Lekan Paul

Railway Holds Master Key To Transforming Nigeria’s Economy – Osinbajo

ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE OFFICIAL GROUND-BREAKING CEREMONY OF THE RAIL WAGON ASSEMBLY PLANT AT KAJOLA, OGUN STATE ON SATURDAY, 9TH OF NOVEMBER, 2019

It is my special pleasure this afternoon to perform the official ground-breaking ceremony of the Wagon Assembly Plant here in Kajola. The plant which is a private investment undertaken by Messrs CCECC. It is an important project for so many reasons. It is central in the production of rolling stock spare parts and maintenance equipment needed for the railway modernization programme being implemented by the administration of Muhammadu Buhari.

This ceremony is not just another event, it is a historic turning point, for us, the railway is not just an alternative and comfortable mode of travel, it holds the master key to transforming commerce in Nigeria and across the continent.

By linking our ports to rail lines and now, building the rolling stock locally, import and export business within and out of Africa’s largest market will be completely transformed. When completed, it is expected that the plant would produce some parts of the wagons for the Lagos – Ibadan and Abuja – Kaduna rail lines, but also for the central rail lines and to satisfy the needs of other rail operators within the West-African sub-region.

Secondly the citing of the plant here in Nigeria and the commitment to hiring Nigerians and Nigerian businesses affirms the Presidents directives in Executive Order 5 on prioritizing Nigerians and Nigerian businesses in the innovation, production and procurement of engineering projects and services.

The plant would offer an important platform for engineers, technicians, artisans and other professionals to gain the specialized skills required for the production and maintenance of rolling stock. This will invariably conduce to spin-off businesses in the region of operation in particular and across the country wherever rail networks are in existence. The plant is expected to generate about five thousand (5,000) direct and indirect jobs.

I have a message also for you from the President and this is to CCECC which is that we expect that you move on very quickly to the next phase of this project which is the assembly and construction of coaches and locomotives.

This for us will be a significant breakthrough and we look forward to hearing from you as quickly as possible when this will come into operation.

After completing the Abuja – Kaduna Railway project in July 2016, this administration commenced construction works on the Lagos – Ibadan Railway modernization project in March 2017, following which we initiated the rehabilitation and completion of the abandoned Itakpe – Ajaokuta – Warri rail line which was started over three decades ago.

Furthermore, last month, we signed an agreement with Messrs China Railway Construction Company International to construct the Itakpe – Ajaokuta rail line which will be extended from Itakpe to Abuja through Baro Inland Water Port in Niger State with a branch line to Lokoja in Kogi State. This rail line will link into the new Warri sea port being constructed under the agreement.

Also, we are optimizing the Lagos-Ibadan rail modernization project by extending it to the Apapa Port, the nation’s busiest port for the efficient movement of cargo from the port to various destinations. This will expedite import/export flows, decongest the ports, and depressurize our roads in the process.

Also, we are putting all mechanisms in place to achieve the swift completion of the Ibadan Inland Dry port which will off-take containers and cargoes from Apapa port through the Lagos – Ibadan rail line.

Let me take this opportunity to appreciate the support shown by the leadership of the host communities here in Kajola and around this environment, for this project and other relevant Federal and State government projects. The implementation of these projects is important. It is imperative that our host communities continue to support government’s efforts by effectively cooperating with the contractors in safeguarding and protecting these lasting investments so that we can ensure that all intended objectives and mutual benefits are attained.

Let me also commend the Federal Ministry of Transportation led by the very able and dynamic Hon. Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi or Chibuike Amaechi, (today he is Rotimi since we are in the South West) for the very hard work and commitment he has demonstrated from the inception of our rail modernization project. And also, to the Chinese government, particularly the investor, CCECC Nigeria Limited for this significant and strategic investment.

The vision you have shown and the initiative you have taken in the larger development journey of this great country will reap unparalleled rewards for you and great opportunity for our people.

In a few minutes, I will have the special privilege of performing the official ground-breaking ceremony for the establishment of this Wagon Assembly Plant here in Kajola Ogun State, and I hope that this will be only be the beginning of the development of the railway infrastructure, not only here in Ogun State, but across the country.

Thank you all and God bless.

