Information Minister, Mr. Labaran Maku has said that stamping out insurgency remains the topmost priority of the Federal Government as it succeeded in containing terrorism in the North East to the States of Borno and Yobe in the last one year.
While giving the scorecard of the Federal Government in 2013 in a phone-in programme on Radio Nigeria, Mr. Maku said, the massive deployment of men and material through the establishment of the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri had stemmed the tide of attacks by insurgents in the North East.
Mr. Maku who is also the Supervising Minister of Defence, said, due to the huge investments required to set up an Army Division, Government had prioritised the provision of funds to construct military barracks and other formations and infrastructure as well as the training of personnel and the provision of the necessary equipment to wipe out the activities of insurgents operating in the North East.
He gave an indication that Nigeria is working to secure the support of Cameroun to halt the infiltration of the country by insurgents from the Cameroun border to carry out occasional attacks in isolated locations in the sub-region.
“The recent attacks on Bama as we know, came from across the border of Cameroun. We are working hard to reach out to the Camerounian Government and other international agencies to ensure that we continue to put pressure on the insurgents from both sides of the boundary so that in the end, by the grace of God, we should witness greater successes against the insurgency in 2014.
“What is clear is that in the year 2013, tremendous success was made and most of the insurgents that infiltrated other States from the North East when the pressure went there were picked up. Some were picked up as far away as Lagos and Ogun and a number of them are in detention and trial is going on gradually.”
Mr. Maku acknowledged that insurgency in form of urban and rural guerrilla warfare could not be eradicated overnight through military intervention as experience had shown in other countries with similar challenges, adding that it required concerted efforts by both the Government and citizens in intelligence gathering and the provision of useful information by members of the public for security agent to flush out the insurgents.
The Minister further stated that the Federal Government is intervening in the economic recovery of the North East following the devastation and socio-economic setback suffered by the sub-region due to the insurgency. “The President in the Economic Forum on the North East, unfolded a new agenda for the economic support of the North East. From this year’s budget some provision is now being made to really give the North East support.
“What is seen in the budget is not the end of the matter. There will be a lot of other support coming in and what will unfold will enable the Federal Government, international agencies, friendly governments abroad and also the private sector to make special contributions for the development of the North East”, he said.
He said, despite the inherited security challenges which were mainly induced by local politics in the North East, with severe consequences on the economic growth in the region, President Jonathan recorded tremendous successes in economic and social development in the last three years.
Mr. Maku said: “In the last three years of the present leadership, we have recorded 7% GDP growth. This is the highest we have recorded in the last 20 years”. He cited the feat as a landmark having achieved the percentage of GDP to national debt as low as 21% when compared to South Africa 42.7%; USA 106%; UK 90% and Japan 225%.
He further said that the exchange rate remained stable; foreign reserve grew to over $45 billion; domestic production particularly in agriculture and industries increased while inflation decreased from 12% to 8% in 2013 as a result of stable macro economic management.
The Minister disclosed that Government is fighting corruption through systematic methods by applying technology to block the loopholes hitherto exploited to siphon public money from the treasury.
He mentioned that the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS) introduced in 15 ministries, departments and agencies has so far saved N118 billion paid to ghost workers and the Government Financial Management and Information System, which networks and monitors financial transactions in all ministries, departments and agencies.
Mr. Maku noted that because of the economic expansion, 2 million jobs were created in 2013 mainly through agriculture and industries.
Furthermore, Mr. Maku said, Nigeria remains the preferred destination for foreign direct investments in Africa with the record of $7 billion investments from reputable companies such as General Electric which is constructing a manufacturing plant at the Calabar Free Trade Zone, the Onne Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone where 150 companies are operating, Indorama Eleme Fertilizer and Chemical Limited in Rivers State, Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Plant in Ondo State, Siemens Plant in Lagos among others.
He remarked that the rebound of the capital market, which collapsed before the advent of the present administration has given foreign investors confidence to invest in the Nigerian economy.
The Minister said the Stock Market Index has risen by 71% since 2012 while Stock Market Capitalisation increased by 66% since 2012 to N11.8 trillion.
Mr. Maku therefore, lambasted the political opposition for crying wolf over the performance of the economy and urged Nigerians to disregard the ranting of the opposition who are only bent on downplaying the performance of the economy in their quest to capture power at all costs in the 2015 general elections.
Federal Government of Nigeria Press Release
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