Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo yesterday, revealed that Nigeria was looking up to America and other countries of the world for a loan of up to $140 billion to tackle the infrastructure decay in the country.
Osinbajo said this is after the present government has spent up to N3.5 trillion in the last four years to fix infrastructure decay and still has not scratched the surface.
The Vice President, represented by the Minister of Trade and Investments, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah spoke at the opening ceremony of the trade and investment expo exclusively for Nigeria and America, tagged USA Fair 2019 in Lagos.
He said government was making infrastructure revamping a priority in the next four years, just as it would also try to deploy modern infrastructure within same time frame, for job creation and ease of doing business in the country.
His words: “We are interested in building modern infrastructures. Our president has pointed that if we build infrastructure, Nigerians will do well.
It is the singular most important thing we can do to create jobs. “We spent over N3.5 trillion in the last three years. We are trying to figure out how to raise $140billion that Nigeria needs to catch up with infrastructure deficit over the next four years.
This is what the government is taking a hard look at and thinking of how to partner great countries like America and other nations around the world”.
Osinbajo also stated that partnership with the USA, in this instance is so strategic, considering that the US has remained the largest economy in the world that cannot be ignored by any forward looking economy.
He added that “Nigeria also remained the largest economy in Africa and one that the USA cannot also ignore. So we both have responsibility to work together for the greater good of not just our two countries but the world at large.
“We are committed to nurturing and building this relationship. We want the best for both countries. This is the reason we have worked with our partners in Commercial Department to launch the commercial and investment dialogue.
“This is a high level engagement to our government and businesses for both Nigeria and US to eliminate critical hindrances to bilateral trade and investment.
“Last year, there was over 90 billion worth of investment interest to Nigeria. This year, we need to exceed that because we need a steady growth in investors’ confidence but this investor confidence must be converted. We are seeing some good signs, like Jumia listing on New York exchange, MTN on the Nigeria Stock Exchange and Microsoft announcing plans to launch a development centre in Lagos. While all these are refreshing, we don’t think we are near our potential at all; we really need more, that is why this Fair is important and I have to tell you that we are extremely hungry to achieve more for the people”.
Meanwhile, the US Ambassador, Mr. Stuart Symington, said the American and Nigerian economies have much in common, including an intense entrepreneurial drive, a firm commitment to free market principles and a clear vision for doing well by doing good.
He said: “USA Fair 2019 is a prime opportunity to celebrate these mutual ideals and to drive both our economies forward through increasing trade and investment that have already put more people to work in both nations.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma yesterday said the Muhammadu Buhari administration disbursed a total of N4.33 trillion to execute its capital projects for 2016, 2017 and 2018.
At a valedictory press conference in Abuja, Udoma said “Ministry of Finance was able to release, for capital spending, the sum of N1.2 trillion under the 2016 budget, the sum of N1.58 trillion under the 2017 budget and, as at 8th May 2019 the sum of N1.55 trillion has been released under the 2018 budget.”
“We increased budgetary allocations to capital expenditure – from 16.1% in 2015 to 30.2% in 2016, 31.7% in 2017, 315% in 2018 and 26% in 2019- with priority given to the key execution priorities of the Economic Recovery Growth Plan, ERGP. We were also able to increase our capital releases,” Udoma said.
The Minister, regrettably during question and answer with the reporters admitted that the projection of growing economy by 7% a forecast of ERGP by 2020 is threatened and seems unrealisable.
He explained that the administration was unable to achieve the January to December budget cycle due to the absence of harmony between the executive and legislative arms of government.
While insisting that there was no legal requirement for the budget year to run from January to December, he, however, admitted January to December fiscal year is more predictable and would help the private sector and other economic players in planning because most economic players run a January to December fiscal year.
“Also, it would be much easier to track budget performance if both the recurrent and the capital budgets run from the same dates.
“However, to return to the January to December fiscal year for a budget when the operation of the current budget only commenced in June or July is a very challenging assignment.
“In order to achieve a return to a 1st of January commencement date the budget must ideally be delivered to the National Assembly by September.
“But when you are operating a budget which commenced only in June, or July, by September you would have had no idea how the existing budget is likely to perform.
“Indeed, given the procurement process, for a budget which starts running in June or July, there might have been little or no capital releases by September.
“In short, the only way to return to a January to December fiscal year, under those circumstances, is for there to be agreement between the Executive and the National Assembly to produce a budget on the basis of significant assumptions.
“This will require a very close working relationship of trust and synergy between the two arms of government.”
On the Social Investment Program ( SIP), the Minister said “as at March 2019, 1,707,932 loans been successfully disbursed under the Government Enterprise & Empowerment Programme (GEEP), with 1,374,192 of the loans given under the TraderMoni scheme; while 330,568 loans were for MarketMoni and 1,172 for FarmerMoni; over 9.5 million school children are currently being fed each day in 52,604 schools across 30 states under the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme.
