President Muhammadu Buhari has Advised African countries to improve on ports infrastructure and utilize all natural maritime endowments to facilitate trade.
Buhari made the plea on Monday in Abuja during the first Regional Conference of International Africa Ports and Harbour (IAPH) with the theme: “Africa Ports and Hinterland Community.”
He said that interconnectivity would improve African countries’ economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
Buhari advised that every port should have the complement of rail infrastructure.
“To complement the improvement in trade facilitation, we have improved on upgrading infrastructure.
“Our projection is that by the end of 2021, we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route.
“The same level of serious attention is being given to the improvement of road infrastructure.
“At the moment, 25 major highways and 44 roads are under construction across the six geo- political zones of the count just as we have insisted on the simulation activities on our inland waterways.
“Major inland river channels are being dredged with adequate channel markings for ease of navigation all the way through the Eastern and Northern parts of the country.
“That is the only way to go if we plan to remain competitive in the maritime industry.
“I want to implore participants at the conference to see themselves as people opportuned to stand in positions of responsibility on behalf of Africa,” the president said.
Buhari said that maritime sector was central to facilitation of trade and total integration of Africa for development.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, urged African countries to optimize the comparative advantage of their maritime endowments.
Amaechi said that it should be understood that optimising maritime potential was totally dependent on efficient transportation of cargo from ports of destination into the hinterland.
“We are therefore committed to the multi-modal system of transportation from all our ports by improving on the extension of our railways to facilitate the ease of transportation from ports to hinterlands.
“We have started test operations in Warri and other places two months ago. We have reconstructed some railways for standard gauge to further open up the nation’s hinterlands.
“With the development of dry ports in Kano and Kaduna, with direct rail connection, cargoes and containers now easily transmit to Northern Nigeria.
“This also extends to Chad, Niger Republic in our determination to promote transshipment of cargoes to Niger Republic.
“We are also partnering with the government of Niger Republic in the reconstruction of Maadi, Niger Republic, from Kano to promote regional motivation of trade,” he said.
Amaechi said that solid minerals and some agricultural produce were already being exported from Ikorodu Lighter Terminal through Apapa port in Lagos.
The Managing Director, IAPH, Mr Patrick Verhoven, said that Africa was the second largest and second most populous continent with six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world.
According to him, improving hinterland connection is not merely a matter of “hardware”.
“It is also about investing in “software”, namely people’s skills and Smart IT with 50 per cent of Africa’s 1.2 billion people under the age of 20 and a workforce of 504 million expected by 2020,” Verhoven said.
He told the participants to ensure that the port industry attracted the right status as well as made the best use of innovations in digitisation, stressing that the use of data was of equal significance.
The Vice President of IAPH, Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman, said there was no doubt that “Africa holds a special space in the global space with 39 of the 54 countries on the continent endowed with littoral assets”.
Bala-Usman, who is also the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), said that the development of the continent was to a large extent, tied to optimal exploitation of its vast maritime resources.
According to her, determinant factors for determing ports are the speed and seamlessness with which owners of cargoes are able to move their consignments out of the ports.
She said that Africa needed some work to be done in that area and urged participants to open their minds to speak out and learn new things that would justify the meeting.
Bala-Usman recalled that IAPH was established to promote development of ports and create worldwide synergy for effectiveness among all member countries through strong member relationships.
In its 63-years of existence, the association had grown into a global alliance, representing 180 member’ ports and 140 port-related businesses in 90 countries.
The Nigerian workers on Thursday threw their weight behind the 14-day ultimatum issued by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to the federal government over delay regarding new minimum wage.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Labour leaders had on Wednesday cautioned the federal government against foot-dragging on the new minimum wage and allow the tripartite committee to conclude its job to avoid action.
The labour leaders, who are members of the Minimum Wage Committee, at a joint news conference addressed in Lagos, gave the federal government 14 days to ensure that the committee conclude its work or be ready to face action.
The President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, had said that the committee was not pleased with the comments allegedly made by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
Mr Ngige had last week said that the committee should adjourn indefinitely to give room for further consultations with the government.
“We view his supposed pronouncement with great concern, suspicion and outrage.
“This new antic certainly is not acceptable to Nigerian workers, who had expected a New National Minimum Wage since 2016,’’ he said.
However, some of the workers, who spoke with NAN on Thursday in Abuja expressed disappointment over the way and manner government was handling the issue.
