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Buhari approves local weapons production for military

By Idowu Abdulllahi

As part of efforts towards strengthening our national security, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Ministry of Defence to create a modest military industrial complex for the local production of weapons to meet some of the requirements of the country’s armed forces.

The president explained that the establishment of the industrial complex would address Nigeria’s over-dependence on other countries for military equipment and logistics.

He said that the project was being implemented under the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), a military department responsible for arms manufacture.

Buhari, who announced this on Monday at the opening of a two-day Mid-Term Ministerial Performance Review Retreat organized to assess progress made towards the achievement of the nine key priorities of his administration, noted that his administration would stop at nothing in winning the war against terrorism.

On other efforts to strengthen national security, the president said that it was gratifying to note that Nigeria has received six A-29 Super Tucano, adding that the propeller-driven aircraft are being used for training, surveillance and attack by the military.

‘‘As part of the efforts towards strengthening our national security, we have increased investments in arms, weapons and other necessary equipment; expanded the National Command and Control Centre to nineteen states of the Federation; and established a Nigerian Police Trust Fund, which will significantly improve funding for the Nigeria Police Force.

‘‘We have also approved the sum of N13.3 billion for the take-off of the Community Policing initiative across the Country, as part of measures adopted to consolidate efforts aimed at enhancing security nationwide,’’ he said.

The president also assured Nigerians that the 11.9km Second Niger Bridge, 120 km Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and other key projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) will be completed within the second term of this administration.

He used the occasion of the retreat, the third edition since the second term of his administration, to highlight some of the Federal Government’s notable achievements in the last two years. He listed accomplishments in the areas of infrastructure, transportation, economy, electricity supply, the petroleum industry, among others.

‘‘On transportation, we are growing the stock and quality of our road, rail, air and water transport infrastructure. The PIDF projects are also advancing remarkably. These include the 11.9km Second Niger Bridge, 120 km Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, 375 km Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano Expressway and the East West Road. Most of these projects are expected to be completed within this 2nd term of our administration,’’ he said.

Buhari expressed delight that over the past two years, Ministers have rendered reports to the Federal Executive Council on their activities related to the achievement of their Ministerial Mandates.

‘‘Some of the notable achievements include the establishment of InfraCo Plc in 2020, as a world class infrastructure development vehicle, wholly focused on Nigeria, with combined debt and equity take-off capital of N15 trillion, to be managed by an independent infrastructure fund manager. The Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund was also established in 2020 with more than USD 1Billion in funding.

‘‘In addition, we have launched the Nigeria Innovation Fund by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). This is aimed at addressing investment opportunities in the domestic technology sector: data networking, datacenters, software, Agri-tech, Bio-tech, and more,’’ he said.

Furthermore, Buhari noted that his administration had made tremendous progress on railway projects in the country, noting that upgrading of the railway network is being extended with the recent completion of the Lagos – Ibadan line.

‘‘The Itakpe-Ajaokuta rail line has finally been completed and commissioned after 30 years of its conception. Work is expected to commence very soon on the Port-Harcourt Maiduguri line and Calabar – Lagos Coastal Line to connect the Southern and Eastern States of our Country. Progress is also being made on the upgrading of our Airports, with the state-of-the-art facilities in line with world class safety standards,’’ he said.

On the economy, the President said the nation witnessed three consecutive quarters of growth, after negative growth rates recorded in the second and third quarters of 2020.

‘‘The GDP grew from 0.8% in 2017 to 2.2% in 2019, but declined in the first quarter of 2020, as a result of the downward trend in global economic activities triggered by the COVID-19 Pandemic. As at Second Quarter 2021, GDP growth rate was at 5.01%, the highest since the inception of this Administration.

On the Power Sector, Buhari noted that the implementation of a ‘Willing Buyer-Willing Seller’ Policy has opened up opportunities for increased delivery of electricity to underserved homes and industries.

He expressed the hope that the execution of critical projects through the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme, would result in achieving the national goal of improved power supply by 2025.

On efforts to empower the youth and other vulnerable groups by enhancing investments in the Social Intervention Programmes, the President said he has approved the expansion of the National Social Register (NSP) by 1 million additional households.

The NSP is the official database for the implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer programme. ‘‘We have established the N75 billion Nigerian Youth Investment Fund created to boost the Nigerian economy through leverage and access to finance for youths. The Fund should serve as a catalyst to unleash the potential of the youth and to enable them to build businesses that will stimulate economic growth and create jobs. These accomplishments are a testament to the fact that all hands are on deck in establishing a solid foundation for even greater successes in future,’’ he said.

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