The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 approved N40.2 billion for the resuscitation and completion of Kontagora/Auna Dam and Irrigation project in Niger State, as well as N226 million for pests control along 11 frontline states.
The Ministers of Water Resources and Agriculture, Suleiman Adamu and Audu Ogbeh, respectively, said these were part of the Council’s decisions at its weekly meeting which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The ministers briefed State House correspondents alongside Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, as well as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
Adamu said that the council approved the upward review of the cost of the Kontagora/Auna dam project which was abandoned after reaching 61 per cent completion from N8.9 billion to N40.2 billion.
“As part of our efforts to complete ongoing projects which were hiked over time we presented a memo to the Federal Executive Council towards resuscitating and completing the Kontagora/Auna Dam and Irrigation project in Niger state.
“You could recall that we had a technical audit at the beginning of last year, of all the ongoing projects in the ministry and this project was ranked as among the top priority projects.
“It had attained 61 per cent progress before it was abandoned in 2010. This is the project that was initiated in 1985.
The minister said the Federal Government was working towards increasing the land for irrigation by 100,000 hectares to boost agricultural activities across the country.
The Minister of Agriculture said that the approved N223 million was meant for the procurement of chemicals to check locust and Quelea birds’ invasion of farmlands in the 11 frontline states.
The affected states are Kano, Jigawa, Borno, Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kano, Bauchi, Gombe and Adamawa.
Ogbeh said the council had resolved to use drones in spraying the chemicals to achieve maximum result.
He also said that the council discussed the persistent problem of rice smuggling along the nation’s border towns, saying efforts had been intensified by the Nigeria Custom Service to check the menace.
On his part the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Enelemah, attributed the progress achieved by Nigeria in the Ease of Doing Business to the collaborative efforts of the executive arm of government, the National Assembly, government agencies and state governments.
The World Bank, had on Tuesday, said that Nigeria now ranked 145th position out of 190 countries in the Ease of Doing Business index for 2018.
The World Bank stated this in its just released Ease of Doing Business report titled: “Doing Business 2018: Reforming to create jobs”.
The report indicated that Nigeria had moved up by 24 positions from 169th position on the 2017 ranking and also 170th position on the 2016 ranking to 145 in the World Bank’s 2018 report.
According to the World Bank, Nigeria alongside El Salvador, India, Malawi, Brunei Darussalam, Kosovo, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Zambia and Djibouti are the top 10 improved countries worldwide after carrying out numerous reforms to improve their business environments.
Enelamah also spoke extensively on the National Action Plan Phase 2 meant to further solidify the achievements so far made.
In his contribution, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Malami, said that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on recovery of stolen funds would soon be signed between Nigeria and Swiss government.
According to him, the signing of the MoU will be done during the forthcoming global forum on assets recovery slated for December.
“As you are aware, the Federal Government has been making efforts to recover stolen funds, loot, assets and the efforts have been indeed yielding fruits particularly as it relates to local recoveries.
“A memo has been presented to council this afternoon by the office of the Attorney General which is intended to shift focus to international recovery, before going into the memo, I think it is important to bring to your attention that recently, about a week ago, we succeeded in recovering 85million dollars relating to Malabu issues from U.K.
“And then, now, there exist a forum that is Global Assets Recovery Forum taking place in December, in US and we are looking towards that, we are in agreement substantially with Swiss for the recovery of additional sum of $321 million.
“That Memorandum of Understanding has been substantially agreed between Nigeria and Swiss.’’
By Ismaila Chafe