Saturday, 04 July 2020
Business and Economy

Business and Economy (1012)

Seventeen people died of COVID-19 in the various isolation centres of Nigeria in the last 24 hours, the NCDC announced on Tuesday.

The death toll was the highest single day record in recent weeks.

And it means that between 28 June and 30 June, 25 people died from the virus and its complications.

An additional 561 cases were announced for Tuesday, taking the country’s total to 25,694.

The number of people discharged increased from 9,402 to 9746.

Lagos remains the indisputable leader with another 200 cases.

Its cumulative total is now 10,516 cases.

Edo, which is fifth in the ranking of most affected states, registered 119 cases.

Its total tally is now 1,105.

Here is the breakdown of cases

Lagos-200
Edo-119
Kaduna-52
FCT-52
Niger-32
Ogun-19
Ondo-16
Imo-14
Plateau-11
Abia-8
Oyo-8
Bayelsa-7
Katsina-6
Kano-5
Bauchi-3
Osun-3
Kebbi-3
Borno-2
Jigawa-1

25,694 confirmed
9,746 discharged
590 deaths

Posted On Wednesday, 01 July 2020 01:10 Written by

The National Working Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) said that Victor Giadom, the pretender to the chairmanship is not competent to summon the APC NEC meeting.

Mr. Hilliard Etta, National Vice-Chairman (South south) of APC who is standing in for acting National Chairman Senator Abiola Ajimobi said Giadom, lacks the legal and the constitutional backing to call a NEC meeting of the party.

He added that the membership of Chief Giadom has been suspended by a competent court of jurisdiction in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and as such, he is no longer of the APC NWC.

But Etta also condemned reference to Ajimobi-led NWC as a faction of the NWC. “It is not right to refer to 17 members, with 15 of them physically present and two who met with us virtually as a faction. This is the National Working Committee of the APC.

“When you call him (Giadom) factional acting Chairman, we wonder why,” Eta said

Further dismissing attempt by Giadom to convene a NEC meeting of the party, Etta noted that Article 25B(i and ii) of the APC Constitution (2014 as amended) gives the conditions precedent to summoning a NEC meeting.

He cited the articles as:

“The National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and or at any time decided by the National Chairman or at the request made in writing by at least two-thirds of the members of the National Executive Committee provided that not less than fourteen days’ notice is given for the meeting to be summoned.

“Without prejudice to Article 25(B)(i) of this Constitution, the National Working Committee may summon an emergency National Executive Committee meeting at any time, provided that at least seven days’ notice of the meeting shall be given to all those entitled to attend”.

Giadom had before the press conference addressed by Etta on Tuesday issued a notice of NEC meeting for Wednesday at 12pm at an unnamed venue.

He claimed that he has the support of President Buhari for the meeting which will be held online and and at the presidential villa.

The notice by Giadom reads: “I Chief Victor Giadom, having been duly authorised by Court Order to Act as national chairman of our great party and to preside over all meetings of the NWC and NEC hereby and with the consent of the President Muhammadu Buhari, (who is the leader of our Party) reconvene the NEC meeting that was earlier billed to hold on the 17th of March, 2020, but was postponed.

“The reconvened meeting shall hold on Thursday, June 25th, 2020.

“In keeping strictly to the COVID-19 Guidelines, the postponed NEC shall hold by virtual means.

“The codes would be sent by text to the phone numbers of all NEC members”.

Posted On Wednesday, 24 June 2020 12:07 Written by

Nicholas Kalu, Abuja/ The Nation

The Nigeria Police has arrested a 54-year old man, Chukwudi Odo, for allegedly luring a 40-year old Filipino woman, Irene Panas, to Nigeria through Facebook and keeping her incommunicado for months.

She was allegedly sexually molested and money extorted from her while she was held.

Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, who paraded Odo alongside other suspects at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) headquarters in Abuja on Monday, said the woman who flew all the way from Manila in the Philippines to Abuja, came in an apparent unsuccessful search for love.

He said the woman, who was held in Enugu State, was successfully rescued by operatives of the State Police Command at Neke-Uno Village, Enugu East local government area, following a tip off.

“The Philippino was rescued six (6) months after she arrived Nigeria from the Philippines in an apparent but unsuccessful search for love.

