The Presidency has regretted that despite the Federal Government’s good faith in pursuing dialogue with the Niger Delta stakeholders, the militant groups have not reciprocated the government’s good gesture in finding peaceful and lasting solution to the crisis in the oil-producing areas of Nigeria. According to a statement on Wednesday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in an interview he granted a Kano-based radio station, Express Radio.
“Despite the government’s practical demonstration of goodwill by bringing the parties or stakeholders to the round table, the militant groups have continued to blow up national economic assets,” he said.
Shehu said the continued destruction of oil installations, including those repaired, had thrown a spanner in the works.
He admitted that the vandalism is causing enormous hardships on innocent Nigerians on account of
declining oil production output and massive losses of revenues, which in turn, badly affect the ability of governments at all levels to meet their basic obligations, including payment of salaries.
While saying that violence brings no benefits to anybody, Shehu appealed to Niger Delta leaders at all levels to exert every influence they have to stop the violence and economic sabotage “so that normalcy returns to the region.”
He also appealed to the militants to maintain peace in the region as the President seeks a permanent solution to the problems that are worrisome to every citizen.
“We must keep national interest above all else and give priority to eschewing violence and destruction,” he urged.
Shehu also said Nigeria was taking a giant leap in infrastructure development by speeding up ongoing projects and investing heavily in the construction and repair of highways, railways and power generating plants across the country.
He said administration had chosen to fast track projects related to infrastructure in order to pump money into the economy as a way of pulling the economy out of recession.
To this end, he said N750bn has been released for capital projects in the last five months and that counterpart funds for the take-off of the $11bn Kano-Lagos rail project had been paid.
According to the presidential spokesman, a number of projects existing on paper are now being activated, citing the Kano-Katsina dual road project as an example of what he called “deceitful and ghost projects now being given life.”
“Kano-Katsina dual highway was awarded three years ago by the last administration. They didn’t pay a kobo for its start-up. President Buhari just paid money for the first tranche of 75 kilometers and work has begun apace,” he added.
Shehu explained the essence of infrastructure in the country’s economic and industrial take-off, describing it as the equivalent of the arteries forming the bloodstream in the body.
“Without infrastructure, the country will not witness growth,” he noted.