Released by:

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
9th November 2019

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

LASG Prepares LASU Students For 2019 READY-SET-WORK

The Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Education, Mr. Tokunbo Wahab has disclosed that 3,000 final year students of Lagos State University, LASU, Ojo will benefit from the fourth edition of the annual Ready-Set-Work, RSW initiative of the Lagos State Government.

Wahab disclosed this on Thursday during the sensitization of students of the Lagos State University Main Campus, Ojo.

He said that LASU plays an integral role in whatever achievements that could be attributed to the State Government because of the quality graduates being produced by the institution on a yearly basis.

According to him, LASU has been exemplary in the peaceful conduct of its students and in holding its convocations back-to-back, thereby producing students that are making the state proud.

He said that the State Government believes that if the institution must continue to produce the best intellectual graduates, there is need for government to consciously invest in preparing the students of LASU for the best by exposing them to good work ethics and for the world of work after graduation.

Wahab recalled that the government remained committed to the third pillar of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s T.H.E.M.E.S agenda which is Education and Technology, stressing that more technological innovations would be introduced to the education sector under the present administration in the State.

He urged the students to justify the huge investments of the State Government in the RSA initiative by embracing innovative ideas and entrepreneurial skills, stressing that more students from the institution would benefit from the initiative next year.

Also speaking at the event, the Vice Chancellor of LASU, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun described the decision of the state government to kick-start the sensitization of 2019 RSA at the University as very historic.

He attributed the continuation of the initiative under the present administration as a testimony to the successes recorded by the three previous editions of the programme.

Fagbohun stated that Governor Sanwo-Olu through the RSA had further demonstrated beyond doubt that governance in the State is truly continuum.

“I can confidently say it here this afternoon that up till this morning, some companies were chasing me up and down because they want to offer scholarship to some students of this great institution who had distinguished themselves in one way or the other, this to me is what the institution should be proud of,” the Vice-Chancellor stated.

He added that the fact that only 3,000 students would be able to participate in the RSW out of the 5,000 students who are presently final year students of LASU shows that the competition would be keenly contested for among the students, stressing that adequate support would be given by the university to encourage the students provided they show readiness to be a part of the programme.

Omolase Yejide Mrs.

Public Affairs Officer OSAE

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

NITDA’s Kashifu Has A Mountain To Climb, Is He Up To The Task? By Ayo Akanji

The chief social function of technology is to create new possibilities for human activity– William Leiss

For Kashifu, it was always going to lead to this, one way or the other. A life marked by dedication and hard work will be rewarded with responsibilities and more responsibilities. This is the life of Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the new Director General of National Information and Technology Development Agency, NITDA.

NITDA was an unknown item before the appointment of the former DG and current Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, alongside the team he brought in, which included Kashifu, his then Technical Assistant.

They had come in with an unprecedented drive with transformational policies Dr Pantami championed, and they recorded immeasurable successes.

For the most part, Kashifu was placed in charge of strategy execution, which in turn led to a 13 percent increase of ICT contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product GDP. He was at the forefront of coordinating local content initiatives that increased ICT local production by more than 200% in 2017.

Recent figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS puts ICT contribution to the GDP at 13.8 percent as against petroleum, which stood at 8.8 percent.

His appointment came with so much buzz, especially on social media, most commentators were in awe of his age and stellar achievements. But Kashifu knows better that the journey has only begun, and all the achievements he has stocked like feathers to a cap were only preparing him for an assignment like this. This can be attested to by a tweet shared on twitter, between Dr. Joe Abah (@DrJoeAbah) former director-general of Bureau of Public Sector Reform (BPSR) and Kashifu (@KashifuInuwa) where he (Kashifu), in responding to Dr Abah’s congratulatory tweet noted that: “Congratulating me now is tantamount to congratulating a surgeon on his way to theatre. He deserves congratulation when he comes out of the theatre with smile of success.” It is clear he understands the enormity of the task ahead of him.

One of the numerous mandates of NITDA is to ensure that the citizenry are empowered with information technologies through the establishment of a workforce that is IT proficient and globally competitive. It is open knowledge that Internet penetration in Nigeria is expanding; according to Nigeria Communications Commission NCC’s data it is 115,938,255 million.

Interestingly, Nigeria via NITDA is investigating Trucaller, the Swedish call blocking app for privacy breaches against over 2.9 million Nigerians users, which contravene Nigeria’s Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) by collecting more information than it needs to provide for its primary service.

