Excerpts of a speech by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, at the 2023 end of year World Press Conference in Abuja on Thursday.
He highlighted the achievements of the Tinubu Administration across key sectors, since assumption of office on May 29, 2023.
Here is the minister’s full speech:
Recall that the President made a bold and strategic move immediately after his swearing in with the removal of fuel subsidy. This decision, born out of a commitment to fiscal responsibility and a keen eye on national progress, is a testament to our administration’s dedication to effective resource allocation and blocking avenues of wastage.
The removal of the fuel subsidy is a decisive step towards channeling resources where they matter most – impacting sectors critical to our national development.
By redirecting these funds, President Tinubu aims to bolster key areas such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, humanitarian, security and other sectors that directly influence the well-being and prosperity of our citizens.
This move is not without its challenges, but it signifies our unwavering commitment to making difficult decisions in the interest of the greater good. It aligns with our vision for a Nigeria that thrives on efficiency, transparency, and responsible governance.
Fuel subsidy removal is a crucial step towards a more sustainable economic future, and we are working tirelessly to ensure that the benefits of this decision are felt by all citizens.
Like I said, the removal of fuel subsidy is also accompanied with some initial challenges but President Tinubu and the Administration have been taking all necessary measures to alleviate the pains being felt, and to cushion the impact of these reforms.
These interventions are designed to serve as palliatives in the short and medium-term, while we wait to reap the long-term benefits of the reforms, as follows: A provisional wage increment of N35,000 monthly for six months, to enhance federal minimum wage, without causing undue inflation.
Establishment of an Infrastructure Support Fund for States to invest in critical areas that will create an enabling environment for businesses
Launch of a 100 Billion Naira CNG bus rollout programme, to deliver CNG-powered buses, and establishment of a Presidential Committee to drive implementation.
We are finalizing the process for payment of a Cash Transfer of N25,000 monthly to 15 million of the poorest and most vulnerable households in Nigeria, for three months.
A presidential directive for the release of 200,000 Metric Tonnes of grains from strategic reserves to households across the 36 states and FCT to moderate prices, and 225,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer, seedlings and other inputs to farmers.
An access-to-credit programme for startups and MSMEs: providing N50 billion in Conditional Grants to 1 million nano-businesses across Nigeria between now and March 2024; and a new single-digit interest-rate Fund to provide N75 billion to support manufacturing enterprises; among others.
We have launched the 3MTT programme that aims to develop 3 million technical talents by 2025, in line with the President’s vision for making Nigeria a global hub for digital jobs.
Still in line with the jobs agenda, we launched the National Talent Export Programme (NATEP), to create one million service-export jobs over the next 5 years, and make Nigeria a global business outsourcing hub.
Launch of the National Philanthropy Office (NPO): This office is established to mobilize $200 million in private investments on behalf of the Federal Government, to support MSMEs in Nigeria.
Launch of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) partnership with Sterling Bank establishing a 5 Billion Naira single-digit-interest Fund.
By January 2024, we will be rolling out the new Federal student loan program that was announced a few months ago.
Presidential Approval for ASUU to exit IPPIS, which will advance University autonomy and also bring greater operational stability to the Federal University system.
The Federal Government is also working on a new minimum wage for workers, which will come into effect next year.
Agriculture and Food Security:
In a bid to ensure food sufficiency and tackle the increase in food prices in the country, President Tinubu declared a state of emergency on food security.
That decision was in sync with the rechristening of the name of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
The declaration of emergency on food security was a decisive move that reflects the administration’s determination to address a pressing issue that directly affects the well-being of our citizens.
It’s also a strategic response to the challenges that have hindered the growth of our agricultural sector and, consequently, threatened our nation’s food supply.
President Tinubu, with foresight and determination, aims to fortify our food production systems, ensuring that no citizen goes without this basic necessity.
This measure signifies a call to action for comprehensive reforms, innovative strategies, and collaborative efforts among various stakeholders. President Tinubu is mobilizing resources and implementing policies that will not only address immediate concerns but also establish a resilient and sustainable food ecosystem for the future.
