President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday assured Nigerians that the country was on the path of economic recovery, saying that the hardship aggravated by the recent hike in fuel price would soon be over. The president gave this assurance at Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos during the commissioning of projects and security vehicles and equipment provided by Lagos State Government in support of the Nigeria Police, allafrica.com reports.
The president, who is on a one-day official visit to the state, but is represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the well-attended event, however, asked for the support and understanding of citizens. Buhari commissioned the newly built Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) Rescue Unit at Cappa, Oshodi and Ago Palace Way in Okota,.
He was received by Lagos State governor Akinwunmi Ambode, along with the minister for power, works, and housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, and members of the state executive council. The president said his government is fully aware of the present economic hardship being experienced by Nigerians and is ready to alleviate the impact within the shortest possible future.
Buhari pointed at the federal government's N500 billion social investment plan as part of measure to tackle the myriad economic problems as well as provide palliatives to the citizenry. He said the investment plan would address the challenges of unemployment, industries, manufacturing and agriculture, among others.
According to him, there are plans to create 500,000 employment opportunities for graduates, with another 370,000 for non-graduates, in addition to the provision of micro loan facilities for market women. "We are aware of the difficulties Nigerians are going through but the future is certain, abundance and prosperity are assured. A lot of readjustment will be done.
"Our country has gone through many pains but we are determined to make the correction. We are on the path of recovery. "To ameliorate the pains, N500 billion social investment is being earmarked in 2016 budget. This is to provide 500,000 direct employment for graduates and 370,000 for non-graduates through vocational training, while FG will give micro-credit facilities to market women using various associations across the country."
Buhari lamented the neglect of Lagos for the past 16 years, assuring that the federal government was more than ready to give total support to the state in every way possible. The president stressed that Lagos deserves more benefit from the federal government, being the economic hub of Nigeria, even as he commended Governor Ambode's landmark achievements in the last one year.
He assured that the federal government will soon embark on infrastructural assistance in the state with specific focus on rail and road construction which is included in the 30 percent infrastructural development plans, citing the Lagos-Calabar and Kano rail routes and completion of the ongoing construction of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway as part of the projects. On the absence of the president, Osinbajo gave the assurance that Buhari would personally visit Lagos immediately after the Ramadan,
"The president holds Lagosians in high esteem," he affirmed. Earlier, Lagos State governor Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode had expressed his administration's commitment to the protection of life and property. He urged security personnel to continue their good work by making Lagos safer for everyone. Ambode assured that the state government would continue to reward gallant officers in the course of their duties.
While disclosing that N1.5 billion was expended on the provision of the commissioned security vehicles and equipment, he urged residents to continue to see security as everybody's business.
"I want to use this opportunity to again commend the officers and men of all security agencies in our state for their dedication and commitment which has facilitated a more secure Lagos. I assure you of the continued support of our government to work with you to raise the bar of safety and security to globally accepted standards.
"My administration is committed to improve security being a sine-qua-non for economic and social development." Some of the equipment include: 100 4-door saloon cars, 55 ford ranger pick-ups, 10. Toyota Land Cruiser pick-ups, 15 BMW power bikes,100 power bikes, Isuzu trucks, 3 helicopters, 2 gunboats, 15 Radio Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) revolving lights, sirens and public address system, vehicular and radio communicators. Security gadgets include bullet proof vests, helmets, handcuffs, uniforms and kits, improved insurance and death benefit scheme for officers.
The minister of state for petroleum resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, yesterday said that the federal government would soon embark on robust dialogue with the Niger Delta militants to sensitise them on the need to stop militancy in the oil-rich region. He asserted that the nefarious activities of militants are currently sabotaging efforts being made by the government to revamp the nation's economy, noting that rolling out military tanks against the militants would not solve the problem.
Kachikwu, who was flanked by the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the disclosure during an interactive session with a coalition of civil society organisations in Lagos. He said: "The military tanks cannot stop or solve problem of militancy in the Niger Delta region. I will have to go back to my brothers; they are our brothers. We will go and dialogue with them," Kachikwu said.
Meanwhile, the minister explained why the payment of subsidy was no-longer possible in Nigeria, disclosing that the country lost over N5 trillion to subsidy in five years. According to him, subsidy had to be removed from petrol because the policy was no longer sustainable as the government is broke.
Speaking on the harsh economic situation in the country, the minister pointed out that ministers of the present government do not have accommodation, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot approve N20 million for ministers' rent due to low government income. On why the fuel queues disappeared immediately the government hiked the pump price of petrol at N145 per litre, Kachikwu said: "Queues disappeared because everybody who had incentive to hoard were no longer hoarding and those who were in the business other than hoarding petroleum business for hoarding sake left the business because there was no need to hoard.
"Again we were having pretentious number of consumption for subsidy payment." The minister contended that if Nigerians wanted fuel at the cheapest rate, then they must not complain about roads, security and other infrastructure. He also remarked that fuel stations built in border towns take fuel and sell to neighbouring West African countries, pointing out that Nigeria was, in essence, subsidising fuel for West African countries.