A Letter From President Buhari At New Year

My Dear Compatriots,

NIGERIA’S DECADE

Today marks a new decade. It is a time of hope, optimism and fresh possibilities. We look forward as a nation to the 2020s as the opportunity to build on the foundations we have laid together on security, diversification of our economy and taking on the curse of corruption. These are the pledges on which I have been twice elected President and remain the framework for a stable, sustainable and more prosperous future.

Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. I salute the commitment of the millions who voted in peace last February and of those leaders who contested for office vigorously but fairly, submitting to the authority of the electorate, the Independent National Electoral Commission and judicial process. I understand very well the frustrations our system has in the past triggered. I will be standing down in 2023 and will not be available in any future elections. But I am determined to help strengthen the electoral process both in Nigeria and across the region, where several ECOWAS members go to the polls this year.

As Commander-in-Chief, my primary concern is the security of the nation and the safety of our citizens. When I assumed office in May 2015 my first task was to rally our neighbours so that we could confront Boko Haram on a coordinated regional basis. Chaos is not a neighbour any of us hope for.

We have been fighting on several fronts: violent extremists, cultists and organised criminal networks. It has not been easy. But as we are winning the war, we also look to the challenge of winning the peace, the reconstruction of lives, communities and markets. The North East Development Commission will work with local and international stakeholders to help create a new beginning for the North East.
The Federal Government will continue to work with State Governors, neighbouring states and our international partners to tackle the root causes of violent extremism and the networks that help finance and organise terror. Our security forces will receive the best training and modern weaponry, and in turn will be held to the highest standards of professionalism, and respect for human rights. We will use all the human and emerging technological resources available to tackle kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery.

The new Ministry of Police Affairs increased recruitment of officers and the security reforms being introduced will build on what we are already delivering. We will work tirelessly at home and with our allies in support of our policies to protect the security of life and property. Our actions at all times will be governed by the rule of law. At the same time, we shall look always to engage with all well-meaning leaders and citizens of goodwill to promote dialogue, partnership and understanding.

We need a democratic government that can guarantee peace and security to realise the full potential of our ingenious, entrepreneurial and hard-working people. Our policies are designed to promote genuine, balanced growth that delivers jobs and rewards industry. Our new Economic Advisory Council brings together respected and independent thinkers to advise me on a strategy that champions inclusive and balanced growth, and above all fight poverty and safeguard national economic interests.

As we have sat down to celebrate with friends and family over this holiday season, for the first time in a generation our food plates have not all been filled with imports of products we know can easily be produced here at home. The revolution in agriculture is already a reality in all corners of the country. New agreements with Morocco, Russia and others will help us access on attractive terms the inputs we need to accelerate the transformation in farming that is taking place.

A good example of commitment to this inclusive growth is the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the creation of the National Action Committee to oversee its implementation and ensure the necessary safeguards are in place to allow us to fully capitalise on regional and continental markets.
The joint land border security exercise currently taking place is meant to safeguard Nigeria’s economy and security. No one can doubt that we have been good neighbours and good citizens. We have been the helpers and shock-absorbers of the sub-region but we cannot allow our well-planned economic regeneration plans to be sabotaged. As soon as we are satisfied that the safeguards are adequate, normal cross-border movements will be resumed.

Already, we are making key infrastructure investments to enhance our ease of doing business. On transportation, we are making significant progress on key roads such as the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos – Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja – Kano highway. 2020 will also see tangible progress on the Lagos to Kano Rail line. Through Executive Order 007, we are also using alternative funding programmes in collaboration with private sector partners to fix strategic roads such as the Apapa-Oworonshoki Express way. Abuja and Port Harcourt have new international airport terminals, as will Kano and Lagos in 2020. When completed, all these projects will positively impact business operations in the country. These projects are not small and do not come without some temporary disruption; we are doing now what should have been done a long time ago. I thank you for your patience and look forward to the dividends that we and future generations will long enjoy.