As part of the plans to boost food production in the country, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security flagged off the cultivation of dry-season staple crops in Hadejia, Jigawa State. This project falls under the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agropocket (NAGS-AP) through the support of $134m loan facility from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to expand the capacity of our farmers to engage in the cultivation of key staples like rice, maize, cassava and wheat, across the country.
These high value staples will be joined by others like soybeans and sorghum in the wet season.
The project unveiled in Jigawa plans to support between 150,000 to 250,000 wheat farmers with 50% input subsidy to cultivate between 200,000 and 250,000 hectares and an expected yield of 1,250,000 tonnes of wheat. This project aims to increase crop yield by at least 20% compared to last year.
Similarly, the government launched the National Potato Strategy 2023-2028 to usher in a new era of productive competitiveness in Potato farming.
There is currently a collaboration between the Ministries of Agriculture and Food Security and Water Resources to promote year-round farming practices, fostering sustainable agricultural development.
The Ministry also negotiated and signed Memoranda of Understanding with John Deere and Tata for the production of 5,000 tractors annually for the next five years.
Ease of Doing Business:
The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has been reconstituted, while the President has signed Executive Orders aimed at reducing the tax burden on a number of key economic sectors.
We are very clear about our commitment to ensuring that businesses across Nigeria are able to play on a field that is devoid of red tape and burdensome taxes.
It is to this end that one of the first things that President Tinubu did was to establish a Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reform Committee, to reform the tax system while also reducing tax burden on Nigerians.
That Committee has since started work, and even presented an interim report to the President, while extensive consultations continue with stakeholders.
Social Investment and Other Humanitarian Interventions:
Launch of Federal Government microcredit scheme targeting 1.5 million Traders, Farmers, etc., in the first phase. Loans are known in the three major languages as:
—Owo Oja / Olilanya Ndi Nagbambo / Tallafin Sana’a
—Owoagbe / Olilanya Ndi Oru Ugbo / Tallafin Manoma
—Iyaloja / Nne Ahia / Agajin Yan Kasuwa
Presidential Approval for payment of a Cash Transfer of N25,000 monthly to 15 million of the poorest and most vulnerable households in Nigeria, for three months.
The Fulako Initiative, through which the Federal Government of Nigeria will build houses, clinics, schools, veterinary hospitals, empowerment initiatives, solar energy, and other infrastructure needs, first in the Tudun Biri community of Kaduna State, and then expanded to communities across the States that are worst-affected by banditry, i.e., Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna, Niger and Benue States.
Reforms in Foreign Exchange:
President Tinubu took a courageous step towards unifying the official and parallel markets’ exchange rates with the Central Bank collapsing the multiple official foreign exchange rates, a move designed to streamline our financial systems and promote a more resilient and investor-friendly environment.
The President recognized the importance of this move in fostering transparency, attracting foreign investments, and ultimately contributing to the overall economic development of our nation.
It equally aims to create a more predictable and conducive environment for businesses and enhance the overall competitiveness of our economy on the global stage.
We understand that such economic transitions may come with challenges, but rest assured that the Tinubu Administration is taking proactive measures to ensure a smooth and inclusive process.
Our goal is to build an economy that is robust, resilient, and capable of providing opportunities for all. The Central Bank of Nigeria also commenced efforts to clear the billions of dollars in inherited foreign exchange backlog in order to further boost investor confidence in our economy.
Under the Renewed Hope Agenda, the Central Bank is determined to focus on its core mandates of price stability and financial system stability, for the benefit of all Nigerians.
Attraction of Foreign Direct Investment:
Over the last couple of months, President Tinubu proved himself as the Chief Salesman for Nigeria, crisscrossing the globe to boost Nigeria’s image, foster international partnership and attract the needed foreign direct investment to our country.
