Poverty: NBS recommendations already addressed by Buhari - Fashola


Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN on Thursday declared that the recent recommendations by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on how to get Nigeria out of poverty were already being addressed by the Muhammadu Buhari administration with its massive investment in infrastructure renewal and expansion.

This was contained in a press release signed by the minister’s Special Adviser on Communications, Mr Hakeem Bello and which was forwarded to P.M.NEWS in Lagos on Saturday.

The NBS in the report released in November on the poverty index had recommended investments in Health, Education and Infrastructure among others as viable means to take the people out of poverty.

But while presiding over the 2022 Ember Month Programme’s Press Briefing of the Ministry, Fashola, who noted that many people had been quoting the Report in terms of the poverty rate, explained to the audience of transport stakeholders who gathered at the Conference Room of the Ministry, “that (Infrastructure) was already happening before the recommendation came. President Buhari had started investing in infrastructure. That is why you and I are here”.

Explaining that poverty has different dimensions including, monetary and multidimensional poverty, the Minister pointed out that the importance of infrastructure lay in the fact that it not only addresses monetary poverty but also multidimensional poverty which, according to him, includes the absence of access, choice and efficiency.

“And so for me, why is infrastructure so important? It is addressing poverty in the monetary and multidimensional modes because it provides jobs during construction and makes life better after construction. And as we have seen, as construction is going on journey time is getting better year-on-year”, he said.

Stating that the Buhari administration “is on the right track” as far as addressing the poverty issues are concerned, the Minister, who noted that results would manifest in due course, added that people who express anxiety over the seeming delay in the results of the investments should commend the administration for investing the nation’s resources for the benefit of the people.

He recalled that there was a time before the present administration when funds were being taken out of the country and also from an agency of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to fund elections in the country, adding, “If they took away funds meant for national development, that was one of the causes of poverty.”

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“NNPC is now investing N621 billion in road construction but that was the money some people used to fund electioneering campaigns and provide cars for friends in the past. Buhari has put back the money where it belongs. These are things that are heading in the right direction”, Fashola said.

The Minister declared, “When there is a problem it takes time to design a solution and when you apply the solution it takes time to get the final results. But ours is past the design stage because we are already seeing the results”, adding that if people who were saying it took them days to travel to a destination are now saying it takes them a few hours to make the same destination, “it means we are heading in the right direction”.

Noting the various innovative ways the administration has introduced to fund the investments in infrastructure, the Minister explained that when crude oil prices crashed at the onset and revenues fell, this government found other funding sources. “So, we now talk of the SUKUK; we are now talking about the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, we are now talking about the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund”, he said.

Fashola recalled that the President went abroad early in the life of the administration to request for the repatriation of those stolen funds from the countries in which they were being kept to enable him to fund critical infrastructure like the Second Niger Bridge, the Abuja-Kano Road and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway among others, adding that the execution of the road transport infrastructure projects was going on.

The Minister declared, “When the President committed in his June 12, 2019 remark that he was going to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, perhaps, not many people thought it was possible. But that process has started.

“All of these construction companies would ordinarily be out of work if the infrastructure programme is not being implemented; there would be no work for the people. And then the people who depend on construction for their businesses; those who own quarries, those who own construction equipment, trucks, tractors, bitumen, cement, without construction they will be out of job”.

According to the release, the Minister, while reiterating his challenge to the opposition for a debate on the role of infrastructure development in achieving economic growth and poverty eradication, noted the opposition’s penchant for celebrating the negative figures often thrown up by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and similar bodies without being able to connect investments in infrastructure as the long term solution due to its numerous benefits such as creation of direct and indirect jobs as well as businesses which lead to the creation of a vibrant economy and legitimate distribution of wealth through the value chain.

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