The Muhammadu Buhari administration at the weekend declared that there are ongoing plans to implement one of its striking campaign promises to pay N5000 each to the poorest Nigerians across the country.
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who gave the hint, noted that government is “currently evaluating the best ways to collapse existing cash transfer and social welfare schemes to ensure consistency and alignment.
“Once this is completed, we will implement the first phase of this programme, using recognized identification platforms and transparent payment solutions”, he added.
Osinbajo, who disclosed this at the 10th Year Anniversary Lecture of Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State titled, ‘The Nigerian Economy and the Future’, also said the Federal Government has identified the weak transmission grid, which prevents the wheeling of more than 5,000MW as a gridlock to be removed.
He assured that the Buhari administration would work with the distribution companies to ensure the necessary investment to get electricity to consumers is in place.
On the pervasive poverty ravaging the country, Osinbajo said the payment of N5,000 each to poor Nigerians was necessary because “we cannot talk about the economy of the future without addressing how we move people out of poverty.
“One of the most striking promises we made during the campaign was the payment of N5,000 to the poorest Nigerians across the country”, he noted, even as he regretted that today, “about 112 million (66% of Nigerians) are deemed extremely poor, measured by World Bank parameter of those living on less than US$1.25 per day.”
The Vice President observed that the level of poverty explains much of the Nigerian situation because it affects all aspects of life, including why over a million Nigerians die yearly of preventable diseases.
“It reflects in our alarming rates of infant mortality and maternal deaths at childbirth. It also tells why so many children of school age are out of school and why so many adults lack access to healthcare and proper vocational training; why, in effect, they are less efficient and less productive at work”, Osinbajo noted.
Giving a succinct analysis of the nation’s economy, the VP said, “The vexed questions of the day pertain mainly to the economy. What is the real state of affairs? With so much reliance on a single commodity, how do we survive in an era of oil glut and falling commodity prices?
“With so many indications of waste, corruption and impunity, how do we set our economy on the right path? With so many unemployed, how do we offer hope and sustain the enthusiasm of our children still in school? And with so many of our consumer goods imported from abroad, how do we continue to live well without going bankrupt? Indeed, what is the place of Nigeria in the African and World Economy?”, he further queried.
He lamented that, while many public servants were being owed arrears of salaries across the country, many traders are experiencing a downturn in sales.
“Artisans abound, whose businesses cannot thrive without power supply and many of our youths are searching in vain for employment”, the VP added.
On power generation, Osinbajo noted that the APC manifesto, is to deliver a minimum of 10% GDP growth annually, while ensuring an inclusive economy that improves the lives of all Nigerians.
This, he said, cannot happen unless we achieve a significant improvement in the power sector, even as he assured that the administration will focus on improving the supply of gas to power plants, which will ensure sufficient gas supply that will help maximize the 13,000MW of generating capacity.
His words: “The plans for the power sector will be supported with a National Infrastructural Master Plan that requires an investment of $3trillion over a thirty-year period. This is the minimal requirement to improve our infrastructure stock from 35% of GDP to the benchmark for our peers, which is estimated at 70% of GDP.
“Apart from enabling manufacturing and other sectors, we expect that the investment in infrastructure will also directly create thousands of jobs in construction and maintenance activities”.
On the petroleum sector, the VP also noted that Nigeria has the 6th largest gas reserves and 8th largest crude oil reserves in the world, yet it is struggling with high unemployment and low industrialization.
He regretted that “this embarrassment is compounded by the recurring scarcity of refined petroleum products which deal goes further still to harm our economy.
“Also corruption and a lack of transparency has dealt a massive blow on the petroleum industry thereby depleting our resources and creating a business environment which repels serious minded investors, whether locally based or international”, he added.
He expressed dismay that with the huge natural and human endowments in the country, the most recent World Economic Forum’s Report on Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) 2014 -2015 ranked Nigeria 127 out of 144 countries.
“This is in comparison with many other countries in Africa, ranking higher including Mauritius – 39, South Africa – 56, Rwanda – 62, Botswana 74, Algeria – 79, Kenya – 90, Zambia – 96 and Ghana – 111. Similarly, the World Bank’s Report on Ease of Doing Business Index ranks Nigeria, 170 out of 189 countries surveyed”, he noted.
Osinbajo assured that in order to address the myriads of problems and challenges facing the economy, the Buhari Administration will tackle corruption in all sectors of the economy and establish a sufficient tax culture.
He further assured that the Administration will encourage Public-Private Partnerships and ensuring a transparent framework that reduces the bottlenecks in doing business.
“We are hopeful that an influx of domestic and international capital will begin to chase the huge opportunities in Nigeria very soon”, the VP noted, adding that the administration will give top priority to agriculture and education sectors.
Osinbajo expressed appreciation for the great work being done at the university to secure the future of Nigerian children and the country.
“Crescent University represents that bold effort of some private individuals in Nigeria who, of their own volition and with their personal wealth, decide to build institutions of higher learning”, he said.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ibraheem Gbajabiamila, while welcoming the dignitaries who came to grace the occasion, said the students of Crescent University were doing well in their academics and are brought up in a well-disciplined environment.
The Proprietor, Judge Bola Ajibola expressed gratitude for the Vice President’s visit as well as other dignitaries.
He said students of the university have maintained academic excellence nationally and internationally and all of them are accommodated in the school hostel, adding that “there is no cultism and other social vices”.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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