‘We Just Have To Take Loans’, Buhari Justifies Borrowing To Fund Infrastructure

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday justified government borrowing to finance infrastructure, asserting that his government took loans in the interest of the country to solve the dire shortfall in infrastructure.

Speaking at a virtual meeting with members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) at the State House, in Abuja, President Buhari said the country must fix its roads to save lives from soaring road accidents.

“We have so many challenges with infrastructure. We just have to take loans to do roads, rail and power, so that investors will find us attractive and come here to put their money,” the President said after listening to a presentation by PEAC chaired by Professor Ayo Salami.

He regretted that the failure to provide the infrastructure for effective transportation deprived the country of its well-deserved status as the West African hub for Air cargo transportation and trans-shipment of goods.

On the issue of the economy, President Buhari noted the challenges posed by the “collapse of the oil market” and the decision of government to abide by the reduced oil production quota allocated by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

“We have to accept that decision; otherwise they (Middle-East producers) can flood the market and make the product unviable. So we have cooperated with what we get. With oil, we are in a difficult situation. The politics of oil is that the less you produce, the less you earn,” he said.

President Buhari also stressed the position of agriculture in the government’s scheme to reduce joblessness and poverty.

“For us to bounce back to productivity, especially in agriculture, the unemployed with many of them uneducated had to be persuaded to go into agriculture.

“If we hadn’t gone back to the lands we would have been in trouble by now. That is why we virtually stopped the importation of food thereby saving jobs and foreign exchange.”

The President also broached the issue of COVID-19 pandemic and how it necessitated the recent government policies as they relate to energy (electricity) and fuel.

He said the Federal government took such decisions because it places the country above politics.

“COVID has reduced us to the same level as developed countries.

“We are lucky we went back to the land. We eat what we produce. We are doing our best to secure the country and provide infrastructure for investment to be viable in the country,” he said.

Commending the Chairman and the members of the council for their patriotism and service to the nation, President Buhari pledged to continue to draw from their wisdom, knowledge and experiences as the nation deals with challenging economic times.

Earlier, Prof Salami had in his presentation highlighted the Council’s recommendations on poverty reduction and stimulation of non-debt investment inflows, as promised at their last meeting.

The council recommended steps for the effective implementation of government’s plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, as well as measures to curb poverty disparity in Nigeria.

The council promised to set out a full policy paper that would, in the first instance, stop more Nigerians from falling into poverty and thereafter, further plans on reducing the poverty headcount in the country.

The PEAC also outlined a number of measures aimed at aggressively increasing the country’s non-debt investment inflow, including measures to improve investor perception of the country and the proposed establishment of a 5 billion – 10 billion dollars investment and growth fund to invest in.

The PEAC used the opportunity of the meeting to express support and solidarity with the administration on its recent policies.

It listed the implementation of reforms encapsulated in the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 recently signed into law, the reforms in the energy sector, bringing electricity and fuel prices in line with the market, and the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria to merge the exchange rate of the naira versus other foreign currencies.

Nothing Bad In Borrowing For Infrastructure – Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, spoke to reporters on August 15, 2020, during an inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, spoke to reporters on August 15, 2020, during an inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.

 

Minister of Information and Culture on Saturday said there is nothing bad in borrowing for infrastructure.

Mohammed made the remarks during an inspection tour of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.

“We didn’t borrow money for services,” he said. “We didn’t borrow money for overhead expenditure. We borrowed money for capital projects – rail, road, bridges, power, general infrastructure.

READ ALSO: Allow Us Complete $5.3bn Loan From China: Amaechi Appeals To NASS

“There is nothing bad in borrowing, provided that borrowing is invested in infrastructure, especially when it will create jobs, create an enabling environment for the economy.”

The Minister added that he was impressed with the Lagos-Ibadan rail project.

“I am very excited,” he said. “When I got into the train this morning, it was as clean and modern as any coach anywhere in the world.

“I was also quite impressed with the passion of the Honourable Minister (of Transportation). You can see that every point in time, he is pushing the contractors, saying ‘look, I can’t wait till October, I will come back in four weeks’ time,’ because we want to be able to deliver this kind of infrastructure to Nigerians.”

New Abacha Loot To Fund Three Infrastructure Projects

General Sani Abacha was a Nigerian military Head of State in the 1990s
General Sani Abacha was a Nigerian military Head of State in the 1990s

 

The Federal Government is set to use the latest recovered loot from the Sani Abacha administration to fund three major infrastructure projects.

