The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration should not be blamed for the infrastructural deficit in the country.
The minister stated this on Monday when he featured alongside other guests on the Nigeria Television Authority programme, “Good Morning Nigeria” which focussed on Nigeria at 57.
Mohammed said that the administration was investing massively on roads, power, housing, railway and other critical infrastructure, not leaving out the social well being of the citizens.
He, however, observed that because of the level of decay and abandonment of the infrastructure by the previous administration, the efforts of government might not manifest immediately.
Specifically, Mohammed said that the government was working on the 220-kilometre Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway as well as other major road networks in the South East.
He said that work was ongoing on the Kano to Maiduguri Road and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to mention but a few.
“We do not get to the situation where we get into overnight and we should not expect to get out of it overnight.
“If you look at what the government inherited and where we are today it is clear that the government has remained focused and the solutions proferred to our challenges are working.
“When we came in, the economy was over dependent on oil and today the recovery is being driven by agriculture, mining, creative industry and manufacturing which means our diversification programme is working.
“It has never happened in the history of the country that a government will spend N1.2 trillion in capital expenditure like the administration did and we are seeing the positive results; it has helped us to get out of recession,” he said
The minister further explained that, “in 2015 the past administration spent only N18 billion on roads but in 2016/2017 circle this government spent N260 billion on roads and bridges.
“The last administration spent only N5 billion on power, this administration has spent over N90 billion on power: In housing the last administration spent N8 billion while we have spent N70 billion.”
The minister said that many contractors had been recalled to the roads projects they abandoned during the previous administration resulting in creating of over 17000 direct jobs and 15000 indirect jobs from roads.
On power, the minister said that when the administration came in May 2015, only 2690 megawatts was generated but today the country is generating over 7000 megawatts.
He said inflation had been coming down, and the government had revived 12 fertiliser blending companies to boost agriculture.
He urged Nigerians to judge the administration in contest of what it inherited from previous administration and where the country is today.
On the clamour for restructuring, the minister said that the issue had many sides and the focal point must be Constitution amendment through the National Assembly.
“Restructuring means different things to different people and that is why we have the debate that is going on now to collate the various ideas of Nigerians as to what restructuring means in order to know what exactly to do.
“To some, restructuring means going back to the former three of four regions, to some it means creation of additional states as was proposed in the 2014 confab
“To some, restructuring means resource control, to some it means devolution of more power to states while to some it means state police.
“Let us collate and aggregate what Nigerians mean by restructuring and of course we still need to go back to National Assembly if we want to effect any change in the constitution,” he said.
Senator Ahmed Lawan, the Senate Majority Leader who was also a guest on the programme said the diversification policy of the administration was yielding desired output especially in the area of agriculture.
“It is creating wealth and generating employment and we should continue to support the government on this,” he said.
Speaking on restructuring, the senator noted that it was wrong for any group to resort to blackmail and complaint about marginalisation to drive home any agitation.
Another guest, Comrade Emmanuel Odafe, said the clamour on marginalisation was about privileged selected few who would continue to manipulate the system and millions of Nigerians to gain undue advantage.
“The elite of the country should stop creating problems in the country.
“All the talks about restructuring is just about the elite positioning themselves for the 2019 elections, they do not really care about the welfare of Nigerians,” he said.
Odafe, however, underscored the need for government to invest in infrastructure, particularly roads across the country which he described as “death traps.”
Hon. Shonibare Ololade, the chairman of Conference of Legislative Aides on the other hands advised the government to look into power sharing and resource allocation in addressing the clamour for restructuring.
Specifically, he said, the government should look into the issues of zoning of political offices, equitable distribution of resources and transition from recycling the old generation of politicians.