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Rail network to make Nigeria’s ports destination points for import, export says Buhari

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By Gistflash

June 10, 2021

The President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the new rail network initiative would make Nigeria’s ports as the choice for import and export business particularly for landlocked Niger Republic.

Buhari made the assertion at the flag off of the Commercial Operation of the Lagos – Ibadan Rail Line project held on Thursday at the Mobolaji Johnson Railway Station, Ebute Metta, Lagos.

He said that the inauguration of the standard gauge railway would be beneficial to the economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation.

Buhari said that the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance had been directed to vigorously seek njfinancial agreements with appropriate co-financiers to partner with the Federal Government for the development of the Ibadan – Kano railway.

He said that the rail would connect the Tin Can Island port as well as the West – East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.

“This is already yielding the desired result as construction activities on the railway segment, Kaduna – Kano has commenced with back-end engineering activities.

” Distinguished guests, from the beginning of this administration, railway infrastructure development has been given the priority it deserves and various milestones have been reached, right from when the Abuja – Kaduna railway was flagged-off for commercial operation in 2016.

“This Lagos – Ibadan railway project is being commissioned today for full commercial operation.
“I am pleased to address you again today and preside over the flag off ceremony for Commercial Operations of Lagos – Ibadan railway project at the Mobolaji Johnson Railway Station, Ebute Metta, Lagos,”Buhari said.

According to him, the vital line had established an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos – Ibadan.

Buhari said that goods to the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa port Quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country.

He said that in clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by absence of strong and effective infrastructure, the government had embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos – Kano railway, which was Ibadan – Kano.

He said that the Lagos – Kano railway project when completed would link the Kano – Maradi line at Kano and a rail link from the Nigeria southern ports of Lagos to Maradi in Niger Republic would be achieved.

Buhari commended the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, and management of Railway Corporation for their drive and tenacity to achieve the milestone recorded today.

The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, said that this was the third times President Muhammadu Buhari would be commissioning standard gauge railway.

“Why I want the President to be present to show Nigeria that the project started and ended by our administration.

” I even lost my car as a result of entering the bushes to get the project done.

“I sincerely appreciated Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states government. We also appreciated Governor Amosu who allowed us to demolished one thousand houses.

” We appreciate the Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Former Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajumobi, and Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed former Gov.Akinwunmi Ambode etc.

“I will like to appreciate all staff of railway, journalist, CCECC, security agencies among others.

In his welcome address, the Board Chairman of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Alhaji Ibrahim Alhassan, said elected representatives had supported the standards gauge railway to be successful.

Alhassan commended the efforts of Federal and state governments and some agencies for their support in making the project achievable.

The Chairman of Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), Mr Jiang Yigao, commended Nigeria and other government officials for giving support to enable them to deliver within the time frame.

He said that the standard gauge railway would increase development in Nigeria and assist in improving social and economic development in the country.

The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of People’s Republic of China, Cui Jianchun, congratulated Nigeria’s government saying that the inauguration of the project had further streghtened the relationship of the two nations.

“I am very delighted to join all to celebrate this event. For every nation, development is key. This project with the China support will improve development of this country.

” The ceremony is not for transportation of people and goods, but also about railway to improve the lives of Nigerians.

“I commend the effort of the Hon Rotimi Amaechi without him we could not stand here this morning.

” We are continuing in working together for sincerity to enable Nigeria to overcome challenges both National and Internationally,”Jianchun said.

The Governor of Lagos State, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for the huge infrastructure development taking place in Nigeria.

Sanwo-Olu said that it was better when both the Federal and state governments collaborate to achieve development in the country.

“Today we can look back that the collective infrastructure and support were not in vain while three states Lagos Ogun and Oyo have benefited from this project.

“Ogun state have standards gauge freight station at Kajola while Oyo State have Inland Dry Port.

” We have a revolutionary project taking place in Lagos, we are also building foundation that the Federal had laid for us.

