REMARKS / TALKING POINTS FOR INTERACTION WITH SENIOR MEDIA EDITORS AND EXECUTIVES, BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND NATIONAL ORIENTATION, ALHAJI MOHAMMED IDRIS, AT NICON LUXURY HOTEL, ABUJA, ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2023
1. I am delighted by this opportunity for my first formal interface with you my esteemed colleagues, since my appointment as the Minister of Information and National Orientation. I would like to thank you all for honoring the invitation to be here, to engage and discuss, and I have no doubt that this will be a mutually-enriching interaction.
2. You are aware that the Ministry, hitherto known as the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, has been unbundled by the current administration, with three different ministries emerging thereto. What is significant about this development is that the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration recognises Information and National Orientation as the driving force of the collective efforts to building a united, peaceful and prosperous country through mass public sensitisation of government’s economic and social policies as encapsulated in the Renewed Hope Agenda.
3. RENEWED HOPE AGENDA: This is the central governing agenda of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu Administration, anchored on Eight ( Priority Objectives that will help build a more just and equitable Nigeria, as follows:
a. Reform the economy to deliver sustained inclusive growth.
b. Strengthen national security for peace and prosperity.
c. Boost agriculture to achieve food security.
d. Unlock energy and natural resources for sustainable development.
e. Enhance infrastructure and transportation as enablers of growth.
f. Focus on education, health, and social investment as essential pillars of development.
g. Accelerate diversification through industrialization, digitization, creative arts, manufacturing & innovation
h. Improve governance for effective service delivery.
4. PRESIDENT TINUBU’S SUPREME COURT VICTORY: On October 26, 2023, the Supreme agreed with the September 6 verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, ruling on all seven counts that there was no merit in the case filed by two opposition parties. Consequently, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has called on all Nigerians, irrespective of political party leanings, to join hands with him in forging ahead for a better Nigeria.
5. CABINET RETREAT: To achieve the overall objectives of the Renewed Hope Agenda, the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has just concluded a three-day Cabinet Retreat, during which cabinet ministers showcased their strategies towards the success of the eight ( cardinal directions of the administration. At the end of the Cabinet Retreat, a performance bond was signed, outlining key performance indicators by which ministries and departments of the Federal Government will be assessed. The President also directed the reactivation of the Presidential Delivery Tracker, with the specific instruction that cutting-edge digital technology be deployed to empower Nigerians to monitor and track in real-time the implementation of Federal Government projects across the country.
6. 2023 SUPPLEMENTARY BUDGET: On November 2, 2023, the National Assembly graciously gave accelerated consideration to the N2.17 Trillion Supplementary Appropriation Bill, thus guaranteeing the liquidity needed for critical interventions in road infrastructure, agriculture, student loan schemes, health, security, and housing, social investment, amongst other critical areas of national needs. The President is pleased with the quick and decisive response of the National Assembly in passing the 2023 supplementary budget. Note also that work is ongoing on the 2024 Appropriation Bill, which is going to be the first full-year Budget of the Tinubu Administration.
7. SECURING NIGERIA: The Nigeria government is dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of all Nigerians and visitors to our country and will continue to work towards maintaining a secure and hospitable environment for tourists and business travelers and the likes. Our security agencies have been very busy, doing their best to keep us all safe. I will highlight just a few of those successes in recent days:
a. In various parts of Kaduna State, seven bandits were neutralized, in various operations between the 1st and 3rd of November.
b. In Kano State, on November 3, a joint operation by troops of the Nigerian Army and the Department of State Services carried out a dawn raid operation on terrorists’ hideout in Gezawa Local Government Area, successfully averting an imminent attack on Kano by insurgents. The operation recovered AK 47 Rifles, AK 47 Rifle Magazines, a Rocket Propelled Gun (RPG), RPG Bombs, Hand Grenades, Improvised Explosive Device (IED)-making materials, among others.
c. In Katsina, two NYSC members abducted by bandits were successfully rescued.
d. In the North-East and North-West of the country, the Nigerian Air Force has been very busy, with several successful airstrikes on bandits’ and terrorists’ camps and hideouts in Katsina, Zamfara and Borno States.
e. The Air Force has also recently taken delivery of 4 new aircraft, to strengthen the fight against banditry and terrorism.
f. In our maritime environment, on October 25, the Eastern and Central Naval Commands flagged off a Joint Sea Exercise, Exercise SEA GUARDIAN 2023.
g. I have taken some time to outline some of these efforts to make the point that our security and intelligence agencies are constantly at work, foiling threats, and neutralizing those who seek to undermine the security of the country. And for this reason, they deserve the full support of all Nigerians, the media included. Please pay attention to what they’re doing, and give amplified coverage to their successes and gains.
