Fuel subsidy removal: Niger state procures 200 CNG buses


…awards contract for 566 km roads

By Aaron Ossai and Disun Amosun

In its effort to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal, the Niger State Governor, Mohammed Umar Bago said the state government has concluded purchased 200 Compressed Natural Gas, CNG powered buses for transportation within the state.

Governor Bago who spoke at a dinner for members of the House of Representatives Press Corps also announced that the state government will soon sign a memorandum of understanding with a rice mill factory in Kano state for direct purchase of Paddy Rice produced in the state.

The Governor who was until his election, a member of the House of Representatives also disclosed that his administration has awarded contract for the construction of about 566 kilometers of roads across the state.

The Governor said that 100 of the CNG buses will be deployed to ply the Suleja/Abuja route at a subsidised rate for workers, while 50 will be left in Minna and the remaining 50 shared between Kontangora and Bids.

The buses, he said will render free service to students.

While lamenting the backward nature of the state, Gov. Bago said Niger state has no business being a poor state considering its natural endowment, assuring that under his leadership, the resources would be adequately harnessed for the benefit of the citizens.

“Niger State is the largest in terms of land mass in Nigeria, with about 76, 300 square kilometres of arable land. Niger State also has four Hydropower dams. That is Kainji, Jeba, Shiroro and Zungeru dams. We have the only white sand beach in West Africa, the shagunu beach.

“There is also Zuma Rock and a lot more that people don’t know. I have come here today to tell you that with this partnership we are establishing, we need to spread the gospel. Let people understand where we stand. What people understand about Niger state is the issue of insecurity and insurgency.

“Yes, we cannot shy away from insecurity, it is a reality, but what percentage of our land is in that mess? Very insignificant. You cannot underscore the fact that lives are being lost, but we are working assiduously to make sure that everybody lives well in Niger state and in Nigeria at large.

“We are very ambitious as a goverment. We have already purchased about 200 CNG buses to commute for free students going to school and subsidised for civil servants in Niger State. 100 of the buses will commute Abuja and Suleja daily, while 50 will be in Minna and others will be spread between Kontangora and Bida.

“Secondly, we have awarded contracts for construction of about 566km of the roads and we have started with groundbreaking. It is unprecedented in this state, we are so ambitious and by the grace of God, we will be there”, he said.

On the MOU on rice production, he said despite Niger being rated as a leading producer of paddy rice in the country, the rice mills in the state were nothing to write home about.

He said “I went for Peer review yesterday in Kano because Niger state is the largest producer of paddy rice in Nigeria but our rice mills are nothing to write home about. I heard of the largest rice mill in Africa situated in Kano and I went for Peer review and it is something that is massive.

“So how do we take comparative advantage of that? We will first aggregate this paddy and trade them off to these people instead of them coming here to carry it for almost free and our people are losing.

“We want to empower our local farmers with improved seedlings and inputs so that they can produce more tonnage and also make more money. We are going to have an MOU between Niger State Development Company and Gerawa Rice Mill for offtake of all rice paddy that we can control so that we are sure that our farmers don’t lose”, he added.

The governor who emphasized the importance of collaboration in promoting accurate reportage and projection of a positive image of Niger state said the state government will partner with the media and other relevant stakeholders for the development of the state.

He said “our story must be told and heard and the only way people understand our aims and objectives is when we speak our stories ourself.”

Speaking on the ftwo-day Green Economy Summit being hosted by the State government, Gov Bago said the summit will provide an opportunity for the state to harness ita potentials.

While saying that Nigeria was yet to explore the full benefits of green economy, he said
Niger State has the largest congregation of shea trees in the world which has not been explored.

He said: “We are holding the first of its kind green economy summit because we have seen the comparative advantage we have in this state. So much money is out there and the only way we can access carbon credits is when we first aggregate our forests, and trade them in exchange for the emission by multi national companies.

“Niger State has the largest congregation of shea trees in the world It is an endowment by God. These things nobody knows about are there but our women are in the farms, cutting them down to make firewoods. We, however need them to understand that we must protect our forest from deforestation and also promote afforestation.

“We have two major Rivers. One, on the left side, River Niger and to the right side, River Kaduna. Niger is the only state with this endowment. You can navigate from Baro until you get to the Atlantic.

“So Niger state is not supposed to be poor. Now we have been given opportunity to write history but we don’t want to write it alone”, he further stated.

On her part, the Chairperson of the House of Representatives Press Corps, Ms Grace Ike commended the Governor for his efforts at improving the economy of the state.