“This programme has also provided direct jobs to 101,913 catering staff engaged under the scheme; 297,973 poor Nigerians across 20 States, have benefited from the N5,000 Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme and 3,517 community facilitators have been trained; 500,000 graduates are benefiting from the N-Power programme and are paid N30,000 monthly; while 20,000 non-graduates in the N-Build category are either currently in training or serving as intern,” Udoma explained.
In another development,the Federal Government has approved the establishment of a Secondary Education Commission to oversee the operations of secondary schools in the country.
Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah, who made the disclosure in Abuja, yesterday, at a valedictory news conference, said President Muhammadu Buhari recently gave approval for the establishment of the commission.
He also said that the Federal Government also reviewed downwards the charges in Unity Colleges from N83,000 to N49,500.
The minister said the government had pegged PTA levy at N5,000 across the board, thereby ending arbitrary charges of N75,000, which nearly inhibited access to unity colleges.
According to Anwukah, unity schools in Nigeria will remain as long as the Buhari administration is in power.
‘‘Having taken this position, we embarked upon the rehabilitation of unity colleges in all the ramifications required.
“The Buhari administration had spent a total of N7billion on the provision of security infrastructure in the last four years.
‘‘Against the backdrop of insecurity in the North-East, affected by ‘Boko Haram’ as well as incidents of kidnapping in parts of the country, the Federal Government decided to provide basic security facilities in all unity schools,’’ he said.
On the development of infrastructure, Anwukah said that the government had embarked on the construction and rehabilitation of classrooms, hostels, laboratories, among others.
‘‘In spite of the economic downturn, we have done well in terms of investment in capital expenditure.
‘‘In terms of improving funding for the education sector, I am optimistic that the Federal Government will expeditiously look into the recommendations we have made in that respect.’’
The minister emphasised that if education could be adequately funded, the country would be able to compete with the world in the area of global knowledge.
RIVERS Approves Review Of 2020 Budget
COVID-19 Decisions Are Taken By State Security Council – Governor Wike
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has stated that the State Security Council takes all decisions in the prosecution of the COVID-19 pandemic in the State.
Governor Wike who stated this on Tuesday when the Executive of the Nigeria Hotel Association, Rivers State Chapter paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt pointed out that he has never taken any unilateral decision.
The State Chief Executive noted that all decisions taken by the State Government are for the overall good and interest of the Rivers people as no right thinking government would deliberately take decisions that would negatively affect the lives of the people.
“I don’t take decisions alone in the fight against COVID-19. All decisions are taken by the State Security Council and they are for the overall interest of Rivers people.
” You know people applaud government decisions when it suits them but when it does not favour them they say it is politically motivated.
“Rivers State Government does not have anything against hoteliers in the state, but decided to shutdown their activities because some cases of COVID-19 were recorded in hotels,” he stated.
Governor Wike also blamed the hoteliers for failing to assist government in providing relevant information regarding those that test positive of the coronavirus in their hotels.
According to him, adequate information would have helped the State Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies to carry out proper contact tracing.
“Its not possible that the State Government will intentionally close down hotels. But what I see is that people play politics with everything.
“The demolition of Prodest Hotel and Etemeteh Hotel in Eleme Local Government Area by the State Government became necessary because the owners failed to comply with Executive Order 7,” he said.
The State Chief Executive stated that he is more pained than any other person in the state that churches and mosques are not holding their full religious activities because of COVID-19.
“I can’t believe that I will be sitting here as a Governor and take a painful decision that will make churches and mosques not to hold full religious activities, ” he said.
The Governor lauded members of the State Chapter of Nigeria Hotel Association for identifying with government efforts in the fight against COVID- 19.
Earlier, the State Chairman, Nigeria Hotel Association, Mr. Eugene Nwauzi commended Governor Wike for leading the fight against coronavirus in the country.
Mr. Nwauzi noted that but for the efforts put in place by the Governor, the spread of COVID-19 would have taken a dangerous dimension in the state.
RSG Cancels Lockdown Of Obio/Akpor, Port Harcourt Local Government
? Imposes state-wide curfew 8p.m to 6a.m from June 2, 2020 till further notice
? Uncovers plan by one Bobosky to instigate violence in 6 LGAs
? Investigating alleged outbreak of coronavirus in Bonny LGA
Rivers State Government has cancelled the proposed lockdown of Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas scheduled to resume tomorrow.
Governor Nyesom Wike who stated this in a state-wide broadcast also announced the imposition of 8p.m to 6am curfew in the 23 Local Government Areas of the State with effect from June 2,2020 till further notice.
