FG rolls out N1tn palliative, massive construction projects


President Bola Tinubu on Thursday gave all the state governors seven days to provide concrete feedback on their plans to rev up food production in their respective states.

Tinubu gave the directive at the 142nd National Economic Council meeting attended by state governors and some deputies at the State House, Abuja.

He also announced a National Construction and Household Support Programme which will see 100,000 families in each state getting N50,000 grant for three months, N155bn to be disbursed for assorted foods, N540bn for household grants even as 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory will get N10bn allocations each for CNG buses.

The N50,000 planned for 3.7 million families across the 36 states and the FCT, the N10bn allocation each for CNG buses in the 36 states and the FCT, as well as the N155bn spending on assorted foods, are estimated to cost over N1tn.

While emphasising the urgency of boosting food production in the country, the President urged state governors to work together to meet the needs of citizens, stating his willingness to provide the needed support to ensure that Nigerians are relieved of hardship.

“We must deliver on our targets at all levels. Please report back following your consultations and submit it to my office within seven days.

“How much support do you need from me and in what form? I am prepared to provide it. But we must achieve the result.

“There is nothing we are doing that is more important than producing high-quality food for our people to consume, buy, and sell. We create jobs in the production of it. And that is before we generate wealth by exporting the excess. It is not beyond us to achieve this for Nigerians,” he said.

The President’s comments followed multiple economic challenges rocking the country. High inflation driven by the removal of fuel subsidies and exchange rate depreciation reached 27 per cent year-on-year in October 2023.

This price surge, coupled with high food insecurity has exacerbated the cost-of-living crisis, leaving Nigerians struggling to afford necessities.

Despite adopting significant policy reforms like fuel subsidy removal and exchange rate unification, the challenges of poverty, stalled per-capita growth, and a weak business environment persist and are compounded by external pressures such as global food price surges and geopolitical uncertainties.

At Thursday’s NEC meeting, Tinubu announced new plans to boost agricultural productivity, strengthen the economy by creating opportunities in the real sectors of agriculture, manufacturing, and construction, and provide urgent economic relief for Nigerians.

This includes the immediate rollout of the National Construction and Household Support Programme to cover all geo-political zones in the country.

“Under the programme, the Sokoto-Badagry Highway, which will traverse Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, and Lagos, is prioritised,” according to a statement signed by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Ajuri Ngelale.

The statement is titled, ‘President Tinubu urges governors to meet target on food security; approves immediate rollout of national construction and household support programme.’

The programme also prioritises other road infrastructure projects, such as the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway, which is underway and the Trans-Saharan Highway, which links Enugu, Abakaliki, Ogoja, Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa and Abuja.

Tinubu also approved full counterpart financing for Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Railway; to traverse Rivers, Abia, Enugu, Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe and Borno, as well as for the Ibadan-Abuja segment of the Lagos-Kano Standard-Gauge Railway; which will traverse Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Kwara, Niger, Abuja, Kaduna, and Kano.

Ngelale noted that the programme would especially prioritise the Sokoto-Badagry road project “For its importance as some of the states it will traverse are strategic to the agricultural sustainability of the nation.”

Explaining the rationale for the project, the Presidency said, “Within the Sokoto-Badagry Highway corridor, there are 216 agricultural communities, 58 large and medium dams spread across six states, seven Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones, 156 local government areas, 39 commercial cities and towns, and over 1 million hectares of arable land.”

Other items under the National Construction and Household Support Programme include: “One-off allocation to states and the Federal Capital Territory of N10bn for the procurement of buses and CNG uplift programme.

“Delivery of N50,000 uplift grant each to 100,000 families per state for three months—provision for labour unions and civil society organisations.

“Deployment of N155bn for the purchase and sale of assorted foodstuff to be distributed across the nation.”

Tinubu is attending the National Economic Council meeting, often chaired by his deputy, Vice President Kashim Shettima, for the first time.

NEC was expected to deliberate on the new minimum wage given the president’s decision to step down the proposal of the National Minimum Wage Committee at Tuesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting to allow for more consultations with necessary stakeholders, including the state governors, all of whom are members of the NEC.

The president had said he would only submit a new national minimum wage to the national assembly for passage into law after such talks.

However, council members who briefed State House correspondents after the meeting were silent on the minimum wage matter.

Announcing the resolutions reached, the Minister of Agriculture, Abubakar Kyari, who joined the governors of Imo, Kano and Kogi to brief correspondents, revealed that the federal government has approved a $1bn agriculture mechanisation programme that will set up 1000 agro-sector service providers across the country with tractors.

He explained, “We’ll have a minimum of 2000 tractors a year for the next five years and all other aggregation of agricultural commodities is going to be utilized at least nothing less than 600,000 youths to man these 1000 service centres.”

Kyari noted that the elaborate plan is an arrangement with John Deere and Tata to provide 2000 tractors before the end of the year. They will be rolled out as soon as is feasible, he said, adding that the project was approved by the Federal Executive Council last Tuesday.

According to Kyari, the Greener Imperative Project, which he said was still in the works, is a €950m project that will soon be unveiled.

Kyari revealed that the FG was anticipating another deal with Belarus Tractors to supply 2000 tractors per year for the next five years, with 9000 implements and spare parts, among others.

The agriculture minister also said Saudi Arabia had expressed interest in providing 200,000 metric tons of red meat every year and 1 million tonnes of soya from Nigeria.

“We have already last week had a meeting with our entrepreneurs and we have come out with a roadmap where we can supply and satisfy that demand.

“We are looking at partnership with foreign governments, not necessarily trying to ask them to come and invest, but asking them what can we produce so that we can sell to you so that we can earn foreign exchange,” he added.

In his remarks, Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State said that the NEC directed the sub-committee on crude oil theft right provide comprehensive recommendations to end the menace during the next meeting.

Uzodinma said that even though the sub-committee was expected to submit its report during Thursday’s meeting, “it was inconclusive.”

Meanwhile, Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State announced the constitution of the board of the Niger Delta Power Holding, which he said had operated for a long time without a supervising board.

He revealed that it is made up of governors of Borno, Katsina, Imo, Ekiti, Kwara, and Akwa Ibom states representing the different geo-political zones.

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, spoke of the activation of the Presidential Food Systems coordinating unit chaired by Vice President Kashim Shettima

The Punch

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