However and important to note, the NDPR bill is yet to be signed – NITDA’s new leadership needs to lobby more for the Presidential assent. It is earnestly required for the implementation of the strategic policies the regulation has in place. Its scope includes enthroning data rights and protection of Nigerians, Africa’s largest mobile market.

By the way, a precedent has been set in Ireland when the European Union fined Facebook $1.63 billion for a data breach in which hackers compromised accounts of more than 50 million users. Any violator of the law would be fined and this would be an avenue to generate revenue.

One must applaud the synergy between the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and the agencies it supervises.

The directives from the Honourable Minister on the Subscriber Identification Module, SIM registration exercise uncovered that 9.2 million SIM cards did not comply with the proper procedure, he directed the Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC to deactivate improperly registered SIMs across various networks; so far 6.8 million cards have been regularized while the 2.2 million SIMs not regularized have now been blocked.

In this age of cyber warfare and hacking private information must be placed in safe hands. There is need for a well-defined data law stipulating how personal information of citizens should be stored and protected and also penalties meted out should citizens information be compromised.

Furthermore, the information technology sector in Nigeria is gaining notoriety in the world for the wrong reasons. These days, cyber frauds are becoming synonymous with the Nigeria. Nigerian companies are losing millions of dollars to hackers, both international and local. Nigerians are waiting to see the line of action that will be taken by the NITDA leadership to secure the cyberspace. Not only that, how these fraudsters can be identified and prosecuted accordingly.

We will like to see agents of national security deploy sophisticated infrastructures in the course of their work.

NITDA has the mandate to ensure and enhance national security and law enforcement. Our battle with insurgents, kidnappers, bandits, will definitely be boosted with the deployment of the requisite technology. We await the DG’s blueprint on that.

Ordinarily, many secondary schools in Nigeria cannot boast of having a functional computer lab. A huge majority of those that claim to own computer labs have computers for use in pictures and nothing more. This should be part of the DG’s agenda and I am happy to have noticed the successes of the NITDA Kids Kode Kamp 2019 where children within a week created html websites and other elementary coding technics.

Consequently, laws to establish IT infrastructures all over the country and to ensure that such infrastructures are utilized optimally as stipulated in NITDA’s mandate should be put in place.

Additional tech hubs, especially in zones hit by insurgency, more boot camps, more hackathons and the likes are areas Mr Kashifu would be expected to make things happen. The leadership must also look for ways to bring in the private sector for collaboration.

Silicon Valley is not a dream too big to aim for. Nigerians expect Kashifu to do more in transforming Nigeria’s technology ecosystem. Good for him, his predecessor has already laid a worthy foundation that though sets the bar high, leaves Kashifu an opportunity to mark his era as one that transformed Nigeria’s digital space. His work is cut out for him, but his ability has never been in doubt.

Ayo Akanji is a businessman and cyber security enthusiast, he writes from Abuja.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Nigeria Most Logical Destination For Investors To Reap Maximum Benefits In Africa, Says Osinbajo At Nigeria-Canada Investment Summit

ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE NIGERIA – CANADA INVESTMENT SUMMIT 2019 (NCIS – 2019), ABUJA, ON MONDAY, 4TH NOVEMBER 4, 2019

Protocols

I am extremely pleased to be here with you at the Nigeria-Canada Investment Summit 2019. I was here at the 2018 summit and I mentioned then, that the summits are important processes, not just events in deepening the socio-economic ties between Nigeria and Canada. There is no question that both our governments and business communities realize that there is enormous potential in our relationship.

Indeed since 2018, aside from summits in both countries, the sheer number of high-level contacts and visits of so many high-level officials, really endorse the fact that this is a very important relationship.

In 2018, the Governor-General of Canada, and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Canada, Her Excellency Julie Payette visited. There was also an earlier working visit of Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Minister for International Development and La Francophone (now Minister for Agriculture and Agri-Food) and thereafter, Canada’s Minister in Charge of Immigration, Honourable Ahmed Hussein.