“We are building Blue and Red six standards rail with the support from the Federal Government through the Lagos State Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Mr Fidet Okhiria, said that after the flag off, full operation would start and the corporation would increase the train to four and also commence the freight operations from Lagos ports.

“We are staring on Monday with four train two up, two down, and in six months time will be running eight train, four up, four down.

” With the operation of the freight, we will be moving goods out of the ports through the Standard and the narrow gauge which will go a long way in decongesting the port.

NAN

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Terrorism: We’ll not rest until peace is fully restored, IDPs returned – Buhari

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By Gistflash

June 17, 2021

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured citizens of Federal Government’s presence in fighting terrorism to the end and ensuring that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are fully returned to continue normal life.

The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, said Buhari gave the assurance during his official visit to Borno on Thursday.

Buhari, who was in Maiduguri to appraise the security situation and inaugurate some development projects, commended Gov. Babagana Zulum for resilience and relentless efforts in rebuilding the state.

”We will never rest until peace is fully restored and all displaced persons are resettled in their home communities.

”I will never forget in my life that during my career as a politician, Borno State is where I got the highest percentage of votes, more than 90 per cent!

”The least I can do for you is to continue the relentless effort to fully restore peace to this state, the North East region and the country as a whole,” he said.

The president attributed recent successes recorded by the military against insurgents and terrorists at Dikwa, Damboa and Gwoza to careful planning, infusion of new equipment and other war materials as well as quality military leadership.

“I am very happy to be here in Borno State once again. I consider Maiduguri and Borno State to be my home since this is the place where I cut my administrative and political teeth, when I first arrived here as Military Governor 46 years ago.

“While I am happy to return home, I am not happy that this visit is not a normal, peacetime home-coming.

”I am here today first and foremost to appraise the security situation in Borno State and the North East region in order to move full speed ahead and conclude the work of restoring permanent peace to the region.

“The attacks launched by cowardly terrorists against military and civilian targets last month and in previous months were a pointer to us that the work of defeating insurgency and terrorism and of restoring permanent peace to this region is not yet over.

“We will not rest until all the millions of Internally Displaced Persons are able to return and resettle in their homes and rebuild their shattered lives,” he said.

The president said all the Service Chiefs that were appointed this year either served as Theatre Commanders or were part of the command’s operations at one time or the other.

“All of them are therefore personally familiar with the challenge of insurgency.

”I fully expect them to bring this wealth of personal experience to bear as we move to end this scourge once and for all.

“No doubt, these successes owe a lot to the role played by volunteers of the Civilian JTF, hunters and vigilantes.

”These good people include women, who are making huge sacrifices and patriotic contributions to our peace-restoration efforts,” he added.

Buhari noted that many servicemen and women as well as youthful volunteers had paid the supreme price in the fight to rid the communities and the country of terrorism and insurgency, appreciating their gallantry and their sacrifices.

He assured their loved ones that the sacrifices will not be in vain.

“I must also acknowledge the very important role and the sacrifices made by parents, guardians and other loved ones amongst the people of Borno, the North East region and the country as a whole, who support their sons, daughters, husbands, brothers and sisters in going to battlefields to defend Nigeria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and its peace.

”I thank and commend them for their resilience and assure them success is in sight.

“It was a mark of our appreciation for this sacrifice made by Borno State’s volunteers that the Nigerian Army was authorised to enlist hundreds of volunteers from Borno into the Army.

”I urge the people of Borno, the North East region and Nigeria as a whole to sustain this cooperation with the military and the other security services.

“Both must see each other as being on one side in order for us to succeed,” he said.

The president said the late President Idris Deby of Chad played a major role in the fight against terrorism in the Lake Chad region, urging his successors to work hard in restoring democracy to the country.

He also urged him to support the processes of bringing peace to the region.

Buhari said the recent appointment of Amb. Babagana Kingibe, an illustrious son of Borno, as Special Envoy to Chad and the Lake Chad Basin, was intended to accelerate the restoration of democratic stability in Chad Republic.

