President Muhammadu Buhari has explained that despite the fall in the international price of crude oil, measures taken to block leakages in the nation’s revenue generating agencies would ensure enough cash to fund the N6 trillion budget he recently submitted to the National Assembly.
The president gave the explanation in an interview with Mansur Liman of the BBC Hausa service on Christmas eve. He also spoke on his government’s ‘success’ at defeating the Boko Haram insurgents.
PREMIUM TIMES’ Sani Tukur translated the interview;
Q: You recently submitted the biggest budget estimates in Nigeria’s history to the National Assembly, and this came at a time the price of oil has drastically gone down in world markets. How do you intend to get money to fund the budget?
Buhari: As a government, we inherited N1.5 trillion domestic debt and when foreign debt is added we have about N2.2 trillion. Everybody knows Nigeria is not a poor country, we are rich, and we have human resources, the problem had been that leadership did not take seriously, curbing corrupt tendencies.
Apart from highlighting our debt profile, we have also shown the changes we have made in the Customs for instance, how; much we are making from the Customs service, how much from petroleum, that is NNPC; how much we are making from the ports. There have been lots of leakages in these sectors. If we block these leakages, we would make much more money to run the country despite the fall in the price of oil.
Q: Are you sure you can block all the leakages? Because if one looks at it, it was just the leaders of these agencies that were changed while most of the lieutenants who were part of the system of the “leakages” are still in place. What do you think would change to make sure that “business as usual” does not continue and Nigeria would get those monies?
A: It is generally believed that a fish begins to rot from the head; once the head is rotten, the whole body is also rotten. We have tried to remove all the heads of the organisations, and most of the lieutenants have been changed. A lot is happening in this government that people do not appear to understand; many permanent secretaries of ministries have been changed; we used to have 42 ministers, now we have 36 because the constitution requires that each state of the federation must have a minister; we used to have 42 ministries, now we have 24.
Q: You have also allocated 30 per cent of the budget to capital projects; what informed that decision?
A: It is a must. Remember during the campaigns, we said Nigeria is facing three things and nobody disputed that assertion. Firstly; there was widespread insecurity, war in the north east, while the country’s oil was being stolen at random in the south; secondly; there is massive unemployment, 62 per cent of the nation’s population are youth from the age of 35 years downward; most of them are unemployed, including those who went to school and those who did not, that is a serious problem. Therefore, it has become necessary to restore peace and create employment.
That is why we are returning to agriculture and mineral resources. Thirdly, bribery and corruption was basically suffocating the country. If we don’t kill these monsters, this country would go down.
That is why those who stole monies meant for arms procurement and shared it among themselves are being arrested and are being shown documents, so that they would be asked to refund the money or face prosecution; we would use those documents to prove what they stole, collect all the assets acquired from the proceeds and then jail them.
Q: You have initiated a programme in which poor and vulnerable Nigerians would be paid N5,000 monthly; what have you put in place to ensure that there is justice and fairness in the running of this programme?
A: It is not possible for everyone needing it to get it; but the Federal Government has said it would collaborate with the states and local governments. At the local government level, almost everyone knows each other. It would be easy to identify those to give who would go into trading and how to get it back. It would be like a cooperative and we all know how it operates. Also, state governments would identify those who have capacity to employ more people and all we need to do is to empower them. Our people already know how to go about implementing these modalities to create employment for the citizens.
Q: You earlier mentioned Boko Haram. After your assumption of office, you gave a deadline of December to bring an end to Boko Haram insurgency. We are almost at the end of December, does it mean you and the armed forces have failed?
A: I want people to understand that after I settled down and got good grasp of what the country is going through, we removed all the service chiefs and appointed new ones. We also undertook an investigation and found out how the monies meant for arms procurement were diverted and shared by officials in the last administration. They sent the boys to the war front without arms and ammunition, leading some of them to mutiny after which they were arrested and detained.
We have been able to raise money and fund the war. Go and ask the people of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa; how many of their local governments were under the control of insurgents? And how many are currently still under the insurgents?
May be we would not win the war completely by the end of the month, but the insurgents have now resorted to putting on explosive vests on young children, mostly girls aged 15 and below and then sending them to markets, mosques and churches to detonate. Boko Haram themselves know that the era of them taking over communities and local governments are over. If people would be fair to us, they would know that the Nigerian Army has basically met the deadline and are winning the war. You cannot find any significant number of Boko Haram members in Adamawa, and Yobe, only may be in about three local governments of Borno in the area around our borders with Chad Republic. They are not in a position to threaten Nigeria now, so we have won.
Ibom MRO to Bring in Forex to Nigeria
Akwa Ibom State to open a cutting-edge smart terminal building at the Victor Attah International Airport
The governor of Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel, has announced that the state is close to opening a cutting-edge smart terminal building at the Victor Attah International Airport and that this will generate foreign exchange for Nigeria.
This comes on the heels of praise from his Edo State counterpart, Gov. Godwin Obaseki, who attended the Tuesday reception in Uyo for two additional A320-200 Airbus aircraft that the state’s Ibom Air fleet had leased from a European company.
Speaking at the event, the governor of Akwa Ibom said that while there were already efforts underway to persuade the government to lease the MRO, the MRO is an investment because it was built with naira, despite its current depreciation, and will therefore generate income.
