We’ve recovered N800b from anti-corruption drive —Buhari

THE anti-corruption fight of the federal government has yielded over N800 billion in recovered loot, President Muhammadu Buhari announced on Friday on the occasion of the Democracy Day.

The anti-corruption agencies have also secured more than 1400 convictions, he said in a self- assessment broadcast.

The recovered sums, according to him, are being “ploughed into development and infrastructure projects.”

He said government has “continued to implement accountability and transparent policies through the Open Government Partnership and the transparency portal on financial transactions” while also strengthening auditing and accountability mechanisms to ensure that “rules and regulations are followed strictly.”

The President said the national economy was already making a steady progress until the COVID-19 pandemic set in and disrupted the gains.

But he said the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 was determined to ensure that the pandemic “does not overwhelm our health systems, while ensuring that we maintain an effective Case Management System to help in containing the spread of the virus.”

As part of the effort to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, he said he had “the employment of 774,000 Nigerians.”

The youths will be engaged in Special Public Works Programme aimed at cushioning the effects of economic downturn.

Each of the 774 local government areas in the country will be allotted 1,000 slots.

He said government would “turn this COVID-19 challenge into a motivation to action by building a nationwide public health care system that will help us overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for any future outbreak.”

He charged Nigerian inventors, researchers and scientists to “come up with solutions to cure COVID-19.”

On the economy, he said: “We have witnessed eleven quarters of consecutive GDP growth since exiting recession. The GDP grew from 1.91% in 2018 to 2.27% in 2019 but declined to 1.87% in the first quarter of 2020 as a result of the decline in global economic activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every single economy in the world has suffered a decline. Ours has been relatively moderate.

“In order to stabilise the economy, the Monetary Authority took steps to build the external reserves which resulted in improved liquidity in the foreign exchange market. The external reserves grew from $33.42 billion on April 29th 2020 to about $36.00 billion in May, 2020 which is enough to finance seven months of import commitments.”

He was happy that more Nigerians are taking advantage of the opportunities in the agriculture and agri-business sector and pledged that government will continue to support the agriculture sector through the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and similar schemes.

“To protect our farming investments, we have deployed 5,000 Agro-Rangers and employed 30,289 in our para-military agencies,” he said.

He said government was unrelenting in providing steady electricity supply

Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Projects being executed in this regard, according to him, are Alaoji to Onitsha, Delta Power Station to Benin and Kaduna to Kano; 330kv DC 62km line between Birnin Kebbi and Kamba; Lagos/Ogun Transmission Infrastructure Project; Abuja Transmission Ring Scheme; and Northern Corridor Transmission Project.

“Our agreement with Siemens will transmit and distribute a total of 11,000 Megawatts by 2023, to serve our electricity needs,” the President said.

He said that 412km or 64% of the targeted 643km road projects have been completed.

The projects are being funded with SUKUK loan.

“The Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund projects are also progressing very well.

“On the 2nd Niger Bridge, piling work has been completed and the approach roads are being constructed. 48% of work on this bridge has been achieved. We have constructed 102km of the 376km Abuja – Kaduna – Kano Road, representing 38%, and the 42.9km Obajana – Kabba Road is 87.03% complete.

“The Federal Roads Maintenance Agency has completed routine maintenance on over 4,000km of federal roads out of the 5,000km targeted.

“We are extending and upgrading our railway network too. We are introducing more locomotives, coaches and wagons for the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line. The Central Ajaokuta – Itakpe – Warri Line has been completed and is being extended from Itakpe to Abuja on one end and from Warri Town to Warri Port on the other.

“The Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line is 90% completed and would be extended to the Lagos Port which would help address the long-standing gridlock at the Apapa Port.”

On Niger Delta, Buhari said “with sustained engagement of youths, opinion leaders and other stakeholders, we have restored peace in the Niger Delta region and maintained our oil production levels.

“The Head office of the Niger Delta Development Commission will be commissioned shortly. The Funding of sections I–IV of the East-West Road shall be pursued with a view to completing the project by the end of 2021.

“Furthermore, I am determined to ensure that development meant for the people of the Niger Delta get to them, so I have authorised a Forensic Audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission.”

Buhari expressed regret over the killing of innocent citizens by insurgents and bandits in the country.

He challenged state and local governments to revamp their intelligence assets to address the dastardly acts.

He said: “I regret recent sporadic incidents with tragic loss of lives in Katsina and Borno states as a result of criminals taking advantage of COVID-19 restrictions. Security agencies will pursue the perpetrators and bring them to swift justice.

“I must implore state and local governments to revamp their intelligence assets so that the security agencies can nip in the bud any planned attacks in remote rural areas.

“I send my heartfelt condolences to all the relatives and communities affected.’’

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