The Governor also revealed that government has uncovered plans by some criminal elements led by one Bobosky to cause security breaches in Khana, Eleme,Gokana, Tai, Oyigbo and Ikwerre Local Government Areas.
“After a comprehensive review of the measures taken and further considerations placed before us by well-meaning members of the public, the State Security Council has decided to cancel the proposed lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas of the State.
“In essence, no part of Rivers State is or will be under any lockdown from this moment and this will be so, except where it becomes necessary again.
“As we all know, the regular washing of hands, religious wearing of face masks, keeping effective physical and social distance of between 1.5 to 2 meters from other people, completely avoiding touching of faces with unwashed hands, and cleaning of surfaces we regularly touch have been identified as some of the most effective measures against contracting this virus in the absence of vaccine, ” he said.
According to the Governor, government would re-enforce the decisions on the continuous implementation of the following measures throughout the State:
(i) All land borders, including all exit and entry routes into Rivers State shall remain closed to human and vehicular traffic, except those on essential services and duly exempted.
(ii) All residents must wear face masks or covering into any public space, including our roads, banks, shopping malls, shops, hotels and in any lawful social gathering.
(iii) The State task force and the security agencies have been directed to arrest and summarily prosecute any person seen on our streets or any other public place without wearing face masks.
(iv) All banks, motor parks, hotels, restaurants, shops, business centres, shopping malls, and offices must maintain social distancing and enforce the wearing of face masks in their premises.
(v) The State task force and security agencies have been directed to seal up, prosecute and confiscate to the State any bank, shopping mall, restaurant, shop, business place or office that fails to enforce social distancing and the wearing of face masks in its premises.
(vi) In addition to providing daily guest list to the Police and the Department of State Security, hoteliers must not host large gatherings, including parties and receptions. Defaulting hotels will be sealed-up and the owners summarily prosecuted.
(vii) All bars, beer palours, or drinking joints, night-clubs, viewing centres, open markets and cinemas shall remain closed until further notice;
(viii) Oil mill market in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area shall remain closed until further notice;
(ix) Oginigba Slaughter market in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area shall similarly remain closed until further notice.
(x) Mbiama market in Ahoada West Local Government Area shall also remain closed until further notice;
(xi) All public weddings, burials and large social gatherings shall remain banned.
(xii) Churches and other religious gatherings should continue to comply with the existing advisory on social distancing, initiate temperature checks and enforce the wearing of face masks during their activities;
(xiii) Dealers in Ikoku Spare Parts markets are warned for the last time to stop converting public roads to mechanic workshops or risk final closure.
(xiv) Similarly, no mechanic workshop should be found along Ikwerre road as Government will prosecute defaulters and confiscate any vehicle being repaired on any public road.
(xv) Private and commercial vehicles, including tricycles must continue to limit their passengers to the number earlier established and enforce the wearing of face masks by all passengers. Defaulters will be prosecuted and their vehicles confiscated by the Task force.
These measures, he said, are in the best interest of our State, to protect our lives, businesses, and jobs as well as, to prevent our troubled economy from suffering irreparable damage.
“This also means that, residents now bear much greater responsibility to stop and prevent our State from suffering the exponential and potentially devastating spread of the virus being experienced across the
“As 60% of the positive cases recorded in the State are connected with oil company workers, we have initiated a meeting with all the major oil companies to work out strategies on how we can stop this trend and stop the risk this category of workers now pose to the State.
“Government is also investigating the rumored or suspected outbreak of the coronavirus at Bonny Island.
“Our team of medical personnel led by the Commissioner for Health has visited Bonny Island and collected samples from suspected cases for analysis and immediate intervention should the results indicate the outbreak of the virus in the area, “the governor said.
The State Chief Executive also revealed that intelligence has intercepted a clandestine plan by some criminal elements led by Bobosky to cause security breaches in the State by instigating violence and burning down churches in Khana, Eleme, Gokana, Tai and Oyigbo Local Government Areas of the State.
He assured all residents that the State Government is fully ready and prepared to deal with the situation and continue to guarantee the protection of lives and property throughout the State.
The Governor implored all residents to be vigilant and report all suspicious characters and movements in their neighbourhoods to security agencies.
“Leaders and vigilante groups in our communities are to work with the security agencies to enforce curfew in their localities and arrest and prosecute anyone that violates the curfew order.
“We urge our people to stop the fake news on social media; stop the baseless bickering, the needless blame game, and the seditious rumours that does no good to our image or provide any solution to the common challenges that we face.
“Rather, we should all come together, put our fate in our own hands and work for the common good of all, whether as individuals, families or as communities,” he stated.
The Governor commended all health workers who have continued to put their lives at risk in the forefront in the battle against COVID-19.
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