As we have heard, two Royal Canadian Navy ships berth to Lagos for very important joint training in security in the Gulf of Guinea. And as we have also heard, this was the first in the 108 years of the existence of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Our trade and commerce relationship have also been long-standing, and Nigeria has remained a major trading partner to Canada in Africa. We’ve also heard that bilateral trade is in the order of $984 billion. When that is put in context, we really have a long way to go. Canada’s imports include; mineral, fuels and oils, cocoa, rubber, lead and processed foods. Canada’s exports include; vehicles, equipment, manufacturing equipment, software and aircraft. We also have in place a double taxation agreement, which came into force I believe sometime in 1999 and we expect that our Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) will be concluded and ratified by both countries as early as possible in 2020.

We expect that in the first quarter of 2020, we ought to have that agreement in place.  This summit is particularly important, we have much richer private and public sector participation than before. The focus is on mining, power, agriculture, housing, education and technology. These are sectors that Nigeria has identified as crucial to the success of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. And we are determined to work collaboratively with investors to create the best possible environment for business in these sectors. We are determined, not just to ensure that we keep to the plans that we put in place, but that we encourage all our partners to work with us.

In mining, our Mining Industry Growth Roadmap lays out the scale of our ambitions in this sector and it goes beyond just extraction and exportation.

We intend to create a broad spectrum of value-added services by fully maximizing the abundant opportunities for mineral resource beneficiation, exploiting the possibilities in support services and support industries that will be nurtured around core mining activities. We are, of course, all excited about the prospects evident in the Spring Fountain and Bullion Mart collaboration and we look forward to that coming to fruition.

In the power sector, we believe that investment in renewable energy is bound to benefit from our focus, especially on off-grid and mini-grid options for delivering power to our huge population and commerce. Our Energizing Education Programme, which is installing private solar power facilities in several of our universities, and the Energizing market programme also, which is private solar power in markets and economic clusters all around the country; these have demonstrated that businesses are prepared to pay for regular power supply, and that this is a tremendous area of growth for renewable energy, for business and commerce in that respect. Given the very high radiation all around the country, the solar option makes perfect sense.

In agriculture and agri-business also, there are tremendous prospects. Our government believes that the next few years are crucial for our vision of food security and especially self-sufficiency in the production of different food and cash crops. But the whole agri-business value chain is open for investment. The sheer size of our market now, and in the immediate future, the export potentials point inexorably to the importance of investment in this sector.

Housing is also a crucial area of focus for us. With a housing deficit of about 17 million, the demand is obvious. Our Family Homes Fund is a special public-private sector fund dedicated to our mass low-cost housing scheme. Solving the off-taker constraints also calls for mortgage finance solutions. There is plenty of room for activity in the housing sector.

The next few years promise to be exciting for industry, trade and commerce in Nigeria, especially with the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. Nigeria remains the most logical destination for reaping maximum benefit from these agreements. Consequently, we have devoted considerable attention to improving the Nigerian business environment and we have by all accounts, recorded notable success.

Since 2016, we have risen by an aggregate of 39 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings.  Just two weeks ago, the World Bank also rated Nigeria as one of the 10 best reforming economies in the world. We are set for business, and we look forward to continued engagement with the Canadian government and business community in the coming months and years.

Let me commend the Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada His Excellency, Ambassador Ade Asekun, and his team, and Mr. Taiwo Odutola, MD/CEO of the Nigerian Investment Summit, for the incredible hard work that they have put into this summit and previous summits and engagements here and in Canada.

We welcome all the Canadian businesses, government representatives, and all our friends, partners from Canada to Abuja, and to this summit. In particular, we welcome the distinguished delegation from the City of Brampton, and we certainly look forward to meeting with them. 

I urge all our friends from Canada to be sure to take in the sights and sounds of Abuja while you are here and, of course, indulge in some of our well-known culinary delights. My recommendation last year was Suya, this year it is our world-famous jollof rice! I would like you to take part in it.

It is now my special privilege and pleasure to declare open the Nigeria – Canada Investment Summit 2019.

Thank you very much.

Released by:

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity

Office of the Vice President

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Army Vows To Apprehend, Sanction Personnel Involved In Unprofessional/Extra Judicial Actions

The attention of the Nigerian Army (NA) has been drawn to a video reportedly showing some NA personnel engaged in unprofessional torture and above all extra judicial killing of a suspected Boko Haram terrorist likely in the North East Theatre of Operation.

The NA wishes to clearly and strongly condemn the action of those involved (whoever they may be) in the misconduct, and that the dastardly act is completely unacceptable, unethical and is against the cherished core values of the NA especially that of respect for others and their fundamental rights.

