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Thursday, 8 June 2017

Restructuring Nigeria not Buhari’s priority, says Lai

Restructuring Nigeria not Buhari’s priority, says Lai

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, says restructuring the country is not a priority for the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The minister said this in an interview on an Africa Independent Television (AIT) programme on Thursday.

He said with the high level of corruption, economic downturn, insecurity and the activities of Boko Haram, the government could not have contemplated restructuring.

He said the focus of the government which also formed the basis of its campaign was to fight corruption and insecurity and to fix the economy.

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The minister said two years after its inauguration, the administration has succeeded on the three campaign promises.

He also said that the secession messages and hate speeches flying around were not new to the government because it had envisaged it and had been sensitising Nigerians to its dangers.

He asked Nigerians to go about their lawful business and disregard any threat from any quarters. He said the government was capable of protecting lives and property of all Nigerians wherever they reside.

Mohammed added that government would “deal decisively” with anyone or group that disturbs the peace of the nation.

He said that contrary to perception, the government’s anti-corruption fight was not targeted at the opposition.

He said  corruption would fight back anywhere there was an attempt to fight it; so, the tensions being experienced in the country could be linked to it.

According to him, before the Buhari government came on stream, “corruption was so alarming that 55 persons stole N1.35 trillion in seven years”.

He added that N700 billion was appropriated and released to the ministry of Niger Delta affairs between 2009 and 2015 for road construction and that “from record made available, N453 billion were paid to contractors, who did not do up eight per cent of the construction works given to them”.

The minister said the record also showed that the contracts were “over inflated to the level that a kilometre of road was awarded for between N300 million to N1.2 billion”.

“Such was the level of corruption that the previous administration left N1.7 trillion debts owed to local contractors,” he said.

“Beyond cleaning the mess left by the precious administration, the government had been spending massively on infrastructure particularly roads, railways and power.

“The government in the last two years had constructed 369 kilometres of roads, empowered 542 local contractors and created 17,000 direct jobs and 50,000 indirect jobs.”

He further said the entire justice system of the country needs overhauling “to ensure prompt and effective prosecution”.

He solicited the support of every Nigerian, the judiciary and lawyers in particular for the success of the anti-corruption war.

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On power, Mohammed said the government “did not know the enormity of the flaws in the privatisation process of the sector by the previous administration”.

He said the process “was so corruptly done that the so called investors did not have the capacity in term of finance and manpower”.

According to him, the option would had been to cancel the entire privatisation process “but for the wrong signal such decision would sent to the global investment community about the country”.

“Despite the flaw, the government improved generation from 2,690 megawatts it inherited to 5,040 megawatts in February 2016,” he said.

“The drop in generation was as a result of the pipelines destruction in Forcados, which government was fixing and the current power generation was 4000 megawatts.”

He added that the government had also signed 13 power generation agreements on solar “which would contribute 10,000 megawatts to the national grid”.

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