About 200 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses would be procured by the Niger State Government in December this year to ease transportation difficulties.
Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago declared this yesterday during a press conference at Government House, Minna.
He explained that 100 of the buses would ply from Minna and Suleja to Abuja, while 50 would be used within the Minna metropolis and its satellite towns, and the remaining 50 would be shared with local governments in the state.
He also announced a three-day public holiday to enable the state to share over five billion naira and other food items as palliatives across the 25 local government areas of the state.
He warned that anyone who diverts palliatives meant to cushion the hardships of the poor will go to jail, adding that the state government would get a warrant to arrest and prosecute anyone caught diverting the palliatives, no matter how highly placed the individuals were.
"Any form of diversion of palliatives, we will use it as an example to jail people. We're going to jail people. We will obtain court summons ahead of deviance ", he said.
He disclosed that the state government only received N2 billion in cash and five trucks of rice from the federal government, explaining that forty thousand bags of maize were expected from the federal government.
He said "To enable everyone to benefit from the palliative, I declare next week's Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday as work-free days".
He said the state government would add its own two billion to make four billion pending when the federal government sends the balance, stressing that the government cannot continue to wait while the hardship faced by the people persists.
Furthermore, he announced that former presidents, which include former military presidents, former governors, former ministers, former senators, former members of the House of Representatives, and all former elected or political office holders in their respective constituencies or local governments, among others, are automatic members of the palliative standing committee.
He directed all political appointees, permanent secretaries, and local government council chairmen who are members of the standing committee set up by the state government to return to their wards for the distribution of the palliatives.
According to him, "all former presidents, former governors and their deputies, former SSGs, former national and state lawmakers, traditional rulers, pensioners, and members of all political parties are automatic members of the standing committee.
The Governor further explained that N3.2 billion will be disbursed to the 25 LGA accounts by Monday and that N5.2 billion will be injected into local markets by next week, which would help to force the prices of food items to crash.
He pleaded with the people to be patient with the government, as the hardship being faced will not last for long.
He said that as a long-term plan, the ministries of land and agriculture were directed to provide 10,000 hectares of land in each local government for cultivation.
Niger State Governor, Mohammed Umaru Bago, has said that arrangements have been concluded for the conversion of Shiroro Hotel to a teaching hospital to provide tertiary healthcare services.
Governor Bago stated this in Minna when he flagged off the upgrading of a central medical store to pharmagrade standard and the distribution of 25 motorcycles as well as essential medicines to the primary health care centres in all the 25 local government areas in the state.
This is in partnership with the state and federal governments, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI).
Governor Umaru Bago said the contract agreement for the teaching hospital will be signed next week, and contractors will move to the site immediately.
He said his administration will come up with a policy of presenting awards to the best-performing health workers to encourage and boost their morale.
The governor then called on health workers to make more sacrifices and remain dedicated to their duties.
The governor appreciated all the development partners for their continued support and directed the ministry of finance to create a sinking fund that will cater for all health-related counterpart funds to ensure prompt payments.
The Commissioner for Primary Health Care, Dr. Ibrahim Dangana, explained that the motorcycles will be used for medical outreaches to reduce morbidity and mortality across the state.
Dr. Dangana, who commended the governor for his efforts so far in repositioning the ministry, said the governor has directed the release of N170 million out of N400 million for the revitalization of all the primary health care centres across the three geopolitical zones of the state, as well as the sum of N250 million to all the focal PHCs in all the wards in the state.
The Commissioner for Secondary and Tertiary Health Care, Dr. Bello Tukur, said the Central Medical Store will be the best in North Central Nigeria and a hub for the distribution of hospital consumables for health facilities in the state.
The Chief of Field Office UNICEF Kaduna, Dr. Gerida Birukila, who spoke on behalf of other development partners, expressed their willingness to work with the Governor Bago-led administration to ensure a quality healthcare system in the state.
The upgrade of the central medical store is expected to be completed in four months.