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Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola

Stakeholders Laud FG for Improvements in Nation’s Roads

Yemi Akinsuyi

Stakeholders in the nation’s road sector, have lauded the improvements on the roads across the country, commending the Federal Government, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, and his team for the innovative approach to road management since the inception of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Speaking at a one-day public enlightenment on the developments in the road sector, the stakeholders, who included the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), and Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association among other road users, noted that the minister has done a lot to restore confidence of Nigerians on the nation’s road sector.

In his goodwill message, President of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Najimdeem Yasin, commended the minister for his efforts in executing the 2017 budgetary proposals as regards the development of road network across the country.

Represented at the occasion by Alhaji Nasiru, the NURTW President also expressed appreciation to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for the prudent management of the nation’s scarce resources noting that since the beginning of the present administration, the road sector in the country never had it as good as is being currently experienced despite the shortfall in the nation’s revenue generation.

He, however, pointed out that as the efforts and actions of the government to improve the roads were being applauded, it was also necessary to direct its attention to a lot more of the roads that still needed urgent attention  urging the Minister to put in place a mechanism to institutionalize the culture of construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of Federal roads as well as putting necessary instruments that would guide against the abuse of the roads by the road users.

Such mechanisms, the Union leader said, included weighbridges, transit parks and provision of other road furniture adding that as a transport workers’ union occupying the leadership of the International Transport Federation (ITF) and the Global Vice President, the leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers had taken the sensitization and training of its members very seriously as it could not afford to operate short of international standard.

President of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Alhaji Kassim Bataiya, pledged the support of the association to the Federal Government’s efforts to put Nigerian roads on course.

In his keynote address, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented at the occasion by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Gida Mustapha, said the convocation of the workshop was an indication of the important role that road transportation plays in the nation’s economic development adding that the critical place of road transportation in the country’s evolution and the national life had never been more alive than presently.

“Presently the haulage of industrial goods, agricultural produce and industrial raw material, petroleum products, power plant components and other economic materials required in the manufacturing sector, are carried out using the road network”, the President noted adding that it was this realization that underscored the promise of change by the present administration in May 2015 with infrastructure as a priority.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, said the workshop was meant to reflect and agree on the need for change about how Nigerians have used their Road infrastructure adding that the country’s Economic growth, National productivity and job opportunities would be impacted by the conclusions and resolutions of the meeting.

ERGP Prioritises Human Capital Development – FG

The Federal Government has explained that a major priority of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is human capital development.

This is in reaction to comments of Bill Gates on the government’s policy.

Special Adviser (Media) to the minister of Budget and National Planning, Akpandem James, in a statement, said Mr Gates’ remarks may have been understood out of context.

“A close reading of his statement shows that the point Mr. Gates was making was that the human capital development should have been explicitly indicated as part of the execution priorities of the ERGP. This is not the same as saying that the ERGP does not address human capital development or that Mr. Gates faulted Nigeria’s economic plans as some newspapers put it.”

He explained in the statement that the ERGP rests on the three pillars of restoring growth, investing in the Nigerian people and building a competitive economy.

“The pillar of ‘investing in the Nigerian people’ is nothing other than human capital development consisting as it does of education, health and social investments, and a whole chapter of the ERGP is devoted to this important pillar. Therefore the ERGP indeed prioritises human capital development.

“The ERGP sets out 60 strategies cutting across all sectors of the economy. Indeed, over one quarter of them (strategies 31 to 47) fall into the category of Investing in the Nigerian people. The execution priorities of the ERGP are restoring macroeconomic balance, achieving agriculture and food security, ensuring energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products, improving transportation infrastructure and driving industrialization through SMEs. These interventions were chosen because of their potential for fast-tracking economic recovery and expected contribution of the private sector to accelerating growth, which is one of the key principles of the ERGP. In other words, the execution priorities are catalysts for implementing all the strategies in the ERGP,” part of the statement read.

It further pointed out that human capital development spending had gone up, pointing out that capital allocations to education, including Universal Basic Education (UBEC), in the 2015 Budget was N91.903 billion, but the allocation was increased to N112.543 billion in 2016; N152 billion in 2017 and N170.79 billion is proposed for 2018 budget.

“In the health sector, while N22.676 billion was provided in the 2015 budget for Capital expenditure, N28.65 billion was provided in the 2016 budget; N55.61 billion in 2017; and N71.11 billion in the 2018 budget proposal. In addition, the current administration has launched a wide-ranging Social Investment Programme which caters for human development for which a total budgetary allocation of N500 billion has been provided in the 2016 and 2017 budgets as well as the 2018 budget proposals,” it added.

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