By Tobi Soniyi in Lagos
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said with President Muhammadu Buhari piloting the affairs of Nigeria, the country is in very safe and competent hands, hence there is no cause for alarm.
A statement by his Senior Adviser, Mr. Segun Adeyemi, said Mohammed spoke at the weekend at a mini town hall meeting with the staff of the Nigerian Embassy in Madrid, Spain, and a cross section of Nigerians living in the European country.
He said contrary to fake news being peddled on the social media, Nigeria was making steady progress, especially in revamping the economy, tackling insecurity and fighting corruption – the three cardinal programmes of the Buhari administration â€˜â€™Donâ€™t believe everything you read on the social media. Nigeria is neither at war nor in crisis,â€™â€™Â Mohammed said.
â€˜â€™Contrary to what you may be reading on the Internet, the Buhari administration is putting Nigeria on a solid footing, after the years that were eaten by the locust.â€™â€™
He alleged that naysayers were spending millions of naira to distort the true situation of things in Nigeria and to make the administration look bad.
The minister said the administrationâ€™s achievements should be evaluated against the background of the tough challenges that it has faced since coming into office on May 29, 2015
â€˜â€™It is said that if you donâ€™t know where you are coming from, you wonâ€™t know where you are going,â€™â€™ he said, listing the drastic fall in the price of crude oil, the low foreign reserves at $24 billion, the fact that the federal government was borrowing to pay workersâ€™ salaries, and the fact that many states were unable to pay salaries as some of those challenges.
Mohammed also said when the administration came into office, â€œunpaid pensions had run into billions of naira in many states, contractors had abandoned sites across the country because they were being heavily owed, infrastructure was in poor state, power generation was 2,690 megawatts, billions were being paid as â€˜fuel subsidiesâ€™ to fat cats, corruption was the order of the day, while 20 of the 27 local governments in Borno were under the firm control of Boko Haram.
â€˜â€™Today, the trend is being reversed, and the results are showing: Foreign reserves is now $42.8billion, the highest level in four years, inflation has fallen for 12 consecutive months to 15.13per cent, N108 billion has been saved from removal of maintenance fees payable to banks before Treasury Single Account (TSA), the nation is being saved 24.7 billion Naira monthly with the full implementation of the TSA and the elimination of ghost workers has saved the nation N120 billion.
â€˜â€™With improved macro-economic conditions, capital inflow is on the upswing, reaching $1.8 billion in the second quarter of 2017, which is almost double the $908 million in the first quarter, Nigeriaâ€™s stock market is one of the best-performing in the world, delivering returns in excess of 40 per cent, Nigeria jumped 24 places on the World Bankâ€™s Ease of Doing Business ranking, and earned a place on the List of Top 10 Reformers in the world.â€
The minister also told the meeting that the administrationâ€™s agricultural revolution has moved Nigeria close to self-sufficiency in many staples, especially rice and that the home-Grown School Feeding Programme has created jobs for 61,352 cooks while providing 6.4 million school children in 33,981 schools across 20 states with one meal a day.
He also said that power generation had increased to 7,000 megawatts, that Boko Haram had been massively degraded and that the administrationâ€™s was embarking on a massive infrastructural renewal.
The minister urgedÂ Nigerians living abroad to download the FGN-iAPP in order to get authentic news from Nigeria.
He later fielded questions from the Nigerians with many of them seeking to know when Nigerians in the diaspora would be able to vote, how they could access the national identity card, how they could get authentic information from Nigeria and what the federal government was doing to end the herder-farmer clashes.
Nigeriaâ€™s Ambassador to Spain, Mrs. Susan Aderonke Folarin, led the staff of the embassy to the town hall meeting, which was held at the embassy premises.