OPENING REMARKS BY THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, AT THE 16TH EDITION OF THE ”PMB ADMINISTRATION SCORECARD SERIES (2015-2023)” IN ABUJA ON MONDAY, JANUARY 9TH 2023
Since this is our first gathering in 2023, I wish all of us here a Happy New Year as I also warmly welcome you to the first edition of the PMB Administration Scorecard Series for 2023 and the 16th edition overall. A quick reminder that we launched the ‘PMB Administration Scorecard Series’ on Oct. 18th, 2022, as part of our efforts to massively showcase the remarkable achievements of the PMB Administration.
- To date, we have hosted 15 Honourable Ministers, viz:-
i) – Works and Housing
ii) – Transportation
iii) – Aviation
iv) – Interior
v) – Agriculture and Rural Development
vi) – Finance, Budget and National Planning
vii) – Water Resources
viii) – Environment
ix) – Mines and Steel Development
x) – Science, Technology and Innovation
xi) – Power
xii) – Niger Delta Affairs
xiii) – Women Affairs
xiv) – Sports and Youth Development
xv) – Police Affairs
- Please allow me to put it on record that this programme has enjoyed a massive media play, thanks to the dedicated group of Editors, Bureau Chiefs and other journalists who have covered every edition since inception. The massive media play enjoyed by the scorecard series is also a reflection of the multi-dimensional approach to the programme. Every edition has four channels of play.
i) – Each Edition is covered LIVE by the NTA, FRCN and Voice of Nigeria, in addition to being live streamed on the social media platforms of the Ministry.
ii) – Each Edition is reported by a myriad of dedicated journalists from the print, electronic and social media, as I have stated above.
iii) – Excerpts from each presentation are made into byte-size, easy-to-read electronic flyers for easy circulation on social media and also via the phone.
iv) – And finally, video clips from each presentation are placed on public and private television stations across the country, with each presentation enjoying at least one week of air time, usually on prime time.
- Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, between the last edition of the PMB Administration Scorecard Series on Dec. 22nd, 2022, and today’s opening edition for 2023, a lot of things have happened in the polity. But the most significant has been naysayers and the opposition trying to distort the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari for their own selfish ends. While some of the Administration’s fiercest critics said we have achieved nothing, others have admitted, though seemingly tongue in cheek, that it’s only in the area of infrastructure that the Administration has performed.
- Well, I want to say that both groups are wrong, very wrong. Yes, infrastructure development under the Buhari Administration is unprecedented since the nation’s return to democratic rule in 1999, and it has set the country on the path of development. But no, our legacy is more than infrastructure.
- The Buhari Administration is leaving a legacy of a social investment programme that is unprecedented in the whole of Africa, a programme that has enhanced the quality of life of the beneficiaries.
Our pace-setting social investment programmes like N-Power, School Feeding, Conditional Cash Transfer and GEEP (Government Enterprise Empowerment programme) have benefitted millions of our citizens, both young and old, and this can neither be trivialized nor denied.
- The Buhari Administration is leaving a legacy of putting Nigeria on the path of self sufficiency in many staples, including rice.
Fertilizer blending plants in the country have increased astronomically from 10 in 2015 to 142 today, the number of rice mills in the country has increased markedly from 10 in 2015 to 80 today.
Little wonder that Nigeria, which was the number one export destination for rice in 2014, according to Thai authorities, is now ranked as number 79! This is why we cannot understand the campaign promise of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to throw open our borders if elected, because this will simply reverse all the gains of the past seven years plus. But for Mr. President’s insistence that Nigeria should produce what it consumes and consume what it produces, it would have been doubly difficult for our country to survive during the global lockdown because of Covid-19.
