Niger Pumps N20 Billion into Power, Roads, Eases Education Burden with N2 Billion Debt Payment.
Niger State government has in the last six months of the administration of Governor Mohammed Bago invested N20 billion in upgrading some rural roads and providing solar electrification to some far-situated villages.
The administration equally spent over N2 billion on clearing the backlog of debt owed to the National Examination Council (NECO) and West African Examination Council (WAEC) for the registration of indigent students by the previous administration.
Governor Bago disclosed this at the end-of-the-year party of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), FCT Correspondents’ Chapel in Abuja on Saturday night.
The governor who was the special guest of honour stated that his administration has employed over 1752 workers and made some key appointments to help in the realisation of his blueprint.
Bago who was recognised by the union for his giant strides in urban renewal said the government under him discovered that most of the state’s infrastructure was decayed and there was no way development could be attained without adequate attention paid to infrastructural upliftment.
Represented by his principal private secretary, Usman Magaji, the governor said Niger abounds with untapped natural resources for investors to cash in on and urged media professionals to support the state by highlighting its comparative advantages to national and international publics.
“In the last six or seven months, it will interest you to know that our government has invested about N20 billion in upgrading some of the rural roads linking or connecting some of the rural areas to the national grid, providing solar electrification to some far situated villages.
“When we came in, the government was owing about N750 million to NECO and about the same amount to WAEC, which we paid off in two months. And because we are a forward-looking government, we did not only pay but we created a sinking fund.
“Since the past three, or four months we will be saving in that fund N20 million monthly so that by the end of the year you would have accumulated the kind of money that WAEC and NECO will need to be able to allow your indigent students to sit for the examinations.
“Worthy of mention too, when we came in, we discovered that the electricity we are enjoying we were also owing NEPA almost a billion naira even though we are the power state. We are hosting about four hydropower stations.
“So, what we did in our government led by His Excellency Muhammad Umar Bago was to call the NEPA general manager, saying we owe you N1 billion but we want to progress as a state, we will pay you 70 percent now and pay the remaining 30 percent in three months.
“He consented and immediately we paid N700 million into NEPA’s account and as I am talking to you now except there is a natural or unavoidable reason Nigeria state 60 percent to 70 percent of it is having light,” he said.
Also, the director-general of, the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman said in the realm of democracy, information is the bedrock upon which the edifice stands and journalists, with their pens as mighty swords, carve the path of truth through the thick forest of misinformation.
Represented by the acting director, of Training and International Cooperation of NILDS, Joke Akinsanmi, Sulaiman commended journalists’ dedication to the pursuit of knowledge, justice, and the public interest.
“As a former minister of National Planning and director-general of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, I keenly understand the invaluable role that journalists play in holding our institutions accountable and ensuring the transparency that is essential for a thriving democracy.
“This is the reason why I organised capacity-building workshops for members of the Senate and House of Representatives Press Corps on multiple occasions. Some, in partnership with our German partners, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
“This year, in particular, has been a testament to the resilience of the journalistic community. In the face of challenges, journalists have remained steadfast in their commitment to truth, uncovering stories that matter and providing a voice to the voiceless.
“NILDS, in the upcoming year, will intensify advocacy, enhance capacity development, and conduct research focused on the development of legislative and democratic institutions. We remain committed until the realisation of a country that aligns with our dreams,” he stated.
In his welcome address, the chairman of NUJ-FCT Correspondent Chapel, Jide Oyekunle, said if democracy is about good governance, transparency and accountability then freedom of expression should not be curtailed, denied, restricted or taken away.
According to him, one of the key pillars of democracy is a free and vibrant press but when journalists work under fear then there is no press freedom.