“Irene Torento Panas, an Accountant by profession and a native of Manila in the Philippines arrived Nigeria in November 22, 2019 on a visit to one Chukwudi Odo ‘m’ 54yrs of Enugu Ezike in Igbo-Eze North LGA of Enugu State whom she met on Facebook on 8th March, 2017.

“The visit which was originally intended to be for 10-days however turned out to be a full case of abduction following Chukwudi Odo’s refusal to allow her return to her country against her will. She was held incommunicado by the suspect, Chukwudi Odo.

“The victim who was critically ill at the time of rescue was successfully rescued by police operatives attached to the Unity Police Division, Ibegwa Nike, Enugu State led by the DPO, SP Siga Malgwi, following a tip-off from some members of the public in the area. She was immediately taken to the hospital for medical attention where she was admitted from 5th June to 16th June.

“Preliminary investigations reveal that the suspect, Chukwudi Odo deliberately lured the victim into the country with the aim of confining her, sexually abusing, and extorting money from her.”

The IGP, while enjoining members of the public to tread cautiously in their use of the social media, warns against any abuse of the cyberspace noting that such criminal acts will not go undetected and unpunished by the Force.

Meanwhile, the Force is already in contact with the Embassy of the Philippines in Nigeria so as to reunite the victim with members of her family,” Mba said.

Odo confirmed that he met the woman on Facebook in 2017 and they became friends and were keeping in touch on the social media platform until he invited her to Nigeria last year.

Odo said he was planning to marry the woman.

He said he has been married before but was separated from his wife.

He said he doesn’t have children.

“I met Irene on Facebook on March 8, 2017. I added her and sent her a message and she responded and we became friends on Facebook. Then we became familiar with each other and was in touch with each other. From 2017 to 2019. In 2017 we had agreed to marry each other. And she was working in Dubai at that time. And then she told me to have patience with her until 2019. Then she would come and live with me in Nigeria or I have an option of coming to live with her in Philippines.

“I told her for now I would not leave to another country and then I told her I was financially handicapped and being that we are in touch with one another despite the distance that we should try and save some to sustain,” he said

According to PM News:

Filipina, Irene Torento Panas, who arrived Nigeria on 22 November 2019 to meet her Facebook lover, ended up a victim of abduction for for more than six months.

Irene’s lover Chukwudi Odo turned out to be a monster.

He turned her into a sex slave, squeezed her for money and locked her up in his home in Neke-Uno Village, Enugu East LGA, making her incommunicado.

A romantic journey that was to last 10 days, became more than a six-month nightmare for the Filipino.

Her ordeal ended 5 June, when the police rescued her and arrested her abductor and tormentor.

She was critically ill, the police said today.

“She was immediately taken to the hospital for medical attention where she was admitted from 5th June to 16th June”.

In a statement today, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, cautioned users of the social media, using 40 year-old Irene’s case as a lesson.

Here is Irene’s story as told by the police:

“Irene Torento Panas, an accountant by profession and a native of Manila in the Philippines arrived Nigeria in November 22, 2019 on a visit to one Chukwudi Odo ‘m’ 54years of Enugu Ezike in Igbo-Eze North LGA of Enugu State whom she met on Facebook on 8th March, 2017.

“The visit which was originally intended to be for 10-days however turned out to be a full case of abduction following Chukwudi Odo’s refusal to allow her return to her country against her will.

“She was held incommunicado by the suspect, Chukwudi Odo.

“The victim who was critically ill at the time of rescue.

“She was successfully rescued by police operatives attached to the Unity Police Division, Ibegwa Nike, Enugu State led by the DPO, SP Siga Malgwi, following a tip-off from some members of the public in the area.

“She was immediately taken to the hospital for medical attention where she was admitted from 5th June to 16th June.

“Preliminary investigations reveal that the suspect, Chukwudi Odo deliberately lured the victim into the country with the aim of confining her, sexually abusing, and extorting money from her.

“The IGP, while enjoining members of the public to tread cautiously in their use of the social media, warns against any abuse of the cyberspace noting that such criminal acts will not go undetected and unpunished by the Force.

“Meanwhile, the Force is already in contact with the Embassy of the Philippines in Nigeria so as to reunite the victim with members of her family”.

