*Says Buhari Factors all SE States in Ongoing Coastal, Land Rails Project.
FROM all indications, President Muhammadu Buhari has a lot in store fo the The South east. That is if the declaration that a fourth Niger Bridge is in the works to link the zone with other parts of the country.
In an exclusive interview with Chuks Collins, minister of Labour and Employment, Sen Chris Ngige, throws more light on some of the President’s achievements which, contrary to the insinuations by political opponents, are designed to unify, transform and engender quality of life of all Nigerians, including the south east zone.
Ngige highlights the new ongoing land-rail projects that will link up all state capitals, especially those of the South East. That’s in addition to the equally ongoing coastal rail project that has been modified to link PH, Agbor, Onitsha and Warri, with all other coastal cities in the country.
You will find the details below.
2n-nework :It’s a brand new year, and your dear state, Anambra is also expecting a new government. What message do you have for the people and hope for the in-coming administration?
Ngige: Well, first is to give hope to both the people of Anambra State and Nigeria generally. The years past have been very difficult and trying times in terms of the economy and security. The only thing that has been steady is that the President, Muhammadu Buhari and members of the cabinet decided that we will continue with our infrastructural revolution. And we have been doing that religiously; in the area of road construction, bridges -like the second Niger Bridge and other bridges nationwide. Also the railway transport, as the rails are functioning now. The Abuja-Kaduna-Abuja, Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan, with the construction going on the Kaduna-Kano line. Moreso, the coastal rail is going to take off as the financial engineering has been done.
The Portharcourt-Enugu-Makurdi-Jos-Bauchi to Maiduguri is also on course. The narrow gauge has been awarded and the contractors have moved to site. And the test runs are even being done on the portion that has been repaired. It’s a full rehabilitation and reconstruction that’s going on. So we are very hopeful.
Then Power; we have built a lot of injector stations in particular to enable the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) generate more power. We now generate close to 15,000mw. So, infrastructure-wise we are trying.
Again all the airports are being remodeled. They are all being fitted with modern aviation equipment and landing systems and all the AIATA regulation requirements. Really we have not done badly, as a lot of resources are going into them. But because our earnings as a country based on our major economic resource material-ie, oil and gas has dropped; our earnings also reduced so much. The reasons are open to everyone. It’s the insurgency in the Niger Delta region. Production moved from 2.2million barrels per day, if you add condensate, to 2.5m bpd to just 1m bpd. Sometimes it gets to 700,000 barrels. The prices experienced slide moving from $120, $110 a barrel to $60, and even to as low as $30 at one point. And in the height of Covid-19 scourge it fall to $15. It was such that we couldn’t lift further or sell. We were forced to pay for storage. It was as bad as that. So if you look at all these in a weighted basket you will see that the government has done marvelously well.
It’s only those in destructive opposition or that would choose to close their eyes or will not agree that we have done the unexpected. Covid-19 came and scattered everything. African nations suffered. There was so much job losses, especially in the informal sector. So unemployment moved up from 18% to 21%, then to 27%. And before we know what was going on, it hit 33%. We couldn’t stop the slide because the informal sector had been decimated. You know that the informal sector are people who employ themselves; people who are on pay as you work. They are the daily paid workers who work and get pa