The Presidency, yesterday, defended the appointment of People's Democratic Party, PDP, Board of Trustees member, Chief Tony Anenih, as the Chairman of the new Board of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.
Special Adviser on Public Affairs to the President, Dr. Doyin Okupe, who addressed a press conference in Lagos, yesterday, also denied reports credited to President Goodluck Jonathan of having admitted that his administration was slow, saying the criticisms spawned by the reports were needless.
According to Okupe, what the President meant in his Christmas message was that in the estimation of the opposition, his administration was slow, but that the regime was taking its time not to make costly mistakes.
Okupe also dismissed the argument by opposition parties that the President was not prepared to lead the nation, saying no other Nigerian leader could match him in terms of public office experience and intellectual capacity, given that he holds a doctorate degree.
We 'll not be intimidated by negative propaganda
On the appointment of Chief Anenih, which has drawn widespread criticisms, especially from the opposition parties, Okupe said: "There are enough professionals in the NPA to run the authority. You bring in outsiders and politicians as board members, to moderate whatever the professionals do.
"There are enough technical people even on this same board. There are mandatory technical people. We are not going to be intimidated by the negative propaganda against Anenih.
"What has Anenih done wrong? Many people hate Anenih because they call him Mr. Fix It for Obasanjo. He is a politician. He knows how to do what he does. What is wrong with that?
"Is he guilty of murder? Is he guilty of rape? Has he stolen money? What has he done wrong? What some people will say is that he spent N300 billion on roads (without much to show). I don't want to hold brief for Anenih. But that is an erroneous thing.
On N300bn spent on roads by Anenih
"What happened that year was that the Federal Government budgetted N300 billion for roads. But the money was never released to the Ministry of Works. There are a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation, and government, before now, has failed to engage the public, to explain the concrete issues. Many things are perceived. Like this one, they are taken as true, and over the years, they take root in the hearts of some people, and so people believe the man is a thief."
Jonathan reduced insurgency by 70% in 2012
Okupe said the Jonathan administration is succeeding in containing the Boko Haram insurgency, both in terms of number of attacks and frequency, and buttressed this with statistics between January and November, this year.
According to him, citing newspaper reports and security agencies as sources, eight attacks were recorded in January, nine in February, seven in March, eight in April, five in May, seven in June, six in July, five in August, four in September, seven in October, four in November.
He also dismissed the argument in certain quarters that inadequate intelligence was responsible for the attacks by the Boko Haram sect, saying the capacity of the nation's security agencies in this regard, and the equipment that have been acquired for this astonish even foreign powers considered to be leaders in this area.
Said he: "Due to the increased capacity of security agencies in the area of intelligence gathering, I can report that over 70 per cent of planned insurgent attacks were foiled before actualisation. These are largely unreported because they did not happen and this is a good thing.
"The intelligence arm of our security agencies has deployed massive modern technology to preempt and destabilise these criminal elements who intended causing harm."
He said while government had not completely ruled out the issue of negotiation with the Boko Haram sect, it would not hold talks with anyone whose leadership of the group is in doubt or who remains under a mask.
2013 'll be Nigeria's year of glory
On the incoming year, Okupe said: "The year 2013 will be Nigeria's year of glory; a year of our manifestation. It will be the year of many changes in all facets of life. President Jonathan will fix Nigeria.
"There will be a very significant forward progress in the economy of Nigeria through massive job creation in the different sectors, which will lead to wealth creation and massive reduction in criminal activities. The President is committed to delivering on his pact with the Nigerian people as contained in his Transformation Agenda.
"He is unwavering in that commitment and will, by the grace of God, take this nation to a greater destination. Nigerians must not despair. There is a glorious tomorrow for this great nation."
He said this outgoing year had not been that of gloom and doom as some people would want Nigerians to believe, and enumerated several successes recorded by the administration in the power, agriculture, security and infrastructure sectors.
Challenges met by the administration
According to him, most of the challenges met by the administration in the power sector, including high incidence of transmission losses, low collection efficiency, speedy regression of previous generation gains, and inadequate gas supply have been effectively addressed.
He said: "As I speak to you, most of the challenges earlier identified have been resolved while others are receiving due attention of the Federal Government. Above 95 per cent of the10 IPPs (Independent Power Projects) have been completed. Our power generation has hit an all time high of 4,502 megawatts."
According to him, the limitations imposed by inadequate transmission infrastructure are being tackled, while funding for the expansion of gas supply plants has been made available.
He said, with the projected generation of a minimum of 7,000 megawatts by the middle of 2013 as well as the effective privatization of the distribution and generation subsectors, and the commercialization of the transmission arm of the power sector, "economic activities are bound to receive significant boost in the coming year."
On agriculture sector
On the agriculture sector, while lamenting that Nigeria imported N500 billion worth of rice in 2011, he said 14 new rice mills with capacity to process 240 metric tons of rice were set up by the private sector this year, while the Federal Government secured $1.2 billion to install 100 large scale rice processing mills to produce 2.1 million metric tons of rice annually.
"Today, Nigeria has reached an unprecedented 60 per cent sufficiency in rice production, a feat which the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recently described as capable of raising world rice output to a record high in the next 12 months."