By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has tasked top management officials of the ministry and its agencies to imbibe a team spirit by understanding and relating with one another to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in their working relationship and service delivery.
He said “a lot more can be done and even better done if there is understanding amongst the officers”.
In his keynote address delivered at the 5th edition of the Top Management Retreat of the Ministry with the theme: Public Service and the Ease of Doing Business, held in Sokoto over the weekend, the Minister said the purpose of the retreat was to afford participants the opportunity to review policies and programmes of the Ministry and its agencies with the aim of improving the quality of service offered to the public.
This was contained in a statement signed by Assistant Director, Information for: Director, Information Eno Olotu (Mrs)said According to him, the retreat “provides an opportunity to stand back and reflect, where we are, have we improved and also look back to see where we can improve upon”. He also noted that issues of growth and prosperity are determined by what they do as they are entrusted to do them.
The Minister said, in spite of the drop in the country’s ranking by one point from 145th to 146th from the World Bank’s ranking which he attributed to competitive improvement by other countries, there has however been a remarkable improvement in the area of ease of doing business in Nigeria with the Presidential Order . Reeling out the growth indices in the three infrastructure sectors of the economy: Power, Transportation and Construction from statistics supplied by the National Bureau of Statistics, Fashola highlighted the growth of +7.59% in the 2nd quarter of 2018 as against -11.61% in the same period of 2015 in the Power sector, Transportation recorded +21.76% as against +4.84% and Construction had a growth of +7.66% as against +6.42% during the same period.
Taking cognizance of the season of the ‘Ember Months’ and the pressure on infrastructure due to increased activities and movements, the Minister urged participants to reposition and be pro- active in overcoming such challenges and devise strategies to improve on service delivery during the period.
Permanent Secretary, Works and Housing Sector of the Ministry, Alhaji Mohammed Bukar, said the theme of the retreat was apt in view of the administration ‘s issuance of Executive Order 001 on the Ease of Doing Business in May 2017. He said the Ministry has keyed into the Order particularly in the implementation of procurement processes and response time to enquiries and staff matters.
In a paper presented by Alhaji Aliko Dangote GCON, President of Dangote Group, focus was on the importance of adequate infrastructure including regular power supply, motorable roads and affordable housing in the development of the Nigerian economy. He observed that for the Ministry to make significant impact, it must think “outside the box” on how to fund its project, noting that the reliance on budgetary allocations which he said is usually grossly inadequate and often not timely released to allow for prompt executions and implementations of the projects.
Dangote suggested that the funding of the Ministry could be improved upon through collaboration with the private sector and strategic funding such as the SUKUK , levies on petrol, tax credit refund and other innovative funding options for infrastructure.
He said the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria would improve the level of business transaction in the country and position private companies to make more profits and in turn pay more taxes to the government.
In the Works sector of the Ministry, he obliged the setting up of toll gates in order to raise funds to ensure proper roads maintenance like the Highway Trust Funds in the United States of America was advocated . Also, the need to reduce the cost of gas and make it available and ensure payments are made in Naira to local purchases were advocated for the power sector by the business mogul. For potential massive job creation in the housing sector and called for reduction in cost of building a house, sponsor research on construction of low cost housing and improvement of access to mortgage and private sector partners.
Also, in a paper titled : Repositioning the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency : Plans and Progress, presented by the Managing Director of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Engr Nurudeen Rafindadi,highlighted efforts by the agency to efficiently maintain and manage all Federal Roads to keep them in safe and secured condition for the enhancement of the economic well beings of Nigerians.
In attendance at the retreat were also the Hon Minister of State 11 in the Ministry, Surv. Suleiman Hassan Zarma, Permanent Secretary, Power, Engr Lious Edozien, Chief Executives of the Ministry’s Parastatals and Agencies and Directors of the Ministry.