Power has been a problem for a generation. We know we need to pick up the pace of progress. We have solutions to help separate parts of the value chain to work better together. In the past few months, we have engaged extensively with stakeholders to develop a series of comprehensive solutions to improve the reliability and availability of electricity across the country. These solutions include ensuring fiscal sustainability for the sector, increasing both government and private sector investments in the power transmission and distribution segments, improving payment transparency through the deployment of smart meters and ensuring regulatory actions maximise service delivery.

We have in place a new deal with Siemens, supported by the German government after German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited us in Abuja, to invest in new capacity for generation, transmission and distribution. These projects will be under close scrutiny and transparency – there will be no more extravagant claims that end only in waste, theft and mismanagement.

The next 12 months will witness the gradual implementation of these actions, after which Nigerians can expect to see significant improvement in electricity service supply reliability and delivery. Separately, we have plans to increase domestic gas consumption. In the first quarter of 2020, we will commence work on the AKK gas pipeline, OB3 Gas pipeline and the expansion of the Escravos – Lagos Pipeline.

While we look to create new opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing and other long neglected sectors, in 2020 we will also realise increased value from oil and gas, delivering a more competitive, attractive and profitable industry, operating on commercial principles and free from political interference. Just last week, we were able to approve a fair framework for the USD10 billion expansion of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, which will increase exports by 35 percent, restore our position as a world leader in the sector and create thousands of jobs. The Amendment of the Deep Offshore Act in October signalled our intention to create a modern, forward-looking industry in Nigeria. I am confident that in 2020 we will be able to present a radical programme of reform for oil and gas that will excite investors, improve governance and strengthen protections for host communities and the environment.

We can expect the pace of change in technology only to accelerate in the decade ahead. Coupled with our young and vibrant population, this offers huge opportunities if we are able to harness the most productive trends and tame some of the wilder elements. This is a delicate balance with which many countries are struggling. We are seeking an informed and mature debate that reflects our rights and responsibilities as citizens in shaping the boundaries of how best to allow technology to benefit Nigeria.

During my Democracy Day speech on June 12, 2019, I promised to lay the enduring foundations for taking a hundred million Nigerians out of mass poverty over the next 10 years. Today I restate that commitment. We shall continue reforms in education, health care and water sanitation. I have met international partners such as GAVI, the vaccine alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who support our social welfare programmes. I will continue to work with State and Local Governments to make sure that these partnerships deliver as they should. Workers will have a living wage and pensioners will be looked after. We are steadily clearing pensions and benefits arrears neglected for so long.
The new Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development will consolidate and build on the social intervention schemes and will enhance the checks and balances necessary for this set of programmes to succeed for the long term.

I am able to report that the journey has already begun with the passage and signing into law of the 2020 Appropriation Act. As the new decade dawns, we are ready to hit the ground running. Let me pay tribute to the Ninth National Assembly who worked uncommonly long hours to make sure that the 2020 budget scrutiny is both thorough and timely. The close harmony between the Executive and Legislature is a sharp contrast to what we have experienced in the recent past, when the Senate kept the previous budget for 7 months without good reason just to score cheap political points thereby disrupting the budgetary processes and overall economic development plans.

Our policies are working and the results will continue to show themselves more clearly by the day. Nigeria is the most tremendous, can-do market, offering extraordinary opportunities and returns. Investors can look forward with confidence not only to an increasing momentum of change but also to specific incentives, including our new visa-on-arrival policy.

They can also be certain of our unshakeable commitment to tackle corruption. As we create an environment that allows initiative, enterprise and hard work to thrive, it is more important than ever to call out those who find the rule of law an inconvenience, or independent regulation an irritation. We are doing our part here in Nigeria. We will continue to press our partners abroad to help with the supply side of corruption and have received some encouragement. We expect more funds stolen in the past to be returned to us and they will be ploughed back into development with all due transparency.

This is a joint initiative. Where our policies have worked best, it has been because of the support of ordinary Nigerians in their millions, numbers that even the most powerful of special interests cannot defy. I thank you for your support. Transition by its very nature carries with it change and some uncertainty along the way. I encourage you to be tolerant, law abiding and peace loving. This is a new year and the beginning of a new decade – the Nigerian Decade of prosperity and promise for Nigeria and for Africa.

