* Demands respect for traditional institutions
* Inaugurates landmark inland dry port, 10mw Haske Solar Plant, 469 housing units, others
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has described ongoing infrastructure development across the country as ‘fantastic’, urging citizens to appreciate what they have as the situation in the country is not dire when compared with other countries.
The President spoke at a State Banquet on Monday in Kano State to conclude his one-day official visit to the State after commissioning several projects executed by the Federal and State governments and the private sector.
‘‘We have a great country but we do not appreciate it until we visit our neighbors and other countries where the preoccupation is for people to have one good meal a day.
‘‘When I fly by helicopter, the number of high-rise buildings I see and the amount of development on the ground are fantastic. We thank God. We thank God. We thank God,’’ he said.
Buhari urged the elites to encourage and inspire young people to embrace education, saying whether we like it or not we are going to leave the country for them.
‘‘They must embrace education for education’s sake. Technology has made it possible for short cuts but nothing can replace real learning. Please encourage the children to learn.
He congratulated Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State for doing very well on infrastructure, adding that his recent State visits to Kogi, Yobe, Lagos and Katsina have shown that the respective governors have done very well, within the confines of funds available to them.
On security, the President, who described Boko Haram as a fraudulent organization with links to international groups bent on destroying Nigeria, said his administration has succeeded in decimating the terror group, limiting their capacity to inflict harm.
Earlier, while paying homage to the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, President Buhari urged Nigerians to respect traditional institutions and accord them the honour they deserve.
The President, who also inaugurated the Emir’s Council Chambers at the Palace, said of the traditional institution:
‘‘This system is good. It is good in the sense that our traditional institutions are respected and honoured.
‘‘It is very important that we have understood the politics and we are respecting people from the bottom to upwards and this is common sense because people matter.
‘‘What the children see now is what they will hope to be in the future and the older ones hope that they can make their influence felt and improve the governance in the country from bottom upwards.’’
He thanked the Emir of Kano for associating him with the success of the traditional institution, lauding him for the vast improvement in the lot of his people, since he ascended the throne three years ago.
The Emir of Kano, who underscored the importance of the visit, thanked President Buhari for granting approval to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the deadline for the phasing out of old currency notes, and by implication the implementation of the cashless policy.
‘‘This is an indication that the President is focused on alleviating the plight of the citizenry and indeed a listening leader,’’ he said.
The Royal Father expressed appreciation to the Federal and States Government for the developmental projects in the State as well as the support to the Emirate.
He added that the ongoing electioneering campaigns should serve as an opportunity for politicians to understand the challenges facing the people and devise a means to solving them.
He prayed for peaceful elections, as well as peace and prosperity of the country.
The President had commenced his visit to the State with the inauguration of Dala Inland Dry Port hosted by Kano State Government in collaboration with the Federal Government.
The Inland Dry Port Project was conceived as part of the Federal Government’s Ports Reform Programme designed to decongest the seaports, while also taking shipping and port services closer to importers and exporters in the hinterland.
The President also inaugurated the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA)-funded 10MW Haske Solar Plant in a 24-hectare land in Kumbotso Local Government of Kano State.
The plant, which links industrial customers to an additional power supply, represents a significant step towards efforts to provide clean, reliable, and sustainable energy for all Nigerians.
The 10MW plant is the largest completed solar plant in Nigeria and the first under the NSIA renewable energy platform.
Buhari also commissioned the Family Homes Funds Estate, Darmanawa, Kano, which consists of 469 affordable housing units with ancillary infrastructure.
The inauguration is coming on the heels of the inauguration of the 2,600 Housing Estate on Potiskum road, Damaturu, Yobe State, a project executed by Family Homes in partnership with Yobe State Government.
On the Dala Inland Dry Port, the Minister of Transport, Mu’azu Sambo, recalled that in March 2006 the Federal Executive Council had granted approval for the establishment of this critical transport infrastructure at chosen locations across the country.
He said the infrastructure would undergo a concession to private sector operators on Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) with a strategic framework to Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model.
‘‘Dala Inland Dry Port at Zawachiki in Kano State was among the six Inland Dry Ports approved and the concessioned went to Messrs Dala Inland Dry Port Nigeria Limited,’’ he said.
He stated that the dry port has been designated a Customs port with all the prerequisites of an international port including Customs, Immigration, Port Health Officials and Government security agencies.
He thanked Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State for his investments on infrastructural development particularly, road networks amongst others which has made the Dala Inland Dry Port a reality.
Reiterating that the Dala Inland Dry Port (DIDP) is a Port of Origin and Final Destination, the Minister called on national and international maritime practitioners, shippers, shipping companies, landlocked countries and port users to take full advantage of this facility for import and export of their cargoes.
On the 10MW Haske Solar Plant, the Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, described the solar plant as a significant achievement in Nigeria’s power generation, achieving the energy transition goal as well as increasing the share of renewable energy in the power mix.
The Minister revealed that the construction of the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant project is almost completed, while other power plants projects are at various stages of completion.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed that over 16,000 houses have been successfully built in the past 4 years by Family Homes Funds Limited, under the guidance of the Ministry.
She recalled that the Ministry together with the NSIA established Family Homes Funds Limited with a structured approach to address the housing deficiency issue in the country.
‘‘We had a vision to support your government’s housing agenda by ensuring we cater for the low-income earners of Nigeria by providing quality houses that are affordably priced,’’ she said.
According to the Minister, the agency now has a strong presence in all the six geopolitical zones and through its projects, created over 75,000 direct and indirect jobs.
‘‘There are completed and ongoing housing projects funded by Family Homes Funds in 12 states of the Federation and in the next two years, we intend to build additional affordable houses in all 36 states including the FCT,’’ she said.
While in Kano, the President also commissioned the National Tier IV Data Centre under the supervision of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and office complex of Galaxy Backbone Limited.
‘‘The Tier IV Data Centre is the highest anywhere in the world and this is the best Centre in the country and the first in Northern Nigeria’’ Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, told the President at the unveiling of the plaque to commemorate the formal inauguration.
Pantami added that the Datacentre, in the first stage, has a provision for storage of 2.2 petabytes and a possibility for expansion.
He also inaugurated the Cancer Treatment Centre at Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital, Giginyum Muhammadu Buhari Road Interchange at NNPC Mega Station Hotoro and Aliko Dangote Ultra-Modern Skill Acquisition Centre, Zaria Road.