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.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday blamed the previous administrations for the infrastructural challenge facing the country.
According to him, it is sad that infrastructure went to rot completely within the same period when Nigeria has ‘humongous resources’ at its disposal between 1999 and 2014.
“Our focus now is on infrastructure; roads, rail, power, and others,” said the President who received the outgoing British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, in a farewell audience at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He added, “How I wish we had fixed all those when we had money. What we earned between 1999 and 2014 is on record, but nothing was done to infrastructure.
“Now, we are doing a lot more, with a lot less resources. And we shall continue to do our best.”
The Federal Government remains focused on its plans and has taken steps to ensure that critical projects such as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the 2nd Niger Bridge do not suffer from lack of funds.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said this on Friday when he visited the Headquarters of Channels Television in Lagos.
“The good news is that we put together the Presidential Infrastructure Fund which is being managed by the Sovereign Investment Authority with a seed fund of $1.3 billion to ensure that five critical projects will not suffer from funding,” he said.
“They are the East-West Road, the 2nd Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Mambila Hydroelectric Power and the Abuja-Kano Road.”
Beyond the critical projects, the minister believes the Federal Government deserves credit for what it is doing in terms of infrastructure and how it approached projects started by previous administrations.
“The important thing is for the government to remain focused and have a blueprint. And it is to the credit of this administration that we did not abandon any project that we inherited,” he said.
“Most of the commissioning that we are doing today are projects that we met and adopted, some at 16 percent completion, some at 20 percent completion.”
Some of the projects such as the Abuja-Kaduna rail have been completed and others are being worked on.
The Minister recently led a team to inspect ongoing projects in parts of the country and he is pleased with the progress being made.
He said, “I was at Ilorin, Jebba, Mokwa road about three weeks ago. Those who are familiar with that road will tell you that, a year or two ago, it will take you four days, not hours, to travel from Ilorin to Jebba. Today, the 93 kilometre road has been completed and it takes you just under two hours to travel from Ilorin to Jebba and to Mokwa.
“I went with my team to visit the South-East and the South-South and the trip took us from Enugu to Onitsha where we went to inspect the 2nd Niger Bridge and the media saw that progress has been made since we came.
“Before we came in, only N200 million had been paid for that project. As of today, over N4.6 billion has been paid for that project.”
The second leg of the minister’s trip (inspecting projects) took him to the road from Enugu through Umuahia to Aba and from Aba to Port Harcourt.
“It is a 240 kilometre Road; and, averagely, we’ve been able to achieve about 38 to 40 percent completion,” he said, adding that funds secured by the government through the issuance of bonds would also be vital to the execution of projects.
“We secured a Sukuk bond of N100bn and we divided into six equal parts for each of the geopolitical zones to fund 25 critical roads and bridges in each zone.
“So, the government remains determined and focused on providing infrastructure, the government remains focused on providing power and our social investment programmes tries to ensure that no one is left behind.”
The Federal Government has reiterated its plans to address the infrastructural deficit in the country with the Chinese loan.
Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, during an appearance on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, said the Federal Government is currently implementing various projects across the country.
“The projects have been there. They have been conceptualized in the past. But honestly, as far as I can tell, I haven’t seen the degree of commitment to implementation,” he said.
“If you look at the railways, the Kaduna-Abuja has been finished, the Lagos-Ibadan is going on.
“And that is why this relationship with China on those infrastructural projects that are demonstrably useful must be done. If you look at Mambilla (power project), it has been there for well over 10 years almost abandoned.
“But now, there has been a re-commitment by both China and Nigeria to develop it that will generate a lot of power that will add to our national grid and that will make a huge difference because we still have a power deficit,” he added.
Enelamah’s comments come two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari traveled to participate in the 7th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing.
During the summit, the Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to provide $60 billion to finance Africa’s development over the next three years.
The financing will include $15 billion in “free assistance and interest-free loans”, he said, in remarks meant to ease growing concerns that China’s assistance to developing nations is putting them in debt.
