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‘Nigeria’s Economic Recovery ’ll Pick Up Pace In 2018’

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Being a text of the 2018 Budget Proposals presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, November 7, 2017.
Exerpts.

Protocols
I am here to present 2018 Budget Proposals. Before presenting the Budget, let me thank all of you distinguished and honourable members of the National Assembly, and indeed all Nigerians, for your support and prayers for my full recovery while I was on medical vacation.
I am very pleased to address this Joint Session of the National Assembly, on the revenue and expenditure estimates, and related matters, of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the 2018 fiscal year.
The 2018 Budget will consolidate on the achievements of previous budgets and deliver on Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2018 – 2020.
Overview Of Economic Developments In 2017
2017, so far, has been a year of uncertainty on many fronts across the world. Whether it is Brexit, the crisis in the Korean Peninsular, or indeed, the political uncertainty in key oil producing nations of the Middle East and South America, we can all agree that these developments have in one way or another impacted Nigeria’s economic fortunes.
By all accounts, 2018 is expected to be a year of better outcomes. The tepid economic recovery is expected to pick up pace and the global political terrain is expected to stabilise. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is anticipating global GDP growth of 3.7 percent in 2018. Emerging markets and developing economies are expected to lead with GDP growth of 4.9 percent, while advanced economies are projected to grow at a slower rate of 2 percent.
Nigeria’s journey out of the recent recession was a revealing one. We heard many opinions from within and outside Nigeria on how best to address our economic woes. We listened carefully and studied these proposals diligently. Our belief has always been that the quickest and easiest solution may not necessarily be the best solution for a nation as diverse as ours. We took our time to create a balanced and equitable response, keeping in mind that only tailored Nigerian solutions can fix Nigeria’s unique problems.
And from the recovery that we are seeing today, it is clear that we made the right decisions. Distinguished and Honourable Members of the National Assembly, I am now asking you to continue to support our economic policies in order to consolidate and sustain on the success achieved so far. We simply cannot go back.
In the non-oil sector, crop production has been one of the main contributors to non-oil growth, which rose to 0.45 percent in the second quarter of this year. This was primarily driven by our ongoing financial, capacity building and infrastructure development programs.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, working with development partners and the private sector, has embarked on numerous capacity building projects. We have also completed over 33,000 Hectares of Irrigation Projects that have increased water availability in key food producing states. We shall continue to intensify our interventions through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative to ensure that this momentum is sustained. We have also made provisions in the 2018 Budget to complete ongoing Irrigation Projects at Ada, in Enugu State; Lower Anambra, in Anambra State; and Gari, in Jigawa State. In 2017, many factories and projects in the food and agricultural sectors were commissioned in Kebbi, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Anambra, Edo, Jigawa, Rivers, Niger, Ogun and Ebonyi States, to mention a few. This is a clear statement that our economic diversification and inclusive growth ambitions are coming to fruition.
Significant progress has also been made in the Solid Minerals development sector. In Ondo State, for instance, work is ongoing to fully exploit the bitumen resources to meet the 600,000 MTs of asphalt imported per annum for roads and other construction projects. To consolidate on these efforts, we have also established a 30 billion Naira Solid Minerals Development Fund to support other minerals exploration activities across the country.
In the oil and gas sector, the relatively higher crude oil prices supported our economic recovery. Our mutually beneficial engagement with oil producing communities in the Niger Delta contributed immensely to the recovery in oil production experienced in recent months. We would like to thank the leadership and communities in the Niger-Delta for their continued support and to also reiterate our assurances that this Administration will continue to honour our commitments to them. We cannot afford to go back to those dark days of insecurity and vandalism. We all want a country that is safe, stable and secure for our families and communities. This means we must all come together to address any grievances through dialogue and peaceful engagement. Threats, intimidation or violence are never the answer.
We are working hard on the Ogoni Clean-up Project. During the year, we engaged 8 international and local companies proposing different technologies for the mandate. To enable us select the best and most suitable technology for the remediation work, we asked each company to conduct Demonstration Clean-up Exercises in the 4 Local Government Areas of Ogoni Land. These Demonstrations were recently concluded and the results are being studied by the Governing Council of the Ogoni Clean-up Project. Although the Project will be funded by the International Oil Companies, we have made provisions in the 2018 Budget for the costs of oversight and governance, to ensure effective implementation.
On the international front, I would like to thank our friends and partners in the Joint OPEC / Non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) who graciously granted Nigeria an exemption from the output cuts imposed on OPEC Member Countries in January 2017. This exemption, which was extended in September 2017, significantly helped during our most challenging time. We shall continue our positive engagement with other oil producing nations to ensure that the momentum generated is sustained.
Permit me, Mr Senate President and Right Honourable Speaker, to state that despite the downturn in oil prices and our challenging economic circumstances, this Administration was able to invest an unprecedented sum of over 1.2 trillion Naira in capital projects through the 2016 Budget. This is the highest ever in the history of this country. This is a clear demonstration of our commitment to consolidate on our economic diversification reforms and lay a stronger foundation for future growth and development.
Our Sovereign Wealth Fund, which was established in 2011 with US$1 billion, did not receive additional investment for 4 years when oil prices were as high as US$120 per barrel. However, despite record low oil prices, this Administration was able to invest an additional US$500 million into the Fund. This further demonstrates that in our struggle to have a stable and secure nation today, we have not, and will not, lose sight of the need to lay a solid foundation for the future prosperity of successive generations.
We have asked the Sovereign Wealth Fund to look inward and invest locally. Some of the successes we are seeing today in the agricultural sector are driven by this new investment approach by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). The NSIA also has a very strong pipeline of local investments that will support our inclusive and diversified economic growth plan.
Stability has been restored to the foreign exchange market due to the interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria to improve access to liquidity, discourage currency speculation and increase net foreign exchange inflows. As at the 30th of October, 2017, our external reserves had increased to US$34bn. This stability has supported our efforts to provide the enabling environment and interventions needed to empower Micro, Small and Medium-Sized enterprises, investors, manufacturers and exporters, to sustain and in some cases, grow their operations. Indeed, by the second quarter of 2017, exports significantly outpaced imports, resulting in a trade surplus of 506.5 billion Naira.
