The Federal Government under the leadership of the All Progressive Congress has availed itself creditably so far, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said.
“As far as our Change Agenda is concerned, the journey so far has been good, and it will definitely get better as we progress.”
Alhaji Mohammed said the party campaigned and rode to power on the core issues of tackling corruption, ensuring the security of lives and property and, of course, the economy, which encompasses creation of job, diversification of the economy away from oil, all of which he stated that the administration has done well in all the frontiers.
The Minister made this known in Jos at the 36th Annual General Meeting of the Alumni Association of the National Institute.
On the Security of Lives and Property, he said the most daunting security challenge that Nigeria has faced in the past 7 to 8 years has been the boko haram insurgency, which he says was the reason behind the President’s first trips outside the country, after he was sworn in, to rally the support of our neighbours – Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger – for the efforts to tackle the insurgency.
He further explained that the Nigerian President also rallied the support of the international community, starting with the G7, and then the US, France and the UN adding that the President’s efforts have paid off.
“boko haram has been massively degraded and it is gradually moving away from the front pages. The insurgents have lost their capacity to carry out the kind of spectacular attacks for which they became infamous. This did not happen by accident.
It was the result of purposeful, credible and courageous leadership being provided by President MuhammaduBuhari, who started off by ordering the relocation of the command and control centre of the battle against insurgency from Abuja to Maiduguri, rallied regional and global support for Nigeria’s efforts and boosted the morale and fighting capability of armed troops.
Today, our gallant troops are on top of the insurgency and, in the words of the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai, they are now engaged in mop-up operations.”
He however submitted that no insurgency ends overnight. “Because it is not your usual conventional warfare, no agreement is signed to silence the guns. Therefore, there will still be pockets of cowardly attacks against vulnerable targets here and there.”
The Minister also spoke on the effort of the administration in the fight against corruption. He said it is incorrect to suggest that the government was fighting corruption without paying attention to the economy.
“Of course this is not true, but even if it is, it is patently justified. Why? Because unless we fight corruption to a standstill, nothing else we do will yield positive results.
It was corruption that prolonged the war against boko haram and dispatched many soldiers and civilians to their early graves; It was corruption that ensured that while oil was selling for over 100 dollars per barrel, we had nothing to show for the windfall; it is because of corruption that even though our budget has increased from less than a trillion in 1999 to over 6 trillion in 2016, poverty has grown almost at the same rate that the budget has increased; It was corruption that gave us darkness, instead of light, while we supposedly pumped millions of dollars into the power sector.”
After this submission, the Minister affirmed that just like the Administration has largely succeeded in fighting insurgency, the government has also squarely taken on corruption, and he confidently put it that the government was winning the fight and then enjoined everybody to own the battle.
“The way out is for all of us to be part of the war. It is not Buhari’s war. It is not APC’s war. It is Nigeria’s war of survival, and defeat will only sentence all of us, and our generations yet unborn, into perpetual penury.”
He further explained that it is also not true that the government was not respecting the Rule of Law in its anti-graft battle.
“The Rule of Law is not and cannot be a shield against prosecution for corruption. The mere fact that those accused of corruption have been taken to court shows that the Administration respects the Rule of Law.”
He said there was no way a country that has lost almost 70% of its revenue earnings would remain the same, however the government was putting the brightest thinking cap with all sense of sincerity and purposefulness to fix the economy.
“The Administration has decided to turn this disaster to a blessing by working assiduously to diversify our economy away from oil.
Agriculture, Solid Minerals, Culture and Tourism are some of the sectors we are currently working to rejuvenate so they can earn huge revenues for the country and create jobs.
While these efforts are on, the Administration has decided to plug all financial loopholes through the Treasury Singles Account (TSA), into which over two trillion Naira has accrued so far. Funds that ordinarily would have gone into private pockets are now finding their way into the public treasury, to be used for the benefit of all. The government has also discovered 23,000 ghost workers who have now been expunged from the system.”
On the economy, he wrapped it up by saying that as soon as the 2016 budget, in which capital expenditure has been increased to 30 per cent, is passed; Nigerians will begin to positively feel the impact of the Administration’s efforts.
President’s Foreign Trips
He said President Buhari’s foreign trips was to restore the nation’s lost credibility, reassure investors that they can do business with our country and also rally global support for the war against corruption and insurgency.
He cited examples of the President’s most recent trips to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. He said the President used the visits to strongly push for oil price stability, within the context of ongoing efforts by OPEC to achieve greater oil price stability.
He said the President “met with Saudi and Qatari businessmen to invite them to support his Administration’s efforts to revamp the economy by taking advantage of the great investment opportunities currently available in Nigeria’s mining, agriculture, power supply, infrastructure, transportation, communications and other sectors…”
On his part, President of the Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI), Major General (rtd) Lawrence Onoja on behalf of the association registered the organisation’s support for the three point agenda of the President Buhari’s led government.
“We support the effort of the government in tackling the insecurity, anti-corruption and re-building of the economy. In that respect, we also called on the Federal Government to put tested AANI members in position of responsibility to enhance service delivery.”
The meeting was then declared open by the Executive Governor of Plateau State, Barrister Simon Lalong, ably represented by the Head of Civil Service in the state, Mr. Izam Azi.The governor said members of the Alumni Association should use their experience to assist government in making Nigeria a great nation.