NA training, Rules of Engagement and Standing Operating Procedures guiding the conduct of all her operations are unambiguous about human rights abuses and extra judicial actions including the rights of the arrested/captured terrorists/combatants.

Troops in the various theaters of operations in Nigeria, have been consistently warned to desist from rights infractions of any form no matter the amount of desperation, anger or provocation. NA does not license, encourage or condone indiscipline, unprofessional conduct especially extra judicial execution of suspects or combatants. Where ever, such is noticed or reported, once it is comfirmed, appropriate decisive sanction or punishment is usually immediately meted out to the perpetrators and this case would never be an exception.

Accordingly, on seeing the gory video, NA has commenced thorough investigation to apprehend the culprits with the aim to deal with them in accordance with the extant military justice system. Members of the public will surely be informed of the results of the actions taken so far.

The NA, as a responsible and law abiding organization, will remain professional in the discharge of its constitutional roles and will continue to operate within the ambit of the law in line with the local and international best practices.

SAGIR MUSA
Colonel
Acting Director Army Public Relations
4 October 2019

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Nigerian Army Urges Nigerians To Disregard Bricks Publication On The Purported Operation Positive Identification

Following the widespread apprehension on the purported Nigerian Army (NA) operation positive identification from 1 November to 23 December 2019, as mischievously peddled on the social media by a hitherto unknown and fictitious organization the so called Bricks company, which alleges that the NA will conduct the operation and went ahead to state how the operation will be conducted by the Army.

Specifically, Bricks alleges that – “residents shall witness large numbers of uniformed Nigerian Army personnel parading the roads in an exercise known as OPI”.

The NA wishes to inform members of the public that it has nothing to do with the so called Bricks company and its illusionary OPI, it is not an army operation and the NA does not create any operation with such name or abbreviation in all its operations across the nation in a manner maliciously presented by the so called Bricks company.

Similarly, NA has never issued press release through private companies or third parties because it has a full fledged Directorate that coordinates its public relations and Information aspects which has a robust cordial working relationship with the press.

Recall that in order to compliment the ongoing operation in the North East, NA has an ongoing operation positive identification which is intelligence driven, deliberate, targeted operation and not an independent operation but is integral and complimentary to Operation LAFIYA DOLE in the North East. The aim of the operation is to arrest all those terrorists fleeing or escaping the war zone/Theatre of operation to a safe haven or peaceful areas in Nigeria.

Members of the public are hereby enjoined to discountenanced the hitherto faceless and mischievous Bricks company and its alleged NA OPI.

The NA wishes to use this opportunity to enjoin all Nigerians to cooperate with the NA and indeed all other security agencies by giving credible information that will assist in the identification and eventual arrest of the fleeing criminals/terrorists in any part of our beloved country.

SAGIR MUSA
Colonel
Acting Director Army Public Relations
1 November 2019

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Much Is Achieved When Public Resources Are Used For Public Good – Osinbajo

REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF WESTERN NIGERIA TELEVISION, IBADAN, ON THE 31ST OF OCTOBER, 2019.

PROTOCOLS

It is a special honour to be here today, to celebrate the pioneers of the first television in Africa.  Exactly 60 years ago today, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Premier of the Western Region, then flanked by Governor General, Sir John  Rankine, Chief Anthony Enahoro, the region’s Minister of Information, and Chief T.T Solaru, first Board Chair of Western Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation, formally entered the history books by commissioning the Western Nigeria Television, the first in Africa; and ahead of China in 1962, Canada in 1967, New Zealand in 1960, and several European countries, including the Netherlands in 1960, Ireland in 1961, Greece in 1966 and Malta in 1962.

It was not just first in Africa, but first in many parts of Asia and, as you can imagine, even in Europe without even talking about Eastern Europe.

The event was historic for three reasons. Firstly, it demonstrated the capacity of the Nigerian mind to conceive and achieve anything no matter how complex or difficult. Secondly, it demonstrates how visionary leadership can inspire and lead people from the lowest levels to the high points of human imagination.    

Thirdly, it exemplifies the use of public resources for the public good. WNTV was built to inform, to educate and entertain. As Papa Awolowo himself said on that day sixty years ago, television is a powerful influence for good.