Salisu Umar, a civil servant, berated the federal government for obvious lack of concern to the plight of workers.
He said it would be outright lack of feelings for Nigerian workers not to heed the call for increased wage in the face of harsh economy.
Mr Umar called on the NLC not to rest on its oars in the pursuit of a new minimum wage, adding that whatever action the union resolved to take to press home their demand would receive the support of workers.
Another worker, Dorcas Abulu, called on the NLC to put the federal government on its toe until the national new minimum wage was approved.
She noted that prices of goods and services had skyrocketed, adding that workers could hardly afford the basic needs of life because of inflation.
Ms Abulu said the NLC should not succumb to intimidation or be compromised on the negotiation processes, adding that nothing must be done against the interest of Nigerian workers to get a new wage.
Aderinola Kemi, also a civil servant, urged NLC to ensure that they were not deceived with promises of implementation after the 2019 general elections.
She said that election time was the best period to force the federal government to implement the new wage, adding that no political party would want to jettison its workers’ demand during electioneering.
Another worker, Issa Kamar, said the NLC should make good its threat by taking prompt action at the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum, adding that the workers were fully behind it.
Others, who spoke with NAN, were unanimous in their support for any action taken by the NLC that would favour the workers and force the Federal Government to return to the negotiating table.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had on May Day while addressing Nigerian workers at the Eagle Square said the implementation of the new minimum wage would begin in September.
Also, the NLC president had on September 10 said both the government and labour agreed that the September timeline must be respected.
According to him, the NLC is committed to respecting the timeline and that is why we left everything we are doing to do the needful to be able to do a good job.
On Thursday, September 6, when the policemen protecting law are now dispersing the rioters using teargas canisters and gunshots.
Meanwhile, Sources had reported that one of the numerous presidential aspirants of the opposition PDP, Taminu Turaki, and Benue Governor Samuel Ortom submitted their nomination and expression of interest forms for the general elections.
Turaki, a former minister of special duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, who submitted the completed forms on Wednesday, September 5, explained that all the aspirants agreed to support whoever emerges as the party’s candidate in 2019 presidential election.
He said that the aspirants were motivated by the assurances of the party leaders to conduct credible primaries. Turaki, represented by the spokesman of his campaign organisation, Sola Atere, said he would not step down for anybody but would support anyone that emerges as PDP.
In a related development, a former president of the Nigerian Senate, Senator David Mark, joined other aspirants on the platform of the PDP in the race for the 2019 presidential election.
James Oche, the co-coordinator of Door2Door, a support platform for Mark, confirmed the development on Monday, September 3. Oche added that his boss had carried out a nationwide consultation before reaching the decision to join the battle.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, said it will commence the sale of expression of interest and nomination forms to its aspirants for the 2019 elections today (Wednesday).
The ruling party, in a statement by its acting National Publicity Secretary on Tuesday, disclosed that the sale would end on September 10.
It said a presidential aspirant would pay N45m, as against N55m fixed by the party last week.
With the sale of the forms closing on Monday, it means those seeking elective posts on the platform of the APC have six days to pay the fees.
According to the party, “each presidential aspirant will pay N5m for expression of interest form and N40m for the nomination form.”
For a governorship aspirant it would be “N2.5m for expression of interest form and N20m for nomination form making it N22.5m.”
“For a senatorial ticket, an aspirant will pay N1m for the expression of interest form and N6m for a nomination form.
“The House of Representatives aspirant will pay N3.85m, including N350,000 for the expression of interest form and N3.5m for the nomination form.
“A House of Assembly aspirant to pay N850,000, including N100,000 for the expression of interest form and N750,000 for the nomination form.”
The party, however, announced a 50 per cent discount for female and physically challenged aspirants.
Recall that in 2014, those who sought the presidential ticket of the party paid N27m for both forms (expression and nomination).
Incumbent governors, who ran for a second term paid N10.5m, while fresh aspirants paid N5.5m.
Incumbent senators paid N5.3m, while fresh aspirants paid N3.3m. Members of the House of Representatives, who sought re-election, paid N3.2m, while fresh aspirants coughed out N2.2m. In the 36 states, sitting lawmakers in the Houses of Assembly paid N800, 000, while fresh aspirants paid N550, 000.
Meanwhile, the APC on Tuesday stated that its nationwide congresses to elect delegates would be held on September 12, while on September 13 and 14 appeals arising from the congress would be heard.
