Premium Times (Abuja)

Nigerian Economy Keeps Growing and Creating Jobs

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Last year we produced over 8 million metric tonnes of additional food; and this year, inflation fell to its lowest level since 2008 partly due to higher domestic food production. Our food import bill has also reduced from N1.1 trillion in 2011, to N648 billion in 2012, placing Nigeria firmly on the path to food self-sufficiency.

The sector is also supporting more jobs. Last year, we produced 1.1 million metric tonnes of dry season rice across 10 Northern states; and over 250,000 farmers and youths in these States are now profitably engaged in farming even during the dry season.

This Administration is also developing our water resources which are key for both our food production and job creation goals. In 2013, we completed the construction of nine dams which increased the volume of our water reservoirs by 422 million cubic metres. Through our irrigation and drainage programme, we have increased the total irrigated area by over 31,000 hectares creating jobs for over 75,000 farming families while increasing production of over 400,000 metric tons of assorted irrigated food products.

Fellow Compatriots, I have always believed that the single greatest thing we can do to ensure all Nigerians realize their potential and play a full part in our nation's future, is to invest in education. The education of our young people is a key priority for this Government. We take this responsibility very seriously and I urge all other stakeholders in the sector to recognize the national importance of their work, and to help advance the cause of education in our nation.

Between 2007 and 2013, we have almost tripled the allocation for education from N224 billion to N634 billion - and we will continue to vigorously support the sector. We have improved access to education in the country with the construction of 125 Almajiri schools, and the establishment of three additional Federal Universities in the North, bringing to twelve, the number of universities established by this administration.

In 2013, we rehabilitated 352 laboratories and constructed 72 new libraries in the Federal Unity Schools; and also rehabilitated laboratories of all the 51 Federal and State polytechnics across the country.

In the Health sector, we are building strong safety nets and improving access to primary health care under the Saving One Million Lives programme. In 2013, we recruited 11,300 frontline health workers who were deployed to under-served communities across the country. Over 400,000 lives have been saved through our various interventions. We have reached over 10,000 women and children with conditional cash transfer programmes across 8 States and the FCT and we intend to scale up this successful initiative.

Our national immunization coverage has exceeded 80%. And for the first time in the history of the country there has not been any transmission of the Type-3 Wild Polio virus for more than one year. We have also eradicated the guinea worm that previously affected the lives of over 800,000 Nigerians yearly. In tertiary health care, we upgraded medical facilities across the country. Two of our teaching hospitals - the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu, and the University College Hospital in Ibadan - commenced open heart surgeries this year after the installation of new facilities.

Fellow Nigerians, I have dwelt on some of our administration's achievements in 2013 to reassure you that we are working and results are being achieved on the ground. As we enter our Centennial year, there is still much work ahead. We are determined to sustain our strong macroeconomic fundamentals, to strengthen our domestic institutions, and to invest in priority sectors. These investments will create more jobs for our youth. Government will at the same time, continue to scale-up investments in safety nets and the MDGs to take care of the poor and the vulnerable so that they too can share in our growth and prosperity.

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