To enable the cabinet members treat all the pending memos ahead of its valedictory session on May 22, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday began presiding over the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with the meeting is expected to last for two days.
The council meeting was being attended by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and the Head of Service, Mrs Wilfred Ita-Oyo, the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari, National Security Adviser, retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, cabinet ministers and some presidential aides.
The Wednesday meeting had so far treated memos from the Ministry of Budget and National Planning; office of the Head of service and Ecological Fund Office as at the time of filing this report.
President Buhari had last Wednesday, May 8, presided over the longest meeting of the Federal Executive Council in the history of his administration.
The meeting, which was scheduled to deliberate on no fewer than 25 memos from Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), lasted for about 11 hours on Wednesday before reconvening on Thursday.
However, the Council on Wednesday approved $1 billion loan from Chinese EXIM Bank for the Gurara II Hydropower project as well as approval of N5.7 billion for the revised estimated cost for the completion of Nkari dam in Akwa Ibom State.
According to the Minister of Water Resources, Sulieman Adamu, “The Federal Executive Council approved $1 billion Chinese loan from Chinese EXIM Bank for the Gurara II Hydropower project which has the capacity to generate 360 megawatts electricity.
“Council also approved N5.7 billion revised total estimated cost for the completion of Nkari dam in Akwa Ibom.
“Council also approved the appointment of a consultants for the resuscitate the Gari Irrigation Project in Kano/Jigawa States. Council had in 2017 approved for the resumption of the project which was earlier abandoned for 17 years.
“The consultant is the same appointed in 1998. The contractors are already on site “Council also approved the revised estimated total cost of N10.4 billion for the completion of Ile Ife Dam in Osun State. The project was started in 2004 and abandoned. The completion period is 24 months.”
Also briefing The Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Chief Audu Ogbe disclosed that the country has saved $21 billion on imports in the last three and half years.
The Minister also announced that the FEC approved N9. 47 billion for the purchase of grains which would be stored in Silos so as to ensure that there will not be shortage of grains in case of any disaster.
According to him, “We have a memo approved in council for purchase of grains to reinforce the grains reserve. Everywhere in the world Silos are owned by government into which they purchase grains at the end of harvest. The average is usually between two and three percent of all grains grown.
“In this case we have got approval to buy sixty one thousand tons of maize, millet and Sogum and the purchasing will begin shortly.
“We also informed council of the problem we have with Nigeria grains especially maize, sesame and groundnut. An infestation called aflatoxin which the Minister of Health confirmed is a very big threat to the liver and the kidney of most consumers.
“Luckily, IITA has found a product which they produce in large quantities which they now send to Africa for treating the farms, the Silos and the sacks in which we put the grains to eliminate aflatoxin.
“The product which they produce is called afflasafe. We buy the grains, treat the Silos and store the grains in Silos so that if there is emergency anywhere in the country, or there is a shortage, a flood and there is no food, we can draw from what we have in the Silos and distribute to the needy areas in the country. The cost is N9. 47 billion.”
He further explained that,” We are purchasing grains grown in the last season. First of all at the time of harvest usually around November, December, January, most of the grains we have in this country are not dry enough. If you buy and put them in poly bags or dump them in Silos, it begins to gather moles and moles are source of cancer.
“We have pressure from some companies which operate in this country that we should allow them to import maize on the grounds that our maize are not of good quality and we said no you must buy local maize, because we are dealing with the challenge of after thought.
“Because there is still the tendency to prefer to import what we produce and the policy of this government is let’s use what we produce and save our foreign exchange which is why in the last three and half years we have saved $21 billion on import.”
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing Babtunde Raji Fashola said that an approval of N7. 197 billion for inter-change and pedestrian bridge at Abaji in Abuja.
He said,” My ministry presented two memos. One was for the construction of an inter-change and pedestrian bridge at Abaji in Abuja for N7.197 billion to address the perennial problem of accidents in that place which was approved by council.
“The second memorandum was for the procurement of two hundred thousand, two hundred and seventeen meters by Yola Electricity Distribution Company Under the Meter Asset Providers Scheme.
“As you might know,Yola Electricity Distribution Company is the DISCO that was surrendered to by the original holder. So it’s under the Federal Government’s management. So they are buying 200,217 meters for consumers under their franchise which covers Adamawa, Borno, Taraba and Yobe States.
“The cost of those meters is N11.208 billion. It is to be funded from the judgement sum that I previously briefed you about two years ago that council approved a compromise from an old meter’s supply dispute since 2003.
“So that money is in a bank, it has been there, so that is where these meters would be funded from and as consumers pay back the meters as they are supplied, the money goes back into that account.”