It added that from September 15 to September 18, aspirants who had purchased forms would be screened.
On September 19 and September 20, there will be appeals arising from the screening of aspirants to various posts.
According to the APC, its presidential primary would hold on September 20 and its appeals on September 22.
It added that it would hold its governorship primaries on September 25 and its appeals on September 26 and 27.
The APC will hold its senatorial and House of Representatives primaries from September 27 to September 29, while state assembly primaries will take place on October 2.
The Nigeria Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in a letter to Premium Times (PT) replies former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar who criticises his comments on restructuring the country.
However, below is Atiku’s comments on Prof. Osinbajo’s remarks on restructuring.
“It is a surprise that the Vice President would take such a position and, in particular, fail to appreciate the connection between Nigeria’s defective structure and its underperformance,” he wrote.
“It is unhelpful to reduce the construct of “Restructuring” to a geographical concept as VP Osinbajo does, which in itself demonstrates a lack of appreciation of the core tenets of the concept.”
Prof. Osinbajo’s replies to Atiku is obtained through a letter sent to PT’s Editor-in-Chief.
RE: OSINBAJO GOT IT WRONG ON RESTRUCTURING – ATIKU
Kindly permit me a response to a piece in your publication, titled “Osinbajo got it wrong on Restructuring,” written, we are told, by my illustrious predecessor in office, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
First, let me say that I really would have expected Alhaji Abubakar to at least get the full text of my comments before his public refutal of my views. But I understand; we are in that season where everything is seen as fair game! He quoted me as saying that “the problem with our country is not a matter of restructuring… and we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into the argument that our problems stem from some geographic re-structuring”.
Yes, I said so.
As the quote shows, I rejected the notion that geographical restructuring was a solution to our national problems. Geographical restructuring is either taking us back to regional governments or increasing the number of States that make up the Nigerian federation.
As we all may recall, the 2014 National Conference actually recommended the creation of 18 more States. And I argued that, with several States struggling or unable to pay salaries, any further tinkering with our geographical structure would not benefit us.
We should rather ask ourselves why the States are underperforming, revenue and development wise. I gave the example of the Western Region (comprising even more than what is now known as the South West Zone), where, without oil money, and using capitation tax and revenues from agriculture and mining, the government-funded free education for over 800,000 pupils in 1955, built several roads, farm settlements, industrial estates, the first TV station in Africa, and the tallest building in Nigeria, while still giving up fifty percent of its earnings from mining and minerals for allocation to the Federal Government and other regions.
I then argued that what we required now was not geographical restructuring but good governance, honest management of public resources, deeper fiscal Federalism, and a clear vision for development.
On the issue of deeper fiscal Federalism or restructuring, I explained how the then Lagos State Government, led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, decided to fight for greater autonomy of States.
As Attorney-General at the time, it was my duty and privilege to lead the legal team against the then Federal government, in our arguments at the Supreme Court. I am sure that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would remember these cases on greater autonomy for States that I cite below, as he was Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the time.
At the Supreme Court, we won several landmark decisions on restructuring Nigeria through deeper fiscal federalism, some of which are late converts to the concept, now wish to score political points on.
It was our counter-claims alongside those of other littoral States, that first addressed so comprehensively the issue of resource control. We agreed with the oil-producing States that they had a right to control their resources. We argued, though unsuccessfully, that the Ports of Lagos were also a resource, which should enable Lagos State, in the worst case, to be paid the derivation percentage for proceeds of its natural resources. Years later, we also filed an action at the Supreme Court arguing that the Value Added Tax, being a consumption tax, should exclusively belong to the States.
On the issue of who, between the Federal and State governments, should have authority to grant building permits and other development control permits, the Supreme Court, by a slim majority, ruled in our favour. It held that, even with respect to federal land, States had exclusive authority to grant building or other developments control permits.
In 2004, we created 37 new local governments in Lagos State. We believed that we had a Constitutional right to do so and that in any event, a State should have a right to create its own administrative units. Several other States joined us and created theirs.
The Federal government’s response was to seize the funds meant for our local governments, thus strangulating States like Lagos, which had created new local governments. We challenged this at the Supreme Court. The court held that the President had no right under the Constitution to withhold or seize funds meant for the States. The allocations were not a gift of the Federal Government to the States. They were the Constitutional right of the States and local governments.