It would ordinarily have been unimaginable that somehow in a part of the yet to be independent Nigeria, a man and his team would build a television station in three months, the first as we have seen, in many parts of the world. But for the man, it was not so surprising because Papa (Awolowo) had laid out a plan for the rapid development of the Western Region. It included physical infrastructure and human capacity development.

The plan included free and compulsory education. As of the date of the inauguration of WNTV, almost a million children were in school in the Western Region. Forty-one per cent (41%) of the Western Region’s budget was spent on education, the highest proportion anywhere in the free world, the highest proportion at that time anywhere in the world.

In the free world in particular, it was obvious that those who understood the value of education used it as a powerful proponent for the advancement of their people. Papa Awolowo clearly understood that so long ago.

Today, as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of WNTV, we also celebrate what is possible in our nation and states, what vision, hardwork and a commitment to the public good can do. 

As Ambassador Yemi Faronmbi said, the celebration of the phenomenal achievement in 1959 would be wasted unless we recognize that the achievement represents sturdy shoulders for us to stand on. Today we can do more and the vision of Awolowo was to build a people capable of excelling beyond even his own achievements.

Every generation has a historic responsibility to reach for the highest peaks that human capacity can achieve. Today we are at the most advanced moment in science, technology and innovation in human history.

The smartphones you have in your hands have more computing power than all the computing power that the Apollo spaceship that took men to the moon in 1969 had. All things are possible and we are able! Let us be inspired by Papa’s words, that our only limit is our imagination.

Congratulations to the Foundation for Ibadan Television and to all of us friends, families and admirers of the pioneers.

Thank you very much and God bless you!

Released by:

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
31st October, 2019

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Towards A New Deal For Nigeria, By Abba Kyari

The decision by the National Assembly to amend the Deep Offshore (and inland basin production sharing contract) Act is a huge victory for Nigeria. The articles and clauses of complex legislation may not appear to be the stuff to set pulses racing. But there should be no doubt: this is a watershed moment for our economy, our institutions and our people.

As a result of this amendment, Nigeria could earn an extra billion dollars a year from our oil. These are funds that will help restore our schools and hospitals, repair our roads and infrastructure and give our armed forces the support they need to keep us safe. That is a big win. But it is about more than just the money.

There is no doubt that the Deep Offshore Act had to change. The original law that provided for the operation of oil licences in deep water was introduced by the military regime back in 1993. New techniques in drilling and computer modelling were then beginning to emerge, allowing for the exploitation of oil in water depths that had previously been impossible. Fiscal terms were based on the industry’s long-term outlook for oil prices of around USD18-20/ barrel, above which profits were hardly taxed at all.

Crucially, the 1993 contract provided only for a review of terms. Oil passed USD20 barrel in 2003 but companies could, and did, refuse to accept any changes. The ‘business as usual’ lobby made sure that every attempt until now to amend the law ended in failure. But more than 25 years on, advances in technology have substantially reduced costs to industry and oil has consistently traded way above that anticipated range. For international oil companies, this has been a regulatory bonanza. A better balance between reasonable profits and a fair tax regime would years ago have delivered the billions we need to invest in Nigeria’s future.

The amendment calls time on this contractual anachronism. But it should not be seen in isolation, or as a ‘one off’. President Muhammadu Buhari pushed for the amendment as part of an ambitious programme to overhaul a corruption-saddled and under-performing oil and gas sector.

This is the key to the delivery of a more diverse and productive economy that will provide the jobs and sustainable growth we need in the coming decades to end poverty and raise living standards. Headline increases in our GDP will be matched by policies that ensure growth is inclusive and evenly shared, and provide protection and opportunity for the most vulnerable.

The President has worked with the 9th National Assembly, its leadership and members, to deliver this amendment. This is the kind of partnership that we have seen all too rarely since the restoration of democracy in 1999. We have shown how national institutions, the executive and legislature, can come together to work for the common good and the National Interest.

A sense of patriotism and the drive to deliver reform is replacing the sterile self-interest that has for too long dominated public administration. The passage of the amendment shows that the 9th National Assembly has the ambition and commitment to help make the real changes Nigeria needs if we are to move forward. The Senate and House of Representatives have shown that we can replace exploitation of the system by the few for the benefit of the few with a new spirit of co-operation – to build a fairer, more efficient system for the benefit of rich and poor alike.

