By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari says the completion of Amauzari, Amla Otukpo and other 42 Earth Dams with combined job creation of about 114,526 direct and indirect jobs, will boost irrigation and water supply across the country.
The president revealed this during his broadcast to mark this year’s Democracy Day in Abuja on Friday.
He assured that the Federal Government would continue to expand water supply, irrigation and dam facilities to enable sustainable access to safe and sufficient water to meet the social, cultural, environmental and economic development needs of all Nigerians.
“The Completion of Amauzari, Amla Otukpo and other 42 Earth Dams with combined job creation of about 43,354 direct jobs and 71,172 indirect jobs, would provide more support for irrigation agriculture and water supply.
“To further institutionalize our effort in this regard, I signed the Executive Order 009 on Ending Open Defecation in Nigeria.
“In order to improve our forest cover and in fulfilment of my commitment at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2019, we have commenced the planting of 25 million trees.
“This initiative will also contribute to our effort to mitigate the effect of climate change,’’ he added.
On housing, the president disclosed that the federal government affordable housing scheme for the low and middle-income earners had received a boost with the delivery of 1,200 housing units through a Public Private Sector partnership and the issuance of 868 mortgages totaling N7.7 billion.
He said N16.2billion was also granted to 19,210 people as Home Renovation Loans as well as the issuance of 868 mortgages totalling N7.7 billion.
Buhari stated that the government would continue to pursue the enforcement of free and compulsory basic education for the first 9 years of schooling across the country.
According to him, Nigeria remains committed to expanding access to quality education to enhance the productivity of its citizens.
He said: “In pursuit of this, we have launched the Better Education Service Delivery for All in 17 states, established additional 6 Federal Science and Technical Colleges and currently executing a pro-active Teacher Training Plan with all states of the Federation.
“In our revision of the operations of specialized education funds and to implement reforms that would optimize their benefits to the sector, we have adopted a Public-Private Sector Partnership for provision of infrastructure and also collaborate with the private sector to create jobs.
The president also noted that the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund projects had been progressing very well.
“On the 2nd Niger Bridge, piling work has been completed and the approach roads are being constructed. 48 per cent of work on this bridge has been achieved.’’
The president said the government had constructed 102kilometers of the 376km Abuja – Kaduna – Kano Road, representing 38 per cent, and the 42.9kilometers Obajana – Kabba Road had reached 87.03 per cent complete.
The Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, according to him, has completed routine maintenance on over 4,000kilometers of federal roads out of the 5,000kilometersm targeted.
“We are extending and upgrading our railway network too.
“We are introducing more locomotives, coaches and wagons for the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line. The Central Ajaokuta – Itakpe – Warri Line has been completed and is being extended from Itakpe to Abuja on one end and from Warri Town to Warri Port on the other.
“The Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line is 90 per cent completed and would be extended to the Lagos Port, which would help address the long-standing grid-lock at the Apapa port.
“The Kano – Maradi Single Track Standard Gauge Railway, Coastal Railway Project and Port Harcourt – Maiduguri Standard Gauge Railway, with its associated branch lines running through the South Eastern and Gombe States, industrial park and Bonny Deep Sea Port are all ready for concessioning,’’ he said.
President Buhari maintained that his administration would continue to make investments in the aviation sector to position it as a travel and trade hub in West Africa and the wider African continent.
According to the president, Airport Terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt are being expanded, while the rehabilitation of the Enugu Airport is almost completed.
He revealed that all the nation airports are being raised to international standards with the provision of necessary equipment, especially navigational aids, to guarantee world class safety standards.
The president disclosed that for the first time in over ten years, “Nigeria is conducting bidding process for 57 Marginal Oil Fields to increase revenue and increase the participation of Nigerian companies in oil and exploration and production business.
“We continue to grow local content in other areas of the oil and gas sector with the disbursement of funds from the $200 million Nigerian Content Intervention Fund to indigenous manufacturers and service providers.
“With sustained engagement of youths, opinion leaders and other stakeholders, we have restored peace in the Niger Delta Region and maintained our oil production levels.’’
He stated that the Head office of the Niger Delta Development Commission would soon be inaugurated.
“The Funding of sections I–IV of the East-West Road shall be pursued with a view to completing the project by the end of 2021.
“Furthermore, I am determined to ensure that development meant for the people of the Niger Delta get to them, so I have authorised a Forensic Audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission,’’ he added.
The president said Digital Economy would continue to play an important role in nation development agenda as the country moves into the age of Artificial Intelligence.
“Since the creation of the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy has been launched.
“Steps have been taken to achieve a reduction of connectivity cluster gaps from 207 to 114 as well as increase the level of 4G coverage by 30 per cent,’’ the president said.