To recapitulate, some of the projects Nigerians should expect to come upstream from 2020 include:

47 road projects scheduled for completion in 2020/21, including roads leading to ports;
Major bridges including substantial work on the Second Niger Bridge;
Completion of 13 housing estates under the National Housing Project Plan;
Lagos, Kano, Maiduguri and Enugu international airports to be commissioned in 2020;
Launching of an agricultural rural mechanisation scheme that will cover 700 local governments over a period of three years;
Launching of the Livestock Development Project Grazing Model in Gombe State where 200,000 hectares of land has been identified;
Training of 50,000 workers to complement the country’s 7,000 extension workers;
Commissioning of the Lagos – Ibadan and Itakpe – Warri rail lines in the first quarter;
Commencement of the Ibadan – Abuja and Kano – Kaduna rail lines also in the first quarter;
Further liberalisation of the power sector to allow businesses to generate and sell power;
Commencement of the construction of the Mambilla Power project by the first half of 2020; and
Commencement of the construction of the AKK gas pipeline, OB3 gas pipeline and the expansion of the Escravos – Lagos pipeline in the first quarter of 2020.

Thank you very much!

President Muhammadu Buhari
State House,
Abuja.
1st January, 2020

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RE: Humanitarian Affairs Minister Refuses To Approve School Feeding Program Payment For Lagos, Imo, Kogi and Benue States

Our attention has been drawn to an Exclusive Story by Sahara Reporters written on the 25th of December, 2019 on the alleged Failure of; The Hon. Minister of Humanitarian Affairs to approve payments for school feeding in some states and Npower Stipends for October/November 2019.

It is pertinent to note that the story is unwarranted or unfounded

The Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiyya Farouq, assumed office, she had gone about handling the transition of the affairs of the Social Investment Programmes from the Presidency to the new Ministry, with the support of the programme administrators and the Cluster Heads.

During this period, she has had to receive briefings from the NSIO and the different clusters concerning the implementation and status of the programmes, successes and challenges. Where she needs additional information, she has sought further clarification in a bit to ensure that the implementation process fulfills the intended mandates of the SIPs.

It should be noted that the former accounting Ministry, which is the ministry of Budget and National Planning has to put on hold all processes of payments after the presidential instruction of the movement of the SIP. Hence, the need for new procedures and policy guidelines inline with the public service rules needs to be set up in the new ministry unfortunately, these briefings delayed payments.

However the issues and briefings on procedures has been resolved and payment had continued unhindered.

Regarding the delay in the stipends of N-Power volunteers for two months (October and November), the Hounourable Minister, in a Press Conference on the 2nd of December 2019 explained the reason behind the delay, and also pledged that beneficiaries would receive their backlog payments on or before December 20th, 2019. This was done.

These actions clearly indicate that, contrary to what some media houses are putting out, the Honourable Minister is not acting in any inimical manner toward the Programme. She has cleared all request that have to do with payments of vendors and stipends that has reached her table.

The Honorable Minister and the National Social Investments Programme are focused towards using the SIPs as an impactful tool towards actualizing the President’s mandate to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

Signed:
Barr. Ismaeel Ahmed
SSA-P
Social Investments Programme

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Nigerians In Diaspora Critical In Driving Marional Development – Osinbajo

Nigerians in the Diaspora can contribute more to the growth of the nation’s economy and other sectors through the sharing of ideas and investment opportunities with relevant agencies of government, according to the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Speaking during a meeting on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with a delegation from the Nigeria Diaspora Group for Good Governance led by Dr. James Fadel, Prof. Osinbajo further stated that harnessing the contributions of Nigerians in the Diaspora was a major reason why the Buhari administration established the Diaspora Commission.

According to him, the establishment of the Diaspora Commission is an important milestone for government where all the activities of Nigerians in the Diaspora could be well coordinated for national development.