Our vision is for an oil and gas industry that is attractive to investors and competitive in a crowded international market. Operations should be driven by commercial principles, transparent and free from political interference. We will deliver a new deal for host communities and proper guarantees for environmental standards.

The Collins English dictionary defines a free-for-all as “a situation in which several people or groups are trying to get something for themselves and there are no controls on how they do it.” We need an oil industry that is fair for all its stakeholders, to move towards a new partnership that ends the adversarial dysfunction and searching for loopholes that has become the norm.

The amendment is important for three reasons: it brings our laws and taxes into the 21st century; it shows that our institutions are effective and resolute in support of the National Interest; and that President Buhari means business. As Britain’s wartime prime minister Winston Churchill once said, ‘This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.’ We have a lot of work to do. But this amendment shows where we are going – and that now, within our grasp, is a Nigeria that works for us all.

Kyari is the Chief of Staff to the President

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Mobolaji Johnson: Fashola Mourns Passage Of An Illustrious Pioneer

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN has expressed deep sadness and condoled with the Government and people of Lagos State over the death of the first Military Governor of the State, Brigadier- General Mobolaji Johnson.

Fashola, who served for two tenures as the 13th Governor of Lagos State from 2007 – 2015, described General Johnson as an illustrious pioneer, a man of singular vision, integrity and unwavering duty   whose loss is “one that is shared by an entire nation.” 

According to the Minister, “General Johnson was a dedicated soldier and public servant and a loving husband and father. As the first governor of the newly created Lagos State in 1967, he faced immediate challenges in leading a restive federal capital territory. He handled those challenges with tremendous courage and unwavering grace.”

Noting that the late elder statesman established a strong administrative structure for the State, Fashola declared : “Beyond governing a state which was at the heart of a divisive national civil war, General Johnson was an administrative trailblazer. Along with key civil servants like Adeyemi-Bero and Folarin Coker, he laid a template for civil service practices and procedures which set Lagos State apart as a centre of excellence.”

Recalling his appeal, as Governor, during the launch of the Biography  of the late Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson titled, Lagos State-My Life of Service with Integrity, in 2010, that past leaders should document their periods of Stewardship, Fashola noted that such documentation that showed the great infrastructural strides like how the Lagos City Hall was built, how the Badagry Expressway was constructed, how the Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Complex was built, among several others would serve as inspiration to future leaders that things were successfully done before and could still be done again. 

Fashola said he would personally miss the wise counsel and support of GeneralJohnson. “During my own tenure as Lagos State Governor, General Johnson was always ready with counsel and advice. If there was any public event or occasion regarding the welfare of the state, his towering figure was certain to be found present,” he said.

“On behalf of my wife, Abimbola, we extend our deepest condolences to his entire family. His loss is one that is shared by an entire nation,” Fashola said. 

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

How Buhari’s Visits Have Greatly Benefited Nigeria -BMO

President Muhammadu Buhari’s attendance at summits and other international fora is in the best interest of the country and aimed at exploring and expanding opportunities in security, trade and investment, science and technology, agriculture, transportation and oil & gas production, to mention a few.

The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) made this observation in reaction to criticisms from some quarters on the President’s trip to Saudi Arabia to attend the economic forum of the Future Investment Initiative (FII).

In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and  Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO said that these meetings are no ordinary gatherings but avenues to attract potential investors and showcase the economic opportunities that abound in the country.

“As President Buhari makes a three-day state visit to Saudi Arabia to strengthen the diplomatic, trade and economic relations between the two countries, some had condemned the trip as unnecessary since the President just came back from Russia few days ago after a successful Russia-Africa summit. The summit was aimed at strengthening bilateral relations in areas such as solid minerals, reviving steel rolling mills (Ajaokuta and Aladja), rail transportation, security cooperation, oil and gas, agriculture (Wheat production and fertilizer) and education, to mention a few.

“It is worthy of note that the President is not only visiting and signing MOUs, the MOUs are being realised in physical projects such that in 2018 8Billon dollars came into Nigeria as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) with 65 projects across the country. 

“We recall also that President Buhari’s working visit to China last year yielded additional investments in Nigeria exceeding $6billion. A total of $1billion is to be invested in the development of a Greenfield expressway for Abuja-Ibadan-Lagos. Similarly, Mambilla Hydro Power Project, which is capable of generating about 2,600 Megawatts of electricity will, when completed, be the biggest dam in Africa. Like the rail project, the Mambilla Hydro Project was conceived several years ago, precisely in 1982.

