Niger State Commissioner for Finance, Hon. Lawal Adamu Maikano, has said that Governor Umaru Mohammed Bago was committed to the state urban renewal policy by matching his words with action.
The commissioner, who stated this while interacting with journalists in his office on Thursday, also disclosed that the governor has a tall dream for the state that can only be achieved by opening up the state, hence the rationale behind the urban renewal policy.
He observed that with the urban renewal, a lot of potential will be harnessed and utilised for the benefit of the state and Nigerlites, as well as creating job opportunities.
Maikano pointed out that urban renewal was one of the four cardinal areas of the present administration and that, with the zeal with which the governor was pursuing it, it was achievable.
"You can testify from the ground-breaking ceremony for the Minna urban renewal project today that the governor is a man of his words.
"He has demonstrated his commitment by matching his words with action," said the Commissioner.
He said despite the paucity of funds, the state chief executive has continued to demonstrate his commitment to developing the state by thinking outside the box, adding that they were carrying out government activities and still making some savings.
He further added that part of the governor's dream was a revenue target of about N120 billion annually, saying that with the mechanism put in place, it would be achieved.
He also observed that the conversion of the abandoned famous Shiroro Hotel to the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University (IBBU) Teaching Hospital will boost manpower production in the health sector of not only Niger State but the entire Northern region of the country.
Hon. Adamu Maikano revealed that the funds to carry out these projects were lying fallow, as the government intends to use IGR, development partners, as well as facilities from banks to fund the projects.
According to him, a lot of commercial banks have lined up to seek the government's assistance in taking facilities from them because of the commitment and sincerity of purpose they have seen from the present administration.
He added that the good thing about the contracts Governor Umar Bago is giving out is that they come with job opportunities for the teeming skilled and unskilled unemployed youths in the state, as they will form the majority of the labour force of the contracting construction companies.
He disclosed that in the Minna urban renewal project to be handled by CCECC Construction Company, over 300km of road will be rehabilitated and reconstructed with new road openings, while the Bida Ring Road project will be handled by Arab Contractors Construction Company.
The commissioner said security was one of the critical campaign promises of the present administration, and the governor was making frantic efforts towards improving the internal security of the state, recalling that the moral booster given to security agencies in the state through the provision of vehicles had assisted greatly in curbing the menace of youth restiveness in Minna and its environs.
He added that the Governor was desirous of seeing people in the internally displaced people (IDP) camps return to their various homes to continue with their normal lives, which, according to him, will soon come to fruition.
He also appealed to media practitioners in the state to project the image of the government in a positive light, as according to him, the government of Umaru Bago was for everybody in the state.
The Niger State Government has disclosed that it has paid about N600 million to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) to offset the backlog of electricity debt owed to the company.
The Head of Service, Niger State, Abubakar Y. Salisu, made this disclosure during the post-state executive council press briefing held at the government house press gallery on Thursday.
He said the present administration was bittered about the embarrassment it faced whenever AEDC disconnected electricity from some of its critical facilities, such as the waterworks and the general hospitals.
Abubakar Salisu said in order to improve the provision of electricity in the state, particularly in the critical facilities of the government, the present administration under the leadership of Governor Umar Mohammed Bago had cleared all the remaining balance of the electricity debt.
He disclosed that, to the best of his ability, "the issue of AEDC's constant embarrassment of the government through its critical facilities has now been put to rest as the state is not owing AEDC a dime, except for the current month's September bill."
He also disclosed that plans were on the ground to take some of the energy-consuming agencies of the government off AEDC and that they were working tirelessly to achieve that, saying when this is done, the government will be completely free from AEDC embarrassment due to electricity debt.
The Head of Service disclosed that Governor Umar Mohammed Bago, having come from the banking sector, was able to stabilise the state's finances by being very careful about financial discipline, adding that the state is currently stable financially as it has not less than N10 billion in savings.
He revealed that in about 60 months of the last administration, salaries were paid with the aid of overdraft in the state, but that the present administration had paid the last three months salaries without taking overdraft, and that all development partner counterpart funds had been cleared with no development partner owing a dime.
Also, the state commissioner for local government, Hon. Hamidu Jantabo, said they were focusing on building a sustainable future for local government administration in the state.
He disclosed that having come from local government as a two-term council chairman, he was aware that anytime local government workers salaries were to be paid, the ministry had to take about N3.9 billion over draft, but that with the coming of the present administration the figure had dropped to about N2 billion, assuring that the target of the ministry was that by December the gap should be closed in such a way that salaries would be paid without taking overdraft.
He also revealed that it was not a hidden thing that local government workers were owed 100 percent of their October 2020 salary and a certain 10 percent and 30 percent, saying they have cleared the 10 percent and 30 percent remaining of their October 2020 salary, which he assured they were working on how to offset too.
On his part, the state Commissioner for Communication Technology and Digital Economy, Hon. Suleiman Isah, disclosed that information and communication technology (ICT) is the main thing now and that the state will leverage that to create job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths in the state.
He disclosed that for the first time in the history of the state, the executive council meeting was held with the governor and other council members joining virtually, saying this will afford council members the opportunity to be part of council meetings from wherever they are, adding that they were working on documenting all council documents and resolutions electronically for easy access and quick action.
Earlier in her remarks, the state commissioner for information and strategy, Hon. Binta Mamman, said the first 100 days of the present administration were not without some modest achievements, even though the governor had shown no interest in celebrating the 100 days.
She disclosed that the present administration was committed to the new Niger State project and the urban renewal policy and that the government was committing over N200 billion to the Minna project, saying in the next 12 months Minna residents will have to use Google Maps to find their way to where they are going.