The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku has said that stability in the growth of the Nigerian economy has enabled adequate planning, investment – domestic and international as well as improvement in the lives of Nigerian people.
While addressing the media at the World Press Conference held in the Auditorium of the National Press Centre, Radio House, Abuja on Thursday September 5, 2013, the Minister noted that the aim of the conference was to let Nigerians know about developments in governance since the last Ministerial Platform in June, 2013. He added that new trade zones have been opened to refine products for the domestic and international markets. “Chevron, he noted is working hard to provide liquefied natural gas as well as other companies.”
Labaran Maku further explained that about 100,000 jobs have been created with GDP for 2013 projected at 6 – 7%. Adding, the gas masterplan is achieving and has grown from 15 -18% with a lot of income and jobs bringing greater confidence to the economy as well as flourishing investment opportunities.
Speaking on developments in the agric sector in the short while, the Minister noted that a programme was launched at the National Economic Summit to ensure growth in the sector. He stressed that revolution in the area owes to private sector – government involvement. “From 2014, more cassava plants will come on stream with internal capacity to add value to farm produce, especially rice processing, grain reserves for food security and more income for Nigerian farmers.
According to Labaran Maku, 1.1 metric tonnes of rice were produced in 2012 and increased production is being enabled in 2013 towards reaching self- sufficiency in 2015. There is need for emphasis to be placed on local produce, for instance the Ebonyi rice is better than imported rice and should be encouraged.
In his explanation of the perceived growth in the economy, he disclosed that the new rail line from Abuja – Kaduna, Warri – Ajaokuta – Itakpe and Kogi State has enabled the transportation of goods by rail from Lagos, Makurdi, Oturkpo, Zaria, and Kano among others daily.
Air transportation, he said, has grown tremendously with a new International Airport opened in Enugu and a refurbished free trade zone in 9th mile of Enugu to bring internal market to the South – East as well as rise in investment. The Information Minister averred that the President has provided special loans to investors in the non-oil sector. Adding, the country stands to reduce the importation of cars and encourage use of local cars, particularly those made by the Nnewi motor factory; cement production is ongoing as part of the progress made through the transformation agenda.
Maku also revealed that Government will continue to give attention to the economy; saying the power sector has been privatised with seven new plants and 150 injection stations established through private sector partnerships. “200,000 megawatts of electricity will be generated with the expertise of the Chinese Company under the deregulation policy and the electricity policy which promotes return from the global crises supports job creation, confidence in economic reforms, stable markets and investment opportunities,” the Minister stressed.
He assured that the housing sector is set to bump high in the availability of rural and urban housing facilities which will enable Nigeria’s economy to grow up to between 10 and 15%. The education sector, he noted is the most important sector as new universities have been established and new projects completed in the old universities.
The Minister observed that Government has recently set aside N30 billion for the Governing Council of Universities to pay some of its allowances to enable student go back to school. Also the aviation, health, power and agric sectors have received attention despite challenges.
The Information Minister pointed out that the state of emergency in parts of the North has brought normalcy to the concerned areas, noting that the spread of insurgency in the area demanded full deployment of forces and routine security checks. He added that with cooperation from neighbouring countries, inflow of arms and incessant criminality has reduced. He also gave his appreciation to the people of the North-East and the security forces for their sacrifice and cooperation; stating that ‘no country which understands the need for safety and integrity in national boundaries would permit anyone to foment trouble.’
During the interactive session, questions from the media bothered on the country’s food security programme, distribution of transformers, the building of perishable terminals, remodeling of airports, need to maintain peace in the Nigerian politics and settling infrastructure provision in educational institutions. Also quizzed were the provision of free textbooks to schools, compulsory primary school education and rise of poliomyelitis epidemic and encouraging graduates engaged in farming.
In his response, the Minister said, ‘campaign for maternal and child care provision is on-going with employment of more midwives and perishable terminals are purposed to enable storage of vegetable produce’. He continued that power provision will ensure efficiency and security intensified at the airport is geared towards fighting human factors through training, use of cameras and alert systems as well as fencing.
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