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Tinubu Has Laid The Foundation For The Next Three Years Of Abundance, Says Information Minister Mohammad Idris

Nigeria’s information minister Idris says Tinubu’s administration has introduced bold economic reforms that have stabilised the economy and sparked growth.

Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammad Idris, has said President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s first year in office has been a transformative journey towards stability, prosperity and security, guided by the eight-point “Renewed Hope Agenda”.

Idris made the declaration in a statement titled, “One Year of the Tinubu Administration – Building a Safer, Stronger, and Prosperous Nigeria.”

The presidency also said Tinubu’s one year in office were months of baby steps, assuring that the president has laid the foundation for next three years of abundance.

Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to the President, Bayo Onanuga, made the affirmation on Tuesday, in a statement.

Idris said amid economic challenges marked by turmoil and unemployment, the Tinubu administration’s bold economic reforms had stabilised the economy and sparked growth.

He stated that under Tinubu’s leadership, the administration had tackled critical national challenges and implemented comprehensive policies aimed at fostering national growth and development.

The minister stated, “A significant move was the removal of the unsustainable fuel subsidy, redirecting approximately $10 billion annually towards critical sectors such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, and security.

“This action alone led to a 50 percent reduction in petrol importation and increased state and local government revenues. The elimination of the foreign exchange subsidy and the harmonisation of forex rates bolstered the Nigerian economy, resulting in the Nigerian Exchange Group becoming the top-performing bourse globally and strengthening the Naira.”

On security, the minister said substantial investments aimed at modernising the armed forces and achieving significant milestones in national security was made, resulting in the liberation of over 4,600 hostages, neutralisation of 9,300 criminals, and arrest of 7,000 terrorists and bandits.

He added that the security forces also recovered thousands of weapons and rounds of ammunition crucial in combating banditry and insurgency.

Idris stressed that in addressing food security, Tinubu declared a state of emergency, leading to the restructuring of the Ministry of Agriculture into the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. He added that initiatives, such as the National Agricultural Development Fund and the Dry Season Farming Initiative, had been launched to boost agricultural productivity and ensure food sufficiency.

The minister also noted that energy and natural resources management had seen enhanced security measures in the Niger Delta, leading to an increase in oil production and more stable natural gas output.

Onanuga also reiterated that the president was not restrained by turbulence, insisting he remains focused on the marathon of the next three years.

He recalled that as Nigeria’s 16th President, Tinubu, during his campaign for the office, said he would make difficult decisions and that running the country would not be business as usual.

According to him, “From day one, he sought to fulfill his promises, beginning from his earthshaking ‘subsidy is gone’ announcement at the Eagle Square, on the day he was sworn in.

“The announcement reverberated around the country and beyond. He was not just actualising a promise he made. He was also affecting the consensus of all the major candidates in the 2023 election that the several decades old, wasteful subsidy must end.

“His administration followed this up with the decision to harmonise the foreign exchange rates. The multiple exchange rates executed under his predecessor had given room to various abuses, among which was arbitrage, where people close to the power loop made humongous money, getting forex at the official rate and offloading it at the so-called parallel market for almost 100 percent profit. “Both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank advised the Nigerian government to end the policy, to no avail, as forex obligations piled up, FDI’s dried up, and investors shunned Nigeria. Tinubu knew that to reset the economy and build renewed confidence locally and internationally, there must be a policy change.”

The presidential spokesman said Tinubu fulfilled what he promised during the campaign, with the government announcing its desire to harmonise the rates in “weeks”, a decision that caught the attention of the financial world that Nigeria was at the cusp of great change.

He averred that the administration had responded on many fronts to its challenges with a raft of palliative policies. He listed the subsidised bus transport for the public last December, as well as free train service to Nigerians going home for Christmas and New Year as some of the measures.

Onanuga noted that the subsidy was also offered for the return journeys, while over 200,000 Nigerians benefited from the bus service.

In agriculture, he said the government declared a food emergency, launched a massive dry season farming in important crops such as wheat and maize, along with assisting farmers with N100 billion worth of fertilisers.

In addition, he lauded the magnanimity of the federal government for releasing 43,000 metric tonnes of grains from the National reserves and for buying another 60,000 metric tonnes of rice from local millers for distribution to the vulnerable people.

Onanuga stated, “As part of the ameliorative measures, the Tinubu administration announced wage awards of N35,000 to Federal workers to enable them cope with food inflation and transport costs, as it works out a new national minimum wage.

“It announced in July last year the Presidential CNG Initiative. Under the programme, that will herald a new industry and new jobs, hundreds of buses and tricycles, which will be powered by Compressed Natural Gas(CNG), will be locally assembled for countrywide rollout.

“Some of the vehicles will be electric for use in some Nigerian states, where CNG is not readily available. A panel to drive the vision was inaugurated in October 2023. However, bureaucratic delays slowed its procurement work.  A large number of the buses and tricycles will be available as part of the ceremonies to mark the first anniversary of the Tinubu administration.”

He applauded the Tinubu administration for supporting businesses through the Bank of Industry, in conjunction with Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, which disbursed N50,000 to nano businesses under the Presidential Conditional Grant Programme.

He noted that the programme, which targeted over 1,000,000 nano businesses, benefitted retail marketers, corner shop owners, petty traders, market men and women, food and vegetable vendors, vulcanisers and shoemakers, among others, adding that government also announced an aid package of N1billion each to 75 big businesses.

Onanuga said the Tinubu government approved $617 million for up-skilling Nigerian youths, providing start-up funding, catalytic infrastructure, and policy advocacy, noting youths with digital skills are now registering to benefit from the fund, being administered by the Bank of Industry.

He praised the president’s foresight of tinkering with the tax structure and bringing more money to the national coffers, which was a difficult choice in a country with 200 million people and tax to GDP ratio less than 10 percent.

He said, “The NNPC was ordered to remit its dollar earnings into CBN.  Revenue inflow generally is increasing. FIRS is working towards increasing the percentage of tax to GDP to about 20 percent.

“The inflow of money is making the Tinubu administration dream big and plan big. With Renewed Hope Infrastructure Fund due for launch, the government is already embarking on legacy projects, such as the 700 kilometre Lagos-Calabar Coastal Superhighway, which began in March. Government also plans to reactivate the Sokoto Illela-Badagry Superhighway, which was abandoned in 1976.

“Many roads and bridges in state of disrepair are to be refurbished. There are plans for rail. Funding for the Ibadan-Abuja-Kaduna rail is being arranged. Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail will be resuscitated while the Kano-Kastina-Maradi rail line, started by the Buhari administration will be completed with $2billion dollar loan already secured.”

He commended the president for the executive order on investment in the oil and gas sector, ascribing the opening of three big gas plants in the Niger Delta by the president in recent weeks as the quick fruits of the policy.

Onanuga said mega investments running into over $15 billion were expected in weeks.

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