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Measuring Yar’adua’s landmarks

The achievements, which have not been well publicized, include vital areas like power, road construction and the revitalization of the economy generally. For instance, in…

The achievements, which have not been well publicized, include vital areas like power, road construction and the revitalization of the economy generally. For instance, in the administration’s determination to fix the power sector,  the Presidential Steering Committee of the Nigerian Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) has approved a total of N117.30 billion for various power projects across the country. With this allocation, it is, therefore, expected that by December the endemic problem of power failure will be reduced to the barest minimum.

In the other areas of infrastructure, such as road construction, the administration has also recorded some meaningful progress. Recently, the Federal Executive Council approved the redesign, reconstruction and modernization of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway under a Public Private Partnership scheme. The project, which is the first major concession under the President Umaru Musa Yar’adua administration, is expected to cost over N89 billion under a concession period of 25 years.

Other major roads across the country have been slated for rehabilitation. For instance nine road construction and rehabilitation projects valued at over N20 billion were recently approved by the Federal Executive Council.

They include the rehabilitation of the Hadejia-Nguru Road in Jigawa State, valued at N4.9 billion; the Ifon-Uzebba-Iruekpen Road in Edo State at N1.9 billion; the Nguru-Gashua-Bayamari Road in Yobe State, valued at N2.3 billion and the rehabilitation of Akungba-Ikare-Omuo-Kabba Road in Ondo/Ekiti states at the cost of N1.5 billion.

There is no doubt that when completed, the roads would impact massively on the socio-economic development of the entire nation. The projects will also provide employment opportunities to about 25,000 Nigerians and boost commercial activities in the economy.

 The administration has equally done a lot in terms of addressing the Niger-Delta issues despite the continued unrest perpetrated by the militants. In fact, no administration has ever taken a step as bold as the Yar’adua administration’s in the efforts to solve the age-long crisis.

For instance, President Yar’adua recently approved, through the Ministry of Niger Delta the immediate commencement of the technical study of all the locations affected by oil spillage in Ogoniland as a necessary prelude to a clean-up. This would drastically reduce the problem of environmental degradation and pave-way for the probation of social amenities.

Food security is also among the Yar’adua administration’s 7-Point Agenda. Hence, agriculture and other related areas have been given attention. For instance, sequel to the recent meeting between President Yar’adua and state governors on the global food crisis, the Federal Executive Council last month approved measures to cushion the impact of the global food crisis on vulnerable Nigerians.

The measures, according to the Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Abba Sayyadi Ruma, include the suspension of all levies and duties on rice imports for a period of six months, ending on October 31, 2009. Also, funds accruing to the Development of Natural Resources Account between now and 2011 will be utilized to boost domestic production of food crops and development of agro-allied industries. Presently the balance in the account is N80.28 billion.

In addition, N10 billion from the Rice Levy Account will be provided for a credit scheme in support of local rice processing. Credit granted under this scheme will attract a four per cent rate of interest and a repayment period of 15 years, including a five-year moratorium.

The administration has also resolved to complete all outstanding food storage projects before the end of this year to significantly increase the capacity of the National Strategic Food Reserves from 300,000 metric tonnes to 600,000 metric tonnes.

And as a short term measure, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, has approved the contracts for the procurement of fertilizers to farmers nationwide at about N41.5 billion. The 400,000 metric tonnes of inorganic fertilizers are to be sold to the farmers through the state governments at a 25 per cent subsidy. All these innovative measures, when prudently executed by those concerned, will certainly solve most of our agricultural problems and ensure food security.

Education has equally been given attention by the Yar’adua administration. It recently approved over N3 billion as special intervention fund for the provision and upgrading of facilities in six selected universities in the country.

The benefiting universities are University of Ilorin, University of Maiduguri, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Nigeria Nsukka, University of Benin and University of Ibadan. In selecting the beneficiaries, according to the Education Minister, Dr Sam Egwu, considerations were given to the type and variety of academic programmes, student enrolment, number and seniority of academic staff and post graduate programmes. When the intervention funds begin to take effect, most of the problems resulting in the lack of funds in these institutions will be, at least, reasonably reduced.

Similarly, the administration is also working on a railway development programme, that is PPP Model with a reputable Company, General Electric and African Development Bank. The Company has already begun manufacturing 25 locomotives which by first quarter of 2010,   will start running between Lagos and Kano. The same model will also be applied to the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri line so that by 2012 more than 100 locomotives will be plying the Eastern Line.

From efforts made so far made by the Yar’adua administration, it is clear that there is the political will to achieve much for the country. All that Nigerians need is enough patience, as meaningful developments cannot take place in haste. Slowly but steadily, it seems that the face of Nigeria is being changed.

Rilwanu Shehu wrote in from Bauchi, Bauchi State