Speaking about the Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Government and German auto giant, Volkswagen, the minister explained that the car manufacturer believes Nigeria is a hub for the production of over two million vehicles.
According to him, the government needs to create an enabling environment for the deal to be effective by initiating certain policies.
The people of Kabayi community in Aso Pada district of Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State share a boundary with nation’s capital. Sadly for them, the proximity has not been as beneficial as they would have loved.
Residents of the community, numbering over 25,000, share a major predicament – lack of infrastructural development.
Bad roads, the absence of water channels, flooding and erosion plague Kabayi community.
For years, the residents say they have had to come together to provide basic amenities, including electricity, for themselves.
Now, they want the government to lift the weight of their shoulders.
“In this area, we have been trying our best. Whatever you see here, even the roads, it is the community that tried and did it. This light you are seeing including the transformer, we are the ones that bought it,” says a resident, Usman Suleiman.
“In short, there is nothing that we can show that the government has done for us in this community.”
Other residents who spoke with Channels Television share Suleiman’s sentiments.
Faced with more challenges than they can grapple with, they reached out repeatedly to the authorities.
According to them, those contacted include the Nasarawa State government, lawmakers and elected officials.
“We have written to some senators, we have written to the local government chairmen and to the councillors, but we have never gotten any attention from the government,” says another resident.
One of the major issues which residents of Kabayi battle with is flooding and by extension erosion.
It hasn’t always been this tough for the community, a growing population and new constructions are considered responsible for several problems.
Julius Otene and Leonard Ogu blame the flooding and erosion on a nearby road construction and the influx of people in the area.
“When people came here and built houses, they displaced the amount of places water used to percolate reduced, so the erosion came to the road. We have been maintaining it by ourselves using shovels, as you can see we were clearing the gutters, that has been our challenge,” says Ogu.
Otene shares what it is like when it rains.
“When rain falls, you need to be here, the level of the water goes up to the neck. I have entered it (the water) once and I couldn’t go back and I couldn’t move forward until I managed to grab a fence. Five to six years ago we weren’t experiencing this (flooding). It all started in the past two to three years after they made the Kabayi/Aso road,” Otene says.
“We have been in this area for more than 20 years. It was motorable before but, as time went on and population increased, flood and erosion kept increasing and eating up the road.
“This culvert we are standing on was built by me with the efforts of the community but we can’t keep pressing. Therefore, we are calling for the help of the government to put one or two things in place.”
The infrastructure challenges in the community have affected economic activities in the community, hospitals, and the size of the population, according to the residents.
“There was a hospital here before but because of the bad roads caused by heavy rains, the owner could not maintain it any longer and now the place is deserted. As you can see, people are suffering. If they get sick at night they must go as far as Mararraba as we don’t have any other place for medical attention,” a resident says.
Another resident, 45-year-old widow, Veronica Reuben, is faced with a new threat caused by the community’s flood problem – erosion.
She says although a portion of her house and land has been wiped away by erosion, she and her children continue to live there because they have nowhere else to go.
For the residents of Kabayi, their situation is now a matter of life and death.
According to them, floods caused by a downpour recently swept a 19-year-old girl away.
Her uncle, David Uzuegbu, says she was coming back from her workplace at Nyanya when she got stuck and swept away by the flood.
The Nasarawa State Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, who also spoke to Channels Television, sympathises with the residents for their losses and challenges.
He promises that the government will continue to give the needed attention to affected areas, stressing, however, that not all issues can be resolved at once.
The commissioner, however, believes “Development efforts are a process”.
“What we are trying to emphasise is that this government, more than any other in the past, has invested a lot of time and resources to ensure that Karu receives attention,” he says.
“There are emerging communities that have developed over time and, probably, Kabayi is one of them. If they (residents of Kabayi) do not have government attention, I can assure them that the state and local government will look into in that direction.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, says the Federal Government has spent at about $7.5 billion on infrastructure in the last two years.
Mr Mohammed revealed this during 2018 World Congress of the International Press Institute (IPI) in Abuja, the nation’s capital on Thursday.