Ease of Doing Business Reforms
One of the targets we set for gauging our progress in creating an enabling environment for business was to achieve a positive movement in the World Ease of Doing Business Index. You would recall Nigeria experienced a decade-long decline in this ranking. In 2008, Nigeria was ranked 120th. By 2015, our situation had deteriorated to 169th of the 189 countries surveyed. Our very simple, logical and user-friendly reforms are reversing this trend. A recently released World Bank business ranking report announced that Nigeria had moved 24 places to 145th position in 2017. I am delighted that we have met and even surpassed our target of moving at least 20 paces up this global ranking. The same World Bank report also stated that Nigeria is among the top 10 reforming countries in the world.
To ensure these reforms are institutionalised, Executive Order Number 1 on the Promotion of Transparency and Efficiency in the Business Environment was issued in May 2017. The Order contained measures that ease the process of business registration, approval of permits, granting visas and streamlining port operations. We are committed to continuing and accelerating the Ease of Doing Business reforms, which are critical to attracting new investments, growing the economy and creating jobs for our people.
Improved Tax Administration
Although the economy is diversified with non-oil Sector accounting for over 90 percent of total Nominal GDP, the Government’s revenues are not as diversified yet. Our Tax-to-GDP ratio of about 6% is one of the lowest in the world. This situation is not consistent with our goal of having a diversified, sustainable and inclusive economy. Accordingly, we are stepping up efforts to ensure all taxable Nigerians comply with the legal requirement to declare income from all sources and remit taxes due to the appropriate authorities.
Already, we have introduced the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) on the 1st of July, 2017. The Scheme provides non-compliant taxpayers with a nine-month window to regularise their tax status relating to historical periods. In return, overdue interest and penalties will be forgiven. In addition, no investigations or criminal charges will be brought against participating taxpayers. We expect that this Scheme will widen the tax net for both the Federal and State Governments. I am therefore, asking all Nigerians to seize this opportunity and do the right thing. Let us not shy away from our duty to build a better Nigeria.
Optimising Efficiency in Expenditure
In 2016, this administration adopted a policy of allocating at least 30 percent of our annual budget to capital expenditure. This was entrenched in the ERGP to unlock further growth in the economy. This tradition was maintained in the 2017 Budget and has been reflected in the proposal for 2018, in which 30.8 percent of total expenditure has been set aside for the capital vote.
To support these efforts, you would recall that an Efficiency Unit was set up under the Federal Ministry of Finance to reduce wastage, plug leakages and foster greater fiscal transparency. We have intensified the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) across government MDAs to automate personnel records and salaries’ payment process, with the goal of eliminating ghost workers. 461 Federal MDAs have been captured on the system, so far. Our target is to enroll all MDAs. I have directed the military and other security agencies to ensure total compliance without further delay.
Increased Investment in Infrastructure
Mr Senate President, and the Right Honourable Speaker, we shall continue to develop our infrastructure across the country. Although a lot of progress has been made, the huge contractor liabilities we inherited have adversely impacted our infrastructure development timetable. Indeed, contractors were owed trillions of Naira when this Administration came into office. In some areas, we have made payments so projects may be completed; while in others, we are reconciling the liabilities to identify and settle legitimate claims. As a responsible and accountable Administration, we decided that clearing this backlog was an important priority.
For instance, at the outset of this Administration in 2015, the Abuja Metro-Rail Project, which began in 2007 was only 50 percent completed, after 8 years. Today, in just 18 months, we have pushed the project to 98 percent completion. This was achieved as the Nigerian Government was diligently able to meet its counterpart funding obligations for the Chinese loans.
We have also continued work on key strategic Roads. Over 766 kilometres of roads were constructed or rehabilitated across the country in 2017. For instance, work is at various stages of completion on these strategic roads with immense socio-economic benefits:
a.  Rehabilitation of Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa-Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna Road;
b. Dualisation of Oyo-Ogbomosho-Ilorin Road;
c.  Rehabilitation of Gombe-Numan-Yola Road;
d. Dualisation of Kano-Maiduguri Road;
e.   Rehabilitation of Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega Road and Kotangora-Makera Road that transverse Sokoto, Kebbi and Niger States;
f.   Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Enugu-Port-Harcourt Road;
g. Rehabilitation of Enugu-Onitsha Dual Carriageway Road;
h.  Rehabilitation of Aleshi-Ugep Road and the Iyamoyun-Ugep Section in Cross River State;
i.  Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Expansion of Lagos-Ibadan Dual Carriageway Road;
j.   Construction of Loko-Oweto Bridge over River Benue in Nasarawa and Benue States; and
k.  Construction Gokanni Bridge along Tegina-Mokwa-Jebba Road in Niger State.
Under the Federal Roads Development Programme, we recently completed a Data Collection Exercise on the 7,000km Federal Road Network which was funded by the World Bank. This information is enabling us to make informed decisions regarding the planning, budgeting and management of the Federal Road Network. Going forward, we will be working based on facts rather than subjectivity.
Furthermore, we have also invested a lot of time and effort in identifying alternative means of funding new projects. For example, the recent 100 billion Naira Sukuk Financing will cater specifically for the development of 25 roads across the country. We also developed different structures that empower private investors to contribute to the development of roads of significant national importance. Already, we are seeing results. For example:
a.    The Bonny-Bodo Road is being jointly funded by the Federal Government and Nigeria LNG Limited. This project was conceived decades ago but it was abandoned. This Administration restarted the project and when completed, it will enable road transportation access for key communities in the Niger- Delta region; and
b.    The Apapa Wharf-Toll Gate Road in Lagos State is also being constructed by private sector investors in exchange for tax credits.
Distinguished Members of the National Assembly, our Power Sector Reforms still remain a work in progress. Although we have increased generation capacity significantly, we still have challenges with the Transmission and Distribution Networks. That said, I am pleased to announce that since 2015, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and Niger-Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) have added 1,950 MVA of 330-132kV transformer capacity at 10 Transmission stations, as well as 2,930 MVA of 132-33kV transformer capacity to 42 substations nationwide. With these additions, the Transmission Network today can handle up to 7,000 Mega Watts (MW).
The key bottleneck now is the Distribution Network where the substations cannot take more than 5,000 MW. This is constraining power delivery to consumers. We are working with the privatized Distribution Companies to see how to overcome this challenge. Nigerians should be rest assured that this Administration is doing all it can to alleviate the embarrassing power situation in this country.
