The Minister of Information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday said the N500 billion approved for special intervention would lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
The minister said during a visit to the corporate headquarters of Media Trust Limited in Abuja that with the passing of the budget , Nigerians were in for happier days ahead.
He said with the passage of the appropriation bill, government intends to rejuvenate the economy, revisit and resume abandoned projects, mainly on infrastructure.
Mohammed identified six key areas where intervention will take place, including the employment of 500,000 graduates to be trained as teachers, 370,000 unemployed non-graduates to be trained and employed and one million market traders and artisans to be trained and given loans.
Others include the school feeding programme from primary 1-3, conditional transfer meant for the most vulnerable Nigerians, especially the rural dwellers as well as scholarships for students studying courses in Science and Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The minister also assured that government was working round the clock to provide relief for Nigerians over the present difficulties as a result of the lingering fuel scarcity and poor power supply.
He said government deeply empathised with the citizens and assured that government’s efforts would begin to yield fruits for the benefit of Nigerians.
He also noted that government was aware that Nigerians had started questioning the genuinness of its acclaimed change agenda, adding: “We understand the scepticism of Nigerians in questioning whether this indeed is the change they voted for. I can tell Nigerians that our change agenda is real, and that indeed Nigerians will get the change they voted for.”
On the fuel situation, the minister said immediate measures were being taken to end the scarcity while medium and long term solutions were being worked out.
“Petroleum supply and distribution have been ramped up across the country by the NNPC to ensure product availability, but repeated trips to filling stations and the backlog are making it impossible to immediate feel the impact. Monitoring has also been intensified to ensure full compliance with approved prices. Violation of approved prices and hoarding of petroleum products attract severe penalties, including ýgiving out petroleum products free to the public, sealing off of fuel stations found to be hoarding petroleum products, payment of fines as well as withdrawal of marketer’s license,” he said.
He said in the medium term, the supply constraints due to foreign exchange challenges were being resolved through collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria on innovative ways of closing the gaps in accessing foreign exchange. He blamed poor power supply largely on lack of gas supply to the power generating stations, saying the NNPC was seeking alternative sources of gas supply after the attack on the Forcados Export Pipeline forced cut off of gas supply to the stations.