The Akwa Ibom governor said “Our terminal building is world-class in Africa, our MRO is world-class. If you find one today in the entire Gulf of Guinea, tell me I’ll disassemble this one and build another.
“Look at our MRO; what you see here can accommodate two 747 aircraft as well as eight CRJ aircraft, which we are flying for servicing at the same time.”
“This is the only MRO in this part of the world today, and these facilities are not built with local currency, but we are building this MRO with naira that has no value.”
“I invest in areas where we can see a return on our money. Right now without blinking an eye, I can make over $ 30 million with this MRO if we decide to sell but we are not selling, we will make a foreign exchange from this investment.
“Airbus is on us to come and lease our MRO for all their regional flights, but we are not selling.
“We are going to open up this place ( MRO facility) from January next year for commercial activities and we are going to earn in dollars.”
He thanked Ibom Air’s Board of Directors, Management, and Staff for making him proud, emphasising that “they have done very well.”
Gov. Obaseki, who spoke at the event, stated that Akwa Ibom has become the country’s flagship state for its efforts to invest in and make significant strides in the aviation sector.
Obaseki described Akwa Ibom as the country’s flagship state for its efforts to invest in and expand the aviation sector. “Ibom Air is always completely booked.” Let me thank you on behalf of Nigerians,’’ Obaseki said.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of Ibom Airlines., Mr Mfon Udom announced plans to begin regional flights in 2023.
Udom said the new addition to the fleet of Ibom Air would expand its carrying capacity and boost employment opportunities in the state by 40 per cent.
“With this new capacity coming on board, we are delighted to inform our passengers that we have increased our offerings, providing more frequencies for their convenience.
“The Uyo-Lagos and Uyo-Abuja routes now have three frequencies each every weekday, while our Lagos-Abuja passengers will have seven frequencies to choose from both ways, every weekday,’’ he said.
Lagos State Boosts Food Supply With Mass Sale of Rice and Cooking Oil
LAISA has commenced the massive sale of rice and soya bean vegetable oils ahead of the December festival
Lagos state government through the Lagos State Agricultural Inputs Supply Authority (LAISA) has commenced the massive sale of rice and soya bean vegetable oils ahead of the December festival.
The sale which is taking place at different locations in the state is already attracting massive buyers.
According to the General Manager of LAISA, Mr Bolaji Balogun, places where potential buyers can get the products include New Farm Service Oko-Oba Centre, and Gengeto Bus stop, Abeokuta Road, Lagos.
While speaking to the press, Balogun disclosed that available products include 50kg of rice and 1-3 litres of soya vegetable oil all sold at affordable prices.
The GM added that the food sale event was a response to the yearnings of Lagosians who demanded affordable rice and cooking oil for the yuletide festival.
He noted that several people came to LAISA stand for the request at the just concluded Lagos Trade Fair.
Investors King understands that the Lagos State Agricultural Inputs Supply Authority (LAISA) was established with the mandate to boost food supply in the state and also provide the necessary support such as farm tools to farmers.
” As a responsible agency of government, LAISA will continue to provide customers/farmers with high quality and healthy food supply at affordable prices as and when available. We also intend to continue to support and encourage farmers on the best farming practice as well,” Balogun noted.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has replied to a statement credited to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Nigeria will face food crisis in 2023.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development opposed the position of the global financial institution stating that Nigerians should not panic nor worry about the projection.
The ministry added that several measures had been put in place to forestall any scarcity of food in Nigeria.
It added that the government had approved a five-year tax break as an incentive to encourage private investments in the agricultural sector and increased food production, processing and marketing.
U.S 2024 Elections: Donald Trump Declares For President
Former President of the United States, Donald Trump has once again showcased interest to seek the oval office after he failed re-election in 2020.
Former President of the United States, Donald Trump has once again showcased interest to seek the oval office after he failed re-election in 2020. Trump will be expected to tussle the Republic ticket with other potential nominees.
At his private beach on Tuesday night, Trump said “In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States”.
Trump’s ambition might however not be “Uhuru” as his party, the Republican failed to perform as expected in the midterm election. Although the Republican has been projected to win the majority seats in the house, the party, however, lost the senate including key states.
In addition, the former US president will likely face stiff opposition from his party as potential co-contestants include his former Vice President Mike Pence and the Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis, who won a resounding reelection victory on November 8.
Unfazed by the opposition and confident in his large following, Trump said “This is not a task for a politician or a conventional candidate. This is a task for a great movement.”
Investors King could recall that in 2020, Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden (Democrat).
After his exit from office, there have been a number of investigations into his conduct before, during and after his first term as president which could ultimately result in his disqualification.
He is also investigated for inciting violence which led to the drastic attack on the Capitol building on January 6, 2021.
Meanwhile, analysts and observers are divided on Trump’s potential comeback.
The mid-term election result shows that voters rejected candidates who backed Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud in 2020, and many of his high-profile picks for office struggled or lost out in the race.
It could be recalled that Donald Trump alleged manipulation in the 2020 presidential election which produced President Joe Biden. Trump claimed he was rigged out and tried to establish a conspiracy to back up his claim.
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