Furthermore, to sustain the continued expansion of generation capacity and enhance evacuation, we approved a Payment Assurance Guarantee Scheme which enabled the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET) to raise 701 billion Naira. This assures the Generation Companies of up to 80% payment on their invoices. This intervention has brought confidence back into the sector and we expect additional investment to flow through, particularly in the gas production sector.
Distinguished Members of the National Assembly, this Administration is committed to the development of Green Alternative Energy Sources. To date, we have signed Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with 14 solar companies. We also approved:
a.    The completion of the 10 MW Wind Farm in Katsina State, a project that was abandoned since 2012; and
b.    The concession of 6 small hydro-electric power plants with a total capacity of 50 MW.
To enable the successful take-off of these, and future Green Projects, I am pleased to inform this Distinguished Assembly that the Federal Government will be launching the first African Sovereign Green Bond in December 2017. The bond will be used to finance renewable energy projects. We are very excited about this development as it will go a long way in solving many of our energy challenges, especially in the hinterland.
On Rail, we recently received 2 additional locomotives and 10 standard gauge coaches for the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line. These will be deployed for the new non-stop express service between the two cities that will only take one hour and fifteen minutes. This new service will complement the existing service currently in place. We plan to commission this by December 2017.
We have also kick-started the abandoned Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Rail Line. This project has been on for over 17 years. We had to take some drastic measures but I am pleased to announce that work is ongoing and we expect to commission this service by September 2018. This service will start with 7 standard gauge coaches.
The situation at the Apapa port complex is a top priority for this Administration. The delays due to congestion and their adverse impact on business operations and costs is a key concern to our Government. As I mentioned earlier, we are partnering with the private sector to fix the road. We shall do the right thing considering. We will not cut corners.
In addition to the road, we have also commenced the extension of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail Line to connect Apapa and Tin Can Port Complexes. This project will significantly ease the congestion at the ports and enhance both export and import operations. This project shall be completed by December 2018. Already, working with the private sector, we have repaired the Apapa Port Narrow Gauge Line which is currently being used to evacuate goods from the port, thereby easing congestion.
As we all know, sometimes doing the right thing takes time and requires sacrifices. I am therefore appealing to all stakeholders to work with us in ensuring we deliver a solution that we will all be proud of.
Certainly, the infrastructure requirement to reposition Nigeria for the future is huge and our resources are limited. Government, therefore, will pursue private partnerships to maximise available capital and developmental impact. In the next fiscal year, we will also establish 7 tertiary health institutions across the country through partnership with our Sovereign Wealth Fund and other private sector investors.
Agricultural Development
The agricultural sector played a crucial role in Nigeria’s exit from recession. Today, it remains the largest employer of labour and holds significant potential to realise our vision of repositioning Nigeria as a food secured nation.
We will consolidate on existing policies and develop new ones to ensure the numerous value chain challenges in the agricultural sector are addressed. As I mentioned earlier, several investors have deployed significant capital in the production and processing of rice, sugar, maize, soya, cassava, yams, tomato, oil palm, rubber and poultry, to mention a few. We are also seeing increased investment in the agro-inputs manufacturing sector such as fertilisers.
We are determined to protect these investments and encourage more. Food Security is an important aspect of this Administration’s National Security agenda. Any person involved in smuggling of food items is a threat to our National Security and will therefore be dealt with accordingly. A Committee chaired by the Vice President is working on this matter. A key part of their work will be the reactivation of the Badagry Agreement signed between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin in 2003. This agreement, which was abandoned by previous Administrations, established a mutually beneficial framework for the two neighbours and allies to partner in tackling smuggling and other cross border crimes. I would like to assure investors in the agricultural value chain that the menace of smuggling will be handled decisively.
To further support investors and State Governments, we will accelerate the establishment of at least 6 Staple Crop Processing Zones, in the first phase. This initiative will develop infrastructure for the production, processing and storage of strategic commodities. The focus is on backward integration for grains, horticulture, livestock, fisheries and sugar; as well as exportable commodities such as cocoa, cassava and oil palms.
Health Sector Developments
During 2017, the country had a number of disease outbreaks such as Meningitis, Yellow Fever, Monkey Pox and Lassa Fever. I would like to commend the Federal and State Ministries of Health for their selfless service and timely responses to contain these outbreaks. I would also like to thank the World Health Organisation, the Global Fund and UNICEF, for their continued support during these trying times. This collaboration was a key factor in the low mortality rates experienced. To further improve our response to such outbreaks, we are working to upgrade our Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response System. This will further enhance the efficiency of our diagnostic and clinical management processes.
In this respect, I urge this Distinguished House to expedite the passage of the Bill for the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to enable us consolidate on the successes recorded to date.
Implementing the Social Investment Program
I am pleased to inform you that we have recorded tremendous success in the implementation of the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programme. Specifically,
a.    Over 4.5 million Primary 1 to Primary 3 pupils in public schools are being fed under the School Feeding programme;
b.    Over 200,000 unemployed graduates have been employed under the N-Power Scheme in education, health and agricultural sectors;
c.    Over 250,000 enterprises have benefitted from the sum of 12.5 billion Naira, which has been disbursed to entrepreneurs to expand their businesses; and
d.    Over 110,000 households are currently benefitting from the Conditional Cash Transfer programme across the country.
Performance Of The 2017 Budget
The 2017 Budget of Recovery and Growth was based on a benchmark oil price of US$44.5 per barrel, oil production of 2.2 million barrels per day, and a Naira-to-US Dollar Exchange Rate of 305. Based on these assumptions, total revenue of 5.084 trillionNaira was projected to fund aggregate expenditure of 7.441 trillion Naira. A projected fiscal deficit of 2.356 trillion Naira was to be financed mainly by domestic and external borrowing.
On revenue performance, collections were 14 percent below target as of September 2017, mainly due to the shortfall in non-oil revenues.
A key revenue shortfall was from Independent Revenues; only 155.14 billion Naira was remitted by September 2017 as against the projected pro-rated sum of 605.87 billion Naira. This represents a 74 percent shortfall, which is very disappointing.
This recurring issue of under-remittance of operating surpluses by State Owned Entities is absolutely unacceptable. You will all recall that in September 2017, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) announced that they were ready to remit 7.8 billion Naira back to the Government. The shocking discovery was that in the last decades, JAMB only remitted an aggregate of 51 million Naira. This clearly illustrates the abuses that occur in State Owned Entities as well as their potential for increased Independent Revenues, if only people would do the right thing. We all need to play our role to ensure the right thing is done. I would also like to remind Nigerians that the Whistle Blower lines are still open.
