Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, Monday, stressed the readiness of the federal government to de-emphasise dependence on foreign supply of military weapons to fight security challenges facing the nation by commencing local productions.
To this end, he has instructed the Ministry of Defense to create a modest military industrial complex for the local production of weapons to meet some of the requirements of the country’s armed forces.
The President made this disclosure in his opening remarks at a two-day Mid-Term Ministerial Performance Review Retreat, organised to assess progress made towards the achievement of the nine key priorities of his Administration.
According to him, the establishment of the industrial complex would address Nigeria’s over-dependence on other countries for military equipment and logistics.
The project, he explained, was being implemented under the Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), a military department responsible for arms manufacture.
His words: “To address our over-dependence on other countries for military equipment and logistics, I have instructed the Defence Ministry to create a modest military industrial complex for the local production of weapons to meet some of the requirements of the country’s armed forces. This is being implemented under the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), a military department responsible for arms manufacture”.
On other steps being taken by his government to strengthen national security, President Buhari said it was gratifying to note that Nigeria has received six A-29 Super Tucano propeller-driven aircraft, which were currently being used for training, surveillance and attack by the military.
“It is gratifying to note that only recently, we received six A-29 Super Tucano aircrafts as part of our efforts to boost the nation’s campaign against insecurity. The propeller-driven aircrafts are being used for training, surveillance and attack by the Military.
“As part of the efforts towards strengthening our national security, we have increased investments in arms, weapons and other necessary equipment; expanded the National Command and Control Centre to nineteen states of the federation; and established a Nigerian Police Trust Fund, which will significantly improve funding for the Nigeria Police Force.
“We have also approved the sum of N13.3 billion for the take-off of the Community Policing initiative across the country, as part of measures adopted to consolidate efforts aimed at enhancing security nationwide,” he added.
He highlighted some of the federal government’s notable achievements in the last two years by in the areas of infrastructure, transportation, economy, electricity supply and the petroleum industry, among others.
The President also assured Nigerians that the 11.9km Second Niger Bridge, 120 km Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and other key projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) would be completed within the second term of this administration.
He said, “On transportation, we are growing the stock and quality of our road, rail, air and water transport infrastructure. The PIDF projects are also advancing remarkably. These include the 11.9km Second Niger Bridge, 120 km Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, 375 km Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano Expressway and the East West Road. Most of these projects are expected to be completed within this 2nd term of our Administration.”
President Buhari noted that his administration had made tremendous progress on railway projects in the country, noting that upgrading of the railway network was being extended with the recent completion of the Lagos–Ibadan line.
“The Itakpe-Ajaokuta rail line has finally been completed and commissioned after 30 years of its conception. Work is expected to commence very soon on the Port-Harcourt Maiduguri line and Calabar – Lagos Coastal Line to connect the Southern and Eastern States of our Country. Progress is also being made on the upgrading of our Airports, with the state-of-the-art facilities in line with world class safety standards,” he said.
President Buhari expressed delight that over the past two years, Ministers have rendered reports to the Federal Executive Council on their activities related to the achievement of their Ministerial Mandates.
“Some of the notable achievements include the establishment of InfraCo Plc in 2020, as a world class infrastructure development vehicle, wholly focused on Nigeria, with combined debt and equity take-off capital of N15 trillion, to be managed by an independent infrastructure fund manager.
“The Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund was also established in 2020 with more than USD 1Billion in funding. In addition, we have launched the Nigeria Innovation Fund by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). This is aimed at addressing investment opportunities in the domestic technology sector: data networking, datacenters, software, Agri-tech, Bio-tech, and more”.
On the economy, the President said the nation witnessed three consecutive quarters of growth, after negative growth rates recorded in the second and third quarters of 2020.
He said, “The GDP grew from 0.8% in 2017 to 2.2% in 2019, but declined in the first quarter of 2020, as a result of the downward trend in global economic activities triggered by the COVID-19 Pandemic. As at Second Quarter 2021, GDP growth rate was at 5.01%, the highest since the inception of this Administration.
Commenting on the power sector, President Buhari noted that the implementation of a ‘Willing Buyer-Willing Seller’ Policy has opened up opportunities for increased delivery of electricity to underserved homes and industries.
He expressed the hope that the execution of critical projects through the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme, will result in achieving the national goal of improved power supply by 2025.
On the Petroleum Industry Act signed into law on 16th August 2021, the President reiterated his directive to the Implementation Committee to complete all processes for the successful operationalisation of the Act within 12 months.
On efforts to empower the youth and other vulnerable groups by enhancing investments in the Social Intervention Programmes, the President said he has approved the expansion of the National Social Register (NSP), which is the official database for the implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer programme by one million additional households.
According to him: “We have established the N75 billion Nigerian Youth Investment Fund created to boost the Nigerian economy through leverage and access to finance for youths.
“The Fund should serve as a catalyst to unleash the potential of the youth and to enable them to build businesses that will stimulate economic growth and create jobs. These accomplishments are a testament to the fact that all hands are on deck in establishing a solid foundation for even greater successes in future”.
He warned all Ministers and Permanent Secretaries to take seriously all issues relating to the implementation of their mandates towards the attainment of the laudable objectives of the government.
President Buhari used the opening ceremony to unveil the Presidential Priorities Performance Management System and Dashboard, explaining that the initiative, which has been in effect since January this year, had provided him the opportunity to track projects in real-time with live data.
His words: “In our continuing drive to ensure accountability, we have incorporated a Performance Management Framework into the functions of the Central Delivery Coordination Unit for ease of tracking of the Ministerial Deliverables along the lines of the nine priority areas of this administration.
“This initiative has provided me the opportunity to track the performance of all ministries and by extension my administration. This process has been in effect since January 2021 and today, it gives me great pleasure to unveil the Performance Management System and Dashboard to track projects in real-time with live data and early warning system to proactively resolve bottlenecks”.
In view of the importance of this year’s retreat, President Buhari announced that he would sit through all the sessions to listen to the cumulative assessment of this administration’s performance over the last 2 years.
Equally, the President would join in discussions on the best approach and strategies to implement planned policies, programmes and projects that could significantly diversify the economy away from its dependence on oil revenue, while sustaining the current economic growth trajectory.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja