The federal government said yesterday that the Buhari administration is taking loans in order to build world-class infrastructure that will benefit generations of Nigerians and reverse the massive infrastructure deficit in the country.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated this indicated that he was speaking against the backdrop of naysayers’ penchant for ramping up their criticism of the Buhari administration for borrowing.
Speaking during a town hall meeting on insurgent attacks on power and telecommunications equipment organised by the federal ministry of Information and Culture in Maiduguri, Mohammed said these critics are insincere, adding that the government was not borrowing for recurrent expenditure or to pay salaries.
“We are borrowing to build world class infrastructure that will benefit generations of Nigerians. And we have a lot to show for the loans we have taken.
“Today, the standard-gauge rail lines between Lagos and Ibadan as well as Abuja and Kaduna are running well. Today, we have new airport terminals in Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt. Today, the Itakpe-Warri rail line that was abandoned for decades is running,” he said.
Mohammed said currently there are well over 13,000km of federal roads under repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction, adding that there is a road project in every state of the Federation.
“Today, we have started the countdown to when the 2nd Niger Bridge, which successive administrations have built only on paper, will be completed. The list of projects we are handling with the loans we obtained is long,” he said.
In a veiled reference to the major opposition party in the country, Mohammed regretted that the Buhari administration was being criticised by those whose performance while in office was abysmal, especially on infrastructure.
He noted: ”It is an irony that those who are criticising us today performed abysmally in terms of modernising our infrastructure, even when they served at a time when our earnings were multiples of what we get today.
“Had they embarked on the kind of infrastructure development we are currently engaged in, perhaps there would have been no reason for us to borrow as much as we are doing now. We will not be deterred by the antics of those who believe they can play politics with everything.”
He said despite a drastic drop in revenues and competing priorities, especially that of battling insecurity, the federal government has invested heavily in providing new infrastructure, as well as reconstructing and rehabilitating existing ones.
Saboteurs Making It Impossible To Restore Electricity To Borno – Army
Also, the Nigerian Army alleged that saboteurs were making it impossible to restore electricity to Borno State.
Theatre Commander of Operation Hadin Kai, Maj-Gen Christopher Musa, who said there was every reason to believe so noted that it was important to look inwards because there are people that are doing everything to ensure that the work is not completed for whatever reason.
Speaking at the town hall meeting, he said, “They have information about our movements on a daily basis, in as much as we try to maintain surveillance, as soon as we leave information is passed.
“Another thing is to make the item being vandalised very difficult to sell. There must be primitive punishments for anyone found selling those things in the market.
“We should have carbon markings placed on some of this equipment, so any market where these things are found could be traced to who is bringing it?”
Dignitaries at the town hall meeting included the Deputy Governor, Mr. Umar Kadafur; Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation, Senator Danladi Sankara; the Minister of State for Agriculture, Alhaji Mustapha Baba Shehuri; Managing Director, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Mr. Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz; Executive Commissioner Technical Services, Nigeria Communications Commission, Mr. Ubale Maska; the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai, and other traditional rulers, and the Chairman, Borno Elders Forum, Alhaji Bulama Gubio.
TCN Lost Personnel, N1.17bn In 9 Months – Power Minister
On his part, the minister of Power, Engr Abubakar Aliyu has said insurgent attacks on power facilities have led to the death of personnel and a huge revenue drain.
He said, “Insurgent attacks on power facilities have led to a huge drain on our revenue and it has affected the socio and economic lives of our people. In one-month Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) lost an average of 130 million in one month on immediate charges on Maiduguri and environs.
“From January 2021 to date, TCN in nine months has lost 848 megawatts per day totalling N1.17 billion. Some staff of TCN have lost their lives,’’ said managing director, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Mr. Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz who represented the Power minister.
Borno’s 50 Megawatts Plant To Begin Soon – Zulum
Meanwhile, the governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, hinted that a 50 megawatts gas power plant being funded by the federal government is on stream to electrify parts of the state.
This is even as the governor insisted that since it is virtually impossible to provide 24 hours protection to power lines in the state or any other part of the country, it has become a matter of technological imperative for the federal government to look into the possibility of deploying technology to protect physical infrastructure.
Speaking at the town hall meeting, Zulum recalled that in August, the NNPC sealed a deal with contractors for the commencement of the plant in Maiduguri, which is expected to be completed in six months.
Zulum expressed deep appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari, for directing the Federal Ministry of Power to look into the possibility of establishing a 50 megawatts power plant in Borno.
He said, “Let me at this juncture, convey my gratitude to the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari for approving the establishment of alternative power supply to Borno state through the NNPC.
“Just a few days ago, the contract for the installation of a thermal energy station in Maiduguri was signed by GMD NNPC, Mele Kyari, and the contractors. Very soon, the contractors will mobilize to the site and the project will be completed in the next 6 months.
“The president has directed the Federal Ministry of Power to look into the possibility of providing 150 megawatts of solar energy plants in Borno state to ensure sustainable power supply to the state. The state government will provide the necessary support to the officials of the Ministry of Power to achieve the objectives.”
Zulum described the nine months of blackout as a harrowing situation, particularly to those he said depend on power supply for their daily livelihood needs.
The governor added that substantial resources have been committed to the efforts of power restoration to Maiduguri and surrounding communities both by the federal and state governments, which was destroyed days after successful repair work.
Zulum said his administration would join hands with the federal government to leverage on the ongoing surrender of Boko Haram insurgents to restore peace in the North East region.
He also appealed to the federal government to upgrade the proposed Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line from single to standard gauge for optimal benefit to the people of the state.
He said the standard gauge line is more desirable for the people of the state and the nation at large.
The governor urged the minister of Information and Culture to prevail on the President to consider the request.