Accordingly, I have directed the Economic Management Team (EMT) to review the fiscal profiles of these agencies, to ensure strict compliance with the applicable Executive Orders and Financial Regulations. There may be a need to consider a review of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and the Executive will be approaching the National Assembly on this issue in due course.
On the expenditure side, a total of 450 billion Naira of the capital vote had been released as at the end of October 2017. With your support for our funding plan, our target is to release up to 50% of the capital vote for MDAs by the year’s end.  We have prioritised payments of our counterpart obligations on our concessionary loans, as well as funding of critical infrastructure and other projects with socio-economic benefits. Furthermore, MDAs have made provisions to carry over to the 2018 Budget, capital projects that are not likely to be fully funded by year-end 2017, to ensure project continuity.
Regrettably, the late passage of the 2017 Budget has significantly constrained budget implementation. As you are aware, the 1999 Constitution authorized necessary Federal Government expenditures prior to the 12th of June, 2017 when the 2017 Appropriation Act was signed into law. This year, we have worked very hard to achieve an earlier submission of the Medium-term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP), and the 2018 Appropriation Bill. Our efforts were to avail the National Assembly with sufficient time to perform its important duty of passing the Appropriation Bill into law, hopefully by the 1st of January, 2018. It is in this spirit that I solicit the cooperation of the Legislature in our efforts to return to a more predictable budget cycle that runs from January to December.
Priorities For The 2018 Budget Of Consolidation
The 2018 Budget Proposals are for a Budget of Consolidation. Our principal objective will be to reinforce and build on our recent accomplishments. Specifically, we will sustain the reflationary policies of our past two budgets. In this regard, the key parameters and assumptions for the 2018 Budget are as set out in the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP). These include:
a.    Benchmark oil price benchmark of US$45 per barrel;
b.    Oil production estimate of 2.3 million barrels per day, including condensates;
c.    Exchange rate of N305/US$ for 2018;
d.    Real GDP growth of 3.5 percent; and
e.    Inflation Rate of 12.4 percent.
Federally-Collectible Revenue Estimates
Based on the above fiscal assumptions and parameters, total federally-collectible revenue is estimated at 11.983 trillion Naira in 2018. Thus, the three tiers of Government shall receive about 12 percent more revenues in 2018 than the 2017 estimate. Of the amount, the sum of 6.387 trillion Naira is expected to be realised from oil and gas sources. Total receipts from the non-oil sector are projected at 5.597 trillion Naira.
Federal Government Revenue Estimates
The Federal Government’s estimated total revenue is 6.607 trillion Naira in 2018, which is about 30 percent more than the 2017 target. As we pursue our goal of revenue diversification, non-oil revenues will become a larger share of total revenues. In 2018, we project oil revenues of 2.442 trillion Naira, and non-oil as well as other revenues of 4.165 trillion Naira.
Non-oil and other revenue sources of 4.165 trillion Naira, include several items including: Share of Companies Income Tax (CIT) of 794.7 billion Naira, share of Value Added Tax (VAT) of 207.9 billion Naira, Customs & Excise Receipts of 324.9 billion Naira, FGN Independently Generated Revenues (IGR) of 847.9 billion Naira, FGN’s Share of Tax Amnesty Income of 87.8 billion Naira, and various recoveries of 512.4 billion Naira, 710 billion Naira as proceeds from the restructuring of government’s equity in Joint Ventures and other sundry incomes of 678.4 billion Naira.
Proposed Expenditure for 2018
A total expenditure of 8.612 trillion Naira is proposed for 2018. This is a nominal increase of 16 percent above the 2017 Budget estimate. In keeping with our policy, 30.8 percent (or 2.652 trillion Naira) of aggregate expenditure (inclusive of capital in Statutory Transfers) has been allocated to the capital budget.
We expect our fiscal operations to result in a deficit of 2.005 trillion Naira or 1.77 percent of GDP. This reduction is in line with our plans under the ERGP to progressively reduce deficit and borrowings.
We plan to finance the deficit partly by new borrowings estimated at 1.699 trillion Naira. Fifty percent of this borrowing will be sourced externally, whilst the balance will be sourced domestically. The balance of the deficit of 306 billion Naira is to be financed from proceeds of privatisation of some non-oil assets by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
61.         The proposed 8.612 trillion Naira of 2018 Aggregate Expenditure comprises:
a.    Recurrent Costs of N3.494 trillion;
b.    Debt Service of N2.014 trillion;
c.    Statutory Transfers of about N456 billion;
d.    Sinking Fund of N220 billion (to retire maturing bond to Local Contractors);
e.    Capital Expenditure of N2.428 trillion (excluding the capital component of Statutory Transfers).
Statutory Transfers
62.         456.46 billion Naira was provided in the 2018 Budget for Statutory Transfers. The 5 percent increase over last year’s provision is mainly due to increases in transfer to Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), which are related directly to the size of oil revenue.

Debt Restructuring
63.         We are closely monitoring our debt service to revenue ratio. We shall address this ratio through our non-oil revenue-generation drive and restructuring of the existing debt portfolio. Presently, domestic debt accounts for about 79 percent of the total debt. Our medium-term strategy is to reduce the proportion of our domestic debt to 60% by the end of 2019 and increase external debt to 40 percent. It is noteworthy that rebalancing our debt portfolio will enhance private sector access to domestic credit.  In addition, annual debt service costs will reduce as external debts are serviced at lower rates and repaid over a longer period than domestic debt.
Recurrent Expenditure
64.         A substantial part of the recurrent cost proposal for 2018 is for the payment of salaries and overheads in key Ministries providing critical public services such as:
a.    N510.87 billion for Interior;
b.    N435.01 billion for Education;
c.    N422.43 billion for Defence; and
d.    N269.34 billion for Health.
The allocation to these Ministries represent significant increases over votes in previous budgets.
Personnel Costs
65.         Personnel costs is projected to rise by 12 percent in 2018. Although we have made substantial savings by registering MDAs on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) platform, the increase is mainly due to provision for staff promotion arrears, and recruitments by the Military, Police Force and para-military agencies. Furthermore, I have directed agencies are not to embark on any fresh recruitment unless they have obtained all the requisite approvals. Any breach of this directive will be severely sanctioned.
