The federal government says it has placed an order of 48 train coaches for full operation of the Abuja Light rail project.
The minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed disclosed this on Thursday during a tour of the project from Airport terminal to Idu Sub Station to Abuja metro station at the Central Business District.
The tour was a continuation of the nationwide tour of federal government projects across the country, which started in May this year with the Lagos –Ibadan standard gauge rail, which is the first leg of the Lagos- Kano standard gauge rail way.
This was followed by inspection of the erosion and flood control project in Osogbo Osun state; the dualization of Ogbomosho-Osogbo road project ; the Enugu-PH express way and second Niger bridge, among others.
The minister also stated that the federal government has set up N199 billion Infrastructure Development Fund to address the challenge of infrastructure deficit in the country.
According to the minister, government is also working to improve other sea ports in the country to decongest the notorious Apapa port.
‘‘We have just concluded a part of the Abuja Light rail project. Commercial operations have started. We have placed order for 48 coaches, which we are expecting to arrive soon to compliment the three coaches now in operation.
‘‘We are laying foundation for enduring infrastructure for generations unborn. This has left the opposition to resort to hate speech and fake news. We have joined the League of Nations in smart rail transportation,’’ he said.
As part of its commitment to close the infrastructure gap in the country, the minister stated that federal government had set up N199 billion Infrastructure Development Fund for special intervention.
The fund, according to him, would be used to fund critical infrastructure across the country without necessarily relying on the annual budgetary provisions.
‘‘This government has shown the political will, commitment to change the infrastructural decay it met on ground. One thing this government has been able to succeed in doing is setting up Infrastructure Development Fund, IDF. This is adequate provisions made by government to avoid the mistake of the past, where critical projects were starved of funds due to lack of adequate provisions. We are also working to improve other sea ports in the country.
‘‘The important thing for this administration is to continue with what we met on ground. We could have abandoned all the projects we met. But we said no. our philosophy is to build an enduring infrastructure legacy that will outlive this generation,” he stated.
On the affordability of the service, Alh. Mohammed said, ‘‘what we are doing is to test run the system. No fee is being charged for the next couple of months until we perfect the system.
‘‘Today, we are subsidizing passengers’ movements on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line by 50 percent. The idea is to create the enabling environment. We do not run it because we want to recoup the money spent but because we know it is a tool for growth.
‘‘I can assure you that whenever we start full commercial operation, it will be cheaper compared to any other form of transportation by road, air and water. It also going to be more efficient, safer and more effective.’’
Speaking on the project, the FCT Secretary for Transport, Mr. kayoed Opeifa said government has commenced full commercial operation on the project.
Of the six lots in the whole project, he said only two have been completed, while work is about to commence in lot 1B, while the remaining lots would be run on public private partnership for efficiency.
The 45 kilometer rail project comprises 13 bridges; 15 flyovers; training school; office; Lounge; parking bay; Operation Control Centre, four 460 KVA generators; food court, meeting rooms ; 21 buildings; survelance, signal and control centre among others.
On local content, the Chief Resident Engineer of the project, Engr. Anthony Agbakoba said the project has more than 95% local content, comprising about 120 Chinese expatriates and 5000-10000 Nigerians since the commencement of the project in 2009.
He said the $823 million project is meant to offer Nigerians and Abuja residents in particular, a seamless rail transportation system, the first of its kind in Nigeria and the whole of West African sub-region.
He explained that the present administration took over the project at 56% in 2015 before the recent completion and commissioning of Lot 1 A and Lot 3 last week in just 18 months after eight years of delay by the previous administration.
‘‘We intend to build capacity of Nigerians. A lot of people have been trained abroad. From what we have seen, Nigerians can make things work. beyond, the 5000-10000 so far employed, the facility in we have in place can employ over 100,000 people when completed.’’
According to him, the routes that are now running are: Abuja metro-Kukwaba 1; national park-Kukwaba (Ring Road 11); Wupa-Bassanjiwa (Airport east);-Idu- Airport, while Gbazango-Kagini (Jibi)-Dei Dei-Gwagwa-Idu routes are yet to commence .
THE wave of defection in the All Progressives Congress, APC, has hit the party in Ondo State as no fewer than three chieftains of the party are set to dump the APC for Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
A reliable source said that the former Alliance for Democracy AD, governorship candidate who recently returned to the APC, Chief Olusola Oke has commenced talks with the leaders of the PDP in the state ahead of the next governorship election in the state in 2020.
Oke, according to sources, has not fully been incorporated into the party he joined last year and was planning to opt out again for his former party.
Other chieftains in talks with the PDP in the state, according to reliable sources, include an appointee of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Chairman of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, Senator Ayo Akinyelure and a member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Bode Ayorinde.
Ayorinde represents Owo/Ose Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
He fell out with the governor after the governorship primaries in 2016 which produced him as the party candidate.
Director of Publicity of the party, Ayo Fadaka confirmed to Vanguard in Akure the looming defection set to hit the ruling party in the state.
