As part of efforts to cushion the hardship brought about by the removal of subsidy on the Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, the Niger State Governor, Mohammed Bago, has purchased a total of 200 Compressed Natural Gas powered buses to ease the burden of transportation of residents within the state.

Bago who disclosed this at a dinner for members of the House of Representatives Press Corps in Minna, the state capital, on Sunday, also announced the readiness of the state government to sign a memorandum of understanding with a rice processing plant in Kano for direct purchase of the Niger State-produced Paddy rice.

According to him, his government, as part of its infrastructural development plan, has awarded a contract for the construction of a 566 km network of roads spread across the state.

Giving a breakdown of how the buses would be distributed across the three senatorial districts of the state, Bago stated that a total of 100 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 Bida. Pupils and students will enjoy a free ride to and from their various schools.

He said, “We are very ambitious as a government. We have already purchased about 200 CNG buses to commute for free students going to school and subsidised civil servants in Niger State. 100 of the buses will commute to 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 the construction of about 566 km 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.

“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 Kianji, Jeba, Shiroro and Zungeru. We have the only white sand beach in West Africa, 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 Nigeria at large.”

He continued, “I went for a peer review 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 massive.

“So how do we take comparative advantage of that? We will first aggregate this paddy and trade it 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 that we can control so that we are sure that our farmers don’t lose”, he added.

Given the resource endowment in the state, the governor stressed that Niger State has no business with poverty, even as he pledged his commitment to make the most of every available opportunity to impact positively on the lives of the people.

On the Green Economy Summit to be hosted by the Niger State Government on Tuesday, he noted that hee event provides a window for the state to take advantage of its potential.

“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 l emissions by multinational 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 on the farms, cutting them down to make firewood. We, however, need them to understand that we must protect our forest from deforestation and also promote afforestation”, he noted.



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