6 February 2013

Nigeria: Kolade - Sure-P Expended N70 Billion On Job Creation

The Subsidy Re-Investment Programme (SURE-P) has expended about N70 billion for the provision of employment opportunities to the citizenry.

The Chairman of the interventionist body, Dr Christopher Kolade, gave the figure Tuesday when his organisation submitted its 2012 report to President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House, Abuja.

Kolade who said the body expected the Federal Government to give it more funds, noted that even with the amount available to it, serious impact was made in many areas.

He urged Nigerians not to expect the SURE-P to perform miracles within one year of its existence.

"It was in February last year that the SURE-P committee was inaugurated, having worked through the rest of 2012, it was a good time to come and give the president a report of our activities in that year, especially as we have now started a new year," the SURE-P chairman stressed.

He added that the body told the president what it has been doing in accordance with its mandate, which is to upgrade infrastructure, build roads, rails, mass transit and improve maternal and child healthcare.

In all these, Kolade said: "We have been active in all those areas and we gave the Presidency an update of what we have done. In some of those areas and we can actually point to a lot of thousands of young Nigerians that are now benefitting from the employment programme, from the vocational training programmes, from the graduate internship scheme. So that was what the report was about."

On the criticism of its projects by the National Assembly as an agency that merely duplicates the functions of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the chairman said the legislators can hold any opinion they wish.

"That is their opinion. Any Nigerian can have opinion about this. What people need to do is to study what is going on and see in what ways SURE-P is adding value to what is already on ground."

"Nobody is denying that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are working, that is what government is there for.

"For example, the railway system, for years now, it has not been possible to move from Lagos to Kano entirely by rail because there were gaps on the way, places where bridges are broken down. NRC has been doing its best to get those things repaired but with these special intervention funds in 2012, SURE-P went and constructed the bridges where they are broken down, repair the roads where they should be repaired and now since the end of November, it is possible to ride on a train from Lagos to Kano.

That was not happening before, we are even told by a cement company that because of this ability now to ride by rail from Lagos to Kano, they are shipping their cement in bulk by rail from Ewekoro all the way to Minna, that is adding value and it doesn't disturb the normal work of Nigeria Railway Corporation.

He also dismissed allegations by opposition political parties that the funds at the disposal of the project was being made available only to states controlled by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

"The money that we are using for our projects, the money that we are putting to the activities that this committee is overseeing are going specifically to contractors that are working on these projects, to people that are getting employed on these projects. If there is a situation between political parties where they are alleging that money is going from one place to another, they are not seeing it. Well that is politics, it has nothing to do with our committee.

He pledged that this year, SURE-P will concentrate on improving the health of women, children, provide employment to young people and do other "things that will enable these young people to express themselves as citizens of this country and in areas of infrastructure such as building of roads, completion of rails."

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