Fadaka said that both Ayorinde and Senator Akinyelure have concluded plans to join the party in the state.
He said: “Some members of PDP that left the party after the 2015 general elections have shown the intention to rejoin the party in Ondo State.”
A dependable party source said: “I can confirm to you that, in a matter of days, Senator Akinyelure will leave the APC and return to his former party, PDP. The reasons he dumped PDP shortly after the 2015 elections no longer exists in the party.
“What is now left is for him to officially announce his resignation from APC. He has picked up his PDP membership card at his ward in Idanre. If you care to know, his membership card number is 005.
“He is seeking to return to the Senate. He has obtained his Expression of Interest form to enable him to contest for the PDP senatorial ticket. You are in this state and you know that Dr. Akinyelure is popular among the people of Ondo Central Senatorial District. People have started work for him in the state chapter of the party.”
The People ’ s Democratic Party ( PDP ) has described the call by the All Progressives Congress on Senate President Bukola Saraki to resign as the leader of the Nigerian Senate as a joke .
“ The call for Bukola Saraki to resign as the Senate president by the factional chairman of APC , Adams Oshiomhole is laughable and sickening , ” PDP spokesman Kola Ologbodiyan said .
National chairman of the APC , Adams Oshiomole on Wednesday said the right thing for the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki , is to vacate his seat after leaving the party to join the PDP .
Oshiomhole said , “ But whatever is the reason , we can defect from the party but we can ’ t defect from Nigeria. The only thing is that there are other consequential issues that every man or woman of honour who had taken such decisions would be expected to follow through .
“ I mean you should not collect a crown that belongs to a family and wear it on behalf of the family if for your personal reasons which he has enumerated that he has gone to another family , ” Oshiomole said .
But , the PDP spokesman , Kola Ologbodiyan , said the call for Saraki ’ s resignation is “ laughable and sickening ” .
Saraki , after months of speculation , dumped the ruling All Progressives Congress for his former party , the People ’ s Democratic Party on Tuesday .
“ I wish to inform Nigerians that , after extensive consultations , I have decided to take my leave of the All Progressives Congress , ” he said .
Peoples Democratic Party , ( PDP ) has alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari ’ s two -week vacation in London is a strategy designed with senators of the All Progressives Congress ( APC) to impeach senate president , Bukola Saraki and his deputy , Ike Ekweremadu .
PDP also alleged that the president ’ s departure to London is to exonerate him from the planned invasion of the National Assembly.
President Buhari announced he will be in London during his 10 – day holiday which begins August 3 to August 13 . Vice president Yemi Osinbajo will be in acting capacity pending his return .
“ President Buhari is now jetting out of the country so as to appear innocent and oblivious of the political terrors about to be unleashed on the National Assembly , ” PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbodiyan said in a statement .
“ The party is aware of plots already perfected in a meeting , on Wednesday night, between the Presidency and some compromised All Progressives Congress ( APC) senators , who are now in the minority , to forcefully reconvene the Senate with protection from security agencies, with a view to impeach Senate President Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu . ”
PDP said it “ knows that the desperation to illegally take control of the National Assembly is part of the design to undermine our democratic institutions and completely foist a dictatorial regime on our nation . ”
The party stated that the planned invasion by the presidency is also a bid to cover the “ atrocious and humongous corruption of the Buhari administration ” , which the National Assembly is set to expose.
“ It is clear that President Buhari and the APC are hugely terrified and distressed by the gale of defections from their fold and have resorted to underhand methods , threats and intimidation , irrespective of the damage being inflicting on the polity , ” Ologbodiyan said .
PDP also accused the APC and president Buhari of sponsoring the failed attempt by eight Benue House of Assembly members to impeach Governor Samuel Ortom .
Socio – Economic Rights and Accountability Project ( SERAP ) has given National Youth Service Corps ( NYSC ) seven days to clarify its exemption certificate forgery allegations leveled against Nigeria ’ s finance minster , Kemi Adeosun .
An online newspaper , Premium Times earlier claimed the minister forged her NYSC exemption certificate . But the minister is yet to respond to the certificate forgery allegation .
SERAP in a freedom of information request to NYSC Director – General , Brigadier – General Sule Kazaure demands he “ use his good offices and leadership position to urgently provide information on specific details and documents on the Exemption Certificate granted to the Minister of Finance , Mrs . Kemi Adeosun ” .
It also ask NYSC “ to provide information and documents on whether Mrs Adeosun applied for NYSC Exemption Certificate , and if she did, to clarify whether the NYSC actually granted her the Exemption Certificate , the circumstances and the provisions of the NYSC Act under which the Exemption Certificate was granted ” .
While stating the need of providing the information to determine whether forgery has was committed , SERAP urged the Nigeria’ s justice minister Abubakar Malami ( SAN) , to pursue prosecution or invite a private prosecution to step into the matter .