The government, on Monday, signed an agreement with the United States of America and the Island of Jersey to repatriate the sum of $318,460,329 looted by General Abacha during his military regime in the 1990s.

READ ALSO: FG Signs Tripartite Agreement To Repatriate $318m Abacha Loot

The funds, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Ferdinand Nwonye, will be used to fund, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Abuja – Kano Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge and will be supervised by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

 

Buhari’s Govt Has Embarked On The Most Massive Infrastructural Renewal – Lai Mohammed

President Muhammadu Buhari at a meeting with APC governors at the State House in Abuja on September 13, 2019.

 

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has praised the Muhammadu Buhari administration for embarking on what he called a massive in massive infrastructural renewal.

In the face of the power situation and condition of roads in the country, he believes the present administration has performed the most in the area of infrastructure than any other government in the history of the nation.

Mr Mohammed was addressing a news conference on Monday in Lagos where he highlighted the government’s achievement in 2019.

“Gentlemen, if there is any area in which this administration has been consistent in terms of development, it is in the area of building and revamping critical infrastructure.

“As we speak, infrastructural projects – roads, rail, power, dams, etc – are ongoing in all the six geo-political zones.  No administration has ever embarked on such a massive infrastructural renewal, more so at a time of dwindling earnings,” he said.

The minister noted that the Nigerian government and Siemens signed an agreement to generate 11,000 MW by 2023.

According to him, the power agreement is to support the activities of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and the 11 distribution companies within the country, including software maintenance and support for four years.

Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, addressing a press conference in Lagos on December 30, 2019. Photo: Twitter- @FMICNigeria

 

 

Mr Mohammed disclosed that the laying of rail tracks on the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge rail line has almost been completed and test run has commenced.

He added that contractors were mobilised to various construction sites across the country to deliver on the road projects

The minister also informed reporters that there were heightened activities on the Lagos-Badagry, Port Harcourt-Enugu and Port Harcourt-Aba, as well as Okene-Auchi Road, among other major roads in the country.

He also explained the rationale behind President Buhari’s request that the National Assembly should grant him permission to secure an external loan.

“In the face of massive infrastructural decay, no responsible government will sit by and do nothing.

“This administration’s borrowing, therefore, is aimed at revamping our infrastructure, including roads, bridges, railways, waterways and power, to help unleash the potential of the nation’s economy,” Mr Mohammed.

He added, “The loans for the educational sector will contribute to the development of our human capital while the loans for the agricultural sector will help the move to diversify the economy.

“The debt service to revenue ratio has, however, been higher than desirable, hence the push by the government to diversify the economy and increase oil and non-oil revenues significantly.”

I Don’t Think Any Nation Is Doing What This Govt Has Done – Fashola

Babatunde Fashola

 

Former Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, says the strides recorded by President Muhammadu Buharis government could hardly be achieved by any other nation.

He stated this during a recent interview at his office in Abuja, the nations capital.

“This government is doing something that I don’t think many if any nation has done before. They are building the entire infrastructure at the same time ports, airports, rail, roads, power, all simultaneously at the same time.

“Often times, what most countries do is to finish one then go to the other. And it is because we have outgrown our infrastructure as a nation. And that is why you will see the commitment of the President to projects like the second Niger bridge, the Igbodo-Ogoni bridge, the Mambilla power plant, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, all of these is going on at the same time,” he stated.

Fashola also reiterated the Presidents commitment to deliver more dividends of democracy to Nigerians to justify his second term mandate that began on May 29.

We Have Placed High Premium For The Provision Of Infrastructural Development – SGF

SGF Boss Mustapha speaks at the commissioning ceremony of operations vehicle at the headquarters of the Federal Road Safety Corps in Abuja on April 12, 2019.

 

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, says the Federal Government has placed the provision of infrastructural development in the country seriously.

Speaking at the commissioning ceremony of the operational vehicles at the headquarters of the Federal Road Safety Corps in Abuja, the SGF explained that the government is increasing its spending on road infrastructure to reduce crashes.

“We have also placed a high premium for the provision of fiscal stimulus for infrastructural development with particular attention to the national road transportation system.

READ ALSO: ‘Let’s Rally Round The President’, Elumelu Urges Nigerians

“Government, therefore, is informed by the acute recognition of the critical place of road transportation in Nigeria’s historical and national life.