Posted On Monday, 22 June 2020 23:46 Written by

President Muhammadu Buhari is currently meeting with Service Chiefs at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Service Chiefs, led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin arrived at the seat of power at 08:50 GMT and proceeded straight to the Council Chambers.

The President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari joined the meeting at 09:00 GMT and the meeting immediately went into a closed session.

The Service Chiefs are expected to brief State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting.

The meeting may be connected with the high level of insecurity in Nigeria especially in the North-East and the recent killings in some parts of Katsina and Kaduna states.

This is coming less than 24 hours after the United States Government condemned the brazen killings of civilians in Northern Nigeria.

United States urged the Buhari-led administration to intensify efforts in protecting Nigerians as well as bringing those responsible for the killings to book.

Posted On Thursday, 18 June 2020 12:43 Written by

Victor Giadom, the deputy national secretary of the All Progressives Congress, who seized control of the party today, has cancelled the screening for the Edo State governorship primary.

His action may have put the party’s plans for a 22 June direct primary asunder.

The party’s screening notably disqualified the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki from participating.

Obaseki on Tuesday announced his resignation from APC as he was set to join the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.

He indicated he may reverse himself, now that Giadom appears to have given him a lifeline.

In a Twitter post on Wednesday, he said he has not left the APC.

Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki

Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki: says he has not left the APC

He added that his main focus is to control the spread of COVID-19 ravaging the country and not the governorship election slated for September in his state.

He said: “I have not moved to a new platform yet to seek re-election.

“My focus now is to control the spread of the coronavirus (#COVID19) pandemic, which is ravaging our country and threatening our healthcare system.”

Giadom explained that he has taken over the party based on a previous court order empowering him to do so.

According to him, he has the backing of the members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).

The APC had announced ailing Abiola Ajimobi, the national deputy chairman, as acting chairman, based on the party’s constitution.

But the snag was that Ajimobi is not available to flex any muscle, as he is bedridden.

Ajimobi is hospitalised in Lagos for a serious COVID-19 illness.

Giadom’s lawyer Wole Afolabi, said Giadom becomes the acting national chairman, following the upholding of an earlier High Court order by the Appeal Court on Tuesday.

The order cited was not the one given by Justice Danlami Senchi on 4 March, but a consequent one given by Justice S.U. Bature on 10 March.

Bature specifically ruled that “Chief Victor Giadom is to act as the National Chairman.”

The implication of the Appeal Court judgment on Tuesday, according lawyers, is that all the actions taken by Oshiomhole after March became a nullity.

And this would include the emergence of Ajimobi, as deputy chairman and Waziri Bulama, as acting national secretary.

Both filled vacant positions.

Ajimobi replaced Adeniyi Adebayo, who is now minister of industries.

Bulama replaced Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, who is now governor of Yobe.

A statement issued by Afolabi, justifying Giadom as acting national chairman read:

“COURT RECOGNIZES VICTOR GIADOM AS ACTING NATIONAL CHAIRMAN OF APC

Our attention has been drawn to a Statement purportedly issued by the Publicity Secretary of the APC to the effect that Senator Abiola Ajumobi is to act as the National Chairman of APC following the suspension from office of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole by the Court of Appeal.

We wish to state that the statement must have been issued in complete ignorance of the order of the FCT High Court issued on 16th of March, 2020, by Hon. Justice S.U Bature in Suit No. FCT/HC/M/6447/2020 to the effect that Chief Victor Giadom is to act as the National Chairman of the party due to the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman.

The order was given the same day that the Court of Appeal earlier gave Oshiomhole a temporary respite by staying the execution of the said order suspending Oshiomhole. Now that the Court of Appeal has affirmed the order of suspension, it is only proper that the Order recognizing Chief Victor Giadom is implemented.

Consequently, we have written to all law-enforcement agencies to implement the said order and any one who attempts to parade himself/herself other than Chief Victor Giadom as the Acting Chairman of the APC would be facing contempt of court proceedings.

Justice Bature’s judgment

Posted On Wednesday, 17 June 2020 12:37 Written by

The All Progressives Congress said its court-suspended chairman Adams Oshiomhole will hand over to Senator Abiola Ajimobi, deputy national chairman, for the south.

The party said it was guided by the advice of its legal department, according to a statement by national publicity secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu.

