The federal government has disclosed that the major challenge that bedeviled the nation in 2021 was insecurity.
This is even as the federal government noted that in spite of the security and the usual economic challenges, especially the dwindling resources available to the government, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has availed itself creditably.
Minister of information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this in Lagos on Thursday while briefing journalists to showcase the achievements of the Buhari Administration during the outgoing Year 2021, said despite the enormity of the challenges, the nation’s military has continued to live up to their billing.
He said the nation owes them a debt of gratitude for their patriotism and sacrifice.
‘’We just can’t appreciate them enough, as you will soon see when I break down their achievements in the year under review,’’ he said.
To keep our country safe, the minister said the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) has set up various operations across the country.
‘’These include the Joint Task Force (JTF) North East, tagged Operation HADIN KAI covering the
North East region; the JTF SS, tagged Operation DELTA SAFE covering the South South region; the JTF NW, known as Operation HADARIN DAJI
covering the North West region; Operation SAFE HAVEN covering Plateau, parts of Kaduna and
Bauchi States; Operation WHIRL STROKE covering Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States; JTF SW, referred to as Operation AWATSE and covering
Lagos and Ogun States; Operation THUNDER STRIKE covering Abuja-Kaduna Highway and Operation WHIRL PUNCH covering parts of Kaduna State.
‘’Gentlemen, in the North East Zone under Operation HADIN KAI, a combination of kinetic and non-kinetic operations, coupled with a review of strategies, led to the neutralization of over 1000 terrorists, rescue of 2000 civilians and the surrender of over 22,000 terrorists including their families.’’
He said many arms and ammunition were also recovered.
In addition to the destruction of several IED/bomb-making factories of the ISWAP/BHT under Operation HADARIN DAJI in the North West, he said the conduct of offensive clearance operations, raids and air operations resulted in the neutralization of about 427 bandits, arrest of 257 bandits, rescue of 897 civilians and recovery of 3,087 livestock.
Similarly, he stated that Operation WHIRL PUNCH covering parts of Kaduna neutralized about 215 bandits, arrested 133 bandits, rescued 296 civilians and recovered 136 livestock, while Operation THUNDER STRIKE neutralized 36 bandits, arrested 74, rescued 296 civilians and recovered 136 livestock.
He said, ‘’In the North Central, raids and clearance operations conducted by Operation SAFE HAVEN neutralized 91 criminal elements, arrested 155 suspects, rescued 159 civilians and recovered 3,259 livestock.
‘’For its part, Operation WHIRL STROKE neutralized 158 criminals, arrested 151 suspects and rescued 183 civilians.
‘’Operation DELTA SAFE in the South-South destroyed about 1,520 illegal refineries, confiscated 5,315 storage facilities and impounded 617 boats, amongst other items. Additionally, about 74,297,425 litres of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK), 41,971,693 litres of crude oil and 88,350 litres of PMS were recovered. Furthermore, 174 trucks and 13 vessels were impounded while 755 illegal oil bunkerers were arrested and 153 assorted weapons recovered.
‘’In the South West, patrols and clearance operations by troops of Operation AWATSE led to the arrest of 46 persons for various forms of criminalities while several vehicles, jerricans, motorcycles and electricity generators used for illegal bunkering were seized.’’
He noted that the effectiveness of the military was enhanced by the leadership provided by President Muhammadu Buhari and the unwavering commitment of the armed forces and its leadership.
Mohammed said the procurement of modern platforms for the armed forces has also gone a long way in raising the level of their operational readiness and efficiency, in addition to boosting their capabilities.
During the period under review, he said the Nigerian Army procured 160 MRAPS, 150 trucks and 60 APCs to improve its equipment holding.
He said various kits were equally provided for troops. This is in addition to the provision of accommodation for troops and the recruitment of over 10,000 personnel into the Army.
‘’The Nigerian Navy (NN), for its part, commissioned the FALCON EYE Maritime Domain Awareness Capability, the third locally-built Seaward Defense Boat, one helicopter, 4 inshore patrol boats and 90 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats.
‘’Over 1,500 personnel were recruited into the Navy during the year. The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) took delivery of 12 Super Tucanos and 3 JF-17 Thunder Fighter Aircraft and other platforms with which it has conducted several Air interdictions, provided close air support to ground troops and destroyed several illegal structures and equipment belonging to terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements,’’ he said.
He said the Armed Forces of Nigeria has also contributed immensely to International peace and security efforts with its robust participation in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the regional initiative, the ECOWAS Military Intervention in Gambia (ECOMIG).
Mohammed said the Nigerian military’s continued participation in these Missions has ensured their viability and sustenance towards achieving their military and political goals.
He continued, ‘’Overall, the good news is that the military, in spite of its achievements, is not resting on its oars. The Military has assured that it is also poised, in fulfillment of its constitutional duties, to address the myriad of evolving contemporary threats, particularly as the 2023 elections draw nearer.
‘’Still on the fight against insecurity, the implementation of the community policing initiative of the current administration has led to the training of 25,000 constabularies in several police colleges
across the country. The successful officers who were trained on basic police duties, modern intelligence gathering techniques, rule of law, etc. were deployed to their Local Governments of Origin to aid in intelligence gathering and improve police visibility in their communities.
