President Muhammadu Buhati observed yesterday that critics misconstrued some of the policies and projects being executed by his administration at the beginning of tenure.

He noted however that with steady and rigorous implementation, this set of Nigerians have realised that the numerous interventions made by the federal government are very beneficial for the development of the country.

Buhari said it is heart-warming that more Nigerians are appreciative of the implementation of policies and projects of the federal government aimed at improving the standard of living in the country.

Speaking when he received the leadership of Kano Traders Association led by chairman of Kanti Kwari Traders Association Alhaji Ahmed Nuhu Sani in Daura yesterday, President Buhari pledged that his administration will not relent in doing the needful to create jobs, expand trade and encourage greater productivity.

The president told members of the business community that under the Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) and the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), more traders and farmers have expanded their trade and increased food production.

While the GEEP provides free interest loans to farmers, the N40 billion ABP targets rice farmers across the country to boost their production, a statement by his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, explained.

The President promised to look into the concerns of the traders on the GEEP programme as well as the influx and dominance of foreigners in the retail sector.

Earlier in his remarks, Sani commended the president for reviving the $2.8 billon Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline, which was abandoned by the previous administration due to corruption and mismanagement.

The market leader also applauded the Buhari administration for the ongoing works at river ports in Baro, Niger State, Lokoja, Kogi State and Oguta in Imo State, which were abandoned for about a decade but will now be completed before May 2019.

‘‘It is also another gesture of Mr. President in fulfilling his promise to end fuel problem in Nigeria by signing the Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of a new 150,000 barrels per day refinery in Katsina State,’’ Sani said.

…President Explains 800m Trek On Sallah Day

Meanwhile, President Buhari yesterday in Daura broached the issue of his opting to trek some distance after observing Eid prayers at Kofar Arewa Eid ground and the humbling hero’s welcome from his well-wishers that lined the street.

In a meeting with representatives of the five local government areas in Daura Emirate, the president explained that the walk was not about proving his fitness level or scoring cheap political capital.

‘‘This is my constituency, the people came out in their large numbers to see me and the car in which I was being driven had tinted windows. They were not seeing me so I came down so they could see me. I didn’t need to convince anyone about my health and the decision to contest for a second term- a decision that I made public in April this year,’’ a statement by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, quoted the president as saying.

Buhari also informed his kinsmen at the meeting that he has directed the Ministry of Agriculture and the CBN to review the processes on the issuance of loans to smallholder farmers.

He said, “We want to make it easier for them to assess the loans, particularly the underprivileged people in the society. It has become necessary for the government to do this because banks will insist on collaterals which majority of farmers does not have.

‘‘For our agriculture policy to succeed, we must be able to reach small farm holders with loans without collaterals. Collaterals are always a problem with smallholder farmers”.

The president also highlighted the achievements of the administration on local rice productions, which had expectedly led to the reduction of imports by over 90 percent.

He expressed delight that young people are returning to the farms and reaffirmed the Federal government’s commitment to implement policies to promote agriculture.

Speaking on behalf of the civil society groups in Daura Emirate, the spokesman of the group, Yusuf Bello Maiadua, applauded the president on his numerous achievements.

‘‘You have made us proud, the economy is back on the path of growth and you have laid a solid foundation for the development of the country”, he stated.

Maiadua who hinted the president of plans by the Daura Emirate to organise a massive rally for his 2019 campaign as soon as the ban on political campaign is lifted, invited him to make out time to attend.