Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that the Federal Government has the political will, determination and discipline to bring the country out of the current challenges.
He stated this at the inaugural Buhari Meter town hall meeting organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development in Abuja, where four other cabinet ministers were also present to speak on their intentions and performance.
The Ministers present at the event were that of Environment, Power, Works and Housing, Agriculture and Budget and Planning.
Agreeing that there is still much work to be done, he said that the Federal Government under the leadership of President Mohammadu Buhari has the capacity to fulfil its electoral promises and take Nigeria to greater heights.
In his words, the Change the All Progressive Congress promised is real, and with the takeoff of the massive 500 billion naira Social Intervention programmes in a few days, Nigerians will begin to feel the impact of the new order.
“As a matter of fact, the first roll out of the Intervention Scheme will start this Saturday, June 11th, when the Internet portal named npower.gov.ng will start taking applications for the 500,000 direct teacher jobs scheme.
The other schemes in the Buhari presidency Social Investment Programmes which would be rolled out in the coming weeks include the Conditional Cash Transfer that pays N5, 000 monthly to one million Nigerians, the Micro-Credit Scheme for more than 1.5 million Nigerians, the Home Grown School Feeding programme that will serve 5.5 million children.”
Alhaji Mohammed said that any meaningful assessment of the first year anniversary of this Administration must be situated in the right context, which is the electioneering campaign by the APC, which is in three broad areas; to tackle insecurity, fight corruption and revamp the economy.
In this regard, he said the administration has done credibly well. “Though Nigeria has faced the challenges of ethno-religious violence, armed robbery, cattle rustling, kidnapping for ransom, militancy and violent agitations, the most daunting security challenge faced by the country when we assumed office on 29 May 2015 was the boko haram insurgency. Today, it is fast receding from the headlines as the Administration has decisively tackled the insurgency.
The Minister added that the “Administration is also tackling other security problems with the same decisiveness, whether it is cattle rustling, herdsmen/farmers’ clash, militancy and regional agitations.
The Administration has also squarely taken on the fight against corruption and it is winning.
Today, the issue of corruption has become topical in national discourse and the corrupt are no longer able to flaunt their ill-gotten wealth with impunity, as they used to do”.
He said Nigeria’s economy poses a great challenge because the country has lost a huge chunk of its earnings to the massive crash in the price of oil.
“Oil has crashed from over 100 dollars to about 28 dollars at its lowest point, though it is inching up now. For a mono-product economy, this is nothing short of disaster. But the Administration has decided to see opportunities rather than difficulties by working assiduously to diversify the nation’s economy away from oil.”
On his part, the Minister of Budget and Planning, Mr. Udo Udo Udoma, said the government had to face the fight against corruption squarely in a bid to reflate the economy.
“We had to put our energy in cracking the looters because at some point, the little scarce resource was been taken away. We also deliberately made 30%of the 2016 budget to go for capital expenditure; all these would help revamp the infrastructure deficits which will in-turn help the economy grow.”
Mr Babatunde Fashola who heads the Power, Works, and Housing Ministry said that government was working towards having incremental power, where every potential source of power would be utilised to achieve reasonable power.
“We want to stay away from relying on just one source of generating power. However, if monies budgeted for this kind of project were hitherto put to the correct use when we had enough resources when oil was selling above 100 dollars, the story would have been different. We would have just consolidated on such investments.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture Mr Audu Ogbeh said that to fill in the gap in the area of agricultural extension, the government was planning to recruit 50,000 extension workers to assist farmers.
He also said Nigeria is paying the price of years of neglect of the sector.
“We abandoned agriculture and focused on importation of food for consumption. Now we don’t even have the money for the importation and that is why things are difficult.”
The relationship between Environment and Insecurity was revealed at the meeting by the Environment Minister, Hajia Amina Mohammed and submitted that the narrative must change.
“The environmental degradation in the Niger Delta, the Desertification in the North, the Erosion in the South East, the Farmers /herders clash are all issues of the environment that have now become real security issues, we want all these to change for better and we are working towards that.
“We are working hard and on the right tract but we know that more need to be done. So we demand some understanding, patience as well as resources to execute the assignments.”
The Centre for Democracy and Development in West Africa monitors, track and document promises made by presidential candidates with a view to make them keep them in the interest of the citizens and the entire nation. The initiative of the centre is to bridge the existing gap between the government and the governed.