“This is a government that has invested heavily on infrastructure. It is on record that in the last two years, we spent about N2.7 trillion, about $7.5 billion on roads, power, and railroads,” he said.
By investing in infrastructure, the minister believes the Federal Government has helped to see to the welfare of those considered as the extremely poor in the country.
“We regularly give a stipend to 237,000 households which have been adjudged to be the most vulnerable and the poorest.”
Also, as part of its Social Investment Scheme, Mr Mohammed said the Federal Government has empowered unemployed Nigerians through the N-Power scheme.
He added, “We have the home grown feeding programme, we have the conditional cash transfer, we also have the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program GEEP) and we have the N-Power. The N-Power in 2016 alone employed 200,000 unemployed graduates.”
The power sector has not been left out.
According to the minister, President Buhari’s government has invested heavily to the power generation from the national grid.
According to him, Nigeria was generating 2,600 megawatt of electricity in 2015. However, he revealed that the country consumes 7,000 megawatt of electricity.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to infrastructure development in the country, stating that it is a key feature of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Adeosun said this on Thursday during a panel discussion at the 2018 edition of the Annual IPI Conference in Abuja.
She also stated that since it took over power in 2015, the administration had promised to focus on infrastructure as it recognized the fact that “the only way we can really grow, develop and improve the cost of living or standard of living of our people, is to have an effective infrastructure”.
“Indeed, no country has been able to develop without infrastructure and its almost amazing that we’ve been able to get as far as we’ve gotten without essential infrastructure, without roads, without power, without rail, without housing, without all the enablements that an economy needs to grow,” she stated.
According to her, it is for that reason that the government continues to make efforts to improve the nation’s infrastructure.
Speaking further, the finance minister also noted that in the 2018 Budget which was passed on Wednesday, a total of 1.6 trillion was allocated to infrastructure – a development which she described as a rare feat in Nigeria’s economic history.
“So one of the things that this government said from the beginning is, we are going to focus very strongly on infrastructure.
“In the budget that just closed, we released close to 1.6 trillion on infrastructure and that’s never been done in this country so our commitment to spending on infrastructure is part of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and its imbedded in the budget that was just signed yesterday”.
Adeosun also stated that following the huge allocation, in a short while, Nigerians will begin to clearly see the efforts of the government in terms of projects delivery.
“There’s a huge allocation for infrastructure and I think that in the next few month, you’ll begin to see projects completed because some of these are multiyear projects.
“You will see projects being completed and commissioned and people will see that this government has taken the project from beginning to end and finish things which is very important and we are committed to that,” she said.
Other panelists included the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Okechukwu Enelemah; the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and the Chairman Channels Media Group, Mr John Momoh (OON), who moderated the panel discussion.
The President, Mr Muhammadu Buhari, was also present, among other distinguished guests.
Africa must double its spending on infrastructure over the coming years, the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) said on Thursday, warning that overall investment in transport, energy, water and IT/communications fell back last year.
In 2016, total investment in these four sectors — from public and private sources and international institutions — was $62.5 billion (52.82 billion euros), compared with $78.9 billion in 2015, it said.
“A spending requirement of around $120bn-$140bn (at 2015 dollar rates) (is needed) in the short-term,” said the report, entitled Infrastructure Financing in Africa 2016.
Chinese investment fell sharply last year, to $6.4 billion from $20.9 billion in 2015, a year that was exceptional.
Averaged out over the five years from 2011-16, China invested $12 billion annually, making it the biggest single investor in African infrastructure.
African states invested $26.3 billion in 2016 after $24 billion in 2015.
Transport accounted for 39.2 percent of infrastructure investment in 2016, followed by energy (31.9 percent), water and sanitation (16.9 percent) and information technology/communications (2.6 percent).
The ICA was launched at the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland with the aim of spurring infrastructure investment in Africa from all sources.