Overhead Costs
66.         Overhead costs is projected to rise by 26 billion Naira in 2018, a modest increase of about 12 percent reflecting inflationary adjustments. MDAs are required to adhere to government regulations regarding cost control.
Capital Expenditure
67.              To consolidate on the momentum of the 2017 Budget’s implementation, many ongoing capital projects have been provided for in the 2018 Budget. This is in line with our commitment to appropriately fund ongoing capital projects to completion. By allocating 30.8 percent of the 2018 Budget to capital expenditure, the Federal Government is also demonstrating its strong commitment to investing in critical infrastructure capable of spurring growth and creating jobs in the Nigerian economy.
68.         Key capital spending allocations in the 2018 Budget include:
a.    Power, Works and Housing: N555.88 billion;
b.    Transportation: N263.10 billion;
c.    Special Intervention Programmes: N150.00 billion;
d.    Defence: N145.00 billion;
e.    Agriculture and Rural Development N118.98 billion;
f.     Water Resources: N95.11 billion;
g.    Industry, Trade and Investment: N82.92 billion;
h.    Interior: N63.26 billion;
i.     Education N61.73 billion;
j.     Universal Basic Education Commission: N109.06 billion;
k.    Health: N71.11 billion;
l.     Federal Capital Territory: N40.30 billion;
m.  Zonal Intervention Projects N100.00 billion;
n.    North East Intervention Fund N45.00 billion;
o.    Niger Delta Ministry: N53.89 billion; and
p.    Niger Delta Development Commission: N71.20 billion.
69.         As I had previously indicated, we aim to consolidate on our achievements in 2017. We shall meet our counterpart funding obligations. We shall complete all ongoing projects. And we shall carry forward all strategic projects that were budgeted for but which we were unable to kick start due to liquidity challenges, late passage of the budget, prolonged contractual negotiations, and other matters.
70.         Specifically, I would like to bring your attention to the following key projects and programmes that we are determined to implement in 2018:
a.    N9.8 billion for the Mambilla hydro power project, including N8.5 billion as counterpart funding;
b.    N12 billion counterpart funding for earmarked transmission lines and substations;
c.    N35.41 billion for the National Housing Programme;
d.    N10.00 billion for the 2nd Niger Bridge; and
e.    About  N300 billion for the construction and rehabilitation of the strategic roads mentioned earlier.
Consolidating on the Social Intervention Programme
71.         This Administration remains committed to pursuing a gender-sensitive, pro-poor and inclusive growth. We are keenly interested in catering for the most vulnerable. Accordingly, we have retained the 500 billion Naira allocation to the Social Intervention Programme. Under the programme, 100 billion Naira has been set aside for the Social Housing Programme.
72.         Government will also continue to implement the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme, as well as the National Home-Grown School Feeding programme in 2018. These initiatives are already creating jobs and economic opportunity for local farmers and cooks, providing funding to artisans, traders and youths, as well as supporting small businesses with business education and mentoring.

Regional Spending Priorities for Peace, Security and Development
73.         To maintain peace and security in the Niger Delta for economic and social activities to thrive, the provision of 65 billion Naira for the Presidential Amnesty Programme has been retained in the 2018 Budget. In addition, the capital provision for the Ministry of Niger Delta has been increased to 53.89 billion Naira from the 34.20 billion Naira provided in 2017. This is to further support the development in the region. We will complete all critical projects, including the East-West Road, which has a provision of about 17.32 billion Naira in 2018.
74.         Across the nation, and particularly in the North East region, our commitment to the security of life and property remains absolute. We will ensure that our gallant men and women in arms are properly equipped and well-motivated. The result of our efforts is evident in the gradual return to normalcy in the North East. It is in this spirit that I recently assented to the North-East Development Commission Bill that was passed by this Distinguished House. We expect that this development will consolidate on our ongoing efforts to combat insurgency, reintegrate Internally Displaced Persons and rebuild communities in the North East Region, which have been adversely affected by the insurgency.
75.         Similar attention is being given to efforts to reduce violent crime across the country. The Nigerian Army was recently deployed to combat the growing scourges of cattle rustling and banditry that have plagued our communities in Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, Katsina and Zamfara States. We will also continue to arrest the incidence of Armed Robbery, Kidnapping and other Violent Crimes across our nation.
76.         We have also increased our focus on cyber-crimes and the abuse of technology through hate speech and other divisive material that is being propagated on social media. Whilst we uphold the Constitutional rights of our people to freedom of expression and association, where the purported exercise of these rights infringes on the liberties of other citizens or threatens to undermine our National Security, we will take firm and decisive action.
77.         In this regard, I reiterate my call for Nigerians to exercise restraint, tolerance and mutual respect in airing any grievances and frustrations. Whilst the ongoing national discourse on various political issues is healthy and welcome, we must not forget the lessons of our past. I trust that the vast majority of our people would rather tread the path of peace and prosperity, as we continue to uphold and cherish our Unity in Diversity.

CONCLUSION
78.              Distinguished and Honourable Members of the National Assembly, you will recall that in my 2017 Budget Speech, I promised a new era for Nigeria and an end to the old ways of overdependence on oil revenues. The statistics and initiatives I mentioned clearly show that this new era has come and the old Nigeria is surely disappearing. We must, therefore, all work together to protect and sustain this CHANGE to create a new Nigeria:
a.      A Nigeria that feeds itself;
b.      A Nigeria that optimally utilizes its resources;
c.       A Nigeria with a diversified, sustainable and inclusive economy.
79.         Mr. Senate President, Mr. Speaker, Distinguished and Honourable Members of the National Assembly, this speech would be incomplete without commending the immense, patriotic and collaborative support of the National Assembly in the effort to move our great nation forward. I wish to assure you of the strong commitment of the Executive branch to deepen the relationship with the Legislature.
80.         Nigeria is currently emerging from a very difficult economic period. If we all cooperate, and support one another, we can consolidate on our exit from the recession and firmly position Nigeria for economic prosperity. All the projects presented within this Budget have been carefully selected and subjected to extensive consultations and stakeholder engagements. As a Government, we are determined to bring succour to our people, improve their lives, and deliver on our promises to them. 2018 is a crucial year as we strive to ensure that we consolidate our successes and institutionalize the policies and practices that drove this turnaround.
