By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The Federal Government said the introduction of National Housing Programme last year, which saw the construction of affordable housing in the capitals of the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), is intended to provide similar houses in all the 774 Local Governments to give the rural areas greater sense of belonging.
President Muhmmadu Buhari made the disclosure at the opening ceremony of National Society of Engineers and Annual meeting in Abuja recently.
Buhari who said the housing infrastructure initiative has spurred the development and expansion of a value chain of cottage industries in the Agriculture and Mining sectors that feed the growing construction sub-sectors.
“The system is now working, sustainable economic growth has been established where jobs are being created and people are being paid”.
He said”I acknowledge the fact that Nigerian Engineers have contributed immensely towards provision of infrastructure and technological advancement in Nigeria. I still recall with appreciation the contribution of Nigerian Engineers to the design and construction of refineries, oil pipelines and depots in the country while I was serving as the Minister of Petroleum. They have equally been playing important role in the political and socio-economic progress of our nation.
The president who said that the theme of this year’s Conference, “SUSTAINABLE ENGINEERING INFRSTRUCTURE FOR ACCELERATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT” is quite relevant to one of the major focal points of my Administration. You are all aware that the Federal Government has rolled out several programmes to accelerate development at the grassroots, in order to improve the lot of the rural society which constitutes the majority of Nigeria’s population.
“ It is a fact that provision of adequate and quality infrastructure in rural areas plays major role in the overall national development, particularly with regards to growth of the economy, social security, political stability and improved standards of living of citizens”.
“Towards making our vision a reality, the Federal Government through Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, placed priority on construction and rehabilitation of Federal Roads traversing through major agricultural producing areas of the country. Budgetary allocations were based on a carefully worked out priority indices that gave preference to roads on critical economic routes on the Federal road networks, followed by roads along the branch routes from the critical economic routes.”
He said the next level of preference was dedicated to roads specifically targeted to routes leading to the Nation’s Refineries, Petroleum Depots, Major Ports and Mineral Producing areas as well as roads leading to key agricultural producing areas to boost agricultural production and distribution, enhance food sufficiency and minimize losses. Others included roam projects funded from Multi-lateral loans; general works on the Federal Roads and road intervention in Tertiary Institutions.
He stressed that “ am happy to state that going by the above prioritized road projects, the Federal Government is currently undertaking road works in all States of Nigeria, primarily to fast track development of the rural areas. This strategy has proved effective in view of the fact that it started yielding positive impact on the economy of these erstwhile neglected sections of the populace. This is evidenced by the increased mining activities in the rural areas which provide more job opportunities, thereby, improving the livelihood of the people. It is also reducing rural to urban migration significantly. This reversal of the status quo ensures greater economic development as it also raises the standard of living of the rural population.
“In order to strengthen our development policy, the Federal Government introduced Executive Order No. 5 which seeks to promote the application of science, technology and innovation towards achieving the nation’s development goals across all sectors of the economy. Already, we have ordered that all procuring entities shall give preference to Nigerian companies and firms in the award of contracts, in line with the Public Procurement Act, 2007”.
He said “ It is also a measure towards discouraging influx of foreigners into Nigeria for services which Nigerians can competently do.While we acknowledge for Nigeria to partner with the international community on projects, however, it is necessary to protect our national interest, particularly our indigenous investors and unemployed youths”.
“ In the light of the above, I urge the leadership of the Nigerian Society of Engineers to exploit maximally the opportunities afforded by theExecutive Order No.5 in the overall interest of building your capacity and also to make huge impact on national development.