The Vice President added that the Federal Government, through the Diaspora Commission, with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports alongside other relevant MDAs, will create platforms similar to Focus Labs, to further engage Diaspora investors and experts on very specific initiatives so as to take the ideas from the Diaspora to the next level.

The Focus Labs, organised by the Budget & National Planning Ministry, provided an avenue where investors and government agencies held detailed meetings over a few weeks to sort out issues mitigating effective investments.

According to the VP, such initiatives would help take some of the many ideas from the Diaspora community forward, noting that both the government and the people from the Diaspora have to move the ideas forward towards implementation.

He said, “I think one thing we have to do with the Diaspora Commission is to bring up these investors and the relevant agencies of government into the same room to share ideas. Some of these investors may be having difficulties in getting funds.

“What we need to do is to set up a structure to enable us meet with these investors so that we can take it step by step on how this (Diaspora) group can contribute more to the development of the country.”

Continuing, the Vice President said the Federal Government has achieved significant milestones through its Social Investment Programmes, including the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme where almost 10 million school children are being fed a free, nutritious meal daily, and the N-Power Job scheme which has engaged over 500,000 young Nigerians nationwide.

In the agriculture sector and agricultural value chain, Prof. Osinbajo highlighted the growth of local rice production, noting that the country needs to consolidate on its gains in the agriculture sector for further development.

Speaking on technical education, the VP said the N-Power programme of the federal government is embraced by every state of the federation and what is needed now is the coordination of the activities in the states.

In his remarks, the leader of the delegation, James Fadel, said, “The Vice President has captured the admiration of Nigerians at home and abroad and we have come here to support you with the best, according to our capabilities as Nigerians in the Diaspora.”

Fadel added that the Diaspora group aims to invest in areas such as infrastructure, primary healthcare, skill acquisition in various sectors, so as to contribute to improving the living standard of Nigerians.

Also at the meeting were the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, and Dr. Sule Yakubu Bassi, who represented the Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

Bassi expressed delight that Nigerians in the Diaspora are willing to make various contributions in the areas of education, primary healthcare, etc, adding that the Commission is linking up with other groups and aims to provide vocational training for Nigerians nationwide.

Also, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, highlighted the needs for skills training for Nigerian youths.

‘Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity

Office of the Vice President.

6th December, 2019

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Vice President Osinbajo Pride Of Nigeria – NSCIA

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has been described as the pride of Nigeria by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) on Friday.
Prof. Osinbajo who gave a keynote address at the opening ceremony of the General Assembly of NSCIA was praised for his commitment to the country.

Ishaq Oloyede, Secretary General of NSCIA said Prof. Osinbajo has successfully combined his religious commitments with public administration, something that is worth emulating.

“He is a model of a person combining religious commitment with public administration. He has done that creditably well. Mr. Vice President we want to thank you on behalf of the Muslim community of this country. You are a pride to this nation, we thank you and pray that God will continue to be with you,” he said.

Also speaking at the event, President-General of NSCIA and Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, applauded the Vice President for his leadership, which he said was given to him by God.

“We have the privilege of having the Vice President here who is a pastor, and I am pleased that he is here to listen to the comments we will make and to listen to him giving the keynote speech, which I believe he will say a lot having known him for some time.

“He has leadership given to him by the lord God Almighty, it is a trust and responsibility and he is here in his capacity as VP and we invited him to give the keynote speech as VP of Nigeria and he accepted to be here,” the Sultan of Sokoto said.

Prof Salisu Shehu, Deputy Secretary General of NSCIA praised the Vice President for gracing the event. “I believe as you have graciously accepted to be here to honour this event by coming personally, I believe that when resolutions are presented to you, we are sure that you’d give the necessary executive support to those resolutions.”

In his keynote address, Osinbajo commended the NSCIA for bridging the religious gap in Nigeria. “This Council is of particular importance to us as a nation because it not only promotes solidarity among Nigeria’s Muslims but also serves as an important intermediary between the government and the Muslim community and between Muslims and persons of other faiths.

“As the highest decision-making body of the Council, I offer to you this morning, both a commendation and a challenge.

