Friday, May 27, 2016

We are not elected to make excuses - Lai Mohammed


Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has assured Nigerians that the present administration was determined to turn around the economic situation for good. Mohammed noted that the administration was aware that it was not elected to make excuses but to put the nation back on a sound economic footing, ensure the security of lives and property and banish corruption, The Nation reports.



He therefore assured Nigerians that the change promised was real, despite the current tough situation. Speaking at a meeting with members of Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) in Abuja alongside four other ministers, the minister reassured Nigerians that the present administration was not lacking in political will, commitment, discipline and prudence.

Other ministers in attendance are: Dr. Chris Ngige,  Labour and Employment;  Babatunde Fashiola, Power, Housing and Work; FCT, Musa Bello and Trade and Investment, Okey Enelamah. Information and Culture minister also noted that for keen followers of the activities of government in the past one year will admit that the administration has made great strides towards fulfilling its campaign promises.

He said, “As I have said at many fora, our economy, or whatever is left of it after years of serial mismanagement and massive corruption, is in a bad state. “Throw into the mix the huge fall in oil price, and you have nothing but a disaster of an economy. But then, this Administration is aware that it was not elected to make excuses but to put the nation back on a sound economic footing, ensure the security of lives and property and banish corruption.

“We have therefore decided to turn the disaster that we inherited into a blessing by diversifying our economy away from the mono-product of oil, leveraging on agriculture, solid minerals as well as culture and tourism, among others. “Let me assure Nigerians that the change we promised is real, despite the tough situation we are in at the moment. It is real because there is no shortage of political will, commitment, discipline and prudence on the part of government, under the dedicated and visionary leadership of President Buhari.

“Now, make no mistake about it: The road will be rough. But as the saying goes, the darker the night, the brighter the morning. Our long suffering people will surely smile again. Change is no instant coffee. It is a process. We are now laying a solid foundation for our country.

“By earmarking 30 per cent of our budget to capital expenditure, we are building and rebuilding infrastructure. Through our massive social intervention this year alone, we are catering for the weak among us through the conditional transfer of 5,000 Naira to the vulnerable, we are creating jobs as we move to employ 500,000 graduates and 100,000 non-graduates, we are offering soft loans to market women, men and traders, we are ready to feed 5.5 million school children once daily, and we are providing scholarships to 100,000 students studying Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

“In total, over 8 million Nigerians will benefit directly, and millions more indirectly, from our social intervention fund. “Nigeria will overcome the economic catastrophe caused by years of bad governance, mind-boggling corruption and unprecedented profligacy. But we must not despair. We must keep hope alive.

“The Buhari Administration has also squarely taken on the fight against corruption and it is winning. Today, the issue of corruption has become topical in national discourse and the corrupt are no longer able to flaunt their ill-gotten wealth with impunity, as they used to do. This is because the government has succeeded in sensitizing Nigerians to the cost of corruption to their lives.

“For example, it was corruption that prolonged the war against Boko Haram and dispatched many soldiers and civilians to their early graves; It was corruption that ensured that while oil was selling for over 100 dollars per barrel, the country had nothing to show for the windfall; it was because of corruption that even though the national budget has increased from less than a trillion in 1999 to over 6 trillion in 2016, poverty has grown almost at the same rate that the budget has increased; It was corruption that gave Nigerians darkness, instead of light, while successive governments pumped millions of dollars into the power sector.

“Nigeria’s economy poses a great challenge! Nigeria has lost a huge chunk of its earnings to the massive crash in the price of oil. “But the Administration has decided to see opportunities rather than difficulties by working assiduously to diversify the nation’s economy away from oil.”

Commending Nigerians for their support, understanding and perseverance in the past year, the minister agreed that the country was passing through a very difficult situation at this time, with the loss of over 60 per cent of national income due to the drop in the price of crude oil.

On his response to the question of the economic status of the country, he said: “Many have asked me if indeed Nigeria is broke. In answering them, I have shunned semantics. I have simply asked them: If a man earning 100,000 Naira a month suddenly sees his salary plummet to 40,000 Naira, what is that called?” he asked.

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