“President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Morocco has helped to revive abandoned Nigeria fertiliser blending plants. So far, 18 plants have been revitalized under the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI), with a total capacity of about three million metric tonnes of fertiliser which has created about 50,000 jobs across the value chains of Agriculture. 

“President Muhammadu Buhari also signed nine different agreements, including the Extradition Treaty between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) aimed at strengthening Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters and Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters, which include the recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth.”

According to BMO, what is obvious is that President Buhari is working to strengthen diplomatic relations, trade and the security of our nation. He has held series of meetings with serious investors and has fetched us investments in the range of billions of US Dollars.

“These are a few of the many outcomes of the President’s visits. Instead of condemning these visits, all Nigerians should be proud to have a President like Muhammadu Buhari who never loses an opportunity to showcase the country’s potentials at international fora.”

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

$9b Power Probe: EFCC, ICPC Must Dig Real Deep – BMO

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) have been commended on the recent discoveries of shady activities in the power sector where over 50 persons have so far been interrogated over an alleged $9billion power project scandal.

The investigation, according to the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), is long overdue because the power sector plays a huge role in the economic transformation process. 

In a statement signed by its Chaiman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Maduake, BMO said President Buhari’s anti-graft war is a war against all forms of corruption, and should be supported by all Nigerians. 

“It is an opportunity for the anti-graft agencies to show that former heads of state and other high-ranking public officials are not protected from investigation and prosecution for allegations of grand corruption in Nigeria.”

This is also in line with President Buhari’s determination to remain resolute and focussed on delivering on the promises of securing the lives and properties of Nigerians, and halting the pillage of the economy by corrupt public officials.

“The huge amount of money taken by contractors without delivering on the jobs has almost grinded our industrial progress and stagnated our economy.”

According to the Buhari group, lack of access to electricity hampers both economic and social development. It affects everything, from people’s ability to learn, to the creation of enterprises and the provision of public services. The need for electricity is paramount for any country.  

“Lack of electricity locks people in poverty while access to electricity is key to any country’s development, improvement in security, food production, and strengthening economies. Increased access to electricity improves education, entertainment, health, comfort, protection, and productivity. 

“We urge Nigerians to support and campaign heavily for the fight against graft in order to avoid further criminal breach of contracts by contractors and public servants in the future so as to enable us benefit as a nation,” the statement added.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Lai Mohammed Is Right, Social Media Can Set Nigeria On Fire, By Alwan Hassan

At a Press Conference on Tuesday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said that the government planned to push forward its plans to regulate activities on social media in Nigeria. During the briefing, the Minister’s rationale was that no responsible government would allow activities capable of setting the country on fire to continue. These activities, as we all know, include the propagation of political propaganda and fake news through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the highly encrypted and virtually unregulated, WhatsApp.

Nigerians have freedom of speech. However, freedom of speech has its own inherent limitations in a civilized democracy. These include placing outright policy and legislation to deter speech that is harmful to others; threatening to the peace and security of the society; or speech that is repulsive and reviled.

This means that people are free to express themselves, however, people must know that essential responsibilities are always accessories to every power and every freedom. Every citizen has a fundamental role to play to preserve the sanctity of civility and unity that binds the nation together.

Every post on social media must be within basic guidelines; every one that posts on social media must do so within established frameworks; and even government must work to preserve the intrinsic freedom of citizens to articulate their views, express their concerns and grievances, and hold the government accountable.

As the world evolves, so must we. Yes, social media can set the country on fire, however, it can also be a vehicle for good. Citizens must feel free to air their thoughts on issues; and government must also be responsive.

The internet is a double edged sword, as it can make or mar; build and destroy; and teach and unlearn. A tool can also become a weapon, yet, we must always remember that it was first a tool. Therefore, as we regulate its use, we must never lose sight of its usefulness.

This post originally appeared on NewsWireNGR on Tuesday 29, 2019. Alwan Hassan is is a public policy professional and social commentator, a politician and works in developing and sustaining strategic partnerships between governments and internal and external non-governmental organisations.

Tweets @yesmylo

mail: alwanhassan91@gmail.com

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]