Infrasture Financing: Atiku has no jinx to break – FG

Atiku Abubakar and Lai Mohammed

THE Federal Government says the promise by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to ‘break the jinx’ in infrastructure financing, if elected president in 2023, is worn.

According to the Federal Government, President Muhammadu Buhari has long done so.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said this at a media briefing on Thursday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister was reacting to the recent Economic Blueprint unveiled by Atiku, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s presidential candidate in the 2023 elections.

“We state unequivocally, that the worst jinx in infrastructure financing was the PDP administration from 1999 to 2015.

“Indeed, the Buhari administration has long broken that jinx, leveraging on such innovative schemes as the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), Sukuk and the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme (RITCS),” he said

According to the minister, the PIDF is being used to finance the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, 2nd Niger Bridge and the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road, while Sukuk has delivered a total of 1,881 kilometres of roads between 2017 and 2020.

He said the RITCS was used for the construction and rehabilitation of Lokoja-Obajana-Kabba-Ilorin road, reconstruction of Apapa Wharf road, construction of Apapa-Oworonsoki-Ojota road and the Bonny-Bodo road with bridge).

Mohammed said that the NNPC-funded part of the RITCS  was also delivering nine roads in North-Central, three in North-East, two in North-West, two in South-East, three in South-South and two in South-West for a total of 1,804 kilometres of roads.

He said the Buhari administration’s “warm handshake’’ with the private sector had delivered and was delivering an unprecedented number of projects.

The projects according to the minister, included, the 650,000bpd Dangote Refinery, Dangote Fertilizer plant, Lekki Deep Sea Port, BUA Cement, the 5,000bpd Waltersmith Modular Refinery in Imo State and the 2,500bpd Duport Modular Refinery/Energy Park in Edo.

They also included the 2,000bpd Atlantic Modular Refinery in Bayelsa State; the 12,000bpd Azikel Modular Refinery also in Bayelsa; the five LPG Bottling plants and six LPG depots in 10 northern states and Abuja.

Others are the 48,000 L/D base oil production plant in Rivers and the 10,000 Metric Tonnes Per Day methanol production plant in Bayelsa, just to mention a few.

The minister said the refineries and other projects were the result of a ”warm handshake” between the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board and private sector actors.

On power, the minister said Atiku’s promise to propose legislation to, among others give states the power to generate, transmit and distribute electricity, was also not new.

“It is amazing that His Excellency the former vice president has not heard or read that the Senate has passed the electricity bill 2022 that will allow states to generate and distribute power as well as solve the sector’s challenges,’’ he said.

Mohammed said contrary to Atiku’s position, the Federal Government’s investments in additional generation capacity were not futile and had consideration for the complementary transmission and distribution infrastructure.

He said the Nigeria-Siemens partnership consummated in 2019 to improve “the seemingly-intractable power sector on which the PDP frittered more than 16 billion dollars to procure nothing but darkness would be a game changer.

“The three-phase project will deliver 7,000MW in the first phase, 11,000MW in the second phase and 25,000MW in the third phase.

“This will positively impact job creation, boost investor confidence, accelerate economic growth and reduce cost of doing business.

“For those who may be in doubt, let me say that this project is a game changer. As you may have read, electricity equipment ordered under the project have started arriving in the country.

“When they are installed, there will be a major improvement in the supply of electricity across the country,’’ he said.

The minister also faulted Atiku on his promise that poverty reduction would be the ‘centerpiece of our economic development agenda’.

He said the Buhari administration’s National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) is unprecedented in impacting the lives of poor Nigerians directly and indirectly and creating jobs, especially for the youths, women and the elderly. (NAN)

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