Minister of Information, Labaran Maku
In a reaction to the criticism that the President Goodluck Jonathan administration is underperforming, the Federal Government Monday released what could be described as the scorecard of the administration, claiming that instead of condemnation, the administration should be commended.
At a special briefing yesterday in Abuja by the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, the minister said the Federal Government should get credit for improving the standard of living of Nigerians through power generation and plans to raise oil production to four million barrels per day with the expected passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
He said: “The country’s power situation has improved significantly, according to a survey carried out by the Federal Ministry of Information across the country.
“This feat was brought about through the implementation of an integrated power sector reform programme anchored on the power roadmap. This includes institutional reforms to involve the private sector in power generation, transmission and distribution.
“At the moment, there is an average of about 15 to 18 hours per day of constant power supply to different parts of the country. Under the power roadmap, the Federal Government is completing 10 new thermal power plants with some of them coming on stream in 2013 to boost the supply of electricity to all parts of the country.
“The rehabilitation of power generation and distribution infrastructure across the country is ongoing also. Already, work is ongoing at the Kainji Hydro Power Station to generate power at installed capacity, while a contract for the routine maintenance of the Shiroro Hydro Power Station has been awarded.”
The minister added that government has proposed a power and gas financing package including government guarantees, proposed infrastructure bonds of about $1 billion, and $150 million external funding from the African Development Bank (ADB) to support the continued gas supply and the liberalisation of the power sector.
He said the president’s power programme has led to an increase in power output to 4,502 megawatts of electricity, which is expected to move up to about 7,000 megawatts by the end of 2013.
On the oil and gas sector, Maku said by 2013, crude oil production would go up to four million barrels with the expected passage of the PIB by the National Assembly.
According to the minister, “Government in its aggressive drive and in line with its transformation agenda and the vision 20:2020, is developing a comprehensive framework for bringing on stream other projects in the sector.”
He said that government has developed the framework for local content in the oil and gas sector capable of creating over 300,000 direct and indirect jobs.
“Nigeria’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown by 7.1 per cent on the average in the last two years, which is largely driven by the non-oil sector,” he noted.
Other achievements of government, he pointed out, included the Federal Government putting in place several programmes and projects for job creation and wealth generation among youths.
“Such programmes include: You-Win, which is targeting 80,000-110,000 jobs both for youths and women; public works expected to generate 1,010,000 jobs in three years; the local content initiative in the oil and gas sector; and the agricultural transformation programme expected to generate three million jobs by 2015 but which has already generated about two million jobs in the last one-and-a-half years alone.
“The Community Service, Women and Youth Empowerment Programme (CSWYEP) under the SURE-P which was launched by Mr. President in February 2012 and which started under a pilot phase in 14 states has been replicated in other states.
“The Graduate Internship Programme, also in collaboration with enrolled private companies will provide one-year internship to 50,000 graduates, paid for by the Federal Government.
“So far, 700 firms, and 20,000 young graduates have applied to participate in this scheme,” Maku said.
On security, the minister acknowledged the security challenges in some Northern states, saying: “The Federal Government has remained relentless in its efforts to bring this ugly chapter to an end. This is crucial to the implementation of the Transformation Agenda because without security and peace, no meaningful development can be achieved in the affected states.
“The Federal Government has stepped up investment in security through the provision of logistics and training and deployment of security personnel to the affected states.
“We have also adopted a multifaceted approach in tackling the security challenge, especially the involvement of stakeholders, religious and community leaders as well as ordinary citizens in this campaign.”
He listed government efforts aimed at addressing the security challenge to include: “A number of Armoured Fighting Vehicles and Personnel Carriers (APCs) were rehabilitated in 2012; NNS Thunder, an ocean-going warship was acquired; in addition to a number of Shaldag Fast Patrol Boats, Mi35 Helicopters, Super Puma Helicopters, a number of Alpha-jet aircraft and an engine test- bench. The C-130H NAF aircraft have also been refurbished.
“For internal security, the following field operations were set up, Operation Pulo Shield - this operation was set up in the Niger Delta with the aim of protecting and safeguarding oil installations.”