The President carried out a series of international shuttles, engaging with leaders and business communities across the globe. These diplomatic missions demonstrate his commitment to position Nigeria as a prime destination for foreign investments.
The President was in Paris, for the Summit on New Global Financing, followed by the G20 Summit in India, the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the Saudi-Africa Summit in Riyadh, the G20 Compact with Africa Conference in Berlin, Germany and the Climate Change Summit in the UAE.
The President’s international engagement is not merely a diplomatic formality but a deliberate pursuit to showcase the immense potential and opportunities that Nigeria holds. By establishing these connections, we aim to stimulate economic growth, create job opportunities, and enhance the overall prosperity of our citizens.
The President seizes every opportunity to affirm his status as the Chief Marketing Officer of Nigeria, consistently reiterating the message that Nigeria is open for business and investment, and that the Federal Government will do everything to guarantee the sanctity of all domestic and foreign investment.
The international shuttles are yielding positive outcomes, with expressions of interest from various quarters to invest in key sectors of our economy. President Tinubu’s engagements have not only highlighted our nation’s potential but have also demonstrated our commitment to being a responsible and collaborative player in the global community. Indeed, we have begun to see the tangible impact of these efforts with well over $15 Billion in pledges of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), in energy, steel, defence, automotive, and other sectors.
The inflow of foreign investments is poised to contribute to infrastructure development, enhancing our petroleum refining capacity, technology transfer, and the overall advancement of key sectors, further solidifying Nigeria’s position on the global economic stage.
In addition to the pledges, investors are already taking action. For example, a month ago, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Japan broke ground on a new multi-million-dollar manufacturing plant in Ogun State, the first such investment by the company in Africa.
Nigeria currently stands as a beacon of stability and leadership within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), playing a pivotal role in regional affairs.
Under the leadership of President Tinubu, who is also the chairman of ECOWAS, Nigeria has consistently demonstrated its commitment to fostering regional cooperation, stability, economic development and democracy within ECOWAS. Our country has been at the forefront of initiatives aimed at addressing shared challenges and promoting a collective vision for the West African sub-region.
Nigeria is playing a crucial role in mediating and resolving conflicts in the region, exemplified by our involvement in initiatives to address political crises and promote peace in countries such as Niger, Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso.
Nigeria remains actively engaged in collaborative efforts to combat transnational threats such as terrorism, organized crime, and the trafficking of small arms and light weapons. Our commitment to regional security has been evident through contributions to ECOWAS and the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to secure the country and our neighbours.
Before I delve into security, let me once again express our sincere condolence to families of the victims of the mistaken drone attack in Tudun Biri, Kaduna State. As you are aware, the President sent a high-powered delegation under the Chairmanship of the Vice President, Kashim Shettima to commiserate with the families of the victims in Kaduna.
Investigations have been launched into the unfortunate incident and the President assured that those involved would not go unpunished. You are aware that our country faces challenges of insecurity particularly the menace of banditry, kidnapping, and insurgency. In the face of these threats, President Tinubu has demonstrated the commitment to securing the life and property of every Nigerian.
Recognizing the urgency of the situation, President Tinubu has made the fight against insecurity a top priority of his administration as contained in the Renewed Hope Agenda. Comprehensive strategies are being implemented to address the root causes of these issues and ensure a safer, more secure Nigeria.
The President understands the multifaceted nature of the challenges, and his commitment extends beyond military interventions.
It encompasses even non-kinetic approach. The goal is not only to quell immediate threats but also to create an environment where citizens can live without fear and insecurity.
Investments in the modernization and equipping of our security forces, intelligence agencies, and law enforcement are key components of this commitment. The Nigerian Air Force a few months ago took delivery of 4 new aircraft, to strengthen the fight against banditry and terrorism.
President Tinubu is working tirelessly to ensure that our security apparatus is well-equipped, motivated, and strategically positioned to protect our nation from external and internal threats.
Furthermore, efforts are underway to address the root causes of insecurity, including youth unemployment, poverty, and social inequality. The administration is dedicated to creating sustainable solutions that will not only tackle the symptoms but also address the underlying factors contributing to insecurity.