81.         I appeal to you to swiftly consider and pass the 2018 Appropriation Bill.
82.         It is therefore with great pleasure and a deep sense of responsibility, that I lay before this Distinguished Joint Session of the National Assembly, the 2018 Budget Proposals of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
83.         I thank you most sincerely for your attention.
84.         May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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COVID-19: Nigeria’s Response Must Be Guided, Professional -Buhari

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Fellow Nigerians, from the first signs that Coronavirus, or COVID-19 was turning into an epidemic and was officially declared a world-wide emergency, the Federal Government started planning preventive, containment and curative measures in the event the disease hits Nigeria.
The whole instruments of government are now mobilized to confront what has now become both a health emergency and an economic crisis.
Nigeria, unfortunately, confirmed its first case on 27th February 2020. Since then, we have seen the number of confirmed cases rise slowly.
By the morning of March 29th, 2020, the total confirmed cases within Nigeria had risen to ninety-seven.
Regrettably, we also had our first fatality, a former employee of PPMC, who died on 23rd March 2020. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this very difficult time. We also pray for quick recovery for those infected and undergoing treatment.
As of today, COVID-19 has no cure. Scientists around the world are working very hard to develop a vaccine.
We are in touch with these institutions as they work towards a solution that will be certified by international and local medical authorities within the shortest possible time.
For now, the best and most efficient way to avoid getting infected is through regular hygienic and sanitary practices as well as social distancing.
As individuals, we remain the greatest weapon to fight this pandemic. By washing our hands regularly with clean water and soap, disinfecting frequently used surfaces and areas, coughing into a tissue or elbow and strictly adhering to infection prevention control measures in health facilities, we can contain this virus.
Since the outbreak was reported in China, our Government has been monitoring the situation closely and studying the various responses adopted by other countries.
Indeed, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) was one of ten global health leaders invited by the World Health Organisation to visit China and understudy their response approach. I am personally very proud of Dr Ihekweazu for doing this on behalf of all Nigerians.
Since his return, the NCDC has been implementing numerous strategies and programs in Nigeria to ensure that the adverse impact of this virus on our country is minimized. We ask all Nigerians to support the work the Federal Ministry of Health and NCDC are doing, led by the Presidential Task Force.
Although we have adopted strategies used globally, our implementation programs have been tailored to reflect our local realities.
In Nigeria, we are taking a two step approach.
First, to protect the lives of our fellow Nigerians and residents living here and second, to preserve the livelihoods of workers and business owners to ensure their families get through this very difficult time in dignity and with hope and peace of mind.
To date, we have introduced healthcare measures, border security, fiscal and monetary policies in our response. We shall continue to do so as the situation unfolds.
Some of these measures will surely cause major inconveniences to many citizens. But these are sacrifices we should all be willing and ready to make for the greater good of our country.
In Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19, there is no such thing as an overreaction or an under reaction. It is all about the right reaction by the right agencies and trained experts.
Accordingly, as a Government, we will continue to rely on guidance of our medical professionals and experts at the Ministry of Health, NCDC and other relevant agencies through this difficult time.
I therefore urge all citizens to adhere to their guidelines as they are released from time to time.
As we are all aware, Lagos and Abuja have the majority of confirmed cases in Nigeria. Our focus therefore remains to urgently and drastically contain these cases, and to support other states and regions in the best way we can.
This is why we provided an initial intervention of fifteen billion Naira (N15b) to support the national response as we fight to contain and control the spread.
We also created a Presidential Task Force (PTF) to develop a workable National Response Strategy that is being reviewed on a daily basis as the requirements change. This strategy takes international best practices but adopts them to suit our unique local circumstances.
Our goal is to ensure all States have the right support and manpower to respond immediately.
So far, in Lagos and Abuja, we have recruited hundreds of ad-hoc staff to man our call centers and support our tracing and testing efforts.
I also requested, through the Nigeria Governors Forum, for all State Governments to nominate Doctors and Nurses who will be trained by the NCDC and Lagos State Government on tactical and operational response to the virus in case it spreads to other states.
This training will also include medical representatives from our armed forces, paramilitary and security and intelligence agencies.
As a nation, our response must be guided, systematic and professional. There is a need for consistency across the nation. All inconsistencies in policy guidelines between Federal and State agencies will be eliminated.
As I mentioned earlier, as at this morning we had ninety-seven confirmed cases. Majority of these are in Lagos and Abuja. All the confirmed cases are getting the necessary medical care.
Our agencies are currently working hard to identify cases and people these patients have been in contact with.

The few confirmed cases outside Lagos and Abuja are linked to persons who have travelled from these centres.
We are therefore working to ensure such inter state and intercity movements are restricted to prevent further spread.
Based on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, I am directing the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11pm on Monday, 30th March 2020. This restriction will also apply to Ogun State due to its close proximity to Lagos and the high traffic between the two States.
All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period.
The Governors of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Minister of the FCT have been notified. Furthermore, heads of security and intelligence agencies have also been briefed.
We will use this containment period to identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases. We will ensure the treatment of confirmed cases while restricting further spread to other States.
This order does not apply to hospitals and all related medical establishments as well as organizations in health care related manufacturing and distribution.
Furthermore, commercial establishments  such as;
food processing, distribution and retail companies;
petroleum distribution and retail entities,
power generation, transmission and distribution companies; and
private security companies are also exempted.
Although these establishments are exempted, access will be restricted and monitored.
Workers in telecommunication companies, broadcasters, print and electronic media staff who can prove they are unable to work from home are also exempted.
All seaports in Lagos shall remain operational in accordance with the guidelines I issued earlier. Vehicles and drivers conveying essential cargoes from these Ports to other parts of the country will be screened thoroughly before departure by the Ports Health Authority.
Furthermore, all vehicles conveying food and other essential humanitarian items into these locations from other parts of the country will also be screened thoroughly before they are allowed to enter these restricted areas.
Accordingly, the Hon. Minister of Health is hereby directed to redeploy all Port Health Authority employees previously stationed in the Lagos and Abuja Airports to key roads that serve as entry and exit points to these restricted zones.
Movements of all passenger aircraft, both commercial and private jets, are hereby suspended. Special permits will be issued on a needs basis.
We are fully aware that such measures will cause much hardship and inconvenience to many citizens. But this is a matter of life and death, if we look at the dreadful daily toll of deaths in Italy, France and Spain.
