The Federal Executive Council (FEC), on Wednesday, approved contracts worth over N26.7 billion for projects under the ministries of Information and Culture; Communication and Digital Economy, and Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
The council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja, on Wednesday, also approved a new National Policy on Aging.
The ministers of the various ministries briefed correspondents after the council on the various memos they submitted leading to the approvals.
The minister of water resources, Suleiman Adamu, said that about N8.4 billion was approved for his ministry for the implementation of Damaturu water supply scheme.
His Communication and Digital Economy counterpart, Isa Pantami, disclosed that the council approved about N8.9 billion for a new National Information and Technology (ICT) park in the FCT to coordinate public and private ICT hubs.
He also revealed that the government would soon release the timelines for the replacement of BVN with NIN in bank accounts.
The minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said FEC gave approval for the sum of about N9.43 billion to complete the digital switchover, which had previously missed the deadline set for implementation.
He also revealed that the council approved a Memorandum of Understanding between the ministry and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Bankers Committee for the renovation of the National Theatre, Iganmu Lagos.
Adamu said that the contract for Lot A of the Damaturu water project was awarded to Mallam Matari and Service Center Water Supply Project, adding that Lot B is the construction of Water Supply at Nufakalam and Lot C Water Supply scheme at Sunsuma.
The water resources minister explained, “They are all groundwater or borehole projects spread over wide distance because they are covering three major cities. They will be mostly solar-based and also it’s in response to the critical needs of these localities in Yobe State.”
He pointed out that the localities were affected by the activities of insurgents eight years ago as well as that the area is a high Sahel region where surface water is difficult to come by.
“We hope that with this intervention, the water supply within this area will be greatly enhanced. The completion period is 24 months,” he added.
Pantami, on his part, explained that the ICT park a 4,200 square meters land has already been acquired for the establishment of the ICT Park.
He added, “The wisdom behind the ICT Park is for it to be a centre where public and private ICT hubs are going to be coordinated by the federal government of Nigeria, where young innovators with crazy and disruptive ideas will be mentored and all that they need to be provided for. We will provide an enabling environment for them to utilize and come up with disruptive technologies.
“This is the first of its kind in Nigeria. We have so many parks and hubs but they are regional. This one will be central and will be a centre of job creation for our teeming youths. It will be a centre where technology will be developed and incubated. It will play a significant role in reducing unemployment and reduce the gap of unemployability.
“The Federal Executive Council has approved the memo and we are going to start off establishing it in Abuja and we hope Abuja is going to be another Silicon Valley in Nigeria.”
Speaking on the money approved for the digital switchover, Mohammed said, “As you know, the ITU had two cut off dates, one in 2017 another in 2020, where nations were supposed to complete their movement from analogue to digital.
“Regrettably, we were not able to make it. But with the approval of this memo today, we would be striving to switch from analogue to digital.
“We will now agree on a date for a launch in the biggest cities like Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt. And we will start the switch off in the already switched on states.
“The effect of the memo today is that digital switchover is now real and the economic effect of it will be the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in content production, channel distribution, Nollywood and Electronic appliance productions to service about 20 million Nigerian homes.
“At the end of the switch over, we would have created the biggest free to air TV platform in Africa. I will be announcing a ministerial task force that will execute the council to resolve either this week or next.”
On MoU between his ministry and the CBN, Bankers Committee for the renovation of the National Theatre, he said, “This is a landmark approval because it has paved the way for investment in the creative industry as part of the resolve of this government to create at least one million jobs in the next three years in the creative industry.
“The approval of these two memos is capable of creating one million jobs in the next three years.
“President had in 2020 given approval to the CBN and the Bankers Committee, to develop, refurbish, renovate the National Theater and at the same time take over the adjourning lands to create a veritable creative industry where they will be four hubs. One for films, one for music, one for IT and the other for fashion.
“The memo today was for the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to enter into Memorandum of Understanding for the refurbishment of the National Theatre.
“The CBN and Bankers Committee are willing to invest N21.894 billion to renovate, refurbish and commercialization (run it profitably) of the National Theater complex. The MOU has a life span of 21 years after which it will revert back to the government.
“The important thing is that no job will be lost because after the National Theatre is renovated, a special purpose vehicle will be created to run it. It cannot be business as usual, it will be a turning point in the creative industry in the sense that we are going to have a brand new National Theatre, an event centre that will help in creating more jobs.”
The minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouk, on her part said the council approved National Policy on Aging.
According to her, the objective of the policy is to ensure that older persons in the society are guaranteed security, independence anticipation, participation, comprehensive care, self-fulfilment and dignity.
She said, “The policy covers a spectrum of issues and opportunities for older persons, older persons with disabilities, older persons who are internally displaced, older persons engaged in farming in Nigeria, in urbane and rural areas.”
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