… Says dialogue with Boko Haram not foreclosed
Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe has reiterated the commitment of the present administration to address the myriad of problems confronting the nation, stating that the coming year would be glorious for Nigeria.
Okupe who stated this yesterday while speaking at an interactive session with newsmen in Lagos, said in the past 18 months, the government had made appreciative progress in various sectors of the economy especially in the area of power, agriculture and infrastructural development and expressed optimism that the “future of Nigeria under this administration is so great. Jonathan will fix Nigeria.”
He explained that though dialogue with the Boko Haram sect was not foreclosed, it was not in the place of government to organise the group for a dialogue, as there were presently different factions of the sect, which were still faceless.
Okupe said unlike the situation during Niger Delta crisis, when the militant leaders showed up for a dialogue with government leading to the amnesty programme, Boko Haram kingpins had remained faceless. He stated that while hoping for a dialogue with the group, the government would continue to tackle the sect as part of its responsibility to provide security for Nigerians, and expressed delight that the government was winning the war against terror in the country.
According to the him, apart from working hard to contain the activities of Boko Haram , the President Jonathan administration was also addressing the challenges in the power and other sectors of the economy.
He said at the inception of the current administration, the power sector was near comatose, but that things were looking up in that sector at the moment.
Okupe pointed out that when the president assumed office, power generation in the country was below 3000 megawatts while the 10 National Independent Power Projects (NIPP) were abandoned or stalled, but today, apart from the increase in power generation to 4502 megawatts, work in the 10 NIPP had reached 95 per cent completion.
He expressed optimism that with the projected generation of a minimum of 7000 megawatts by the middle of next year, economic activities in the country would receive a boost.
On the agricultural sector of the economy, the SSA said from January 2013, the Bank of Agriculture would be restructured and recapitalized, so that the government through it could give loan to farmers. Besides, the presidential aide said 78,0000 young Nigerian graduates would be employed in 2013 through the Ministry of Agriculture’s Young Graduate Farmers Scheme. He gave assurance that by 2014, Nigeria would be self-sufficient in rice production.
Also, Okupe said the government had recorded giant strides in infrastructural development in the last couple of months. He listed government achievements ito include the re-activation of the rail line from Lagos to Kano, which had been moribund in the past 10 years, adding that that would aide movement of people and goods from the North to South thereby easing pressure on the roads.
Furthermore, the presidential aide said the rail line from Lagos to Ibadan was also being worked on.
He said contrary to widely held opinion that the president was slow in his approach to governance, the government was only being cautious to avoid mistakes, pointing out that President Jonathan was adequately prepared for the task of administering the nation.
“He started as deputy governor, governor, vice president and president. No Nigerian president has undergone this process. Who among the opposition has had this kind of experience?
“Even in terms of intellectual capacity, he is a graduate, has a PhD. None of the opposition leaders is half qualified. It is absolute nonsense to say that Jonathan is not competent,” he stated.
Okupe described the opposition “as mentally indolent,” stating that apart from abusing the president, the opposition had not been able to present any cogent alternative solution to the problems plaguing the nation.
“It is sad that opposition is a gallery of jokers. They have no articulated programme,” he noted and urged the opposition to be more constructive and issue oriented in their criticism of the president.
Also, the presidential aide defended the recent reappointment of the former Minister of Works, Chief Anthony Anenih as the Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, saying the allegations against the former minister were unfounded.
He said the only issue Nigerians had against Anenih was the alleged misappropriation of N300 billion budgeted for the Ministry of Works during his tenure. However, he explained though the money was budget, it was not released to the ministry.