COVID-19 has attacked all revenue sources – FG
—As environment ministry promises to create 200,000 jobs
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA- MINISTER of Defence, Maj. Gen Bashir Magashi (rted) on Wednesday said that the armed forces were bedeviled with short of manpower and inadequate funding.
The Minister disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the third virtual Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting had seven ministers physically present, while the other ones participated from their various offices in Abuja in compliance with the social distancing policy to curtail the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
The Defense Minister said that the issue of shortage of manpower and inadequate funding were part of the ministry’s presentation at the FEC.
According to him, “we spoke about our shortcomings. We talked about manpower shortage, inadequate funding for the ministry of Defence. We talked about all the operations we have been conducting, the successes and failures of each o the operations right from Operation Lafia Dole to Operation Tawase.
“The shortcomings of each of the operations were discussed and God so kind contributions were made by members of the council and I think in no distant time there will be a change in the conduct of our affairs in the Ministry of Defence.”
Also, briefing, the Minister of Environment, Mohammad Abubakar, said he presented the ministerial performance of the report.
He said on Ogoni cleanup, the ministry is currently cleaning up 21 plus 36 sites impacted with hydrocarbon.
The minister said 775 jobs have been created in Ogoni Clean-Up with more on the way.
He said there is a Programme to train 400 women in areas agriculture, Aquaculture, and poultry as a way to improve the living standard of the people.
He said planting of 25 million trees is at the forefront in collaboration with the state governments.
Abubakar said out of 774,000 jobs that President Buhari approved to be created, the ministry of environment as one of the implementing agencies is to employ 200,000 skilled and unskilled labour, another 2000 through the erosion department.
He said the ministry is also to create jobs in the area of waste recycling that is to reduce, reuse, repair, and recover waste.
He said, “it is no longer fashionable to just produce, use and dispose of because the planet is getting too choked up with pollutants. We are very big in recycling.
“Finally, we are big in erosion control which you all know is a big problem in the south East. As you know south East is more to erosion because of the geologic nature of the area.”
On the post-COVID-19, he said that the ministry is working to reduce the emission from carbon dioxide from generators and other gaseous emissions behind climate change.
He said about 4,000 jobs will be created in this area, and their main mandate will be to keep the tap on emissions including vehicular emissions.
The minister said the ministry is targeting to create 32 jobs from the recycling of engine oil from motorcycles and other vehicles to produce diesel, which can in turn be reused.
On the green bond project, which is to produce clean energy, he said the proceeds will be used to produce solar energy for tertiary institutions. He said already 20,000 jobs have been created.
Also speaking, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that the COVID-19 has attacked all revenue sources of the country.
He said, “We are not just Nigerians, we are all witnessing what is going on in the world today. When the budget was passed in December last year, we all celebrated that the budget was passed for the first time in a good time to allow us to plan.
“We were very hopeful that this year we will be able to achieve a lot.
I remember that the benchmark for crude oil was $57 but from nowhere today we have COVID-19, which has brought every economy in the world to its knees.
“Nigeria cannot be an exception. As a matter of fact, we are praying that the crude will go to $30 per barrel. All sources of revenue have been attacked by COVID-19. When we locked our borders how will goods come in? How will Customs make money for the country?
“Abuja, Lagos, and Ogun have been on lockdown for more than four weeks. It was only yesterday that we were easing the lockdown. How will they make money to pay taxes.
“So if we say there is no money it is not because we are seeking for lame excuses.
” The entire world not just Nigeria is facing serious fiscal challenges. 40 million people in the US today have filed for unemployment, the aviation industry alone has lost about $1 trillion.
” So please look at this in context, if you budgeted for $57 a barrel and we sold at $18 a barrel two weeks ago.
“This is why the minister of finance at the last council meeting informed all of us that they will slash every ministry’s budget by 20 percent capital and 16 percent overhead.
“So where will the money come from? So when we complain there is no money, it is genuine. If you know what is being spent on COVID-19 alone and what is costing the whole world, you will be able to appreciate this better.”