…as FG to launch credit scheme for startups, MSMEs
Mohammed Idris, minister of information and national orientation on Monday confirmed that the presidential yacht which some N5.2 billion was provided in the 2023 supplementary budget, was actually delivered since June this year.
He was, however, silent on whether it was fully paid for since there has not been any appropriation for it to date.
The minister disclosed during a press conference in Abuja – his first since assumption of office.
The N5.2 billion provision for the yacht which got a push-back, was submitted by President Tinubu as a provision in the N2.17 trillion 2023 Supplementary Budget. It was approved by the Senate but rejected by members of the House of Representatives who, rather, reallocated the money for the student loan project.
Speaking on the matter, the minister explained that the said yacht belonged to the Navy and it was a misconception that the president had planned to use it for leisure at a time of economic downturn.
“On the yacht, I think that information has been put out there and has generated a lot of controversy. But we want Nigerians to know that it is not as if it is for the comfort or enjoyment of Mr President, but was actually procured for the Navy.
“It is true that delivery has actually taken place since June of this year. So, it’s not as if the president is procuring a yacht for his comfort to the detriment of Nigerians. You can also see that the House of Representatives removed the provision and added it to the student loan provision.
This shows that the government is very sensitive, and always responding to the yearnings of all Nigerians and therefore, whenever there is any commentary or observation about some of the actions of government, it will continue to respond appropriately to the benefit of all Nigerians.”
According to him, the president is pleased with the speedy and decisive passage N2.17 trillion Supplementary Appropriation Bill by the National Assembly, thus guaranteeing the liquidity needed for critical interventions in road infrastructure, agriculture, student loan schemes, health, security, and housing, social investment, amongst other critical national needs.
Idris further mentioned that the Federal Government would soon launch an access-to-credit programme for startups and MSMEs, providing N50 billion in conditional grants to one million nano-businesses across Nigeria between now and March 2024; and a new single-digit interest-rate Fund to provide N75 billion to support manufacturing enterprises; among others.
It is also finalising the process for payment of N25,000 monthly cash transfer payment to 15 million of the poorest and most vulnerable households in Nigeria, for three months.
He also warned the international community against consistent travel advisories bothering on insecurity, saying that such has the tendency to create panic and discredit the country which is currently yearning for investments.
In a recent note, the US while cautioning its citizens, said there were “elevated threats” to major hotels in the “larger cities” of the country- though it equally admitted that Nigerian security agencies were working to forestall a possible attack.
At the meeting, the minister said the federal government understands such concerns by the United States government, but noted that it is imperative not to generalise isolated incidents across the entire hospitality industry.
“What we have seen is that such advisories do not achieve anything other than needless panic, and they can have severe adverse economic impact, not to talk of what they do to undermine the government’s efforts to attract investment.
“We have consistently prioritised the safety and well-being of all visitors to our country,” he said.