By Omodele Adigun, Uche Usim, Walter Ukaegbu, Dennis Mernyi and Theresa Egba
AS the new ministers assume duty in their respective ministries, one key challenge that awaits them is a mounting pile of unfinished businesses: states that cannot pay salaries; alarming spike in the nation’s debt profile; shrinking allocations to various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and litany of abandoned projects.The question in every lip now is, Can Buhari’s ministers deliver on his electoral promo? A peep into their promises may make Nigerians task them to prove their mettle.
However, analysts have cautioned that the Ministers may not have enough funds to match their words with actions.
At the ministerial screening last month, the new Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said that unemployment solutions, jobs and entrepreneurship are what she intends to capitalise on while crashing interest rates. She expressed readiness to help the nation raise its revenues and improve audits. She expressed need for creative or innovative solutions to pump up the economy by first blocking leakages and then expunging bad economics. “We need to chase out cash. Every where that people transact in cash, there are leakages,”she said.
She added that the country should adopt other forms of cash transfer that phases out physical cash and invest primarily in infrastructure.
As a former Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State, Mrs Adeosun fell back on her experience on the job , saying that banks are not in business to sit on government money, “it’s bad economics. TSA was introduced in Ogun State in 2011, which consequently reduced borrowing by the state government,” she said. Speaking about foreign investment, she said that the major challenge of foreign investment is infrastructure.
“We need to establish public-private-partnerships to develop Nigeria’s infrastructure. If we get our infrastructure right, there are opportunities,” adding that the country has to increase its revenues and improve on things like audits.
“Increase revenues, better cost efficiency and seek out other sources of funding to avert recession”, Mrs Adeosun said. Advising the government on cost-reduction, she said that we all need to eat, drink, and focus on Made in Nigeria goods. Addressing funding to non-oil sectors of the economy, she said that Nigeria’s interest rates are far too high. “It’s very difficult to make a profit with these interest rates. Markets tend to over-react when there is a shock or a slight depression, hence, the recent recession projections”, Mrs. Adeosun said.
On his part, the new Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has pledged to complete all ongoing rail projects, promising to provide train services in all parts of the country.
“We are interested in completing all the ongoing rail projects around the country because we don’t want to disappoint Nigerians. It is important that we realise that we have a mandate to deliver on our promises and there is competition among the ministers to deliver and we don’t want to take last”, Amaechi stated.
In his resumption speech, the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said that it was an era of new thinking for the actualisation of the change agenda of the Federal Government.
Sirika added that the era of talking tough without acting was over; stressing that whatever was said was what would be done.
He assured the nation that the Buhari administration would deliver on its promises, adding that the government was aware of the high hope and expectations of Nigerians.
Sirika, however, pledged to ensure a harmonious working relationship with the Minister of Transportation to achieve results in the implementation of policies and programmes in the sector.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, while assuming duties, expressed confidence that things are going to get better if everyone works together as a team.He noted that, though these are challenging times for the country and the economy, with teamwork, the economy of the country will be turned around for good.
On his approach, the Minister said he would not dismiss anybody’s idea, “as the best ideas sometimes come from those you don’t expect to have such ideas.” Senator Udoma, called on all hands to be on deck to take the country to a greater height.Earlier in her remark, the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmad, said that most of the country’s excellent plans have been sitting on the shelves because there have been no budget to go with them.
She explained that the Ministry would not be rolling out new plans but would be making input into the country’s growth through those previous excellent plans and make every project to have direct impact on the lives of Nigerian citizens.
Mrs. Ahmad, however, warned that there would be no acceptance of deviation from anybody in the course of trying to move the country forward.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, explained that the issue of crude allocation reduction to the corporation is deeply premature since the ministry and the corporation were yet to ascertain exact quantity of barrels of crude that is being produced daily or supplied to the various companies including NNPC in the present dispensation and so cannot subscribe to the cut.
He said the government has set up committees to determine that and will present report by end of the year, stressing that until when it was done, the crude reduction issue was still premature.
“The issue of crude reduction is deeply premature since we are yet to get the exact rate of daily production or quantity supply to companies including NNPC.
“ We want to be sure about the 44,000 barrel of crude production daily or more being announced is exactly the quantity before we arrive on the quantity allocation,” Kachikwu said, stating that this could be done by the end of the year when the committee set up by government has completed its work.”
The new Minister further charged the management and staff of the ministry on the need for them to sit up and take up every challenge and responsibily seriously.
According to him, there is much that is being expected of the ministry, which is the backbone and engine room of the nation’s economy by Nigerians.
“We cannot afford to fail Nigerians. By so doing, I will drive all of us very hard but I will also pay serious premium to all of our dignity and concerns as adults but can’t compromise.
“I promise to bring the same drive we had in the NNPC in the past three months,which saw us brazing higher to the ministry being the supervising ministry of the sector so that we achieve the desired deliverables expected from the President.”
On the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), the Minister disclosed that he has been in consultation with the National Assembly on the need to prioritise some essential aspects of the bill that concerns daily operation of the sector for passage and admitted that so far, their responses have been positive.
Also addressing the return of fuel queues at fuel stations in the country, the Minister disclosed that the President has provided the sum of N4.3 billion to settle marketers, which is awaiting approval by the National Assembly, and assured that when that is done, in a week’s time, marketers would be paid.
He, however, assured that there are enough products to serve the country and dispelled rumours that fuel scarcity was imminent since marketers have not been paid.
The new Minister of Power, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has charged staff and leadership of the ministry on ways to supply power to Nigerians.
Source : SunOnline