Buhari to Nigerians: Choose between real infrastructure development or return to 'stomach infrastructure'

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Buhari

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said Nigerians are now confronted whether they want real infrastructure development or return to the era of stomach infrastructure.

Buhari, in his nationwide broadcast on Thursday said “the choice that now confronts us is whether we want to continue with real infrastructure development, which is the road to prosperity and jobs or return to the era of ‘stomach infrastructure’.

“Agricultural Self-Reliance and Food Security is also a choice we made in fulfillment of your mandate for change.”

The president reeled out his achievement, saying “Our Presidential Fertiliser Initiative has resulted in savings of US$150 million in foreign exchange due to local sourcing of inputs at 16 Blending Plants. It has also conserved N60 billion in Subsidies as well as supported tens of thousands of farmers and agro-dealers nationwide.

“We nevertheless pressed on in our quest to diversify the economy, create jobs, reduce commodity prices and generally improve the standard of living among our people. The damage that insecurity and corruption have done, over time, to our collective livelihood is incalculable. However, it is pleasing to note that our frontal attack on these twin evils is gaining momentum and bringing about visible progress.

“The recovery of the economy from recession is complete and Nigeria is back on the path of steady growth. The key to creating more jobs lies in accelerating this momentum of economic growth. Happily, we have succeeded in making the fundamental changes necessary for this acceleration, and we are now beginning to see the efforts bearing fruit.

“Our ease of doing business policies and programmes are already impacting medium, small and micro industries, as well as Manufacturing, Mining and Agriculture, among other key sectors. Our commitment to critical infrastructure – that is Roads, Rails, Bridges, Airports and Seaports – will create more jobs, improving the efficiency and competitiveness of our industries.

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“Many of these projects are at different stages of completion, and those who use them regularly will attest to the fact that even while construction is ongoing, they are beginning to see reduced travel times. This will ultimately translate to reduced costs and greater convenience, making transportation, and business in particular, much easier,” he said.

Buhari said the economic recovery that his administration promised was well underway, as demonstrated by the recently released statistics, saying that in 2018, the economy grew by 1.93%, with the Fourth Quarter growth being 2.38%, up from 1.81% in the Third Quarter.

“Remarkably, the strong economic performance was driven by the Non-Oil sector, which grew at 2% as at full year. Indeed, Non-Oil growth rose to 2.7% in the Fourth Quarter of 2018, up from 2.32% in the Third Quarter. These results further underscore our commitment to diversifying the economy away from the past dependence on Oil.

“Other indicators confirm the economy’s steady recovery. Our monthly food import bill has declined from $664 million in January 2015 to $160 million as at October 2018. Inflation fell from 18.72% in January 2017 to 11.44% in December 2018. Our External Reserves have risen from $23 billion in October 2016 to $43.12 billion as at 7th February 2019.

“Now that the recession is well behind us, our next task is to redouble our efforts, accelerate the growth and use it to create even more jobs for our people. The Executive Orders, No. 5, and No. 7 issued by me, and the recently approved National Infrastructure Maintenance Policy demonstrate our commitment to accelerated job creation and infrastructure development.

“We believe that Governments cannot simply proclaim jobs into existence. Job creation will only expand as a result of economic policies that enable the private sector to flourish, and this is the approach our Administration has taken.”