Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, has said that Nigeria is taking a giant leap in infrastructure development as part of deliberate efforts to pull the economy out of recession.
A statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday by the Deputy Director of Information, State House, Abuja, Mr Attah Esa, said Shehu stated this in an interview programme on Express Radio in Kano.
The Presidential spokesman said the President Buhari-led administration had chosen to fast track projects related to infrastructure in order to pump money into the economy as a way of pulling the economy out of recession.
According to Shehu, the Buhari administration had embarked on infrastructure development by speeding up ongoing projects and investing heavily in the construction and repair of highways, railways and power generating plants across the country.
“To this end, an unprecedented amount of N750 billion has been released for capital projects in the last five months and that counterpart funds for the take-off of the 11 billion dollar Kano-Lagos rail project had been paid.’’
He said already a number of projects existing on paper were being activated, citing the Kano-Katsina dual road project as an example of what he called “deceitful and ghost projects now being given life.”
“Kano-Katsina dual highway was awarded three years ago by the last administration.
“They didn’t pay a kobo for its start-up. President Buhari just paid money for the first tranche of 75 kilometers and work has begun apace.”
Shehu explained the essence of infrastructure in the country’s economic and industrial take-off, describing it as the equivalent of the arteries forming the bloodstream in the body.
“Without infrastructure, the country will not witness growth.’’
On the resurgence of militancy and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta region, the Presidential aide appealed to militants in the region to maintain peace as “President Buhari seeks a permanent solution to the problems that are worrisome to every citizen.
“We must keep national interest above all else and give priority to eschewing violence and destruction.’’
He expressed regret that despite its good faith in pursuing dialogue with the Niger Delta stakeholders, the militant groups had not reciprocated the government’s good gesture in finding peaceful and lasting solution to the crisis in the oil producing areas of Nigeria.
He said, “Despite the government’s practical demonstration of goodwill by bringing the parties or stakeholders to the round table, the militant groups have continued to blow up national economic assets.’’
According to him, the continued destruction of oil installations, including those repaired, has thrown a spanner in the works, causing enormous hardships on innocent Nigerians on account of declining oil production output and massive losses of revenues.
He said this in turn, had badly affected the ability of governments at all levels to meet their basic obligations, including payment of salaries.
While cautioning that violence brings no benefits to anybody, Shehu appealed to Niger Delta leaders at all levels to exert every influence they have to stop the violence and economic sabotage “so that normalcy returns to the region.”