By Abankula/ PM News
President Muhammadu Buhari addressed Nigerians on 12 June the Democracy Day. It was his third national broadcast since his administration designated the day as a public day. He spoke on various achievements of his administration. P.M.News hereby gives nine key highlights of the achievements and plans:
Grow what you eat, eat what you grow
President Buhari believes agriculture remains the key to Nigeria’s economic diversification strategy.
And he is focused on making the sector the pillar of Nigeria’s economy.
In his broadcast, he says that the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative programme will continue to deliver significant quantities of affordable and high-quality fertilizers to Nigerian farmers.
Government is also revamping the cotton, textile and garment sector via a CBN Textile Revival Intervention Fund that would considerably reduce foreign exchange spent on cotton and other textile imports.
Through the food security initiative, the Buhari administration is promoting “Grow What We Eat” and “Eat What We Grow”.
Ajaokuta steel plant
Buhari delivered one sentence on this embarrassing project waiting for completion since 1976.
He said his government has directed the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant based on Government-to-Government financing and a Public-Private Sector financing.
What he did not repeat was that the Russian government is working with the Africa Import and Export Bank, to pool funds in excess of $1.4bn to revive the steel plant designed and built by the Russian Steel Company, TyazhpromExport.
Buhari brokered the new deal with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during his visit to Russia in October 2019.
Again just like steel, the Power Sector remains a mirage for Nigerians.
Buhari says in the broadcast that his government is executing some critical projects through the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme. Some of the projects under execution are the Alaoji to Onitsha, Delta Power Station to Benin and Kaduna to Kano; the 330kv DC 62km line between Birnin Kebbi and Kamba; the Lagos/Ogun Transmission Infrastructure Project; the Abuja Transmission Ring Scheme; and Northern Corridor Transmission Project.
Then Buhari speaks on the Siemens angle: the agreement with the German conglomerate is that it will transmit and distribute a total of 11,000 Megawatts by 2023, to serve Nigeria’s electricity needs.
Roads, Rail, water transport
Buhari certainly wants to be remembered that his administration revamped and developed Nigeria’s infrastructure.
He says his government is growing the stock and quality of Nigeria’s roads, rail, air and water transport infrastructure.
“Through the SUKUK-Funded Road Projects, a total of 412km of the targeted 643km road projects have been completed, representing 64%.
The Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund projects are also progressing very well.
On the 2nd Niger Bridge, piling work has been completed and the approach roads are being constructed. 48% of work on this bridge has been achieved.
“We have constructed 102km of the 376km Abuja – Kaduna – Kano Road, representing 38%, and the 42.9km Obajana – Kabba Road is 87.03% complete.
“We are extending and upgrading our railway network too. We are introducing more locomotives, coaches and wagons for the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line.
“The Central Ajaokuta – Itakpe – Warri Line has been completed and is being extended from Itakpe to Abuja on one end and from Warri Town to Warri Port on the other.
“The Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line is 90% completed and would be extended to the Lagos Port which would help address the long-standing grid-lock at the Apapa port.
“The Kano – Maradi Single Track Standard Gauge Railway, Coastal Railway Project and Port Harcourt – Maiduguri Standard Gauge Railway, with its associated branch lines running through the South Eastern and Gombe States, industrial park and Bonny Deep Sea Port are all ready for concessioning.
First Bidding for marginal oil fields
Buhari, as Nigeria’s oil minister was thrilled to announce that for the first time in over ten years, Nigeria is conducting bidding process for 57 Marginal Oil Fields to increase revenue and increase the participation of Nigerian companies in oil and exploration and production business.
“We continue to grow local content in other areas of the oil and gas sector with the disbursement of funds from the $200 million Nigerian Content Intervention Fund to indigenous manufacturers and service providers.
Insurgency and Banditry
President Buhari promised to enthrone security in Nigeria five years ago. But insurgency has not ended, what with the killing of 81 villagers in Gubio LG of Borno this week. Banditry, kidnapping, other forms of criminality are rising across the nation.
Buhari says the security issues are being accorded appropriate priorities and the men and women of the Armed Forces of Nigeria have considerably downgraded such threats across all geo-political zones.
He reiterated again that all the Local Governments that were taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have long been recovered and are now occupied by indigenes of these areas who were hitherto forced to seek a living in areas far from their ancestral homes.
“The total collapse of the economies of these areas, which constituted a threat to our food security, has also been reversed with the gradual recovery of farming and other economic activities”, he says.
He then apologised for the recent sporadic incidents with tragic loss of lives in Katsina and Borno States as a result of criminals taking advantage of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Security Agencies will pursue the perpetrators and bring them to swift justice”, he promised..
COVID-19 and national response
Expectedly Buhari devoted a considerable part of his address on the raging COVID-19 pandemic, a phenomenon that has disrupted the entire world this year.
“Fellow Nigerians, the year 2020 has been like none other”, Buhari says.
“In January 2020, the COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. The number of global infections has risen from less than 80,000 shared between China and eighteen other countries to over 7 million spread over 216 countries and on all continents.
“Nigeria recorded its first case of COVID-19 on February 27th 2020 and within the first 100 days, I have had cause to address the nation on three occasions within one month, which underscores the gravity of this pandemic.
“There is no doubt that this pandemic has affected the global economy and all known socio-economic systems. It has also brought grief and pain to families that have lost their loved ones. Like many Nigerians, I feel the grief and pain not only as your President but also as someone who has lost a close member of my staff and some relatives and friends.
“The impact of the pandemic has disrupted our economic system and to ensure its functioning while still addressing the spread, the Federal Government put in place a number of various non-pharmaceutical measures to slow down the spread of the virus, in addition to a progressive re-opening of the economy.
“As part of the strategy to create jobs in reducing the effect of COVID-19 on our youths, I directed the employment of 774, 000 Nigerians. These youths will be engaged in Special Public Works Programme aimed at cushioning the effects of economic downturn. Each of the 774 local government areas in the country will be allotted 1,000 slots. I am pleased to report that this programme has commenced.
“I am confident that the steps being taken by the PTF would result in flattening the COVID-19 curve. I, therefore, implore all Nigerians to abide by the approved guidelines and protocols. There is hope for us all if we take individual and collective responsibility.
“Government is determined to turn this COVID-19 challenge into a motivation to action by building a nation-wide public health care system that will help us overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for any future outbreak.
“Already, we have begun to look inward and I charge our inventors, researchers and scientists to come up with solutions to cure COVID-19”, he says.
Government has continued to implement accountability and transparent policies through the Open Government Partnership and the transparency portal on financial transactions.
“Similarly, we have strengthened auditing and accountability mechanisms so as to ensure that rules and regulations are followed strictly.
“Anti-Corruption Agencies have secured more than 1,400 convictions and also recovered funds in excess of N800 billion. These monies are being ploughed into development and infrastructure projects”.
Cost of governance
The Public Service of Nigeria remains the bedrock for the formulation and implementation of policies, programmes and projects in the country. This accounts for why it continues to evolve especially as new socio-economic challenges emerge for Government to address.
In the face of dwindling resources and rising cost of governance, I have authorised that the White Paper on the Rationalisation of Government Parastatals and Agencies be reviewed for implementation.