President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of Infraco Plc, a world-class infrastructure development vehicle wholly focused on Nigeria with a capital structure of N15 trillion. The president revealed this on Saturday in a broadcast to mark this year’s Democracy Day. He expressed optimism that the company, when fully functional, would address the nation’s infrastructural deficits and subsequently transform the economy. He also disclosed that his administration had succeeded in accelerating infrastructure development through sensible and transparent borrowing, improved capital inflow, improving and increasing revenue through capturing more tax bases and prudent management of investment proceeds in the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
According to him, the rail system is not left out as the Itakpe-Warri standard gauge rail was completed and commissioned 33 years after construction began. He stated that the Lagos-Ibadan double track railway line, which he inaugurated on June 10, 2021, had commenced operations.
“We are focused on ensuring that our infrastructure drive is key to economic growth and one that can be felt by every Nigerian. Building critical infrastructure in our ports is also opening up opportunities for the Nigerian economy. “My approval for four new seaports using a Public-Private-Partnership approach is hinged on growing the Nigerian economy.
These four sea ports; Lekki Deep Sea Port, Bonny Deep Sea Port, Ibom Deep Sea Port and Warri Deep Sea port, will create massive job opportunities and foreign investment inflows. We have worked at deepening our Eastern ports leading to success like having three container ships berth at Calabar port, a first in 11 years.
“Similarly, on October 30, 2019, an LPG tanker operated by NLNG berthed in Port Harcourt, the first time an LPG ship is berthing at any of the Eastern Ports. As we invest in these new assets, we have also made strides in ensuring that they are secured and protected. In this regard, I am also pleased to note the launch of the NIMASA Deep Blue project – which is an Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure that I recently commissioned. This initiative is designed to add to the layer of security we have to safeguard our maritime sector,’’ he added.
The president also listed the achievements of his administration in the agricultural sector to include the Anchor Borrowers Programme which resulted in sharp decline in the nation’s major food import bill from 2.23 billion dollars in 2014 to 0.59 billion dollars by the end of 2018.
According to him, rice import bill alone also dropped from one billion dollars to 18.5 million dollars annually. He observed that Anchor Borrowers initiative had supported local production of rice, maize, cotton and cassava. He revealed that government financed 2.5 million small-holder farmers cultivating about 3.2 million hectares of farmland all over the country and created 10 million direct and indirect jobs. “Several other initiatives, namely AgriBusiness/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme, the Non-oil Export stimulation Facility, the Targeted Credit Facilities operated across the 774 Local Governments. In the manufacturing sector the CBN – BOI N200 billion facility financed the establishment and operations of 60 new industrial hubs across the country, creating an estimated 890,000 direct and indirect jobs,’’ he added. The president noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s N50 billion Textile Sector intervention Facility increased capacity utilisation of ginneries from 30 per cent to nearly 90 per cent.
According to him, the Economic Sustainability Plan – the nation rebound plan for the COVID-19 pandemic developed in 2020, is currently being executed. He said the plan was primarily focused on the non-oil sector, which had recorded phenomenal growth contributing over 90 per cent to the GDP growth in Q1 2021. Though marginal we have recorded GDP growth over two quarters; Q2 2020 and Q1 2021. This is evidence of a successful execution of the ESP by the Federal Government.” Buhari stated that his administration’s vision of pulling 100 million poor Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years had been put into action and could be seen in the National Social Investment Programme; “a first in Africa and one of the largest in the world where over 32.6 million beneficiaries are taking part. We now have a National Social register of poor and vulnerable households, identified across 708 local government areas, 8,723 wards and 86,610 communities in the 36 States and the FCT’’. He further maintained that the administration’s conditional cash transfer programme had benefited over 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households comprising more than eight million individuals, saying “this provides a monthly stipend of N10,000 per household’’.
The president revealed that he recently approved the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy Plan that augments existing plans to further reduce poverty in the country. He said: “As at the end of 2020, the Development Bank of Nigeria had disbursed N324 billion in loans to more than 136,000 MSMEs, through 40 participating Financial Institutions.
“I am to note that 57 per cent of these beneficiaries are women while 27 per cent are the youth,’’ he said.