The court also agreed that States had a Constitutional right to create local governments, pursuant to section 8 of the Constitution, but that the creation remained inchoate until the National Assembly, by resolution, amended the existing list of local governments to capture the newly created LGs.
In response, we created by State Law, Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), to accommodate the newly created Local Government Councils until such a time as the National Assembly would complete the process. But the Lagos State Government took up the challenge to re-engineer its revenue service, making it autonomous. With innovative management, tax collection in Lagos became more efficient, and tax revenues continued to grow geometrically. Today, the State earns more IGR than 30 States of Nigeria put together!
Further, we contested the attempts of the then Federal Government to create supervisory authority over the Finances of Local Governments by the signing into law of the Monitoring of Revenue Allocation to Local Governments Act, 2005. The Supreme Court also ruled in our favour, striking down many provisions of the law that sought to give the Federal government control over local government funding.
I have been an advocate, both in court and outside, of fiscal Federalism and stronger State Governments. I have argued in favour of State Police, for the simple reason that policing is a local function. You simply cannot effectively police Nigeria from Abuja. Only recently, in my speech at the Anniversary of the Lagos State House of Assembly, I made the point that stronger, more autonomous States would more efficiently eradicate poverty. So I do not believe that geographical restructuring is an answer to Nigeria’s socio-economic circumstances. That would only result in greater administrative costs. But there can be no doubt that we need deeper fiscal Federalism and good governance.
Alhaji Atiku’s concept of restructuring is understandably vague because he seeks to cover every aspect of human existence in that definition. He says it means a “cultural revolution”. Of course, he does not bother to unravel this concept. He says we need a structure that gives everyone an opportunity to work, a private sector driven economy. Yes, I agree. These are critical pillars of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), including our Ease of Doing Business Programme.
If, however, this is what he describes as restructuring, then it is clear that he has mixed up all the issues of good governance and diversification of the economy with the argument on restructuring.
Good governance involves, inter alia, transparency and prudence in public finance. It involves social justice, investing in the poor, and jobs for young people; which explains our School Feeding Programme, providing a meal a day to over 9 million public school children in 25 States as of today. Our NPower is now employing 500,000 graduates; our TraderMoni that will be giving microcredit to 2 million petty traders; our Conditional Cash Transfers giving monthly grants to over 400,000 of the poorest in Nigeria. The plan is to cover a million households.
Surprisingly, Alhaji Atiku leaves out the elephant in the room – corruption. And how grand corruption, fueled by a rentier economic structure that benefits those who can use political positions or access to either loot the treasury or get favourable concessions to enrich themselves. This was the main part of my presentations the Minnesota Town Hall meeting.
In arguing for good governance, I made the point that our greatest problem was corruption. I pointed out that grand corruption, namely the unbelievable looting of the treasury by simply making huge cash withdrawals in local and foreign currency, was the first travesty that President Buhari stopped.
I showed the OPEC figures from oil revenues since 1990. In four years from 2010 to 2014, the PDP government earned the highest oil revenues in Nigeria’s history, USD381.9billion. By contrast, the Buhari Administration has earned USD121 billion from May 2015 to June 2018, less than 1/3 of what Jonathan Administration earned at the same period in that administration’s life. Despite earning so much less, we are still able to invest more in infrastructure than any government in Nigeria’s history. The difference is good governance and fiscal prudence.
In the final analysis, restructuring in whatever shape or form, will not mean much if our political leaders see public resources as an extension of their bank accounts.
The former Governor of Delta State, Chief James O. Ibori has debunked the statement credit to him in a recent report titled “PDP sent me to jail, APC released me’’ Ibori plans defection”.
In a response to a text message sent to Chief Ibori’s spokesperson, Tony Eluemunor, he replied “Did APC release him? That’s a proof that that phrase could never have come from Ibori”.
It will be recalled that some online mediums reported that sources close to Chief James Ibori , a two-time former governor of Delta State hinted that all was now set for him to dump PDP for APC in the next few days, as a source who did not want to be mentioned in the print, quoted Ibori as saying: “PDP send me to jail, APC released me. We are taking steps very soon”.
Ibori, as at the time of filing this report, remains a member of the opposition PDP.
The Nigerian Presidency has debunked rumors that Governor of Lagos state, Akinwunmi Ambode has defected from the All Progressives Congress, APC to the Peoples Democratic Party; PDP.
