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Buhari has kept his social contract with Nigerian people – Lai Mohammed

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By Emmanuel Elebeke

ABUJA – The minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed has said that the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari has kept its social contract with the Nigerian people by delivering on its campaign promises.

President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the guests during the Democracy Day Lecture held at the International Conference Centre in Abuja
The minister stated this at a press conference to mark the third year anniversary of the Buhari Administration.

He said the administration is already making effort to put the nation on the path of sustainable growth and development, diversifying the economy, tackling corruption and devising creative measures to secure lives and property.

He cited the increase in power generation to 7,000 Mega Watts, from the 2690 which it inherited and also taken distributable power to an all-time high of 5,000MW in three years as some of the areas the administration has recorded some successes.

He also noted that the administration has moved Nigeria closer to self-sufficiency in rice production more than the previous administrations.

‘‘This Administration has kept its social contract with the Nigerian people by delivering on its campaign promises. We are putting our nation on the path of sustainable growth and development, diversifying our economy like never before, tackling corruption at its very core and devising creative measures to secure lives and property.

‘‘After just three years, Nigeria is rising again like a phoenix from the ashes of years of massive looting of the national treasury, misgovernance and fallen oil prices. Under the able, focused and patriotic leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, this Administration has recorded many firsts in so short a time, achievements that are beginning to impact positively on the lives of Nigerians.

‘‘In just three years, the Buhari Administration has taken power generation to an all-time high of 7,000 Mega Watts, from the 2690 which we inherited; has taken distributable power to an all-time high of 5,000MW; has moved Nigeria closer to self-sufficiency in rice more than an Administration before it. It’s just two years away from meeting its target production of 6 million MT of milled rice, meeting Nigeria’s consumption.

‘‘In just three years, the administration has increased the number of rice farmers from 5 million to an all-time high over 11 million; it has cut Nigeria’s rice import bill of $1.65billion annually by 90%, the highest such cut ever; it has slashed leakages in government spending that made corruption possible, thanks to the diligent implementation of the Treasury Singles Account (TSA) and the hugely-successful Whistle-Blower Policy.

Continuing, he said: ‘‘In just three years, this administration is feeding 8.2 million pupils in 45,394 schools in 24 states, employing 87,261 cooks in the process; has paying conditional cash transfer of N5,000 monthly to 297,973 poorest and most vulnerable households; has delivered 10 million, 50kg bags of feritilizer at a low price N5,500 (for 2017 alone).

‘‘The country now has annual savings of US$200 million in foreign exchange and ₦60 billion annually in budgetary provisions for Fertilizer subsidies; this administration is turning around the nation’s infrastructural fortunes, including power, roads and rail, thanks to the unprecedented 2.7 trillion Naira ($9billion) that has been spent on infrastructure; In just three years, this Administration has raised capital expenditure in the yearly national budget to an unprecedented 30% on the average; in just three years, this Administration has taken its investment in people, through the unprecedented Social Investment Programme (SIP), to a great height; this administration has retaken every inch of Nigeria’s territory from insurgents, flushed them out of their safe havens and put them on the run. These are monumental achievements, unprecedented in the history of our country.’’
Where we are coming from

On where the administration started, Mohammed said that Boko Haram was squarely in charge of a territory the size of Lebanon, occupying 24 local governments, collecting taxes, deposing and installing emirs and hoisting its flag on 29th of May 2015, when President Buhari was reeling out his agenda for the nation.

He also said that corruption levels in our society was at an all-time high and the economy was in the doldrums but added that the administration is making strong and steady progress in the three priority areas it set for the nation: Economy, Security and the Fight against corruption.

Buttressing his claim, the minister said the economy is back on the path of growth, after the recession of 2016-17, with 1.95 percent growth in Q1 2018.

‘‘Consistent growth was achieved in the priority sectors of Agriculture and Solid Minerals throughout the recession; inflation has fallen for 15 consecutive months, from 18.7 percent to12.5 percent as of April 2018; external reserves of $48 billion are the highest in 5 years, and more than double the $23 billion we met in 2015; total exports in 2017 were 59.47% higher than for 2016; in 2017, agriculture exports grew 180.7% above the value in 2016 and in 2017, raw material exports grew 154.2% above the value in 2016.’’


On infrastructure, the minister said the Buhari administration has demonstrated a single-minded commitment to upgrading and developing Nigeria’s Transport, Power and Health Infrastructure.

‘‘In May 2018, the Federal Government launched the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), under the management of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority. The PIDF is kicking off with seed funding of US$1.3 billion. Funding for critical projects will no longer be a problem.

‘‘Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) in March 2018 invested US$10m to establish a world-class Cancer Treatment Center at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and US$5m each in the Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital and the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, to establish modern Diagnostic Centres. These Centers should be completed before the end of 2018.