“According to Section 14.2. (iii),of the APC constitution, the Deputy National Chairman, North/South “Shall act as the National Chairman in the absence of the National Chairman from his zone”.”

But there is a snag.

Ajimobi is right now critically ill in the hospital, battling a serious COVID-19 infection that has made doctors put him on the ventilator for close to two weeks.

Asked about what the party would do, since Ajimobi may not be available, a party source said the party will look further into the hierarchical structure and pick the next person in line.

On March 4, Justice Danlami Senchi, a judge of the FCT High Court in Abuja, ordered the interim suspension of Oshiomhole as national chairman.

Victor Giadom, the deputy national secretary took over the running of the party.

Since then, the APC had filled all its vacant executive positions and appointed a substantive national secretary and vice chairman.

Oshiomhole will now need to go back to the high court to defend the substantive suit.

”Oshiomhole will remain suspended pending the determination of the suit”, the judge had ruled in March. .

Oshiomhole’s problem started from home in Edo State, when he was suspended as a member of the party by his ward, a fallout of his battle with Governor Godwin Obaseki.

The suspension was upheld at all levels, up to the state level. Oshiomhole did not challenge the action.

This made Justice Senchi to observe that it was wrong of the APC to have kept Oshiomhole as chairman after he was suspended by his state chapter of the party.

Later, one Afolabi approached the court to get a court backing for the suspension.

This led to the March 4 ruling that threw Oshiomhole out of his chair as APC chief executive..

Posted On Wednesday, 17 June 2020 00:22 Written by

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has expressed shock that the Buhari administration in the first quarter of 2020, spent 99 percent of revenue to service debt.

“No one should be deceived. This is a crisis!”, Atiku said in a statement today.

“Debt servicing does not equate to debt repayment.

“The reality is that Nigeria is paying only the minimum payment to cover our interest charges.

“The principal remains untouched and is possibly growing”.

The statement entitled “Nigeria In Financial Crisis: Robbing Our Children to Pay for Our Greed”, was signed by Atiku himself to underscore its significance.

The former vice-president was alarmed by what he called a shocking revelation in Nigeria’s first quarter 2020 financial report.

“Nothing has shocked me in my entire life in public service as the revelation from Nigeria’s First Quarter 2020 financial reports in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy from the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, which shows, alarmingly, that whereas Nigeria spent a total sum of ₦943.12 billion in debt servicing, the Federal Government’s retained revenue for the same period were only ₦950.56 billion.
This means that Nigeria’s debt to revenue ratio is now 99%.”

“We are at a precipice. If our revenue figures do not go up, and go up quickly, Nigeria risks a situation where our revenue cannot even sustain our debt servicing obligations. Meaning that we may become insolvent, and our creditors may foreclose on us, as has occurred in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

`’In my opinion editorial of December 17 2019, titled ‘Endless Borrowing Will Lead Nigeria to Endless Sorrowing’, I had cause to counsel the Federal Government to desist from indiscriminate lending, and offered suggestions on ways to both increase revenue, and reduce expenditure, however, my counsel fell on deaf ears. And now we have come to this.

“Again, on May 15, 2020, I counselled that the Federal Government ought to reduce Nigeria’s budget by at least 25%, to reflect the economic realities of the times that we live in. Again, my entreaties were brushed aside.

“As part of an administration that paid off Nigeria’s entire foreign debt, I am concerned by the alarming and avoidable unprecedented increase in our debt to GDP ratio and debt to revenue ratio. The alarm I sounded last year is now sounding louder.

“Not only have we squandered our opportunities, we have also squandered the opportunities of our future generations by bequeathing them debt that they neither incurred or enjoyed”, he wrote.

Atiku then went on to suggest some urgent measures to push Nigeria from the financial precipice. One of them is that Nigeria sell off the planes in the presidential fleet and also cut off wasteful spendings.

“As a matter of utmost urgency and importance, I call on the Federal Government to take immediate steps to drastically reduce its expenditure, especially on wasteful projects, such as maintenance of the Presidential Air Fleet, and unnecessary renovations of buildings that could serve as is, limousine fleet for top government officials, overseas travels and treatments, and the ₦4.6 billion Presidential villa maintenance budget, etc.