Having said that, let me stress that our security agencies have been very busy to ensure the security and safety of all Nigerians and visitors.
The lion’s share of this year’s supplementary budget of N2.17 trillion went to security and a sizeable portion of the 2024 budget will also go to security. This becomes necessary in order to acquire and deploy additional platforms, recruit more security personnel, conduct training among others.
From the various reports we are getting from our security agencies, it is evident that Nigeria is winning the war against terrorism, banditry, insurgency and other forms of criminality.
For instance, the South-East Region has been stabilized with the degrading of the operational capacity of IPOB and the Eastern Security Network. You would recall that the Army recently launched an Exercise Code name “Exercise GOLDEN DAWN III” in the South East to support other security agencies in the region during and after the yuletide period.
The government will intensify security operations to ensure that the entire region is peaceful and secure.
In the North-East and North-West of the country, the Nigerian Air Force has been very busy, with several successful airstrikes on bandits’ and terrorists’ camps and hideouts in Katsina, Zamfara and Borno States.
In our maritime environment, on October 25, the Eastern and Central Naval Commands flagged off a Joint Sea Exercise, Exercise SEA GUARDIAN 2023.
Let me use this opportunity to call for support to our Armed Forces, who are working day and night to keep the country safe. The media in particularly should devote airtime and space and give amplified coverage to their successes and gains.
Just like I mentioned at my maiden meeting with the Editors, the bandits, terrorists, kidnappers, pirates etc are waging not only a physical battle but also a psychological one, trying to undermine our faith and confidence in our security agencies. As media leaders, we must be very careful to not play into their hands, through reporting that might be misleading or sensational or that undermines the morale of our security personnel.
As we look towards 2024, let me use this platform to announce that the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation will unveil a groundbreaking Charter on Citizen Code, designed to define and uphold the core values that unite Nigerians while taking into account the nation’s socio-cultural diversities.
The Charter will seek to entrench in all Nigerians, a balanced understanding of their rights and responsibilities as citizens of this great nation.
I have already assembled a Committee of renowned experts to work on and finalize a Values Charter for Nigeria, in line with President Tinubu’s desire for true and sustained reorientation of national values and attitudes. The new Charter will be unveiled by the President early next year.
Message of Hope:
As we stand at the threshold of a new year, I wish to extend a message of hope and optimism. The reforms initiated by President Tinubu across the various sectors of our economy are sowing the seeds of transformative change, and as we enter 2024, we can anticipate the fruits of these efforts beginning to blossom. These reforms are not instantaneous miracles but deliberate steps towards building a stronger and more prosperous Nigeria.
In the economic realm, initiatives aimed at creating jobs, attracting investments, and fostering sustainable growth are taking root. As we move forward, we can expect to witness the tangible outcomes of these efforts, with increased economic opportunities, improved infrastructure, and a business environment conducive to innovation and prosperity.
President Tinubu’s dedication to addressing insecurity and creating a safer nation is steadfast. The reforms implemented in this regard will contribute to restoring peace and security, fostering an environment where citizens can pursue their aspirations without fear.
As we look ahead, let us embrace the spirit of hope and resilience. Change takes time, but every step forward is a testament to the progress we are making as a nation.
The journey towards a better Nigeria is a collective endeavor, and your support and optimism are invaluable in this transformative process.
Let us move into 2024 with hope in our hearts, knowing that the reforms of President Tinubu are laying the foundation for a brighter and more prosperous future for all Nigerians.
In other to cushion the effect of high cost of transportation fares, the Federal Government targets to lift Five Million (5,000,000) commuters during this yuletide season with 50% transportation rebate. In addition, all train services are free for all Nigerians traveling from today, Thursday, December 21, 2023 to Thursday, January 4, 2024.
The participating road transport companies for the 50% rebate, are:
GIG (God is Good)
Young Shall Grow
God Bless Ezenwa