Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Coordinating Minister for the Economy has provided a detailed 102-page document in response to 50 questions posed by the House of Representatives Committee on Finance.
In a press report received by pace TV, Special Adviser on Media to the Minister, Paul Nwabuikwu, said the document provides, in extensive detail, including tables and graphs, answers to the committee’s well publicised questions.
Okonjo-Iweala stressed that in spite of many challenges which government has acknowledged, the Nigerian economy is showing real and measurable progress in many areas.
This, she insisted could be seen in the fact that more jobs are being created and facilities like roads, rail and other infrastructures are being improved on, adding that the country is saving for the future and planning better for the present.
“The Jonathan’s administration, contrary to the impression given by some critics, is making impact in the areas that, according to credible opinion polls, Nigerians are most passionate about,” she said.
Giving statistics to back-up her argument, she disclosed that on job creation, a central focus of the administration, a total of 1.6 million jobs were created last year.
This is contained in a recent report issued by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in which 250,000 seasonal jobs were created in dry season farming in 10 northern states, even as the manufacturing sector, Onne Oil and Gas Free zone, created an estimated 30,000 direct and indirect jobs.
She further told the committee members that the government’s special intervention programme – YouWin, supported young entrepreneurs, creating over 18,000 jobs, while the SURE-P Community Services programme has also created 120,000 job opportunities.
On road constructions and maintenance, Okonjo-Iweala said there has been an improvement in federal highways and has been confirmed by many Nigerians who travelled over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
“Key highways which have witnessed significant progress include Kano-Maiduguri road, the Abuja-Lokoja road, the Apapa-Oshodi road, the Onitsha-Enugu-Port-Harcourt road and the Benin-Ore-Shagamu road. Preliminary work has commenced on Lagos-Ibadan road and the Second Niger Bridge.
“The Railway Modernization Programme involving the construction of standard gauge lines is underway. The 1,124 km Western line linking Lagos and Kano is now functional while work on the Eastern line linking Port Harcourt to Maiduguri is about 36 per cent complete,” she said.
“The Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge line has attained 68 per cent completion, and the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri line, which is presently 77 per cent completed, will be completed next year. The annual passenger traffic on our railways has increased steadily – rising from 1 million in 2011 to 5 million in 2013.”
She also added that it is important to note that many of the 50 questions had been adequately answered at various fora, including meetings and open hearings organised by the House committee.
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