“We cannot be on the verge of economic ruin, while still maintaining a Presidential Air Fleet that has more planes than the Presidential fleets of those from whom we take these loans.

“In fact, Nigeria must sell those planes and channel the revenue to other vital areas of need, while taking additional steps to reduce the cost of running our government.

“The Federal Government cannot continue to justify these unsustainable numbers by pointing at Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio. That is only half the picture.

“Our debt to revenue ratio paints a much more realistic portrait of our financial situation, especially as our revenues are majorly tied to a mono product, oil and gas, which are very vulnerable to global shocks.

“Again, I warn that Nigeria is facing a crisis, and we cannot continue to keep up appearances by taking out more loans to prop up our economy.

“That will amount not just to robbing Peter to pay Paul, but to robbing our children to pay for our own greed!”, the former vice president concluded.

Posted On Tuesday, 16 June 2020 12:38 Written by

Pastor Enoch Adeboye announced on Sunday that he and his wife will not attend church services as the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG re-opens in Nigeria.

He spoke today during the online Sunday service of the Church broadcast on Dove Television.

The 78 year-old General Overseer said he and his wife will not be part of such gatherings in Lagos in observance of the protocol of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

The NCDC advises people above 65 years to keep off large gatherings, such as religious services.

Adeboye also said his grandchildren will not be part of the services because they are under 15.

He said he will continue to conduct online services for some weeks.

He said Pastors under the Church are free to resume services with their congregation or continue with the virtual worship.

“We want to thank the Almighty God that some of us will begin to gather again as from next Sunday.

“I believe that some of you are already gathering in some parts of the world and we believe that you will now begin to enjoy power of corporate prayers once again.

“But as you gather together in all those places where you are free to gather, please remember those of us who cannot gather with you yet.

“People like me and my wife cannot gather with you in Lagos because we are over 65 years of age and my grandchildren cannot gather with you yet because they are under 15 years of age.

“So, remember us in prayers, so that very soon, we will be able to join you. And now that you are able to pray together corporately.

“I am sure that your prayers will be far, far more effective against this plague so that very soon, all will be well.

“For those of you who are still at home, I think I will be reaching out to you again for a couple of weeks more.

” And for those of you who can gather, your Pastors can go back to their assignments.

“If they still want to join those of us who are still on lockdown, they are welcome of course.”

Posted On Sunday, 14 June 2020 12:39 Written by

About 1,089 Nigerian asylum seekers who arrived in the Netherlands last year and January this year, have disappeared.

According to a group of investigative journalists, many of the Nigerians fell victim to human traffickers who forced them into prostitution or drug trafficking across the European Union.

The European journalism collective said of the 2,461 Nigerians seeking asylum in the Netherlands in 2019, 961 cannot be located.

Another 128 Nigerians who arrived in January of this year also disappeared, according to an investigation by the journalist group Lost in Europe.

Reacting to the investigative group’s findings, Shamir Ceuleers of the Dutch Centre Against Human and Child Trafficking says the results are not surprising because they follow a pattern that has been going on for years.

The non-governmental organization said more has to be done to protect the Nigerian men and women who fall victim to human traffickers in the Netherlands.

“The Dutch police should create a specific West African human trafficking unit, which invests in knowledge and expertise and is well connected to the West African community that we have here in the Netherlands.

“And by using this and creating this expertise, the Dutch police would be well equipped to prosecute these trafficking rings,” it said.

Young people from Nigeria are lured with promises of a better life in Europe.

After arriving in the European Union, often by crossing the Mediterranean Sea by boat, they are forced to work in prostitution or other forms of forced labor.

It is a profitable business for the traffickers, as each person has to pay off a debt up to $50,000.

It is believed that such trafficking is not just a Dutch problem, but that the criminal organizations behind such illegal practices are active across Western Europe.

The Dutch national prosecutor for human trafficking and people smuggling, Warner ten Kate, said more international cooperation is needed to prevent human trafficking.

“Within Europe, it’s essential to work together and to exchange experiences but also exchange data of the missing children and women and men.

“So if they disappear and pop up somewhere in conditions considered human trafficking, they can easily be identified.

“I think that’s really essential, and to give them the protection they need,” he said.

A Europe-wide police investigation on missing Nigerian women in 2006 led to arrests across Europe and Nigeria.