“Consequently, the Federal Government designs to invest in all areas designed to promote effective and efficient transportation system,” he stated.

The SGF noted that in 2018 alone, the current administration “constructed and completed an additional 1,513 kilometres of road, several bridges and rehabilitated 1,008 kilometres of roads across the country.”

He believes that the purchase and commissioning of 74 operational vehicles for FRSC will enhance traffic control on the roads, reduce crashes and ease the movement of goods and services across the country.

If PDP Comes To Power, Our Economy Will Crash Again – Amaechi

If PDP Comes To Power, Our Economy Will Crash Again – Amaechi
Mr Rotimi Amaechi (file)

 

The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, says the nation’s economy will crash again if the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is voted back into power.

He made the claim on Sunday while addressing a crowd of supporters at the presidential campaign of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State.

Amaechi called on the residents of the state to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari who is seeking re-election in the coming polls.

“What is critical is that all of us must go out to vote and vote President Buhari because if PDP comes back to power, our economy will crash again,” he stated.

READ ALSO: Atiku Promises To ‘Accelerate Investment, Double Infrastructure’ If Elected President

The minister, who doubles as the Director-General of the Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, asked the PDP to stop spreading what he described as “lies”.

He accused the main opposition party of being responsible for the hunger in the land, alleging that the PDP looted the nation’s treasury.

“We are hungry because PDP stole all our money and the economy crashed under PDP. Naira began to rise rapidly or fall rather against the Dollar under the PDP government,” Amaechi claimed.

“(Former President Olusegun) Obasanjo leftover $58bn in the Excess Crude Account. By the time PDP was handing over, they were handing over only $2.5bn to President Muhammadu Buhari.”

On infrastructure, the Minister revealed that President Buhari had approved the construction of the railway connecting Katsina to Gusau, as well as Sokoto to Kebbi states.

According to him, the project would provide at least 300,000 jobs for the people.

Amaechi also informed the gathering that the current administration has succeeded in banning the importation of foodstuffs like rice and chicken among others, thereby saving billions of naira in the process.

He called on Nigerians to vote for the President in the coming elections, to enable him to continue the work he has started.

Infrastructure: Era Of FG’s Absence In States Is Over, Says Fashola

 

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, says the era in which the presence of the Federal Government is lacking in states is over.

Fashola stated this on Monday during an interview on Channels Television’s Business Morning, while explaining that various constructions are ongoing in all states across the country.

“I can tell you that road construction is going on in all the 36 states of the country. At least, there is one road connecting in one state or the other.

“In some states, there are three, in some states, there are five, in some states, there are eight. What you used to hear before that there is no federal presence in our states, you haven’t heard that lately because if we are not building a road in a state, we are building a house or intervening in a transmission system,” he said.

READ ALSO: Allow Me Concentrate And Fix The Nation’s Infrastructure, Buhari Tells Labour Unions

According to the minister, infrastructure is a crucial investment which successive governments have undertaken since the civil war that ended in 1970.

He, however, reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government in the delivery of infrastructure that will boost the economy and in turn, the wellbeing of Nigerians.

“With the rail coming, with the airports being completed, with the roads coming, you will see as we go down the line competitiveness in pricing and efficiency, manufacturing will pick up, jobs will come. If companies can move goods four times quicker than they used to, they will expand,” he said.

Dangote Hails FG Over New Executive Order Allowing Companies To Build Roads

File Photo

 

Chairman of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has applauded the Federal Government for signing an executive order which now enables private companies to build roads in the country.

Mr Aliko who was a guest lecturer at the National Defense College in Abuja on Monday noted that logistics issues resulting from poor road infrastructure are a major difficulty that companies in Nigeria are grappling with.

According to him, the newly signed executive order will make it possible for private companies to build roads in order to ease the transportation of goods and services from the production point to the market.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday signed the Executive Order 007 allowing private companies to build roads which the government says it will pay back through tax relief.

The President admitted that the initiative had become imperative because funding infrastructure had become a burden which the government alone could no longer bear.

Read the President’s full statement below.

REMARKS BY

His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari

President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

At the Presidential Signing Ceremony Of The

Executive Order #007 Of 2019 on the Road Infrastructure Development & Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme,

In The Council Chambers, State House, Abuja, Friday, 25rd January 2019

PROTOCOLS:

1.           It is my pleasure to welcome you to witness this Ceremony of signing into law of the Executive Order #7 of 2019 on the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme.