Last Week, the Lagos State governor was reported to have been in a closed-door meeting with his political aides and executive council members to take a crucial decision as to whether to remain in the APC or forge ahead with another party, as the primaries draw nearer.
It was reported also that Ambode may want to leave the party because Bola Tinubu, the party’s national leader and a former governor of Lagos may have withdrawn his support from Ambode’s re-election bid.
The reports claimed that Ambode might move to the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) or Action Democratic Congress(ADC), both of which are part of the Coalition of Political Parties(CUPP).
However, President Buhari’s aide on new media, Bashir Ahmad has said the Lagos State governor has debunked such claims. According to Ahmad, when he told Ambode that rumours of his defection were rift on social media, the governor said “‘I’m here in Beijing in president Buhari’s entourage.”
The Federal Government is putting the sum of N500 billion into wealth creation and poverty alleviation, Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has said.
Osinbajo said this as he participated in the question and answer session of the 58th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association on Tuesday at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
The theme of the four-day conference is “Transition, Transformation and Sustainable Institutions”
He said that it was in recognition of the menace of poverty that the Federal Government rolled out the National Social Investment Programmes aimed at improving capacity and alleviating poverty.
“We started off in 2016 looking at a budget that was crafted differently; all along if you look at the way we have approached economic policies, it has always been the case of top-down approach.
“So, we look at how to improve industry; how to improve manufacturing; we look at how to give loans to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises.
“The approach we adopted in 2016 was first to create a safety net; so for the first time, we put in the budget a line for what is called NSIP; that is N500 billion for NSIP and that is the largest of its kind in the history of the country.
“The N500 billion covers conditional cash transfer to the poorest; one million of the poorest; we work with the World Bank for special coverage to determine the beneficiaries.’’
He said that the Federal Government targeted 5 million poor people but was hindered by scare resources
Former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode has reacted to a statement attributed to President Donald Trump that Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari was ‘Lifeless’.
FFK, in an article titled “a Word for the Lifeless One” wrote;
The greatest threat to national security and the national interest is a President that cannot appreciate the sanctity of the rule of law and the sacrosanct nature of the constitution.
If this rhetoric of national interest and national security being more important than the rule of law continues it will have grave, disasterous and cataclysmic consequences for our country. It will lead to strong resistance, subversion of the state, conflict, war and the disintegration of Nigeria.
This is because we are not prepared to live in or accept the imposition of a totalitarian police state where dissent, opposition, free speech, human rights and civil liberties have no place.
This is Nigeria where freedom flourishes and where democracy thrives and not Saudi Arabia or North Korea where it is dead.
Martin Luther King said “if you are not prepared to die for something then you are not fit to live for anything”.
He said “If we are wrong, justice is a lie and love has no meaning”.
Every Nigerian was born free: we will not allow anyone, including a lifeless President, to turn us into slaves.
The only things that we have asked for and are insisting on are the preservation of our liberty and cherished values, the right to an unhindered and unencumbered life and the establishment of an equitable, multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-religious modern and plural nation-state in which there are no masters and servants and in which every man, woman and child is regarded as being equal and having equal opportunities regardless of his or her faith, ethnic nationality and circumstance of birth.
We insist on the establishment of a nation in which we are free to make our own choices and in which our respect, pride, sense of self-worth and dignity are guaranteed and preserved. Anything less than that is unacceptable.
We hear the threats and boastful words of those that are in authority today, that control the levers of power and that man the organs of state.
We see and acknowledge their awesome power to crush, kill, maim, jail and destroy those of us that they hate and that they consider to be their enemies and adversaries yet we are not intimidated and we harbour no fear.
We refuse to bow and tremble before them or to bend the knee. We refuse to be cowered or to be silenced.
Instead we challenge them do their very worse because we serve an awesome God whose name is the Ancient of Days and the Lord of Hosts, who is mighty in battle.
We defy them and laugh them to scorn because the things that we have asked for are worth fighting and, if necessary, dying for.
We would rather live as free man for a single day than live as slaves for one thousand years. And make no mistake about it: we are not alone.
We are the voices of the voiceless and the servants of truth: when we speak, we speak for millions.
When we are killed, locked away or declared missing in action, in the name of the Living God, others will rise and continue the noble struggle and glorious fight.
We cannot be deterred, we cannot be defeated, we cannot be subdued and we cannot be overwhelmed.
Ultimately, in the name of God the Great and He who holds the universe together by the power of His word, you will fall and we shall prevail.