* Says defence, internal security remain top priorities
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that most of the ongoing critical infrastructural projects in power, roads, rail, agriculture, health and education sectors being undertaken by his administration will be completed and commissioned before the end of his tenure in 2023.
The President gave the assurance on Thursday while presenting the 2022 budget estimates tagged ‘Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability’, to a joint session of the National Assembly.
Buhari noted that despite revenue challenges, the federal government have consistently met its debt service commitments with payment of staff salaries, statutory transfers, and overhead costs being up to date.
He also told the federal lawmakers that capital budget of ministries, departments and agencies of government (MDAs) will be fully funded by the end of the fiscal year 2021, hence capital releases have been prioritised in favour of critical ongoing infrastructural projects in the power, roads, rail, agriculture, health and education sectors.
“We have made progress on the railway projects connecting different parts of the country. I am glad to report that the Lagos-Ibadan Line is now completed and operational.
“The Abuja-Kaduna Line is running efficiently. The Itakpe-Ajaokuta rail Line was finally completed and commissioned over thirty (30) years after its initiation.
“Arrangements are underway to complete the Ibadan-Kano Line. Also, work will soon commence on the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Line and Calabar-Lagos Coastal Line, which will connect the Southern and Eastern States to themselves and to the North.
“Progress is also being made on several power generation, transmission, and distribution projects, as well as off-grid solutions, all aimed towards achieving the national goal of optimizing power supply by 2025.
“I am again happy to report that we continue to make visible progress in our strategic road construction projects like the Lagos – Ibadan expressway, Apapa – Oworonsoki expressway, Abuja – Kano expressway, East-West Road and the second Niger bridge.
“We hope to commission most of these projects before the end of our tenure in 2023,” Buhari stated.
The President also said that the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the urgent need to strengthen the nation’s health system.
“Towards this end, we constructed 52 Molecular labs, 520 bed intensive care units, 52 Isolation centres and provision of Personal Protective Equipment across 52 Federal Medical Centres and Teaching Hospitals,” he recalled.
On the issue of government’s expenditure, he said the federal government will continue to push its expenditure rationalisation initiatives, which started in 2016.
He revealed that, on personnel costs, the number of MDAs captured on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) increased from 459 in 2017 to 711 to date.
“The recent passage of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, and consequent incorporation of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation should also result in rationalisation of expenditure, as well as increased investments and improved output in the oil and gas industry,” he added.
On the priorities of the proposed 2022 budget, President Buhari revealed that the allocations to MDAs were guided by the strategic objectives of the National Development Plan of 2021 to 2025, which has six focal areas.
The areas include diversification of the economy, with robust MSME growth; investment in critical infrastructure; strengthening security and ensuring good governance; enabling a vibrant, educated and healthy populace; reducing poverty; and minimising regional, economic and social disparities.
“Defence and internal security will continue to be our top priority. We remain firmly committed to the security of life, property and investment nationwide.
“We will continue to ensure that our gallant men and women in the armed forces, police and paramilitary units are properly equipped, remunerated and well-motivated.
“The 2022 budget is also the first in our history, where MDAs were clearly advised on gender responsive budgeting. These are part of critical steps in our efforts to distribute resources fairly and reach vulnerable groups of our society,” Buhari explained.