“First, the commendation to you for the great leadership you have shown in galvanizing the Muslim community in Nigeria despite denominational differences. But also, for making the Council available for the promotion of interfaith peace, and religious tolerance in Nigeria.

“The challenge stems from the theme of this meeting which is “Islam and National Development.” Permit me to put the topic in context so that we do not miss the essence of the topic. So, I recast the theme to read as follows quote, “The Role of Islam in the Development of a Multi-religious and Multi-ethnic Nation.” This is the gravamen of the matter and I believe my brother, Isa Pantami (Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy who delivered the keynote address) did an excellent job.

“Decades ago in this same country, it would not have been a major topic. Leaders in the first republic did not consider religious intolerance as a major national issue, they were more concerned about the issues that touched everyone regardless of religion or ethnicity; they were concerned about providing food, shelter, education and decent livelihoods. But today, no true leader can ignore the threat that religious bigotry and intolerance poses for the development of our nation. That is just the way it is.

“But it is my respectful view that the burden of ensuring that faith promotes national development as opposed to impeding it is on leaders. This is the challenge I pose to you today.

“A few months ago, at an interfaith gathering, I told the story of an occurrence on the 20th of June 2018. Christians in their village Nshar Yelwa, Plateau State were attacked by a horde of persons who were said to be Muslims, who had attacked other villages and had killed several Berom farmers who were mainly Christians.

“As Imam Abdullahi was finishing mid-day prayers, he and his congregation heard gunshots and went outside to see members of the village’s Christian community running helter-skelter. Instinctively, the Imam ushered 262 Christians into the mosque and some into his home next to the mosque.

“The Imam then went outside to confront the gunmen. He refused to allow them to enter, pleading with them to spare the Christians inside the mosque and his home. When the assailants were adamant, he told them that they would have to kill him first if they were going to kill the Christians, he had given refuge. They eventually left without killing any of the Christians in the mosque or in his home. Imam Abdullahi’s selflessness and sacrifice saved the lives of hundreds of people of a faith different from his own.

“Imam Abdullahi not only refused to give up the Christians he had given refuge; he even offered his life in exchange for theirs. His moral courage is rooted in a profound recognition of our common humanity. His compassion, empathy and selflessness are an example to us as people of faith.”

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GAC Motors To Visit Lagos For Feasibility Studies

Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC Motors) will be visiting Lagos State to study the viability of establishing a vehicle assembly plant.

The development followed Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s visit to the Chinese automobile firm’s headquarters in Guangzhou, where the Lagos helmsman held a business meeting with GAC’s management team.

The Governor, who is on a working visit to China, inspected the automobile manufacturing company’s factories, research and development centres as well as its training facilities. 

Moved by the huge jobs potential of a similar facility in Lagos, Sanwo-Olu advised the company to consider building an assembly plant in Lagos.

He said: “I am excited at what I have seen in the course of my tour of your facility and I can assure you that there is a huge market for auto brands in Lagos State. We have a population of over 22 million people, and Lagos is the most prosperous city in Africa, with our economy ranking as the 7th largest in Africa.

“On the government side, I think now is the right time for you to come to Lagos because we will support you. There is a free trade zone you can locate your factories and Lagos has a pool of highly talented and innovative people that can provide a steady workforce supply for your operations in our State.”

Sanwo-Olu said his administration’s commitment to business innovation and process review was acknowledged by the World Bank as major drivers of Nigeria’s 15 places upward movement in the Ease of Doing Business Index.

GAC Group chairman Mr. Zeng Qihong, at a meeting, said the Group was considering expanding its business in international markets.

He said: “With the Governor’s invitation, we are quite confident and encouraged that coming to Lagos would be exciting. We will look into the process of establishing an operation base in Lagos after our international business department has visited to carry out a visibility study of the market. We are optimistic about coming to Lagos because of the market size and the significance of the economy to Africa.”

At the meeting were top management members of GAC Motors, including the President of the company, Mr. Feng Xingya, General Director Zhang Yuesai, Director for International Business Mr. Yu Jun and Regional Sales Director for African Region Kamel Zheng.

