…Says FG’s Focus Lab yields $22.5bn investment, job creation
…Saves N700bn from TSA, Whistle blowing policy
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has vowed that the rampaging killer herdsmen and other criminal elements terrorising all parts of the country will be fished out and be made to face the full wrath of the law.
The President also said his administration was on track and yielding positive results with the recent Federal Government conducted Focus Lab in three key sectors of the economy such as the Agriculture and Transport, Manufacturing and Processing as well as the Power and Gas yielding significant investments and job creation to the tune of $25.5 billion and a projection of$39.2 billion in 2025.
President Buhari who disclosed this in his nationwide broadcast to commemorate the Democracy Day and his administration’s third anniversary on Tuesday, also enthused that the conscientious implementation of the Treasury Single Account, TSA and the Whistle Blowing policy of the government has have save the country about N700 billion.
He said those behind the killings in the country and their sponsors would not be spared in federal government’s determination to punish the criminals.
President Buhari further said that his administration was pained by the grievous destruction of lives by insurgents and other criminal groups in different parts of the country, insisting that his administration would not rest until they are brought to justice.
According to him, the government was strengthening the capacity of the security forces to deal with the high level of insecurity in the country through training and purchase of equipment and commended multi-national joint task force as well as the international community which assists the country in the fight against terrorism.
He assured that public safety remained the cardinal focus of his administration, stressing that efforts towards that had yielded results as evidenced in the government reclaimed territories occupied by Boko Haram before the advent of his government.
Besides, he said that it was his administration’s commitment in ensuring the protection of the citizenry that led to the rescue of some of the Chibok and Dapchi girls as well as 16,000 other captives of Boko Haram.
He said, “The unfortunate incidences of kidnappings, herdsmen and farmers clashes in several communities which have led to higher number of fatalities and loss of properties across the country is being addressed and the identified culprits and their sponsors shall be made to face the full wrath of the law. All the three tiers of Government are presently engaged with communities and religious organizations to restore peaceful co-existence among Nigerians.
“I want to commend members of the Multinational Joint Task Force drawn from Niger, Benin, Chad, Cameroon and our own country in collaboration with the International Community who are assisting in the fight against insurgency in the North East. I also commend the gallantry of members of our Armed Forces and other security agencies that have continued to provide security for lives and properties across the country. State and Local traditional authorities are helping with much needed intelligence in this fight against insurgency.
“This administration is pained over the grievous loss of lives and properties occasioned by the carnage of insurgency and other forms of criminality in the country. I wish to assure Nigerians that we will not rest until all criminal elements and their sponsors are brought to justice. Government is boosting the capacity of our security agencies through recruitment of more personnel, training and procurement of modern equipment, enhancement of intelligence gathering as well as boosting their morale in the face of daunting challenges.”
The president said the war against corruption being fought by the government had secured the applause of both Nigerians and the international community, promising that the administration was determined to win the war.
He also stated that the federal government had so far deployed strategies to fight the war against corruption and that it was reaping the benefits from the efforts such as the N200 billion saved through the elimination of ghost workers as well as N500 billion recovered through the whistle-blower initiative.
He said, “Various policy measures already put in place to stem the tide of corrupt practices are yielding remarkable results. Some of these key reform policies include: The Treasury Single Account (TSA) has realized Billions of Naira being saved from maintenance fee payable to banks. N200 Billion has also been saved from elimination of ghost workers in public service.
“The Whistle-Blowing Policy has helped to recover over N500 Billion. The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit set up with a mandate to validate controls, assess risks, prune personnel costs, ensure compliance with Public Financial Management reforms has helped to identify and remove over 52,000 ghost workers from the Federal Government MDAs Payroll;
“The Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) aimed at expanding tax education and awareness has offered the opportunity for tax defaulters to regularise their status in order to enjoy the amnesty of forgiveness on overdue interest, penalties and the assurance of non-prosecution or subject to tax investigations.
“The Sovereign Wealth Fund project portfolio has been expanded with an injection of US$650 million so as to strengthen its investment in local infrastructure, power, health, re-construction of Abuja-Kano road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, East West Road (Section V) and the Mambilla Hydro-electric Power project as well as the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge.
“The fight against corruption through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission has resulted in recoveries of Billions of Naira, as well as forfeiture of various forms of assets. This alongside other efforts has improved Nigeria’s international image and regional cooperation,” he added. said mechanism for the distribution of foods and other basic AIDS to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and efforts to resettle them in their various communities with necessary social amenities including schools and hospitals are being put in place.”
He noted that the Niger Delta region had enjoyed relative peace through what he described as social inclusiveness and cooperation of elders as well as those he described as good people of the region, assuring that the government was committed to implementing thorough peace, security and development plans in the region. He added that the Ogoni clean-up launched in June 2016 was equally on course.
The President said that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) was launched to restore and sustain economic growth, saying the plan had started yielding fruits with the recent National Bureau of Statistics reports which showed that the economy grew by 1.95 per cent in the first quarter of 2018.
Describing the growth as a good performance when compared to -0.91 growth recorded in the first quarter of 2017 and -0.67 per cent in first quarter of 2016, he said the country’s foreign reserve had improved significantly from $29.6 in 2015 to $47.5 billion as of May, 2018 while inflation has been declining every month since January, 2017.
He also said the recently conducted Focus Labs in three key sectors of the economy including agriculture and transport, manufacturing and processing and power and gas had yielded prospects of $22.5 billion investments and potential for creating over 500,000 jobs by 2020.
“These investment generation initiatives are expected to increase capital inflows in the form of foreign direct investment. There is a high prospect that the cumulative investments from this first phase of the Labs will hit US$39.2 billion by 2025,” he added.
On the pursuit of food sufficiency by his administration he enthused that it resulted in the reduction of rice importation to 90 per cent and Social Investment Programmes (SIP) which he said aimed at restoring livelihood, economic opportunities and sustenance for the poor across the country.
He highlighted SIP programmes and projects executed so far to include:
feeding of 8.2 million pupils in 24 states of the federation with over 75,000 catering staff engaged under the programme as well as Conditional Cash Transfer which he said culminated in over 297,000 caregivers being trained by 2,495 community facilitators in 21 states.
He also spoke on N-Power job creation platform which he said had provided jobs for 200,000 youths while the next batch of 300,000 have been selected, verified and would soon be deployed across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT.).
On power generation, he said the country now distributes 5, 222.3 since December, 2017 while power generation capacity now exceeds over 7,500 megawatts. He also spoke on investment in railway and education.
“Government has also continued to support the implementation of various initiatives aimed at improving the quality of Basic Education delivery. Thus, it has ensured proper funding at the Basic Education level with the disbursement of N42.2 billion UBE Matching Grant to 26 States and the FCT, N851.5 million Special Education Grant disbursed to 23 States and private providers of Special Education and N2.2 billion Teachers Professional Development Fund to 33 States and the FCT,” he said.