Federal Government has given reasons for the choice of five major transport companies to provide service at 50 per cent rebate across the country during the yuletide, saying that the ability to deliver was the only yardstick for picking them and nothing more. The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, made the clarification at a news conference in Abuja. He said however, that more transport firm that meet the criteria set by the government could be considered if the need arose within the two weeks’ window stating from December 21, 2023 to January 4, 2024. He said “the five companies chosen by the Federal Government are well established transport firms that Nigerians know and they have been operating well across the length and breadth of Nigeria for many years. The government is not going to engage in business-as-usual scheme for all comers in the choice of transport firms to ferry Nigerians at half price during this period. “The truth is that only those transport companies with proven record of performance have even chosen to run the scheme which is intended to provide succour to Nigerians during this yuletide”. Responding to a reporter’s question, the minister said that if there was need to engage more transport firms within the period, the government would still do so and would pick the additional ones strictly on their track record of performance and nothing else. On the current scarcity of the Nigerian currency, the minister assured that the Central Bank of Nigeria was doing something to address the challenge, saying the problem was not intentional.
According to him, the CBN was aware of Naira notes scarcity and was undertaking a number of measures to make cash readily available to Nigerians. He also disclosed that the federal government was embarking on a number of initiatives to reduce unemployment in the country and provide succour to Nigerian youths in dire of need of jobs. The minister listed the measures include the National Talent Export Programme (NATEP), to create one million service-export jobs over the next five years, and make Nigeria a global business outsourcing hub, National Philanthropy Office (NPO), to mobilise $200 million in private investments on behalf of the Federal Government, to support MSMEs in Nigeria and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) partnership with Sterling Bank establishing a N5 Billion single-digit-interest Fund.
Turning to the security sector, the information minister said more and more attention is to be given by the government to the protection of lives and property of Nigerians with the investments of more funds in the security system. Alhaji Idris reflected on the recent bombing of innocent civilians in Tudun Biri Village in Kaduna and made it clear Mr. President had assured that those behind the act would be seriously punished after inquiry. The minister said, “Investigations have been launched into the unfortunate incident and the President assured that those involved would not go unpunished. “You are aware that our country faces challenges of insecurity particularly the menace of banditry, kidnapping, and insurgency. “Recognising the urgency of the situation, President Tinubu has made the fight against insecurity a top priority of his administration as contained in the Renewed Hope Agenda. Comprehensive strategies are being implemented to address the root causes of these issues and ensure a safer, more secure Nigeria. The President understands the multifaceted nature of the challenges, and his commitment extends beyond military interventions. It encompasses even non-kinetic approach. The goal is not only to quell immediate threats but also to create an environment where citizens can live without fear and insecurity.
“Investments in the modernisation and equipping of our security forces, intelligence agencies, and law enforcement are key components of this commitment. The Nigerian Air Force a few months ago took delivery of 4 new aircraft, to strengthen the fight against banditry and terrorism. President Tinubu is working tirelessly to ensure that our security apparatus is well-equipped, motivated, and strategically positioned to protect our nation from external and internal threats. Furthermore, efforts are underway to address the root causes of insecurity, including youth unemployment, poverty, and social inequality. The administration is dedicated to creating sustainable solutions that will not only tackle the symptoms but also address the underlying factors contributing to insecurity,” Idris said. Reflecting on the performance of the government since taking over the realms, the minister boasted that the administration had taken rare steps aimed at boosting the economy and restoring hope in all Nigerians as was promised by President Tinubu during his campaigns. Alhaji Idris said, “As we stand at the threshold of a new year, I wish to extend a message of hope and optimism. The reforms initiated by President Tinubu across the various sectors of our economy are sowing the seeds of transformative change, and as we enter 2024, we can anticipate the fruits of these efforts beginning to blossom. These reforms are not instantaneous miracles but deliberate steps towards building a stronger and more prosperous Nigeria.
“In the economic realm, initiatives aimed at creating jobs, attracting investments, and fostering sustainable growth are taking root. As we move forward, we can expect to witness the tangible outcomes of these efforts, with increased economic opportunities, improved infrastructure, and a business environment conducive to innovation and prosperity. President Tinubu’s dedication to addressing insecurity and creating a safer nation is steadfast. The reforms implemented in this regard will contribute to restoring peace and security, fostering an environment where citizens can pursue their aspirations without fear. As we look ahead, let us embrace the spirit of hope and resilience. Change takes time, but every step forward is a testament to the progress we are making as a nation. The journey towards a better Nigeria is a collective endeavour”, and your support and optimism are invaluable in this transformative process. Let us move into 2024 with hope in our hearts, knowing that the reforms of President Tinubu are laying the foundation for a brighter and more prosperous future for all Nigerians,” the minister prayed all Nigerians.