The president added that the appointment was also meant to enhance cooperation among all the countries of the Lake Chad Basin.

“Let me also assure the people of Borno and the North East that we have taken decisive measures to safeguard IDPs and refugees who recently returned from Cameroon and Niger Republic.

”They are engaged in the task of rebuilding their communities after more than a decade of war and terrorism.

“It was part of these measures that I gave approval for the Federal Government to build 10,000 resettlement homes in Borno State. 4,000 of these homes have already been completed.

”Furthermore, I approved for constant release of food intervention by Nigerian Customs Service and the North East Development Commission in order to support displaced persons.

“I have directed these agencies to sustain and deepen this support. I also wish to specially commend His Excellency,  Gov. Babagana Zulum for his tireless efforts in directly supervising the distribution of food and economic empowerment to IDPs in all local government areas,” he said.

The president noted that the effort at alleviating the suffering of displaced communities would hamper the evil attempts of terrorists and insurgents to recruit fighters and spies from IDPs and other vulnerable populations through the use of paltry material incentives.

On electricity supply, Buhari said the administration would continue to make concerted efforts towards guaranteeing energy security to all populace across the nation, saying Maiduguri cannot, and will not be left out.

The president said Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had been directed to expedite the delivery of 50MW power plant in order to ensure the prompt restoration of electricity to Maiduguri and its environs.

“Furthermore, in the light of the current improvement of security in the state, I have also issued directives for the immediate resumption of Oil and Gas exploration activities in the Lake Chad basin.

”This is part of our overall effort to restore the state back to normalcy.

“One episode we will never forget in our lives was last year’s cowardly attack on defenceless rice farmers in Zabarmari community.

”I have directed the Theatre Command of Operation HADIN KAI and other security agencies to work out modalities together with Borno State Government and associations of farmers, on ways to improve safe access by farmers to their farms, forests and fishing grounds.

“I have also directed the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to accord special support by deploying more agro rangers, through collaboration with Borno State Government, to secure additional farmlands.

”I highly commend the Borno State Government for its initiative in deploying the agro rangers. We will extend to it our full support,” he added.

He observed that Zulum’s effort at providing facilities that directly impact the livelihood of people, particularly building educational and health institutions, and constructing roads deserved applause.

“I have gone round to commission some of the capital projects executed by Governor Zulum in two years.

”I am very happy with what I saw. The Vocational Training Institute at Muna, in particular, is a very dynamic answer to skills acquisition and job creation efforts.

”Such an effort will ensure that in future, there will be no store of unemployed young minds for terrorists and insurgents to recruit from.

“I was exceedingly happy to commission very laudable capital projects executed at the Borno State University.

”It is the best answer that the decade-long effort of insurgents to disrupt and destroy modern education in this region has come to naught,” he said.

The president further revealed that he had since directed the Federal Ministry of Health to liaise with Borno State Government and accord the needed support to the ongoing construction of Borno State University Teaching Hospital in the areas of equipment and personnel.

“Finally, let me, from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the Federal Government and the people of Nigeria, commend His Royal Highness, the Shehu of Borno, as well as all the other Royal Highnesses and Bulamas at all levels for their very exemplary leadership, patience, determination and wisdom during this past decade when this land was ravaged by insurgency and terrorism,” he said.

The president noted that the fact that traditional rulers now operate from their domains was evidence that peace was being restored to the communities, despite the challenges that remain to be overcome.

“The elders, statesmen, Muslim and Christian community leaders all over this state and region also deserve our thanks and warm appreciation for their resilience, moral leadership and support for the Federal and State Governments during these trying times.

“I wish to reassure Your Highness the Shehu, all the Royal Highnesses, elders, the Government and people of Borno State and the North East region, of Federal Government’s relentless determination in the search for peace in Borno, the Northeast and the rest of Nigeria, ” Buhari said.

