The federal government disclosed yesterday that it released a bailout of N1.64 trillion to states and local governments between 2015 and 2017 as part of measures to stabilise the polity.
FG Releases N1.6trn To States, LGs In 2 Year
President Muhammadu Buhari revealed this in a broadcast to commemorate Nigeria’s 57th Independence anniversary in Abuja.
According to the President, the funds were released to enable the states and local governments “pay outstanding salaries, pensions and small business suppliers who had been all but crippled over the years”.
He said, “Furthermore, in order to stabilize the polity, the federal government gave additional support to states in the form of State Excess Crude Account loans, Budget Support Facility, and Stabilization Fund Release to state and local government as follows:
“N200 billion in 2015, N441 billion in 2016 and N1 trillion in 2017, altogether totaling N1.64 trillion. This was done to enable states to pay outstanding salaries, pensions and small business suppliers who had been all but crippled over the years’’.
He also disclosed that the federal government’s N500 billion Special Intervention Programme targeted groups through the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme and the N-Power Programme as well as providing loans to small-scale traders and artisans.
He said that the intervention programme also covered the Conditional Cash Transfer, Family Homes Fund and Social Housing Scheme.
Buhari however admitted that power remains a huge problem to the country despite the fact that energy production had reached an all-time high of 7,001 Megawatts as of Sept 12.
He, however, saidd that government was increasing its investment, clearing up the operational and financial log jams bedeviling the sector.
“We hope to reach 10,000 Megawatts by 2020. Key priorities include better energy mix through solar and hydro technologies. I am glad to say that after many years of limbo, Mambilla Power Project has taken off’’, he said.
President Buhari also announced that a new presidential initiative that would create a minimum of 10,000 jobs for unemployed youths across 36 states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will soon be inaugurated with the aid of CBN’s development finance initiatives.
He noted with delight that the country had recorded seven consecutive months of lower inflation.
His words: “Naira rate is beginning to stabilize, appreciating from N525 to one dollar in February this year to N360 today. Broad-based economic growth is leading us out of recession.
“Elsewhere in the economy the special window created for manufacturers, investors and exporters, foreign exchange requirements have proved very effective. Since April, about seven billion dollars has come through this window alone. The main effect of these policies is improved confidence in the economy and better investment sentiments”.
The president also disclosed that about 200,000 farmers across the federation have benefitted from the N43.9 billion federal government’s agricultural Anchor Borrowers Programme.
Buhari said the implementation of the programme, which was inaugurated by the president in November 2015, had been an “understanding success”.
According to the president, the amount was released to the farmers through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and 13 participating institutions.
He stated that the programme involved 233,000 hectares of farmland, cultivating eight commodities, namely Rice, Wheat, Maize, Cotton, soya-beans, Poultry, Cassava and Groundnuts, in addition to fish farming.
He said, “These initiatives have been undertaken in close collaboration with the states. I wish to commend the efforts of the governors of Kebbi, Lagos, Ebonyi and Jigawa States for their support to rice and fertilizer revolutions.
“Equally commendable are contributions of the governors of Ondo, Edo, Delta, Imo, Cross River, Benue, Ogun, Kaduna and Plateau states for their support for the Presidential initiative for palm oil, rubber, cashew, cassava, potatoes and others crops. With the abundance of rainfall last year and this year, agriculture has enjoyed divine intervention”.
On the 57th anniversary, President Buhari said October 1 remained a special date for all Nigerians as this marked the day when the nation had attained “one of the most precious of human desires – freedom”.
He said, “Over the years the country has gone through trials and tribulations, but October 1 is always a day for celebrations. It is a day for thanks giving, reflection and re-dedication.
“It is also a day for remembrance. We should remind ourselves of the recent journey from 1999 – 2015, when our country happily returned to democratic rule. However, in spite of oil prices being an average of 100 dollars per barrel and about 2.1m barrels a day, that great piece of luck was squandered and the country’s social and physical infrastructure neglected.
“We were left with no savings and huge infrastructure deficit. The APC government’s Campaign rallying cry to restore security, re-balance the economy and fight corruption was not all rhetoric. The country must first be secured. The economy must be re-balanced so that we do not depend on oil alone. We must fight corruption which is Nigeria’s Number One Enemy”.
He restated that the APC–led administration would continue to do its best in tackling these tasks in earnest.