The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said
the Buhari Administration is steadily transforming Nigeria through
innovative measures that are yielding positive results.
In a keynote address he delivered at the 2018 ‘Africa Together
Conference’ at the University of Cambridge in the UK on Saturday, the
Minister listed investment in people, changing the business
environment and building national infrastructure as some of the areas
in which the Administration has made a great impact.
He said by focusing on education and skills acquisition, the
Administration is addressing the need to create opportunities for the
country’s teeming youth population.
”In my country, school enrolment is a challenge we face. And one of
the main culprits is malnutrition. Government has stepped in: 8.2
million are being fed daily free meals in 45,000 schools. Not only
does this increase attendance and provide children with a – in some
case only – nutritious meal a day, it enhances learning efficacy in
class and boosts cognitive development over the long term,” Alhaji
He said the Home-Grown School Feeding programme has yielded other
results, including the employment of over 80,000 cooks and a ready-made
market for food crop farmers.
The Minister said skill shortages in the labour pool are being
addressed through several measures, including the four-pronged N-Power
programme that is providing employment and vocational training for
graduates and others, access to loans for medium and small business as
well as conditional cash transfers to the most vulnerable members of
He said the Administration is also changing the business environment
for good, focusing especially on removing the red tape that makes it
cumbersome for business and stifles innovation.
”Much of our programme has honed-in on business reform. Nigeria has
moved up 24 places on the World Bank Ranking of Ease of Doing Business
index – putting it amongst the top 10 global reformers, along with
Zambia, Malawi and Djibouti. The two areas we have prioritised are
starting a business and access to credit.
”In Nigeria, registering a business used to take months. Now it takes
24-48 hours. Unwrapping the bureaucracy and streamlining processes
encourage an uptick in new official enterprises. We have introduced
online registration, with features such as the electronic stamping of
documents. And to ensure this brings with it the maximum benefit,
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises clinics have been deployed across
a variety of states to provide regulators a contact point with
informal business and budding entrepreneurs to clarify any issues,”
Alhaji Mohammed said.
He noted that the challenge of access to credit is also being
frontally addressed by making it possible for MSMEs to register their
movable assets, such as vehicles and equipment, and use them as
collateral to raise loans and finance, thus removing the need for
traditional assets (such as real estate, offices and factories).
The Minister told his audience that the two most critical impediments
against business, decent transport connections and a reliable power
supply, are also been tackled by ensuring better roads and train
networks, so that goods and services can be moved around more cheaply
and efficiently, and businesses can plan for the future, knowing they
will not be hampered by energy outages.
”For instance, Nigeria earmarks 30 per cent of its annual national budgets
for capital expenditure. That means 2.7 trillion Naira has gone
towards our infrastructure in the last 2 years -unprecedented in our
history. Power generation has climbed to 7000MW (from just over
2500MW), to which we hope to add another 2000MW by the end of the
year. We have also laid down thousands of kilometres of road.
”Also, the Government has now signed a concession agreement with an
International Consortium led by General Electric. This will breathe
new life into the tracks, increasing capacity and speed. Not only will
this allow for goods and services to be moved around cost-effectively,
it will allow the prosperity of the nation to be more equitably spread
through increased connectivity,” he said, adding that the government
is also constructing a new standard-gauge railway.