Despite that, the trafficking has not stopped or discouraged Nigerians from migrating.

The International Organization for Migration says the increase has been significant, from 1,500 arrivals of Nigerian women in 2014 to 11,000 in 2016.

The IOM worries that up to 80 percent are potential victims of trafficking.

Flavio Di Giacomo of the IOM warns that data shows it’s not only Nigerians who are being trafficked into Europe from West Africa.

“We have also seen, even last year, an increase of women victims of trafficking, coming from Ivory Coast, which is quite new, and many coming from Tunisia. This is a different kind of exploitation because it’s not only sexual exploitation but also work exploitation and domestic exploitation.

Ivorian girls were exploited to Tunisia, and then re-trafficked in Italy,” he said.

Members of the Dutch parliament questioned the government’s approach to missing people this week.

Earlier this year it was reported by Lost in Europe that at least 25 pregnant West African women had disappeared from asylum centers in the Netherlands.

Their disappearance raised serious concerns about potential baby trafficking and illegal adoption.

Originally reported by Voice of America

Posted On Saturday, 13 June 2020 00:31 Written by

By Abankula/ PM News

President Muhammadu Buhari addressed Nigerians on 12 June the Democracy Day. It was his third national broadcast since his administration designated the day as a public day. He spoke on various achievements of his administration. P.M.News hereby gives nine key highlights of the achievements and plans:

Grow what you eat, eat what you grow

President Buhari believes agriculture remains the key to Nigeria’s economic diversification strategy.

And he is focused on making the sector the pillar of Nigeria’s economy.

In his broadcast, he says that the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative programme will continue to deliver significant quantities of affordable and high-quality fertilizers to Nigerian farmers.

Government is also revamping the cotton, textile and garment sector via a CBN Textile Revival Intervention Fund that would considerably reduce foreign exchange spent on cotton and other textile imports.

Through the food security initiative, the Buhari administration is promoting “Grow What We Eat” and “Eat What We Grow”.

Ajaokuta steel plant

Buhari delivered one sentence on this embarrassing project waiting for completion since 1976.

He said his government has directed the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant based on Government-to-Government financing and a Public-Private Sector financing.

What he did not repeat was that the Russian government is working with the Africa Import and Export Bank, to pool funds in excess of $1.4bn to revive the steel plant designed and built by the Russian Steel Company, TyazhpromExport.

Buhari brokered the new deal with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during his visit to Russia in October 2019.

Power sector

Again just like steel, the Power Sector remains a mirage for Nigerians.

Buhari says in the broadcast that his government is executing some critical projects through the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme. Some of the projects under execution are the Alaoji to Onitsha, Delta Power Station to Benin and Kaduna to Kano; the 330kv DC 62km line between Birnin Kebbi and Kamba; the Lagos/Ogun Transmission Infrastructure Project; the Abuja Transmission Ring Scheme; and Northern Corridor Transmission Project.

Then Buhari speaks on the Siemens angle: the agreement with the German conglomerate is that it will transmit and distribute a total of 11,000 Megawatts by 2023, to serve Nigeria’s electricity needs.

Roads, Rail, water transport

Buhari certainly wants to be remembered that his administration revamped and developed Nigeria’s infrastructure.

He says his government is growing the stock and quality of Nigeria’s roads, rail, air and water transport infrastructure.

“Through the SUKUK-Funded Road Projects, a total of 412km of the targeted 643km road projects have been completed, representing 64%.

The Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund projects are also progressing very well.

On the 2nd Niger Bridge, piling work has been completed and the approach roads are being constructed. 48% of work on this bridge has been achieved.

“We have constructed 102km of the 376km Abuja – Kaduna – Kano Road, representing 38%, and the 42.9km Obajana – Kabba Road is 87.03% complete.

“We are extending and upgrading our railway network too. We are introducing more locomotives, coaches and wagons for the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line.

“The Central Ajaokuta – Itakpe – Warri Line has been completed and is being extended from Itakpe to Abuja on one end and from Warri Town to Warri Port on the other.

“The Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line is 90% completed and would be extended to the Lagos Port which would help address the long-standing grid-lock at the Apapa port.

