By NBF News
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Unlike in the past where only four companies were awarded contracts to supply fertilizer, yesterday's Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting approved 32 companies to do same at a cost of N89.3 billion for the procurement of fertilizers for immediate delivery to farmers.

However, while council approved N89.3 billion sourced from the Special Intervention Fund for Agriculture (SIFA), the budgetary provision of the 25 per cent subsidy on the fertilizer, amounting to N22.3 billion was inadvertently omitted in the 2010 Appropriation Act; even though the omission would be borne by the Federal Government.

The council also approved construction of new roads and rehabilitation of others across all the six geo-political zones at a cost of N65 billion to reduce the burden of road transportation in the country, and another N7.8 billion for the replacement of the existing power infrastructure at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos which it described as problematic in recent times leading to constant total blackout.

The council, chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan, also announced plans to enact a law that would compel it, state and local governments to roll out long term development plans to enable Nigeria achieve its Vision 2020 targets, expected to cost N32 trillion.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, the Minister of State for Information and Communications, Labaran Maku, accompanied by National Planning Minister, Shamsudeen Usman, said the Vision 2020 agenda intends to make Nigeria one of the top 20 economies in the world by 2020 and the first phase of the implementation plan is from 2010 to 2013. The second phase is 2014 - 2017 and the third phase, 2018 - 2020.

According to Maku, 'in developing the plan, close attention was paid to 'what went wrong' and 'what do we need to do differently.' The total investment required during the plan period is N32 trillion,' he said.

He added that a 'Draft Bill for an Act to make Development Planning Compulsory for all tiers of government in Nigeria' had been prepared to ensure consistency in the implementation of the plan among different levels of government. Maku, who explained that budgetary processes and reforms are very vital for achieving the plan, said steps are being taken to integrate the Vision 2020 and the Annual Budget.

Besides, 'council also approved that while the draft legislation being forwarded to the president for onward transmission to the National Assembly for passage into law to enable the implementation of the plan, state governors would forward same to the respective state houses of Assembly for necessary action,' he stated.

On the roads for construction and rehabilitation, Maku said the council considered and approved the award of nine contracts for the construction and rehabilitation of federal roads and bridges nationwide, in the sum of N65,355,485,981.49 only, in favour of the following contractors, with various completion periods as shown below:

North Central Zone: Rehabilitation of Lafia-Obi-Awe-Tunga Road in Nassarawa State by Messrs Triacta at the sum of N4.2 billion to be completed in 24 months.

Rehabilitation of Jebba Bridge in Kwara State by Messrs Borni Prono at the sum N1.350 billion to be completed in nine months. North East Zone: Rehabilitation of Pokistum-Udubo-Gamawa-Tatagum-Gamayin Road Sections II & III in Yobe and Bauchi by Messrs Mothercat Ltd at the sum of N2.2 billion to be completed in 30 months.

Rehabilitation and Asphalt Overlay of Bauchi-Dass-Tafawa Balewa Road in Bauchi by Messrs Triacta at the sum of N4.250 billion with a completion period of 24 months.

Rehabilitation of Maiduguri-Dikwa-Gamboru Road Section II: Dikwa-Gamboru in Borno State by Messrs CGC (Nig) Ltd at the sum of N4.5 billion with a completion period of 24 months. Rehabilitation and Asphalt Overlay of Nana-Shira-Azare Road in Bauchi by Messrs Mothercat Ltd at the sum of N1.125 billion with a completion period of nine months.

Construction of Damasak-Dutse (Nig)-Diffa (Niger Republic) Road in Borno State by CGC (Nig) Ltd at the sum of 3.5 billion with completion period of 24 months. North West Zone: Rehabilitation of Hadejia-Nguru Road Phase II: Kirikasamma-Nguru in Jigawa State by Messrs Mothercat Ltd at the sum of N31.150 billion with a completion period of 32 months.

Rehabilitation of Oji-Achi-Obeagu-Mmaku-Agwu Ndeaboh-Mpu-Okpanupu in Enugu and Ebonyi States by Messrs Setraco Nig. Ltd at the sum of N2 billion with 24 months completion period. Council considered and approved the amendment of the universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act No.11 of 1993 as amended in order to provide for the extension of the retirement age for the professorial cadre form 65 to 70 and the retirement age for Non Academic Staff from 60 to 65 years in all federal universities.

As part of the efforts to improve power situation at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), the council also approved the augmentation of contract for the complete power upgrade at the sum of N7.7 billion.

The contract involves the complete replacement of the entire power infrastructure at the 32-year-old international airport. Maku said the process was commenced in 2009 at the cost of N5 billlion with N1 billion appropriated for the project in 2009 Appropriated Bill.

Another approval granted was that of the contract for the design, supply and implementation of the Unique Taxpayer Identification Number (UTIN) Infrastructure and Systems. The contract is in the sum of $22.60 million and N40.60 million VAT inclusive.

'The UTIN is to provide central database of all taxpayers and facilitate tax administration by tax authorities.

'The state governments have agreed to contribute to the funding of the project. The UTIN initiated by the Joint Tax Board (JTB) is intended to register all taxpayers and issue personal identification number that will uniquely identify

taxpayer,' he said. Meanwhile, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekeweremadu, has commended the Federal Government, especially President Goodluck Jonathan, for approving the rehabilitation of the roads in the Enugu and Ebonyi states.