‘‘In 2014, the Federal Government spent these sums on the following sectors: Transport (N14bn), Agriculture & Water (N34bn), Power, Works & Housing (N106bn). In 2017 those figures jumped to: Transport (N127bn), Agriculture & Water (N130bn), Power, Works & Housing (N325bn).
‘‘Road Projects are ongoing across every State of the country; many of these projects had been abandoned in recent years because of mounting debts owed by the Federal Government to contractors.’’

Fight against corruption
He said the Whistleblowing Policy introduced by the Federal Ministry of Finance in December 2016 has yielded the following in recoveries: N13.8bn from tax evaders, N7.8bn, $378million, £27,800 in recoveries from public officials targeted by whistleblowers; N8.1 trillion Naira was discovered to have been underpaid to the Federation Account between 2010 and 2015 by 15 revenue-generating agencies; MDAs are remitting more money to Federation Account.

From remitting only N51 million between 2010 and 2016, JAMB went on to remit N7.8 billion in 2017, and is on course to remit a similar amount in 2018; as at March 2018, the TSA had recorded inflows of a total sum of N8.9 Trillion from Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Mohammed said security and normalcy have been restored to the North-East to a large extent. He noted that the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), aimed at combating trans-border crime and the Boko Haram insurgency, has been rejuvenated.

‘‘The El-Kanemi Warriors Football Club has returned to their home base in Maiduguri (in April 2016), two years after relocating to Katsina State because of the insurgency; Emirs of Askira and Uba returned home in May 2016, two years after fleeing their palaces on account of the Boko Haram insurgency; Public Secondary Schools resumed in Borno State on Monday September 26, 2016, after two years of closure; Maiduguri-Gubio and Maiduguri-Monguno Roads reopened in December 2016, after being closed for three years; capture of Boko Haram’s operational and spiritual headquarters,“Camp Zero”, in Sambisa Forest, in December 2016.

‘‘Following this the Nigerian Army conducted its Small Arms Championship from 26th to 31st March 2017, a measure aimed at enabling the Armed forces to dominate the area, and avoid regrouping by the terrorists; Arik Air resumed flights to Maiduguri in May 2017, three years after suspending operations to the city; Nigerian Military reopened Maiduguri-Bama-Banki Road in March 2018, four years after it was seized by Boko Haram; more than a million displaced persons have returned to their homes and communities across the Northeast, since 2015 and more than 13,000 Boko Haram hostages have been freed from Boko Haram captivity, including 106 of the Chibok Girls abducted in April 2014, and 105 of the Dapchi Girls abducted in February 2018,’’ he added.

In North Central, where there have been incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers, the minister stated that the administration had deploed a Joint Military Intervention Force (JMIF), comprising Regular and Special Forces personnel from the Army, Air Force and Navy, and working in collaboration with the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security (DSS), and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC).

‘‘On Monday 14th May, 2018, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, flagged-off the Army’s newly-established 2 Battalion Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Kanfanin Doka Village, Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna State; establishment of a new Area Command and two additional Divisional Police Headquarters in the Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State; in May 2018, the JMIF kicked off ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’, to counter armed herdsmen and militia groups operating in and around Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara States; establishment by Nigerian Air Force of Quick Response Wings (QRW) in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States, and deployment of Special Forces to these QRWs and the Nigeria Police Force has recently inaugurated a new Mobile Squadron in Takum, Taraba State among others.’’
He however, insisted that no government in the history of our country has ever done so much with little resources, saying that where many saw challenges, the administration saw opportunities.

‘‘Where many saw challenges, we saw opportunities. Where many saw impossibilities, we saw possibilities. We surmounted every opposition on our path to deliver on our promises to Nigerians. While naysayers pretended to be blind to our achievements, Nigerians who are being positively impacted by the good works of President Buhari applaud and appreciate our efforts, from the feedback we are getting.

‘‘They know that no government in the history of our country has ever done so much with so little. They know and acknowledge the sincerity, transparency and accountability of the Buhari Administration. They know and support the Administration’s diversification effort, which is paying off. We must be able to own our own future. ‘‘We cannot be a hostage to oil price or production levels. That means taking back control of our economy and making it productive, and delivering value for ALL of our people. That’s exactly what we are doing.

‘‘By building an economy that is no longer reliant on income from one commodity, thanks to the ongoing diversification process, we will be creating a sustainable basis for long-term and inclusive growth for ALL.

‘‘We are keenly aware that Government must be accountable, and this government is very accountable. We are providing security, we are providing an enabling environment for business and we are delivering strong and effective public services. We want to assure Nigerians that we will continue to deliver on our campaign promises.’’

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