Government sets up inter-Ministerial Committee on recent earth tremor

Timothy Choji, Abuja

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The Nigerian government has set up an inter-ministerial committee to carry out a comprehensive investigation on the earth tremor that occurred recently in some parts of the country’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Minister in charge of the territory, Mohammed Bello disclosed this to State House Correspondents at the end of this week’s cabinet meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said the decision was taken in order to really know what caused the movement of the earth in the areas affected.

He said: “Yes, last week there were some movements that scientists call tremor but we have agreed at the Council that there is the need to study the matter deeply, in order to be able to understand what were the causes and also what we need to do but generally the experts have confirmed to us that Abuja does not fall within a geological area that one will say could be affected by tremors of high magnitude that might even lead to earthquake.

“From our discussions it was realised that there is a tremendous amount of local capacity in various government agencies, where we have experts who will be able to study the problem and accordingly the Council has decided to set up a small ministerial committee with membership from the Ministries of Science and Technology, Works and Housing, Mines and Steel Development and of course the FCT.”

The FCT Minister, who assured residents of Abuja that there is no course for alarm, also announced that the ban on all forms of blasting activities is still in place, because government does not want to take chances at all.

“In a situation like this, we try to eliminate possible causes and to be on the safe side, we suspended all rock blasting and mining activities within the Mpape area and all the areas that we think might have caused the earth movement so that we eliminate that as a factor but generally the scientists have indicated that these tremors were not as a result of any human activity be we don’t want to take any chance so the suspension stands until sometime in the future when we get our first stage of preliminary comprehensive reports and then we will review the decision based on what the report indicates that we need to do,” Bello stated.

He further said a team from the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing will soon be sent to affected areas, to assess buildings, in order to know those that might have been affected or stand the risk of collapsing.

“I want to use this medium to reassure residents that there is no course for concern and as a matter of fact, within the vicinity of Mpape area, the Ministry of Works and Housing will soon send in their experts to do some structural assessment of the properties around there, just to make sure that everything is safe. But at some point in the future, when this inter-ministerial committee looks at this matter very closely, we will be in a position to really give full and comprehensive situation report to the nation but now there’s no course for alarm whatsoever,” he said.

Mohammed Bello stressed that what occurred in the affected areas was very mild, without damages to lives and property at all.

Economy

Also speaking, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma said based on the latest report of the National Bureau of Statistics NBS, the non oil sector of the Nigerian economy grew with 2.05 percent.

While the agric and oil sectors witnessed some setbacks but government is working hard to ensure that the situation improves.

“From time to time, the cabinet looks at the state of the economy and today, I made a presentation based on the latest NBS numbers, the economy grew in the second quarter of 2018 by 1.5 percent but what is encouraging to the Council is that the non-oil sector has continued to grow and in the quarter it grew by 2.05 percent. We were very encouraged by this because it is consistent with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan objectives of government.   

However Council was a bit concerned about agriculture as well as crude oil and so we intend to intensify our efforts in agriculture which has been affected by some of the security challenges in some parts of the country, which are now being contained and we expect agriculture to improve and go back to the 3 percent which we have been experiencing before. Hen in terms of crude oil production we are going to intensify work to get its production back to over two million barrels per day,” he said.

Approved Bills

On his part, Attorney General of the country and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami announced that the Council approved three draft bills that will soon be forwarded to the National Assembly for passage into law.

He said the bills include review of the Constitution Alteration Bill, 2018, Electoral Act amendment Bill 2018 and the Electoral offenses Commission Bill, 2018.

The Minister also said the Independence of Nigeria’s electoral body INEC is enhanced under the current administration and it is not subject to the directives or control of any authority.

Omolayo.A