It is anticipated that GAC Motors operations in Lagos will contribute to the development of the State’s economy and encourage technology transfer between China and Lagos.

GAC Group is ranked 189 on the list of Fortune 500 companies. The company’s total revenue for 2018 was $53bn and profit $10bn. In 2018, the GAC brand passenger car exports accounted for 70% of China’s passenger car exports to Nigeria. It has a national brand store and service centre in Nigeria, and recently completed its first SKD factory in the country.

#ForAGreaterLagos

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Re-Mamman Daura’s Flamboyant Birthday Celebration In UK, By Segun Tomori

Days ago, a quack online medium, Desert Herald – obviously acting the script of its sponsors, chose to cast aspersions on Elder Statesman, Mamman Daura through its ill-fated publication that alluded to a fictitious “Flamboyant birthday celebration” of the octogenarian in the United Kingdom.

Mallam Daura had clocked 80, a milestone worth celebrating by all standards, therefore it wasn’t unexpected that his children will pull out all the stops to make it memorable. However, they chose to do otherwise, opting instead for a modest birthday dinner in honour of the President’s nephew.

But Desert Herald would have none of that! They created a façade of a flamboyant party where there was none and even alleged that guests at the party which included his close family members and associates were all flown to London on a First Class ticket. Nothing could be further from the truth as guests footed their bills, while not all attendees flew in from Nigeria, as some of Mallam’s family are resident in the United Kingdom.

The bileful Editorial also attempted to vilify Daura for “making merry” whilst his countrymen supposedly suffers. It however forgot in its haste to crucify to acknowledge his rights as a private citizen who doesn’t occupy any public office. Comparing him with Sarduana or Tafawa Balewa who had held public office at the peak of their lives is outright irresponsible.

Finally, Mallam Daura is by no means a pauper having risen to the apex of his career as Managing Director of the New Nigerian newspapers, sat atop the board of blue-chip companies, was the Chairman of the defunct Nigerian Bank of Commerce and Industry, therefore it begs the question why a Birthday celebration in London will be such a big deal.

It is obvious even to the blind that the hatchet job of Desert Herald to cast Mamman Daura in a bad light has fallen like a pack of cards. Nigerians know better when they see a smokescreen!

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Water Transportation: Lagos Govt Assures Local Boats Manufacturers Of Patronage

Lagos state government has assured local builders of boats that the state government would scale up their businesses by regularly patronising them in line with the vision of making water transportation one of the best possible alternatives.

In doing this, the state government is confident that the effort would help to strengthen the economies of local boats builders, attract more interest in water transportation and bring daily traffic congestion on our roads to a barest minimum.

The Managing Director, Lagos State Ferry Services (LAGFERRY), Hon Abdoulbaq Ladi-Balogun gave the assurances during an inspection tour of two major boat factories, V-Craft and Sierra Craft, in Lagos on Monday.

He stated that the Governor, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo Olu is fully committed to efficient water transportation system and has instructed that LAGFERRY must identify and patronise local builders who have the capacity and adhere to international standard best practices.

“We want to build the Eco system and ensure everybody is carried along in achieving the multi modal transportation initiative of the present administration to decongest the roads, so any manufacturer that has the capacity, we will patronise. We want to encourage local investors particularly those that have interest in water transportation and purchase the boats that are not just made in Nigeria but made in Lagos” he stated

While informing that the state government intends to roll out commercial ferry services in couple of weeks to come, the Managing Director assured Lagosians of a new experience in water transportation driven by latest technology and built on safety, reliability, faster with efficient services, comfort and value for money.

In his response, The Managing Director, sierra Craft, Mr Olusegun Jaji expressed delight at the interest of the state government in developing local water transportation, especially, the assurances given to local builders that they would enjoy government patronage.He added that he was particularly delighted in this administration’s commitment to improving and increasing water transportation.

He assured that his company was capable of producing and delivering world class boats capable of meeting the international standard as required by the State government.
He explained that his company and others were ready to key in to the vision of the present administration of exploring water transportation to decongest the road traffic.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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. 

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