• As Lai Mohammed says president rescued Nigeria from economic doom
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerian children that his administration remains fully committed to fulfilling its promise of a better country for all.
The president further reaffirmed that it is the right of every Nigerian child to have access to quality and affordable education as well as healthcare and other basic necessities for a good life, in a peaceful and secure environment.
He gave the assurance to children on this year’s Children’s Day celebration in Abuja.
The president also stated that good health and well-being of Nigerian children remain a top priority of his agenda for national development, hence, the allocation of N12.6 billion in the 2016 budget for vaccines and programmes to prevent childhood killer diseases such as polio, measles and yellow fever.
Buhari listed other measures in the 2016 budget to take care of children to include, N93.1 billion for the school feeding programme for children, saying this would ensure that more children go to school and enjoy the fun of learning and growing together with their peers.
“It is a thing of joy that, on this year’s Children’s Day, we can also celebrate the safe return of one of the Chibok girls, Amina Ali Nkeki and many other abducted women and children who have been freed from the clutches of Boko Haram by our gallant troops.
“I assure all Nigerians and friends of the country, once again, that my administration will not rest on its oars until the ungodly terrorist sect is totally eliminated from our country.
“We will also sustain and strengthen ongoing actions to protect children more effectively from violence, child-labour, child-trafficking, forced marriages and other related offences
“In return, I urge you all to imbibe and exhibit, in greater measure, the virtues of hard work, diligence, discipline, honesty, prudence, selflessness and patriotism, which are essential for the actualisation of our vision of a truly great nation.
“The world now looks up to our dear nation, Nigeria as an exemplary model of democratic ideals after the smooth transition that brought our administration to power.
“You, our children and youth have a very significant role to play in ensuring that our democratic institutions of governance are continuously nurtured, improved and strengthened to underpin national development and prosperity,” he said.
Elsewhere, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed sympathised with Nigerians on the tough times the country is currently facing as a result of the economic down-turn but, also, assured that the present administration will deliver on its electoral campaign promise to effect a positive change.
The minister, who spoke at an interactive session five ministers had with the Broadcasting Organisation Nigeria (BON) on the achievements and challenges of their ministries said the Buhari-led administration has made great strides towards fulfilling its promises of tackling insecurity, fighting corruption and revamping the economy.
“Let me assure Nigerians that the ‘change’ we promised is real, despite the tough situation we are in at the moment.
“It is real because there is no shortage of political will, commitment, discipline and prudence on the part of government, under the dedicated and visionary leadership of President Buhari.
“In fact, I make bold to say that, had this government not been elected, there would have been no economy today.
“This administration is aware that it was not elected to make excuses, but to put the nation back on a sound economic footing, ensure the security of lives and property and banish corruption.
“We have, therefore, decided to turn the disaster that we inherited into a blessing by diversifying our economy away from the mono-product of oil, leveraging on agriculture, solid minerals as well as culture and tourism, among others.
“Nigeria will overcome the economic catastrophe, caused by years of bad governance, mind-boggling corruption and unprecedented profligacy…,” he said.
But we must not despair. We must keep hope alive”.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has appealed to international oil companies (IOCs) and leading construction companies in the country not to lay off workers because of the down-turn in the economy.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who disclosed this at the interactive session, said his ministry engaged the companies and labour unions alike, to ensure that workers were not laid off but retained, even without salaries or on contract basis, as retrenchment would increase the army of unemployed people in the society.
“There may be one or two lay off, but it was not commensurate with the slide we have. We are aware that the contractors have not been paid, so we met with them and the unions, and pleaded with them not to lay off; instead, they should keep them even if they are not paying, say on contract basis,” he said.
Ngige, who noted that government could only provide 20 percent of white collar jobs world over, said that was why the present administration is placing emphasis on skills.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said government was determined to do strategic revamping of the nation’s infrastructure, while his Federal Capital Territory counterpart, Alhaji Muhammad Bello, disclosed that land processing is being made transparent to ease the cost of doing business and ensure that land speculators have no place in the FCT.
Speaking at another forum, Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnia Onuh, said one of the greatest achievements of his ministry is the creation of national consciousness and awareness in science and technology since the All Progressives Congress (APC) government took over power.
Onu stated this when he paid a courtesy visit on the national chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, at the party’s national headquarters in Abuja, yesterday.
He said: “I have come to let you know what we are doing at the ministry of science and technology. No nation has ever become great in history without science and technology.
“We have made progress in trying to link research and innovations to the nation. Our partnership with Nasco Industry has resulted in producing high density nutrient biscuits for the children between five to 12 years”.