The bandits, terrorists, kidnappers, pirates etc are waging not only a physical battle but also a psychological one, trying to undermine our faith and confidence in our security agencies. As media leaders, we must be very careful to not play into their hands, through reporting that might be misleading or sensational or that undermines the morale of our security personnel.
8. U.S. TRAVEL ADVISORY: We understand the concerns raised by the United States government in their recent travel advisory, but believe that it is imperative that we do not generalize isolated incidents across the entire hospitality industry. What we have seen is that such advisories do not achieve anything other than needless panic, and they can have severe adverse economic impact, not to talk of what they do to undermine the government’s efforts to attract investment.
We have consistently prioritized the safety and well-being of all visitors to our country. We have implemented comprehensive security measures, both at the Federal and State levels, to ensure the safety of tourists and international guests. These measures include intense intelligence gathering, acquisition and deployment of additional platforms, training and re-training of personnel, cooperation with international law enforcement agencies, among others, to maintain a secure environment.
9. POST OIL SUBSIDY REMOVAL ECONOMIC INTERVENTIONS: President Tinubu and the Administration have been taking all necessary measures to alleviate the pains being felt, and to cushion the impact of these foundational reforms being pursued. These interventions are designed to serve as palliatives in the short and medium-term, while we wait to reap the long-term benefits of the reforms:
a. A provisional wage increment of N35,000 monthly for six months, to enhance federal minimum wage, without causing undue inflation.
b. Establishment of an Infrastructure Support Fund for States to invest in critical areas that will create an enabling environment for businesses
c. Launch of a 100 Billion Naira CNG bus rollout programme, to deliver CNG-powered buses, and establishment of a Presidential Committee to drive implementation.
d. Since he assumed office, the President has signed no fewer than five Executive Orders, aimed at improving Nigeria’s business and fiscal environment, and increasing foreign exchange supply.
e. Deft moves by the Central Bank of Nigeria to clear the billions of dollars in inherited foreign exchange backlog. We saw the immediate impact of this on the exchange rates last week, and we are confident that this is just the beginning. Under the Renewed Hope Agenda, the Central Bank is determined to focus on its core mandates of price stability and financial system stability, for the benefit of all Nigerians.
f. Establishment of a Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reform Committee to reform the tax system while also reducing tax burden on Nigerians. The Committee has this week presented its first set of reform proposals— “Quick Wins” to the President, and Nigerians can rest assured that they will be implemented. I must emphasize that one of the primary mandates of the Committee is to reduce the tax burdens and complications faced by Nigerians.
g. We are finalizing the process for payment of a Cash Transfer of N25,000 monthly to 15 million of the poorest and most vulnerable households in Nigeria, for three months.
h. A presidential directive for the release of 200,000 Metric Tonnes of grains from strategic reserves to households across the 36 states and FCT to moderate prices, and 225,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer, seedlings and other inputs to farmers.
i. An access-to-credit programme for startups and MSMEs, that will be launched soon: providing N50 billion in Conditional Grants to 1 million nano-businesses across Nigeria between now and March 2024; and a new single-digit interest-rate Fund to provide N75 billion to support manufacturing enterprises; among others.
j. We have launched the 3MTT programme that aims to develop 3 million technical talents by 2025, in line with the President’s vision for making Nigeria a global hub for digital jobs. In just two weeks since it was launched, close to 500,000 applications have been received from across Nigeria.
k. Still in line with the jobs agenda, we have recently launched the National Talent Export Programme (NATEP), to create one million service-export jobs over the next 5 years, and make Nigeria a global business outsourcing hub.
l. By January 2024, we will be rolling out the new Federal student loan program that was announced a few months ago.
10. NATIONAL VALUE REORIENTATION CAMPAIGN: Against the backdrop of evident systemic moral decline over a long period of time, leading to the erosion of national values, the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation (FMINO), is working on implementing a sustained mass reorientation campaign that aims to foster unity, patriotism, and the promotion of positive cultural values among Nigerians. We will seek to collectively reorient ourselves as Nigerians, in the direction of a stronger sense of national identity and shared values.
11. THE P&ID CASE: We welcomed with great relief the resolution of the lingering $11 billion case, in favour of Nigeria. I would like to once again congratulate all Nigerians, and our President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for his steadfast approach to the case, and for the positive resolution that ensued. This victory against the notorious Process & Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID) has given impetus to the administration’s efforts to ensure that Nigeria reaps only positive benefits from all our contractual engagements with local and foreign economic interests.
12. Thank you so much my dear colleagues.