However, we must all see this as our national and patriotic duty to control and contain the spread of this virus. I will therefore ask all of us affected by this order to put aside our personal comfort to safeguard ourselves and fellow human beings. This common enemy can only be controlled if we all come together and obey scientific and medical advice.
As we remain ready to enforce these measures, we should see this as our individual contribution in the war against COVID-19. Many other countries have taken far stricter measures in a bid to control the spread of the virus with positive results.
For residents of satellite and commuter towns and communities around Lagos and Abuja whose livelihoods will surely be affected by some of these restrictive measures, we shall deploy relief materials to ease their pains in the coming weeks.
Furthermore, although schools are closed, I have instructed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to work with State Governments in developing a strategy on how to sustain the school feeding program during this period without compromising our social distancing policies. The Minister will be contacting the affected States and agree on detailed next steps.
Furthermore, I have directed that a three month repayment moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans be implemented with immediate effect.
I have also directed that a similar moratorium be given to all Federal Government funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.
For on-lending facilities using capital from international and multilateral development partners, I have directed our development financial institutions to engage these development partners and negotiate concessions to ease the pains of the borrowers.
For the most vulnerable in our society, I have directed that the conditional cash transfers for the next two months be paid immediately. Our Internally displaced persons will also receive two months of food rations in the coming weeks.
We also call on all Nigerians to take personal responsibility to support those who are vulnerable within their communities, helping them with whatever they may need.
As we all pray for the best possible outcome, we shall continue planning for all eventualities.
This is why I directed that all Federal Government Stadia, Pilgrims camps and other facilities be converted to isolation centers and makeshift hospitals.
My fellow Nigerians, as a Government, we will avail all necessary resources to support the response and recovery. We remain committed to do whatever it takes to confront COVID-19 in our country.
We are very grateful to see the emerging support of the private sector and individuals to the response as well as our development partners.
At this point, I will ask that all contributions and donations be coordinated and centralized to ensure efficient and impactful spending. The Presidential Task Force remains the central coordinating body on the COVID-19 response.
I want to assure you all that Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with a role to play in the outbreak response are working hard to bring this virus under control.
Every nation in the world is challenged at this time. But we have seen countries where citizens have come together to reduce the spread of the virus.
I will therefore implore you again to strictly comply with the guidelines issued and also do your bit to support Government and the most vulnerable in your communities.
I will take this opportunity to thank all our public health workforce, health care workers, port health authorities and other essential staff on the frontlines of the response for their dedication and commitment. You are true heroes.
I thank you all for listening. May God continue to bless and protect us all.

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Promotion Of Security: The Birth Of Operation Sting

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One of the key areas that the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has performed exceptionally is the promotion of security of lives and property. Though the state is yet to reach the desired point, marked improvement has been experienced by Rivers people.
At the commencement of his second term, Governor Wike initiated a comprehensive security platform to address the security challenges facing different parts of the state. This was a product of careful planning and implementation.
Right in the presence of all key stakeholders of the state at Sharks Stadium in Port Harcourt on Friday, 26 July, 2019, Governor Wike made a major move to improve the security of lives and property across the State. He launched a new Rivers State Security outfit code-named Operation Sting.
Operation Sting is an outfit that involves all the security agencies, working in unison to address security concerns in all parts of the state.
Operation Sting is fully funded by the Rivers State Government with the aim of tackling criminal elements and reducing crime and criminality in all parts of the state.
He said “OPERATION STING” is, therefore, our own specialized and dedicated security initiative anchored on an integrated and complementary approach, fully funded by the Rivers State Government to effectively tackle both the sources and drivers of insecurity in their diverse criminal manifestations and operations and nip them in their buds or rout and root them out of existence.
“Under Operation Sting we have taken concrete steps to strengthen the logistics and operational capability of the civil and armed security forces”.)
Governor Wike said to ensure that the new security outfit responds effectively across the state, his administration provided the right logistics and equipment.
“76 patrol/operational vehicles fitted with communication gadgets; 8 armoured fitted gunboats, to tighten coastal security and protect our waterways from the activities of criminals; 2 Armoured Personnel Carriers for Police swift responses actions; 450 hand-held mobile radios to enhance communication among the security operatives and overcome the current wide gaps in intelligence gathering”.)
The Governor said that the State Government has established operational bases in all the 23 Local Government Areas to strengthen the command and control structures of the initiative and ensure effective coordination and synergy between the State headquarters, the local government areas and the communities to achieve the common objectives of providing comprehensive security cover for the our State.
He said: “To achieve quick, timely and effective response we have established 30 toll free emergency call centres with capacity to support and transmit 30 concurrent calls from the public during distress situations and or during ongoing criminal activities in or around our neighbourhoods”.
Governor Wike said the operationalisation of Operation Sting across the State is also expected to increase citizens’ awareness and make the public to be more alive to the dangers of insecurity and their responsibility to be part of the present crusade to stamp this menace out from the State.
While appreciating the officers and men who will participate in the new security architecture, the governor said that the State Government has set up a fund to cater for their families, should they suffer any mishap in the course of service.
He acknowledged that the state has faced major security challenges in the area of kidnapping, cultism, armed robbery and community conflicts. He said that the state is not yet as peaceful as the administration desires, hence the renewed effort to stamp criminality.
He said: “It is this spirit that has led us to come to terms with the fact that insecurity, irrespective of the level of manifestation, whether big or small, violent or otherwise, is an insidious threat to our individual and collective development and prosperity.
”This being so, it has become rather compelling for us to bring all elements of State power, Federal, State and Local, to bear against every security threat to our State, our persons and our property, including those posed by pastoral conflicts and kidnappers, in order to create and sustain the right social environment to drive our development.”
Governor Wike specifically assured riverine communities that his administration will ensure their safety. He said that Operation Sting has been mandated to work on security in the waterways.
Speaking during the launch of Operation Sting, the former Garrison Commander of 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Adeola Kalejaiye, said that the armed forces will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the security of lives and property in Rivers State.
He said that Operation Sting will act on all credible information from members of the public to ensure that any form of insecurity is handled.
Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura said that the objective of Operation Sting is to get rid of criminals and reduce crime to the barest minimum.
The Commissioner of Police assured Rivers people that the logistics provided by Governor Wike would be used to fight insecurity in the state. He said in the next one month, the improvement of security will be noticed.
Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, said that Operation Sting is an initiative of Governor Wike to promote security in the state. He said Operation Sting is another strategy by the Rivers State Governor to enhance the security of Rivers people.
Chairman of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and Amanyanabo of Opobo, King Douglas Dandeson Jaja, expressed happiness that Governor Wike has always given priority to the security of lives and property.
In separate interviews, stakeholders commended the Rivers State Governor for his commitment to the security of lives and property in the State.
Selected mobile policemen engaged in drills to highlight their preparedness to tackle security challenges in the state.
On 8th August, 2019, Governor Wike further strengthened the structure and responsiveness of Operation Sting.
The Governor handed over 40 patrol vans fitted with communication gadgets to Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), See 4 Eye, Police Anti-Kidnapping, Police Anti-Cultism, Federal Road Safety Corps and Eagle Crime at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
Speaking during the presentation, Governor Wike declared that the State Government is fully prepared to tackle insecurity and will do everything required to protect lives and property.
“Rivers State Government is fully prepared and will do everything required to protect lives and property. Without the protection of lives and property, there will be no governance and development.
“We are one State that has suffered neglect from the Federal Government in terms of support to fight insecurity. They have refused to pay back funds that we used in constructing Federal Projects. But that will not stop us from intervening when the need arises”, he said.
The Governor said that he resolved to increase the support to the security agencies because of the successes recorded by Operation Sting.
Governor Wike also declared that the State Government proscribed all Youth Groups operating in the state because they have been hijacked by cultists.
He regretted that cultists have taken over youth groups across the State, necessitating the State Government to proscribe all Youth Groups.
He said: “Anybody operating under a youth body henceforth will be arrested by security agencies. Before you contest for any youth body’s leadership, you must send the names to the DSS and Police for screening. If they are cultists, we will not allow them to operate.”
Governor Wike said that the vehicles and gunboats donated to the security agencies must be deployed to secure Rivers State.
He announced that the Rivers State Government will establish a Trust Fund to cater for the families of policemen who lose their lives while fighting crime.
In his remarks, the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura said the security agencies will use the new security vans to tackle criminals across the state.
He said since the inauguration of Operation Sting, there has been improvement in the security of lives and property in the state. He said that security agencies will continue to dislodge criminals in all parts of the state.
The security outfit has ensured the promotion of peace in the state. Prior to the launch, the Emohua and Ogoni axis of the East West Road use to be flashpoints for kidnapping and armed robbery. That has been addressed. There are similar success stories in different parts of the State.
With improved security, law abiding citizens are carrying out their legitimate businesses, while the overall economy of the state has received a boost. Very importantly, the State Government is carrying out its constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property.
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.

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PH Pleasure Park: Nigeria’s Excellent Tourist Destination

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The Port Harcourt Pleasure Park is the gift of Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, to the nation’s tourism sector. Its popularity is growing by the day.
Daily, tourists from across Nigeria especially the Niger Delta troop to the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park to enjoy the serene environment and first-class security network.
This is Nigeria’s undisputed international tourism destination. This is Governor Wike’s initiative to conserve foreign exchange for the country and attract visitors from across the world to Rivers State.
The project was flagged off as part of the first year anniversary of the Wike administration. Since then, the project site has transformed from the neglected ”construction site borrow pit” to an international leisure centre.
Built by Julius Berger, the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park exudes beauty and serenity. It has a climbing tower, beautifully designed natural lake, sporting facilities, two five-aside football fields, Mini Golf Course, intercontinental restaurants, kids play centres and mobile gyms.
Commissioning the project, former Rivers State Governor, Dr Peter Odili said that the people of Rivers State are proud of the accomplishments of Governor Wike.
He praised the governor for delivering a world class international park which will make the state a prime destination.
The former Governor prayed God to grant all the aspirations of Governor Wike for living up to the expectations of the people.
“I have travelled to at least 26 countries, I have never seen anything like this. God will ensure that all your aspirations are realised “, Dr Peter Odili said.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike announced that his administration will continue to expand facilities at the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park.
He said that the park will attract tourists to the state and also generate revenue for its maintenance.
PORT HARCOURT PLEASURE PARK CINEMA
To make the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park more attractive, the Rivers State Governor developed a modern world-class cinema within the facility.
The 250-person capacity cinema is divided into three sections. The cinema has standard walls, lighting effects and sound proof .
The project was designed to give the people maximum comfort . The Port Harcourt Pleasure Park Cinema has come on stream following the commissioning of the project as part of the first 100 days of the second term of Governor Wike.
Speaking during the commissioning of the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park Cinema, Governor Wike urged Rivers people to patronise the entertainment industry in the state for the growth of Rivers economy.
He said that Rivers people should expand their funds on relaxation and entertainment facilities in the state capital.
Governor Wike said: “This time, there is no need to travel to Dubai, United States or United Kingdom to relax or be entertained.
“We now have such facilities here in Port Harcourt. We have provided entertainment facilities to stop our people from travelling out for that purpose. Spend your money in our State. There is no need for you to go to Abuja “.
The Governor said that the new Cinema though built by the Rivers State Government, would be administered by a private investor for sustenance.
He added that high level security have been provided in and around the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park to protect the serene and beautiful facility.
He assured that the Rivers State Government will continue to work to satisfy Rivers people and create the right environment for them to live comfortably.
Governor Wike reiterated that the leadership of the State will not succumb to blackmail and negative propaganda.
Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Mr Solomon Eke, commended Governor Wike for executing key projects in the area.
He said the people of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area will continue to support Governor Wike. He said they exhibited their love for the Governor by the way they defended their votes during the 2019 elections.
THE KING OF CASTLES AND RANGE PAINTBALL AND AMUSEMENT INC
The 170 meters long inflatable bouncing castle is a multi-columned obstacle course that has found a home at the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park.
With this addition to the growing features of the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park, children now have much more fun and excitement when they visit the Park. The King of Castles is noted for, among others, building the physical and intellectual ability of children. Plus the fact that it is engaging and offers super fun.
There is also the Alpha Range Paintball & Amusement Inc at the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park. This is also handled by the managers of the King of Castles.
Since 2017 when the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park was commissioned, it has become a major point of relaxation and fun, especially during festivities such as Christmas, Easter and New Year celebrations.
Nwakaudu is the Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.

 

Simeon Nwakaudu

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