By Emmanuel Elebeke
Abuja—President Muhammadu Buhari said his administration has recorded concrete achievements, which were there for all to see.
He spoke against the backdrop of claims by former President Goodluck Jonathan, that his (Buhari) government was running on propaganda and lies.
The President, who was represented by Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the assertion at the opening of a two-day Nigeria Governors’ Forum Conference for Media Handlers of States’ Chief Executives in Abuja, yesterday.
“For our administration, our achievements are there for all to see. We are delivering in the broad areas that formed the plank of our policies: Security, fight against corruption and the economy, which includes the massive provision of infrastructure, ease of doing business and agriculture, just to mention a few,” he said.
Facts and figures
Providing facts and figures, the President listed the administration’s achievements in ending subsidy and yet ensuring the availability of petroleum products; raising power generation, transmission and distribution, in the massive provision of infrastructure; in tackling insecurity and making a success of the agriculture revolution, among others.
He said: “Those who accused this administration of ‘propaganda and lies’ in the fuel supply sector, for example, did not tell Nigerians that whereas they paid between N800 billion and N1.3 trillion as ‘subsidy’ yearly in their time, without making the products available, even at regulated prices, this administration is not paying any subsidy, yet all products are currently available at competitive prices and fuel queues are now history.
“In their time, they paid subsidy of N3.7 billion daily in 2011; N2.2 billion daily in 2012 and 2013, and N2.5 billion daily in 2014, all for products that were never available.
“Those who accused this government of ‘propaganda and lies’ also said we have not achieved anything in the power sector. Comment is free, facts are sacred, as they say.
“When this administration assumed office on May 29, 2015, available power on the grid totalled 2,690MW, transmission capacity was around 5,000MW and distribution capacity was 4,000MW.
“As at September 4, 2017, the available power that can be put on the grid was 6,619MW; the transmission capacity was simulated at 6,700 MW (up from 5,000 MW in 2015) but the distribution capacity was 4,600 MW, which was what was put on the grid. On September 12, 2017, production of power reached an all-time level of 7,001MW.”
President Buhari said it was an irony that those who presided over a budget of N18 billion for roads, N5 billion for power and N1.8 billion for housing in 2015 are now accusing those who spent N198.25 billion on roads, N91.2 billion on power and N71.559 billion on housing in the following year of non-achievement.
N47.169 bn paid to 62 contractors
He said further: “Because of the increased spending in these areas, the massive debts owed to contractors are being settled so they can recall workers who were laid off and re-open closed work sites.
“As a matter of fact, during the implementation of the 2016 budget, we paid 103 construction companies executing 192 projects, and they, in turn, employed 17,749 people directly and 52,000 people indirectly in works.
“So far this year, N47.169 billion has been paid to 62 contractors working on 149 projects to continue work on roads and bridges and keep people at work. Similar payments are being made to supervising consultants and to contractors in Housing and Power Sectors of the Ministry.”
The President also highlighted the achievements recorded by his administration in the area of the economy, wondering whether it was ‘propaganda and lies’ that headline inflation has now fallen for the eighth consecutive month; that foreign exchange reserves are up to $32 billion, from $24 billion a year ago: that oil production is at nearly two million barrels per day and that Home-grown School Feeding programme now being implemented in 17 states was benefiting more than three million public primary school children and more than 30,000 cooks across 20,000 schools.
He said close to 200,000 youths were now benefiting from the N-Power Programme, which recruits unemployed graduates to work as teachers, agricultural extension workers, and health extension workers.
President Buhari said the Government Enterprise & Empowerment Programme, GEEP, which provides micro-credit to farmers, traders, and artisans, now has in excess of one million beneficiaries, with women accounting for 56% of that number.
He added that at about $1.8 billion, the capital inflows in the second quarter of 2017 were almost double the $908 million in the first quarter.
FIRS records N3.871trn revenue
Earlier in his remarks, Director-General of Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Dr. Babatunde Fowler, said the service has recorded N3.871 trillion (79 per cent) of its annual budget so far in revenue collections.
He said the feat was made possible through the introduction of a technology that allowed tax payers to pay from anywhere in the world.
“In trying to make tax collection more transparent, the FIRS has introduce technology which allows all tax payers to make payment anywhere in the world at anytime of the day.
“So far, the FIRS staff are trying their best, and have hit 79 per cent of their budget (N4.9 trillion) and hope to achieve 100 per cent before December 31.”