy deliberations alongside other stakeholders.

Shettima said: “You have been entrusted with a vital national assignment, and I have full confidence that you will bring your best efforts to ensure its success.

“As we embark on this essential initiative, I call upon each of you to contribute your insights, expertise, and dedication. Only through such resolve and discipline can we forge a robust operating model that will drive economic and financial inclusion across our nation, ensuring every Nigerian has the opportunity to thrive.

“I also implore the implementation team to engage all stakeholders fully. There is no greater calling than developing solutions to alleviate the impact of ongoing economic reforms on over 30 million financially excluded Nigerians, propelling Nigeria towards sustainable and inclusive growth”.

Also speaking at the parley,  the technical advisor to the president on financial inclusion, Dr. Nurudeen Abubakar Zauro, highlighted substantial progress made in the implementation of  the Aso Accord on financial inclusion and a series of initiatives aimed at broadening financial access across the nation.

 While acknowledging Shettima’s role in supporting the signing of the accord and ongoing implementation, Zauro reported that discussions on financial inclusion had reached the highest levels of government, including NEC.

“Since its signing, the operationalization of the accord has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the Lagos Business School (LBS),” Zauro said.

“We have been setting up the operating model and legal framework to ensure that the project takes off smoothly and is aligned with the Renewed Hope Agenda. “Working on the team are also Augmentum Advisory, Banwo & Ighodalo, and Ndarani (SAN) & CO.,” he added.

He also announced the team’s plan for  capacity-building initiatives and “high-profile training for permanent secretaries and Commissioners of Finance to ensure that practical knowledge on financial inclusion would be injected where they are needed.”

Project Manager at the Lagos Business School, Prof. Olayinka David-West, had, earlier lauded the Tinubu administration for putting economic and financial inclusion on the front burner via the Aso Accord initiative.

Present at the meeting were National President of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria (AMMBAN), Mr Fasasi Sarafadeen,  Senior Lecturer, Lagos Business School, Dr Nkemdilim Iheanachor,  Project Leader, Augmentum Advisory, Mr Kolajo Ajibola, and the Project Team Lead, Mr Stephen Abure, among others.