2.           This is another opportunity to demonstrate the commitment of this Administration to conceive, design, develop and deliver Public Private Partnerships with notable investors so as to close the road infrastructure gap in the transportation sector.

3.           Since I oversaw the successful implementation of the Petroleum Trust Fund roads development programme in the 1990s, various models have been adopted in addressing this infrastructure gap. In recent years, our reliance on annual budgetary allocations to fund roads development has been disappointing, given that our budget proposals have not always been passed in an expeditious manner by the National Assembly.

4.           There have also been revenue shortfalls that have hampered our efforts to fully fund critical projects. Furthermore, at the inception of this Administration, we met a significant backlog of local contractors’ debts, which we, as a responsible Administration, have undertaken to clear.

5.           We did so with a view to improving the confidence of construction firms in the Federal Government, and to confirm our ability to honour financial commitments for infrastructure projects, as and when due.

6.           Despite these challenges, this Administration remains committed to keeping our promises to deliver qualitative roads and transportation infrastructure to our citizens, communities and businesses. In this regard, we have consistently adopted innovative solutions to complement the annual budgetary spending on infrastructure.

7.           You may recall that on 25th February 2018, I approved the establishment of a Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, through which the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority is investing in critical Roads and Power Projects nationwide such as the 2nd Niger Bridge, Lagos to Ibadan Expressway, East-West Road, Abuja – Kano Road, and the Mambila Hydroelectric Power Project.

8.           To date, N71 billion (Seventy-One Billion Naira) of funding of this N2.5 trillion (Two-point-Five Trillion Naira) initiative, has come from the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Dividend Account, the Federal Budget, as well as counterpart funds from China Exim, China Development Banks, and other development partners.

9.           The N100bn (One Hundred Billion Naira) raised by the Debt Management Office through the Sukuk issuance in September 2017 has been fully deployed by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing for 25 critical economic road projects located across each of the six Geo-political Zones.

10.       Furthermore, in December 2018 we raised an additional N100bn (One Hundred Billion Naira) for funding of another set of 28 road projects also spread across the six Geo-Political Zones. Through these innovative funding mechanisms, we have been able to address the challenges of project funding, cost variation and completion risks that have plagued the development of the nation’s critical roads infrastructure assets.

11.       Today’s event marks another milestone in changing the narrative that has dogged past efforts at developing critical roads infrastructure nationwide. Pursuant to the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, 19 Eligible Road Projects are to be undertaken by 6 leading manufacturing and construction firms, located in 11 States, and in each of the six Geo-political Zones.

12.       Through this Scheme, companies that are willing and able to spend their own funds on constructing roads to their factories or farms, will recover their construction costs by paying reduced taxes, over a period of time. We shall ensure complete transparency in these set-offs.

13.       I call on other local and international investors, as well as the State Governments, to embrace this roads infrastructure development Scheme. I personally invite you to submit viable proposals for more road projects, such that, in time, the scope of this initiative will cover all 36 States of the Federation.

14.       I note the prudent fiscal risk management measures which the Minister of Finance has adopted to protect the integrity of this programme. The Minister has submitted to me, a Fiscal Implications Report that indicates how the programme’s tax credits are to be administered in a manner that does not impair our revenue projections.

15.       The Minister has also laid out a set of revenue enhancement and other fiscal measures, which are targeted to increase revenues over the medium-term horizon pursuant to the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives programme, which she launched here in Abuja, on Wednesday, 23rd January 2019.

16.       I have charged the Minister of Finance to ensure that the Management Committee, which is saddled with the responsibility of implementing this roads infrastructure development Scheme, is promptly inaugurated, so as to enable the swift and smooth take-off of this landmark initiative.

17.       I trust that the members of the Management Committee, under the leadership of the Minister of Finance, as well as the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, will discharge their duties in a diligent, responsible and patriotic way.

18.       In closing, I wish to express my gratitude to the participating Investors for their commitment to working with this Administration to develop and deliver critical roads infrastructure, in key economic hubs and industrial centers. I also thank the 11 State Governors, and their States, for their willingness to participate in the Pilot Phase of this programme.

19.       I also thank Nigerians for the confidence reposed in this Administration’s strategy, under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, to ensure sustainable, inclusive and diversified growth, as well as to guarantee the socio-economic development of the nation.