“The Kano – Maradi Single Track Standard Gauge Railway, Coastal Railway Project and Port Harcourt – Maiduguri Standard Gauge Railway, with its associated branch lines running through the South Eastern and Gombe States, industrial park and Bonny Deep Sea Port are all ready for concessioning.

First Bidding for marginal oil fields

Buhari, as Nigeria’s oil minister was thrilled to announce that for the first time in over ten years, Nigeria is conducting bidding process for 57 Marginal Oil Fields to increase revenue and increase the participation of Nigerian companies in oil and exploration and production business.

“We continue to grow local content in other areas of the oil and gas sector with the disbursement of funds from the $200 million Nigerian Content Intervention Fund to indigenous manufacturers and service providers.

Insurgency and Banditry

President Buhari promised to enthrone security in Nigeria five years ago. But insurgency has not ended, what with the killing of 81 villagers in Gubio LG of Borno this week. Banditry, kidnapping, other forms of criminality are rising across the nation.

Buhari says the security issues are being accorded appropriate priorities and the men and women of the Armed Forces of Nigeria have considerably downgraded such threats across all geo-political zones.

He reiterated again that all the Local Governments that were taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have long been recovered and are now occupied by indigenes of these areas who were hitherto forced to seek a living in areas far from their ancestral homes.

“The total collapse of the economies of these areas, which constituted a threat to our food security, has also been reversed with the gradual recovery of farming and other economic activities”, he says.

He then apologised for the recent sporadic incidents with tragic loss of lives in Katsina and Borno States as a result of criminals taking advantage of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Security Agencies will pursue the perpetrators and bring them to swift justice”, he promised..

COVID-19 and national response

Expectedly Buhari devoted a considerable part of his address on the raging COVID-19 pandemic, a phenomenon that has disrupted the entire world this year.

“Fellow Nigerians, the year 2020 has been like none other”, Buhari says.

“In January 2020, the COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. The number of global infections has risen from less than 80,000 shared between China and eighteen other countries to over 7 million spread over 216 countries and on all continents.

“Nigeria recorded its first case of COVID-19 on February 27th 2020 and within the first 100 days, I have had cause to address the nation on three occasions within one month, which underscores the gravity of this pandemic.

“There is no doubt that this pandemic has affected the global economy and all known socio-economic systems. It has also brought grief and pain to families that have lost their loved ones. Like many Nigerians, I feel the grief and pain not only as your President but also as someone who has lost a close member of my staff and some relatives and friends.

“The impact of the pandemic has disrupted our economic system and to ensure its functioning while still addressing the spread, the Federal Government put in place a number of various non-pharmaceutical measures to slow down the spread of the virus, in addition to a progressive re-opening of the economy.

“As part of the strategy to create jobs in reducing the effect of COVID-19 on our youths, I directed the employment of 774, 000 Nigerians. These youths will be engaged in Special Public Works Programme aimed at cushioning the effects of economic downturn. Each of the 774 local government areas in the country will be allotted 1,000 slots. I am pleased to report that this programme has commenced.

“I am confident that the steps being taken by the PTF would result in flattening the COVID-19 curve. I, therefore, implore all Nigerians to abide by the approved guidelines and protocols. There is hope for us all if we take individual and collective responsibility.

“Government is determined to turn this COVID-19 challenge into a motivation to action by building a nation-wide public health care system that will help us overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for any future outbreak.

“Already, we have begun to look inward and I charge our inventors, researchers and scientists to come up with solutions to cure COVID-19”, he says.

Anti-corruption moves

Government has continued to implement accountability and transparent policies through the Open Government Partnership and the transparency portal on financial transactions.

“Similarly, we have strengthened auditing and accountability mechanisms so as to ensure that rules and regulations are followed strictly.

“Anti-Corruption Agencies have secured more than 1,400 convictions and also recovered funds in excess of N800 billion. These monies are being ploughed into development and infrastructure projects”.

Cost of governance

The Public Service of Nigeria remains the bedrock for the formulation and implementation of policies, programmes and projects in the country. This accounts for why it continues to evolve especially as new socio-economic challenges emerge for Government to address.

In the face of dwindling resources and rising cost of governance, I have authorised that the White Paper on the Rationalisation of Government Parastatals and Agencies be reviewed for implementation.

Posted On Friday, 12 June 2020 13:11 Written by
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