In his remarks, Zulum thanked the President for the relative peace enjoyed in the State, buoyed by the heavy presence of military and security men who have been engaging the terrorists.

“We have witnessed gradual return of peace to Borno State and it is our sincere hope that insurgency will soon be brought to an end,” he said.

The governor said he had already spent 750 days in office, appreciating the president for various developmental interventions, which included infrastructure, particularly the approval of 10,000 units of housing for IDPs of which 4,000 had been completed.

He also thanked Buhari for approval of a Federal Polytechnic in Mongonu after 40 years of creation (1976), urging more security presence so that farmers can return to their major occupation.

NAN

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Ikpeazu tasks traditional rulers on security, unity

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By Gistflash

June 17, 2021

Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia has urged traditional rulers in the state to evolve ideas that would enhance security and unity.

Ikpeazu said this on Thursday during the presentation of Staff of Office to 23 newly installed traditional rulers at the Michael Okpara Auditorium, Umuahia.

The governor described traditional rulers as the chief security officers of the various communities in Abia.

He noted that the traditional rulers had an important role to play in building the state.

Ikpeazu said the strategic role of the traditional rulers as leaders of their communities required them to take note of activities taking place in their localities.

Ikpeazu said this would enable them to provide the government with intelligence on any venture that would pose as a security threat to the safety of the people in their communities.

“The greatest challenge of our state is the challenge of security, whether we speak of criminal herdsmen or people that have made themselves enemies of the state.

“It is your duty as the chief security officers to be vigilant, wary and careful of the activities that take place in your various communities.

“We will leverage on the intelligence which we expect to get from you and the pieces of advice from your wealth of experience to tackle any security challenge in various communities,” he said.

Ikpeazu urged the newly installed traditional rulers to set up machinery for the effective administration of their various communities and the promotion of the interest of their subjects.

He charged the newly installed traditional rulers to sow seeds of unity, remain law abiding and discourage any venture that would make them factional leaders in their localities.

Responding on behalf of the newly installed traditional rulers, Eze Chibuzo Ngwakwe of Mgboko Itungwa Community, thanked the state government for supporting their quest to serve.

“We have accepted the responsibility bestowed on us by the state government and we promise to live up to expectations,” Ngwakwe added.

NAN

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NPC to evolve alternative dispute resolution mechanism for complaints against media

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By Gistflash

June 17, 2021

The Nigerian Press Council (NCP) says it plans to evolve an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism towards resolving complaints against media practitioners in the country.

Mr Francis Nwosu, NCP Executive Secretary, said this at a public hearing on a bill seeking amendment to the NCP Act on Thursday in Abuja.

Nwosu said that the planned amendment was aimed at removing bottleneck in the operations of the council.

“The expansion of the council’s function as being proposed is highly commendable, this is a giant stride that will allow the council to venture into other areas in its task of regulation and also to impact positively on the print media,” he said.

He said the regulation of print media in the country should be extended to online publishers, suggesting also that the name Executive Secretary of NCP be changed to Director General of NPC.

Nwosu said that power should be given to the Executive Secretary to issue summon against erring media practitioners, saying that this would aid NCP’s effectiveness and efficiency.

He said that what constituted fake news should be defined for easy interpretation, adding that provisions against hate speech should be included in the proposed amendment as well as requisite penalties against offenders.

Mr Azubuike Ishiekwene, President, Nigeria Press Organisation (NPO), said there was a pending case at the Supreme Court against the proposed amendment.

He urged the National Assembly to suspend the amendment pending the determination of the case.

However, Chairman of the committee, Rep. Odebunmi Segun, said no court could restrain the committee from doing its job.

“We have the constitutional mandate to do our job and we will pursue it by getting the views of Nigerians,” he said.

Mr Chris Isiguzo, National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), urged the committee to grant the union three weeks to capture its views in a document for submission to the committee.

He said there was need to consult widely among stakeholders on the issue, adding that the union got a short notice to the public hearing.

NAN

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