- The Buhari Administration is leaving a legacy of a revamped security sector, in the face of unprecedented security challenges in the country. Today, the Nigerian military is being restored to its glorious past, thanks to Mr. President’s foresight and doggedness in re-equipping the various services. And this has made it possible for the military to tackle insurgency and all other security challenges facing the country. As you can now see, this military has been recording successes after successes. Compare this with those who literally passed a vote of no confidence in our military by bringing in mercenaries to fight insurgency. Not only that, they looted dry all the funds earmarked to buy arms and ammunition for the military. Some of the alleged looters said they spent billions just praying against Boko Haram! The Nigerian military, which has excelled in global peacekeeping operations since 1960 and has sacrificed a lot to keep our country united, has regained its respect and influence. Ditto the Nigeria Police, which is steadily being repositioned to be efficient and well-motivated, and to improve its capacity to face modern day security challenges. As the Honourable Minister of Police Affairs told us here last month, the Nigeria Police now has a state-of-the-art National Command and Control Centre. This is unprecedented. Other security agencies have not been left behind in the area of capacity enhancement through training and modernization of equipment.
- The Buhari Administration is leaving a legacy of inclusiveness, especially in the areas of infrastructure and social development.
There is no state in Nigeria that is not witnessing at least a road, or a bridge or a housing project. None! The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning has also told us here how Mr. President approved tranches upon tranches of funds to states, irrespective of their party affiliation, to enable them meet their obligations to the people. We dare any part of this country to say that it has not benefitted from the programmes of the Buhari Administration in one way or another and we will happily counter that with verifiable evidence.
- The Buhari Administration is leaving a legacy of leapfrogging Nigeria into the digital era. President Buhari has signed into law the Startup Bill to make Nigeria a global hub for digital talent and investment. Nigeria has also kickstarted the national rollout of 5G while increasing 4G base stations from 13,823 in 2019 to 36,751 today.
Nigeria’s digital economy has generated 594% of revenue target above the 2019 baseline; the country’s fiber optic cable network has grown from 15,000km in 2015 to over 60,000km in 2022, and the country’s NIN-SIM integration has enhanced the integrity of the National Identification Number database
- The Buhari Administration is leaving a legacy of probity. Some critics say “oh, they say they are fighting corruption and some public officials have stolen money under their nose”. We say the fact that they were caught and are being tried is a reflection of our zero tolerance for corruption. Where others covered and pampered corrupt people, we exposed and put them on trial. Whereas the immediate past administration came up with such programmes as TSA (Treasury Single Account) and IPPIS (Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System), they were implemented largely on paper until we came on board and ensured total implementation. The EFCC, the ICPC and other anti-corruption agencies have gone beyond merely arresting and prosecuting alleged corrupt officials to institutionalizing the fight against corruption through various programmes.
- The Buhari Administration is leaving a legacy of a petroleum sector that can serve the interest of the nation, thanks to the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021. This Act, which came into being after Mr. President signed the PIB into law, seeks to provide legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry.
- The Buhari Administration is leaving a legacy of enacting landmark laws, including the Harmonized Mental Health Bill and the Discrimination Against Persons With Disability Prohibition) Bill, both of which have been signed into law by Mr. President. The Harmonized Mental Health Act, which came after more than two decades of advocacy, has been described as a relief to the mental health care and practice in the country, while the Discrimination Against Persons With Disability (Prohibition) Act caters for the 15% of Nigerians with a disability by establishing the National Commission for Persons With Disability and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability.
- What of the legacy of the Second Niger Bridge? Building that bridge – almost 60 years after the commissioning of the Niger Bridge and years of political gimmickry by successive leaders – is a huge legacy of the Buhari Administration that cannot be erased. The ease of travel it provided during this past holiday period attests to its importance.
- Ladies and gentlemen, we can go on and on, as we have not exhausted the list of the Administration’s legacy projects. Irrespective of the antics of the opposition, President Muhammadu Buhari’s legacy is assured. Naysayers, most of whom are closet opposition members masquerading as objective analysts, can continue to snipe at us. They can continue to trumpet only the negatives, both real and imagined But they cannot erase these legacies. They cannot rewrite the history of these past seven years plus.
- On this note, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I yield the podium to the Honourable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources.