Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was yesterday, briefed on the present security situation in the country by service chiefs.
Present at the meeting were Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; Inspector-General of Police, Mr Idris Abubakar; Director-General of Department of State Services, DSS, Lawal Daura, among others.
The service chiefs declared their total support for President Muhammadu Buhari, who is away in London on medical vacation.
The service chiefs renewed loyalty to the President came on a day the Federal Executive Council, FEC, earmarked N701 billion to boost the power situation in the country, which currently stands at 4,000MW.
Minister of Defence, Masur Dan-Ali, who spoke on behalf of the service chiefs, reiterated their loyalty to the Commander-in-Chief, C-in-C. He lauded the present government for its relentless support to the armed forces, adding that substantial success had been recorded in the fight against terrorism.
He said: “Let me start by expressing our appreciation to the current administration for its relentless support and continuous funding of the armed forces in the conduct of its operations. “This has no doubt impacted positively on the capacity of our armed forces and troops in fighting the Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East and other security threats across the country. “On behalf of the armed forces and other security agencies, we pledge our total commitment and loyalty to the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.”
On crisis in Southern Kaduna
On the crisis in Southern Kaduna, the minister said the intervention of former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, was paying off, adding that the Nigerian Army was constructing a barracks in the area. He said: “Recently, some religious leaders, led by former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, were in Southern Kaduna to mediate between the herdsmen and farmers.
“As part of efforts to curtail this menace, Nigerian Army is in the process of constructing a permanent barracks in Kafanchan. “Also, the Nigerian Army is expected to conduct exercise Harbin Kunama II in Southern Kaduna, Falgore Forest in Kano and the forest in Bauchi to flush out the criminal elements.” FEC Okays N701bn to boost power generation.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s Federal Executive Council, FEC, presided by Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, approved N701 billion to improve power supply in the country. The money would serve as Power Assurance Guarantee for Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, who was joined by his colleagues in Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh and Information, Lai Mohammed, said with the money paid, the Gencos would be able to pay their gas suppliers to record steady power supply.
Fashola noted that power generation had increased to 4,000 megawatts. , said: “The second memorandum is in another area of critical importance which is power. Part of the challenges there were addressed in the memo that was presented to council to solve some of the liquidity problems, especially as it relates to NBET.”
“NBET as you know is the government’s own company, that is the Bulk Trader Electricity who buys power from the GENCOS. The liquidity problems that have characterized the market have affected NBET’s ability to deliver on its PPP obligations through the Gencos. ‘’So, going forward, in order to strengthen NBET, CBN is providing a payment assurance guarantee for any energy produced by any Genco so that the Gencos can pay their gas suppliers when they get paid, so the hydros can continue to operate.
“What we seek to achieve here is to bring some stability to the production side of the power value chain and also give confidence to investors who want to come in, who are concerned about how to recover their money. “So, the approval of Council was to provide this guarantee for NBET which is a 100 percent government-owned company to pay on a monthly basis it’s obligations for energy actually produced on to the grid to the Gencos that are it’s customers.
“The reality is than we want more power and for that reason, we are expanding our transmission capacity regularly. I have been here to announce to you transmission projects that have been approved by Council and over the last one year plus, the transmission capacity has grown to almost 7,000 from 5,000 and is continuing to grow with every project.
“So, it is not the problem of taking power; it is actually a problem of getting power from generation. If you recall, just about a few weeks ago, you were reporting that power supply had dropped to a little over 2000. It’s back now at over 4000. What we were seeing on the eastern side of the Delta was that there is power.
Fashola also said the Council was briefed on the status of the Public Private Partnership, PPP, agreement on the construction of second Niger-Bridge and Lagos/Ibadan express way. He said: “You will recall that a few weeks back, we announced the approval of council for early works for the second Niger bridge.
That bridge at sometime was part of a PPP initiative. You will also recall that sometime, some private agreements have been signed to build the Lagos-Ibadan express way. “The first memo is to brief Council on the PPP status of those infrastructure projects and present options to government which was essentially that government where those PPPs are having problems, government must lead and finance the infrastructure, while continuing to engage the private sector,’’ he said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, said FEC approved the sum of N263 million for three research institutions to produce gum arabic seedlings for Nigerian farmers and for export. He said Nigeria earned $43 million from export of gum arabic last year, saying there were more windows for more earnings with increased production.
He added that the commodity was in high demand in 17 other countries. The Minister also disclosed that there were efforts to also boost Cassava production, even as he described as “interesting” the recent discovery of well-packaged ‘garri’ imported from India. Ogbeh said that Nigeria remained the highest producer of garri and as such had not need to import the item from India.