‘’Also, in an effort to improve the police/citizens ratio, 418 Cadet officers of regular course 3 were successfully graduated in June 2021 and deployed into the operational asset of the Nigeria Police Force. Through the Police Trust Fund, 200 Buffalo branded vehicles, bulletproof vests, protective helmets, drugs, and medical equipment as well as arms and ammunition, riot control equipment, and combat equipment were procured for the Police Special Weapon and Tactical Squad (SWAT).
‘’The Ministry of Police Affairs has also entered into a contract agreement for the supply of police Anti Riot Equipment with Poly Technology of China through a Government-to-Government arrangement at a cost of 44 million U.S. Dollars.
‘’These equipment will go a long way in boosting the capacity of the police to control civil unrest in the most efficient and civil manner.’’
On the economy, the Information minister said the recovery of the economy remained on a steady path throughout the year 2021.
He said many countries around the world face unprecedented challenges, starting from 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and Nigeria is no exception.
He said the Nigerian economy was hit by the pandemic in mid- 2020, and the economic disruptions led to a recession.
The minister said the poor performance of the economy during the COVID-19 era affected output growth, trade, household welfare and livelihood.
He, however, said this led to a quick response by the federal government with the rolling out of effective fiscal and monetary policies as well as health-related policies intended to curb the spread of the pandemic and mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on the economy.
‘’This has yielded considerable results. For example, the country’s domestic growth in the first three quarters of 2021 was positive, recording real GDP of 0.51 percent in Q1, 5.01 percent in Q2 and 4.03 percent in Q3 2021, This was an improvement from a declining performance in the first three quarters of 2020 (which led to economic recession) put at 1.87 percent in Q1, -6.10 percent in Q2 and -3.62 percent in Q3 2020,’’ he said.
Nevertheless, Mohammed said the fourth quarter 2020 recorded a slight improvement of 0.11 percent, ushering in positive growth rates in the three quarters of 2021.
‘’This economic performance in 2021 shows a steady improvement in growth over the last three quarters of 2020, and this can be attributed to government policies and strategies such as the Economic Sustainability Plan; the N500 billion COVID 19 Crisis Intervention Fund etc.
‘’In the oil sector, real growth shows poorer performance in 2021, recording 2.21% (year-on-year) in Q1 2021, -12.65% in Q2 2021 and –10.73% in Q3 2021, from stronger growth of 5.06% in Q1 2020, -6.63% in Q2 2020, and -13.89% in Q3 2020,’’ he said.
In the oil and gas sector, he said undoubtedly it is one of the greatest achievements of the current administration in 2021 describing it as a sector very critical to the nation’s economic well-being.
He said the passage and signing into law of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is a landmark achievement.
He said many have described it as the most profound event in the Nigerian oil and gas space in the last 20 years.
‘’The PIA is envisaged to foster investment in the industry and delineate responsibilities to the various institutions. Its key objectives are: to establish a commercialized National Oil Company (NNPC Ltd.)
‘’To entrench accountability and good governance; to promote the exploration and exploitation of the petroleum resources in Nigeria for the benefit of all Nigerians as well as foster the sustainable development of the host communities,’’ he said.
Overall, he said the PIA serves to ensure the efficient and effective technical and operational regulation of the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the oil industry through the formation of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority, among others.
On infrastructure, he said the current administration has distinguished itself in the provision of key infrastructures in the works and housing, which according to him is important to the growth and development of the economy.
In its efforts to provide basic infrastructure, especially roads and housing, he said the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing carried out the following projects in 2021.
‘’(I) Nnewi-Uduma Road, Sections I and II (26.27km) in Enugu and Ebonyi States
‘’(II) Kano-Maiduguri Road Section II (100.08KM),
(Shuwarin-Azare) in Jigawa and Bauchi States
Kano-Maiduguri Road Section III (Azare-Potiskum). 106.34km in Bauchi and Yobe States
Vandeikya-Obudu Cattle Ranch Road Phase I and II (24km) in Benue and Cross River States
‘’(V) Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Kontagora-Makera Road (304km).’’
on water resources, he said some 159 Rural Water Supply Schemes were constructed in the North-East, IDP camps and some Federal Institutions and Establishments by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources in the year under review.
‘’In addition to the completion of 12 dams, the Ministry also embarked on the implementation of the Partnership for Expanded Water Sanitation
and Hygiene (PEWASH) programmes with the construction of 926 rural water supply schemes in 12 States of Imo, Katsina, Jigawa, Plateau, Zamfara, Sokoto, Ondo, Osun, Delta, Bauchi, Kaduna and Gombe States,’’ he said.
on National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP), he said the Federal Government has continued to implement the National Social Investment Programmes.
On the directive of Mr. President, he said the N-Power has been expanded from 500,000 to 1 million beneficiaries.
He said the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) has been restructured to GEEP 2.0. The revamped GEEP 2.0 was officially launched on 24 August 2021 and has successfully registered over 600,000 potential beneficiaries in all the 774 LGAs nationwide through a collaborative partnership with the National Orientation Agency.
He also noted that the transportation sector definitely the most outstanding achievement in the transportation sector in 2021 is the flag-off of the commercial operation of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line in June 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the trains are currently conveying goods and
services and reducing traffic and human pressure on infrastructural facilities on the Lagos-Ibadan highway.
‘’Then there was the ground-breaking ceremony for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway project and the Bonny Deep Sea and Railway Industrial Park,’’ he said.
Conclusively, he said the current administration, in spite of daunting challenges, made tremendous progress in 2021 in fighting insecurity, growing the economy, reforming the oil sector to spur more investments.