Its members include G8 nations, South Africa, the World Bank, the European Commission and European Investment Bank (EIB), the African Development Bank (AfDB) group and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
Ministers across West Africa are scheduled to provide perspectives to critical energy, finance and infrastructure issues at the Regional Energy Cooperation Summit 2017, holding in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, later in January.
In continuation of the Africa Energy Forum held in London in May 2016, West Africa’s head of utilities, regulators and industry operators from Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia and Mali, will showcase investment opportunities and project pipelines in the coming event.
The Abidjan summit will afford all parties in the public and private sector, the opportunity to explore ownership for network assets, and hear directly from governments on the scale of the opportunities within the region’s integration strategy.
Although energy cooperation in West Africa is in progress, not so much has been achieved with the West Africa power poll, with its headquarters in Ghana.
Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has reiterated that his vision for the state is to build and promote critical infrastructure.
This, he believes would create a conducive environment for investments to thrive in order to encourage meaningful engagement of Deltans, most especially the youth, upon whom the future lies.
Okowa stated that the vision is all encompassing in his administration’s SMART Agenda.
According to him, this has initiated an economic development approach aimed at integrating the entire landmass of the state through good network of roads that link communities and cities across the three senatorial districts of the state.
The Governor who was represented by the state Commissioner of Information, Mr Patrick Ukah, disclosed this during the 4th biennial public lecture of the Enuani Democratic League (EDL), which took place at Ejeme-Aniogor in Aniocha South Local Government Area of the State.
In his words: “Our vision is to achieve sustainable development by building necessary infrastructure and creating the conducive atmosphere that would encourage investments and the meaningful engagement of our people, especially the youths to whom the future really belongs.
“Our economic development approach aims at integrating the state through good network of roads that link communities and cities across the state.
“This will also include the building of a befitting state capital. It is our goal to see that the completion of on-going projects across the length and breadth of the state is to give nerve and impetus to commerce”.
He however called on all Deltans to encourage investors and also contribute their quota in the task of developing the state, assuring that the state government would continue to encourage and assist genuine investors, who are out to serve as agents of positive social and economic change.
The United Nations (UN), has warned that Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos state, faces a water crisis that is creating unacceptable conditions for millions of people.
According to the U.N, the 21 million residents of Lagos, which is built on a lagoon, struggle to find water suitable for drinking and sanitation.
Estimates suggest only one in 10 people have access to water supplied by the state utility provider.
Reacting to the comments, the Lagos state Information Commissioner, Steve Ayorinde, said the 2017 budget increased spending with the aim of addressing the two key issues of potable water and cleaner environment.
He however said the migration of people from other parts of Nigeria and neighbouring countries had put pressure on the city’s infrastructure.
The Kaduna State House of Assembly has passed the 2017 appropriation bill into law.
In passing the bill, the Assembly approved a total sum of N214.921 billion for the 2017 fiscal year, up from the N172bn approved for 2016.
Out of the amount, N83.46bn is allocated for recurrent expenditure while capital project got the sum of N131.45 billion, signifying a ratio of 61:39 in favour of capital expenditure.
In the approved budget, Education, Infrastructure and Health got the biggest allocations of N44.84bn, N10.49bn, and N24.5bn respectively.
The State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai in October presented the draft budget of Jobs, Social Justice and Equity to the House of Assembly for consideration.
Commending the lawmakers for their effort in the scrutiny and speedy passage of the draft budget, the Governor in a statement issued by his spokesman, Samuel Aruwan, noted that the lawmakers approved the budget that is one billion Naira lower than the draft estimates.
“We are proud of the Kaduna State House of Assembly for not padding or inflating the budget. These confirms the government’s strong commitment to pro-poor programmes and to the provision of facilities to attract job-creating investments to the state.
“Therefore, we reinforce our commitment to social justice by retaining high levels of spending on our social programmes. Social justice obliges us to sustain investments in Education, Health, Infrastructure and Social Development.
“Based on the lessons learnt from the 2016 Budget, the government is strengthening implementation and monitoring mechanisms, including the establishment of a Result Delivery Unit,” he said.