Minister disagrees with critics, insists Buhari’s government has economic blueprint

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Budget and National planning minister Udoma Udo Udoma yesterday said that it was untrue that the President Mohammed Buhari administration lacked an economic blueprint or agenda.

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Udoma said that the 2016 budget was designed from the strategic implementation Plan (SIP) and medium – term National Development plan, stressing that the current administration has four key policy priorities and six strategic interventions.

The priorities are critical infrastructure, embracing the private sector participation, social protection and job creation, and improving security and tackling corruption.

Udoma who spoke this yesterday in Abuja at the opening of a national economic retreat for stakeholders noted that the four key priority areas of government will be hinged on six strategic intervention areas namely, policy, security and governance, diversification of the economy, power, rail and roads development, oil and gas reforms, improvement of ease of doing business in Nigeria and social investment.

Also, the Minister of Environment, Amina J. Mohammed, has said that Buhari was committed to ensuring that food security and economic development are top priorities, to be achieved with agriculture as one of the programmes to diversify the economy.

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Speaking at 2nd National Biosafety Conference, she said that government’s agriculture policy captures food security as one of its four thrusts to long-term economic growth and security.Mohammed noted that this could be seen from the recent signing of a historic Paris Agreement by the President.

Meanwhile, the President is said to be under pressure by some influential All Progressives Congress (APC) members to dissolve the Police Service Commission (PSC) and inaugurate a new body to pave the way for a top retired officer from the South-west to head it with new members.

The retired top officer is believed to also be lobbying the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, who is far his junior to mount pressure on the President to dissolve the PSC.

He is said to have paid an unusual courtesy visit to the IGP in September.

However, a source said that Buhari has rejected their lobby on ground that he has not found any cogent reason to dissolve the commission.

The source also disclosed that “instead, the President is happy with the leadership of the commission because he is aware that the chairman, former IGP Okiro has refused to succumb to pressures to bend the rules in the recruitment exercise. And you know, this government is fighting corruption at all levels.”

It was during the regime of the retired top cop that policemen embarked on a strike, the first time in the history of the Nigeria Police Force, forcing the then President to relieve him of his job.

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A daily newspaper had reported that the PSC may have suspended the final phase of selecting 10,000 successful candidates for recruitment into the force.

The paper reported that the decision to suspend the last phase (final selection) was informed by pressures from some influential National Assembly members.

It also reported that the bone of contention was an alleged demand that the commission adopt the “local government by local government” arrangement.

This request was said to have been rejected by the commission, which insisted on sticking to the “state-by-state” tradition, in accordance with the federal character principle.

It also claimed that the IGP allegedly wrote to the PSC, reminding the commission that it (PSC) has since ceded power to recruit Constables.

It stressed that the commission ceded the responsibility to the Force Headquarters, with the understanding that it would be carried out in conjunction with the PSC.

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To avoid too much pressure from the top politicians, the commission’s chairman, Sir Mike Okiro, and his commissioners with selected officers from Force Headquarters, temporarily relocated to Jigawa State.

A source at the commission disclosed that Okiro and his team were in Jigawa, “to personally look at the reports of the coordinators who marked the aptitude test of the candidates so as to do the final selection and get the best for the police.”

The source also disclosed that, “they chose Jigawa State because they wanted a quiet place to stave off pressures.” The source further disclosed that a chairman of one of the committees in the House of Representatives (name withheld) had called Okiro to make the demand.

Out of the 10,000 people to be recruited, 500 will be Cadet Assistant Superintendents of Police (ASPs), another 500 will be Cadet Inspectors and 1,500 will be specialist officers, while 7,500 will be Constables.

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