Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Jigawa State has blamed the high cost of food in the country on past leaders describing them as chronic importers.
He said this at the virtual inauguration of 12 projects across six geopolitical zones of the country by Ali Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, on Thursday in Abuja.
“Past leaders have been chronic importers,” the governor said.
Mr Abubakar said food was expensive in Nigeria because there were no policy direction or any form of substitution to importation.
“How can food not be expensive when we inherited a system that has been built on $100 to $120 per barrel of crude and there is no import substitution.
“No clear policy direction has been actualised to reduce importation; we keep making money from oil and spending it on imports,” he said.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari is not to be blamed for the drop in oil price and scarcity of dollars because they are as a result of our over-dependence on importation.
“We rely heavily on imports and oil prices dropped not because of Buhari, he did not cause the drop in oil price.
“That causes scarcity of dollars because we have to import the dollar and because the past leaders have been chronic importers.
“We have to still import what we need.”
Mr Pantami, in his remark, gave reasons the projects had to be inaugurated and explained that it was to create public awareness and show accountability.
“Many citizens are not aware of projects without commissioning; you will find a student in an institution, he is not even aware that the project has been in existence.
“When the project is commissioned, our friends in the media usually try to publicise it and by doing that many citizens will know that these project are in our states.
“So that they will be able to patronise it and go there to build their capacity.
“When assignment is given to you and certain amount of money is allocated for that project, when that project is done make it public,” Mr Pantami said.
Inuwa Abdullahi, the head of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) eulogised the minister for being a very good mentor and an inspirational leader whom he always turned to.
Mr Abdullahi said that the minister had never failed him at any given time and promised to continue learning and working with him collectively to deliver on the president’s digital economy policy.
He said that the minister’s team planned using ICT to harness digital literacy and the challenges that post Covid-19 would pose to the economy.
“Dr Isa Pantami taught and motivated me to work remotely and at our ministry.
“We have blazed the trail for remote working in Nigeria, that is why we are here today celebrating our achievements coming through the COVID-19 pandemic in a fine style.
“The minister is one year in office today but his achievements are unprecedented; it looks like he has been in the office for a decade.
“In less than a year he has resolved problems that have been lingering in the sector for more than a decade.”
Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), said the various projects inaugurated under the ministry would eliminate poverty via skills acquisition and manpower.
Mr Danbatta, however, reiterated that the projects would add significant value to the digital transformation journey of the Federal Government as well as make governance open and transparent.
He said Nigerians enjoyed the use of social media than any country in Africa due to the Digital Economy pillars put in place by the Ministry.
Mr Dambatta also said that ICT had brought about competitive and innovative economy to Nigeria.
He congratulated the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy on his one year in office as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The projects commissioned included: E-library, Federal College of Education Technical Bichi, Kano State; ICT Innovation Hub, Oyo State.
They included: Trade Fair Complex, Ibadan, Oyo State; E-Accessibility Centre, Govt School for the Deaf, Malumfashi, Katsina State; Virtual Examination Centre.
Others were Digital Capacity Training Centre; School Knowledge Centre (SKC); Emergency Communication Centre (ECC) in Enugu State College of Education (Technical), Enugu State, Elkanemi College of Islamic Theology, Yola, Adamawa State, AUD High School Ikole Ekiti, Ekiti State and Emergency Communication Centre, Kano.
Also, Digital Capacity Development Programme for Artisans was launched in Suleja, Niger State; Lautech, Oyo State; FCE, Okene, Kogi State; NIIT, Owerri, Imo State; Benchils School, Warri Delta State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the total projects commissioned so far under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy are 35.
Dignitaries present at the event were were the Minister of State for Works, Abubakar Aliyu and the Minister for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, among others.