…Says Combination of Efforts by Armed Forces Has Put BH at Bay
…Recovers Over 117Bn in One yr
…Secures 1,295 Convictions
…Orders Contractors to resume Work on Major Projects
By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Federal government says it has made a lot of progress and taken some bold steps and decisions to make its achievement irreversible in the last one year.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed disclosed this in a chat with a selected media on the review of President Mohammadu Buhari’s one year in office.
He specifically listed security, power, infrastructure, social investment and agriculture as major areas of achievement.
On security, the Minister said the decision by Federal government to close some land borders in 2019 was not only for economic gains but for security, which has now resulted in a drastic reduction in the proliferation of small armed into the country.
According to him, the measure has specifically led to fewer drugs on the streets, reduction in armed robbery incidents, banditry and kidnapping because before then, our porous borders everywhere were veritable avenues for the proliferation of small arms and also drug trafficking.
Recall that the federal government last year took the bold decision on border drill, which received many criticisms by stakeholder and concerned Nigerians.
Similarly, Alh. Mohammed said that the combination of the air force, air firepower, and the new moral of the army and the new platforms that have been acquired by the air force, in particular, have resulted in not just in routing the Boko Haram insurgence but to surrender of many of their commanders.
‘‘The decision was taken primarily, not only for economic consideration but also for security consideration. When it was announced, it was a joint effort between the various border authorities, customs, immigration, the armed forces and police but coordinated by the office of the NSA.
‘‘One of the major take-aways from the successes of the border closure is that it drastically reduced proliferation of small armed into the country. That has also impacted on the incident of armed robbery, banditry, and kidnapping because before then, our porous borders everywhere were veritable avenues for the proliferation of small arms and also drug trafficking.
‘’There are fewer drugs on the streets now, less illegal armed as a result of that. That is why generally there has been a reduction in crime. On top of that, there is less crime.
‘‘In the last couple of weeks, our armed forces have taken the battle straight to the insurgence. The combination of the air force, air firepower, and the new moral of the army and the new platforms that have been acquired by the air force, in particular, have resulted in not just in routing the Boko Haram insurgence but to surrender of many of their commanders.
‘’Clearly, the last couple of months have witnessed some success in our battle against the insurgence.
The bandits and kidnappers are being checkmated. Though they might not be completely eradicated, compare with what it was this time last year to what it is today, you are going to have some isolated cases of bandits and kidnapping. I can say that the combination of better platforms better morale for the military has resulted in the contentment of insecurity in the Northeast and other parts of the country.’’
In the area of infrastructure, the Minister said the government remains focused and convinced that it cannot achieve economic development without investing in infrastructure, hence its decision to embark on massive infrastructural revamp.
To realize the objective, he explained that the federal government has signed an agreement with German Power giant company, Siemens to a total overhaul of the Nigerian power system, with the target of providing uninterrupted power supply by the end of 2021, with an incremental increase of power supply to 7,000mw from current 3,500mw.
Despite COVID, Mohammed said the Federal government has ordered contractors back to 50 sites in 26 states in the next couple of weeks.
These he said to include major works like Abuja-Kano road, 2nd Niger Bridge, the PH-Enugu Expressway, Lagos –Ibadan, and Ore Exchange among others.
Similarly, he informed that FERMA is resuming work in 92 sites spread over 24 states. And work has already resumed on laying tracks on Lagos-Ibadan Standard Rail Gauge and as a matter of fact, have started test-run.
‘‘The government took one of the boldest moves to improve the power situation and banish power cut when in 2019 it signed an agreement with Siemens of Germany, power giant to give us I the first instance by the end of 2021, delivers ramp up our power supply to 7,000 MW, by 2023 ramp-up to 11,000mw and thereafter ramp it up to 25,000mw after it would have addressed the challenges of transmission, distribution.
‘‘If we do not take into the contest, we would not appreciate the effort. As of today, we generate 13,000 MW but what gets to our households and factories is about 3500mw. With the agreement signed with Siemens and cooperation of Genoa and Transmission companies. We are very confident that by the end of next year, power will reach our homes on the constant and regular basis after it must have been increased to 7,000mw, more than double of what we are enjoying now.
‘‘That is going to impact on our economy and social lives, create more jobs and at the same time improve the output of our factories. We have always prided ourselves to have delivered on infrastructure, mostly in the area of roads, bridges, power.’’
Job Creation/Revamping this Economy
In the area of job creation, he said the M-Power is being upgraded and only recently FG directed the ministry of labour and employment to engage 1,000 workers from each LGA of the federation, making 774,000 young men and women at least for the initial period of three months and will be earning a salary of N20,000 a month.
‘‘Despite the COVID19 pandemic which has affected health and livelihood of Nigerians Federal Government has put in place some Palliatives meant to cushion the effect of the pandemic, ranging from interest reduction, to providing N50billion fund put aside by CBN for households and SMEs. Another N1.3trillion put aside for our Pharmaceutical companies and manufacturing.
‘‘Before lockdown, Federal government directed the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment to ensure that industries, manufacturers operate without any hindrance and that raw materials reach factories in good time. All these are to ensure that the impact is not as devastating as it should.
‘‘Federal government has also rejigged and reduced the size of budget to a level manageable because it believes that this is the time to have astute management of resources.’’
Fight Against Corruption
On the fight against corruption, he assured that the fight remained very much on track, with the major agencies continued to do their work very well.
According to him, the administration recovered over N117billion in the last one year through ICPC and EFCC.
This is in addition to 1,29 convictions secured within the period by the two agencies.
In the area of Executive Orders, he said that the government signed some Executive Orders into law in order to further deepen democratic practices.
‘‘The president in February this and may this year signed EO that will state legislature and Judiciary financial autonomy. This is very important because not only that it will help deepen the separation of power doctrine but also allow for speedier delivery of justice. And now, state legislatures are not hampered by lack of funds because they do not wait for the centre to release the fund to them.’’
On agriculture, he said that the administration has made very bold statement about a week ago when it approved what it called Green Imperative, the biggest agricultural revolution Nigerian will ever witness in many years.
The programme according to him, is a Nigerian/Brazil bilateral agricultural development programme, that culminated from four years’ negotiation which included technical and diplomatic visits between Brazil and Nigeria.
‘‘This is a programme that has been very successful in Brazil called More Food International programme. This involves the representatives of the Dutch banks, Islamic and Brazilian governments launched the Green initiatives with Nigeria and the private sector.
‘‘The programme is unique because it is a $1bn programme and it will be repaid over a period of 10 years. The insurance for the funding is provided by the Brazilian Guarantee and Food management Agency and Islamic Cooperation for Insurance for Export. It is a sustainable one at mechanizing agriculture in Nigeria. For the first time, we are moving away from hoe and cutlass to mechanized agriculture.
‘’Unlike other programmes of agriculture, this is going to be completely private sector driven apart from guaranteeing the loans, the federal government will play no role. Then 142 agro-processing service centres will be established meant to add values to raw materials. Also, this programme is going to establish 632 mechanise service centre. They will support primary production in the LGAs. In the end, every LGA will have either processing or mechanised centre.’’