20.       We trust that as we shortly go to the polls, the Nigerian people will revalidate our mandate to continue to deliver on economic prosperity, national security and good governance, devoid of the bane of corruption.

21.       I thank you most sincerely for your attention.

22.       God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Jerry Gana Asks FG To Decentralise Infrastructure Management

 

The presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Professor Jerry Gana, has called for decentralisation of the management of the nation’s infrastructure.

He said this during an interview on Roadmap 2019, a special political programme which airs Mondays on Channels Television.

Professor Gana stressed that Nigeria’s infrastructure needs cannot be solved unless the processes involved were decentralised by the Federal Government.

READ ALSO: Final List: Why We Removed Donald Duke’s Name, Excluded Jerry Gana – INEC

“Infrastructure is one of the most critical things Nigerians have been crying about, particularly power supply,” he said.

The SDP candidate queried, “The infrastructure ministries of Works, of Power, of Housing; every infrastructure into just one ministry with one minister?”

“That is one of the things we want to do. When it comes to infrastructure, our own plan is to decentralise the administration of the provision of roads, railways, power, and so on. Why centralise it?

Jerry Gana Asks FG To Decentralise Infrastructure Management
Professor Jerry Gana

 

Professor Gana further faulted the decision of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to merge the main infrastructure ministries under one roof.

He also condemned the budget cycle of the present administration which he said does not allow enough time for implementation.

The SDP candidate, however, said, “For us, the capital budget will be like a capital development plan for four years.”

“We will have a four-year plan that will be approved as a budget right from the start. So, you will spend four years implementing.”

The interview was conducted before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) published the final list of candidates which excluded Professor Gana’s name.

Although the electoral body explained that the list was published in line with a court judgement, it said it was expecting the SDP leadership to submit Gana’s name for inclusion.

Allow Me Concentrate And Fix The Nation’s Infrastructure, Buhari Tells Labour Unions

President Muhammadu Buhari (FILE PHOTO)

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday told various labour unions not to distract his administration from fixing the nation’s infrastructure.

Buhari said this while receiving members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“In three and a half years, we have improved tremendously on what we met. We are trying to do infrastructure. No matter which part of the country you come from, you will see the efforts we are making in terms of roads.

“We are trying to fix rails, we are trying to do power, through the use of gas and solar. If you note what we have done in these three and a half years, you will not regret voting this administration into power.”

The President’s comment is in the wake of the ongoing strike embarked by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

ASUU had on November 5, 2018, commenced a nationwide industrial action following the inability of the Federal Government to respond to its demands.

Worried by the situation, President Buhari called on NANS to plead with ASUU to call off the strike “so that they don’t encroach on your efforts to  qualify in time.”

He also urged the youths to start preparing themselves to lead the country, stressing that they have leadership traits for any position in the country.

“There is a tendency for you to think that you can do better than anybody, but it is very good for you to know the facts that leadership entails,” he said.

While reiterating his administration’s support to cater for the welfare of Nigerians, the President explained that it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to cater for the employed and the unemployed.

He also thanked the student for their continued support, adding that the country was about to attain food sufficiency and security under his leadership.

Buhari Has Been Prudent With Nigeria’s Resources, Says Keyamo

The Director of Media, Buhari Campaign Organisation, Mr Festus Keyamo.

 

The Director of Media, Buhari Campaign Organisation, Mr. Festus Keyamo, says the Buhari administration is prudent with the nation’s resources while embarking on projects in parts of the country.

Keyamo who appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday stated that the Federal Government delivered infrastructural developments when the crude oil was as low as $28 per barrel.

He said, “This government has shown the determination and the will to squeeze water from stone. At a point when they started taking this very critical infrastructure across the country – rail, roads and power – oil dropped to 28 dollars per barrel.

“At that very critical time, they undertook such critical projects across the country. So it shows that it is a government that is very prudent in the management of resources.”

Keyamo’s comments come 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari revealed his administration’s plans for the next four years.

At an event tagged ‘The Next Level’, to mark the launch of his campaign ahead of the election, the President said his administration will remodel 10,000 schools every year.

The Buhari campaign spokesman stated that the President has plans to deliver more dividends of democracy to Nigerians.

According to him, the bane of Nigeria’s development has been the mismanagement of public funds.