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24 Jan 2018

Buhari is on course, says Mohammed

Uneasy lies the head of President Muhammadu Buhari at this critical time in national history. On his shoulders rests the responsibility for meeting the diverse expectations of Nigerians.
The last two and half years have been remarkable. While government had tried to solve some problems, fresh challenges are staring the administration in the face. Few of the achievements of the administration have been acknowledged by critics. Since Nigerians have a high expectation about President Buhari, based on his campaign promises, there have been more emphases on what the administration is yet to accomplish.
President Buhari promised economic revival, restoration of security, war against corruption and job creation. Critics have also evolved other indices to assess the government. However, Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government deserved a pass mark, owing to the fulfilment of campaign promises, despite the constraints. He spoke with reporters in Lagos on government’s achievements and constraints and the activities of critics being allegedly sponsored by the opposition to peddle falsehoods against the administration.
On May 29, 2015, when President Buhari took over the baton from Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the economy was on the brink of collapse. Few months after, the effects of past mismanagement plunged the country into recession. The activities of militants in the Niger Delta led to the destruction of oil pipelines. While oil was selling for as low as $30 per barrel, the country could not even meet its quota. Foreign reserves was at a low ebb.
The administration swung into action. The military and other security agencies were equipped to send Boko Haram insurgents parking. The terror group that had seized the Northeast was helpless. It ultimately resorted to attacking soft targets, having been dislocated in Sambisa forest. Thus, the group was prevented from graduating to an urban warfare merchants.
President Buhari has paid priority attention to economic revatalisation. Foreign Reserve is now at $40b, although proceeds from oil sales have gone down. According to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), headline inflation has fallen consistently in the last 11 months. As at December last year, it stood at15.37 per cent, the lowest in the last one year. Mohammed said the implication was that the target set for inflation in ERGP was not only met, but also urpassed.
To block the financial loopholes, the Federal Government introduced the Treasury Single Account (TSA). “It has stopped the hemorrhaging of the treasury,” the minister said, adding: “Government agencies and institutions are now been effectively monitored and made to properly made render accounts with probity.”
Besides, ghost workers have been eliminated. Mohammed said through the elimination of non-existing workers on pay rolls, government has been able to save N120 billion. Also, N108 billion has been saved from the removal of maintenance fees payable to banks, before the commencement of TSA. Now, N24 billion is being saved monthly, following the sustenance of the financial mechanism.
Today, agriculture is booming. More people are taking to farming. “We have over 12 million people in rice farming alone. That is six million farmers more than what we had as at 29 May 2015,” said Mohammed. The benefit is reduced importation of rice, which the minister said has dropped from 644,000 metric tonnes to 22,000 in just two years. The sector has generated employment of various categories. But, the overall advantage is that Nigeria is achieving food sufficiency.
President Buhari has intensified the infrastructure battle nationwide. Shedding light on this, Mohammed noted that the amount spent infrastructural development is unprecedented. He stressed: “Power Generation at an all-time high of 7,000 mega watts and all can be transmitted. The investment in rail is enormous. Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge is on. Lagos-Ibadan sector will be ready next year; Kano-Kaduna will also be ready in 2019. The entire stretch will be ready in 2021. Also, negotiations on for Coastal Rail covering 15 cities from Lagos to Calabar are on.”
The Federal Government is also constructing 25 major highways. The projects are being funded with the N100billion. No geo-political zone is excluded.
Mohammed lamented that the opposition, which has been dazed by these achievements, are mobilising detractors to raise the bar of propaganda against a legitimate government. “The opposition doesn’t want Nigerians to hear all these positive developments. That’s why they have teamed up with treasury looters to recruit people to attack us ceaselessly. Good news is that discerning Nigerians know better.
“This administration is not unaware of the enormity of the challenges facing the nation, but we are up to the task. We have taken the bull by the horns, and long-suffering Nigerians will begin to experience a new lease of life as our efforts yield fruits,” he added.
Mohammed commiserated with the victims of the recent Benue crisis. He described it as an unacceptable tragedy, stressing that, for the Federal Government, a life lost to any crisis is one too many. He said while farmers/herders’ clash predated the administration, government is determined to halt the trend.
“Every challenge is an opportunity. And that’s how we have taken this crisis. The Benue crisis is an opportunity for us to end the incessant farmers/herders’ clash.As you are aware, the National Executive Council (NEC) has set up a committee headed by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to work out ways to end the crisis. That’s one of many strategies being employed by the Federal Government to solve the incessant crisis.
“We appeal to all public commentators and opinion leaders, including religious and traditional rulers, to moderate their rhetoric. We cannot afford to aggravate the situation,” he added.
Peeping into the future, Mohammed said Nigerians will never prefer the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC, having put behind them the horror of i6 years of bad governance. “Nigerians will not prefer the looters of the treasury who destroyed the economy,” he said.
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