“ By providing information and documents on the Exemption Certificate , the NYSC would help put an end to any insinuation of complicity and show that the institution can embrace transparency and accountability in the discharge of its statutory mandates . This would in turn contribute to improved integrity and public image of the NYSC . ”
“ This will be one step in the right direction . If the information is not provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and /or publication of this letter , the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request , ” SERAP Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale said in the FOI request.
However SERAP said Adeosun remains innocent until the allegations against her are properly tested and proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of competent jurisdiction based on relevant admissible evidence .
It added that the continuing silence by the NYSC management on the matter may create an impression that an offence may have been committed , and lead to accusation that the management has something to hide .
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday reiterated his resolve to ensure that nobody was allowed to loot the country ’ s treasury.
Buhari renewed the pledge in Bauchi at a campaign rally organized to support Alhaji Lawal Gumau , candidate of All Progressive Congress ( APC) for the Bauchi South Senatorial by- election , slated for August 11 .
“ What I will never exhibit is to allow selfish politicians loot public treasury and allow the masses be cheated .
“ All what we are doing is in the interest of the people and our dear country.
“ I prayed to God to expose sycophants that are still within our party , who are bent on trying to loot our resources , ” he said .
The president said his administration had not relented in addressing the security challenges in the country, as well as placing the nation on a sound economic footing .
He therefore solicited the support of the people of the state in voting the APC candidate in the forthcoming senatorial by-election in the state .
National Chairman of the party , Comrade Adams Oshiomhole , had earlier described former members of the party that recently defected from the party , as looters .
“ This is a clear indication that some of them ( defectors) have been sharing the country’ s resources for 16 years but failed to do that in the last three years .
” Most of them are afraid of the anti -corruption crusade being waged by this administration , and are sure that most of them will find themselves behind bars .
“ There is no going back on sending those found wanting to jail , no matter how highly placed they are .
“ We are happy over such defection because we are fed up with the nefarious activities being perpetrated by them , ” the chairman said .
In his speech , Gov . Muhammed Abubakar told the gathering not to be deceived by the antics of some former leaders .
Abubakar blamed members of the National Assembly for the country’ s under -development , adding that he was happy that “ most of them are leaving our party . ”
He called on the electorate , especially those within Bauchi South Senatorial District , to vote for the candidate of the party during the forthcoming by- election .
In his remarks , State Chairman of the party , Alhaji Uba Nana , said the current defection saga had not affected the party in the state .
He said that instead of members defecting to other parties, APC in the state had witnessed mass influx of people from other parties.
The chairman said that 25 other political parties in the state had formed alliance with APC, to enable the party emerge victorious in the forthcoming by- election .
Gunmen have killed five persons in two separate attacks in Rivers State .
The attacks occurred at Orazi and Rumuolumeni communities in Obio – Akpor Local Council Areas of the state .
The Guardian leant that the unknown gunmen , around 9 : 30 p . m . on Wednesday , killed the deputy chairman of Northern Traders Association in Rivers State , and three others .
After shooting them at a close range , the gunmen were said to have walked away , leaving them in pool of blood .
A youth leader in Orazi , Favour Dike , described the killings as callous , adding that the motive for the action was yet to be established.
Dike , who lamented the sad news , said he got a call that the four persons were killed in his community .
He disclosed that he quickly informed the divisional police command in charge of the area , which deployed its personnel in the area .
He lamented the killings , noting that the victims had been good neighbours in the community .
Dike said the police promised to unravel the motive behind the killings .
Chairman of the traders association , Usman Makarfi, said the killing of his deputy and three others saddened him .
In a related development , gunmen also killed the chairman of a security team in Rumuolumeni community , Wobo Wagbara .
He was killed on Wednesday night at Okemini junction in Nkpor – Rumuolumeni .
It was gathered from community sources that he was driving home when the gunmen intercepted and shot him severally.
The Rivers State Police Command has confirmed the killings .
The state police spokesperson Nnamdi Omoni, said members of a notorious cult group invaded the community and murdered Wagbara .
H said the state commissioner of police has deployed policemen to the community to restore normalcy .
The police said investigation was ongoing to unmask the killers .
A member of the National Assembly, Sen. Mohammed Ndume, says the defection of President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is no big deal.
Ndume made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said though Saraki had a level of followership, particularly in Kwara, his defection would not in any way prevent President Muhammadu Buhari from winning.
“Sarak’s defection was long expected. It is not new and it is not a big deal.
“His movement will not affect the fortune of the President, lawmakers and any politician for that matter. Our fortunes is in the hands of God and not man.
“I remember a former Vice President in PDP who decamped to another party to pursue his political interest, so it is not new.
“It is not that Saraki is not relevant but I do not think anybody is indispensable.
“The defection will not affect APC’s victory in any way because most of the people have claimed that they are being forced out.
“If they are forced out it means they are not truly indispensable,” Ndume said.
On the spate of defection from the ruling party across the country, he said it would not affect the President’s chance of winning in 2019.
“We all know that President Muhammadu Buhari as a candidate is a big factor, to the extent that most of us need him more than he needs us.
“So if we move from one party to another without Buhari in the calculation, the tendency is that we stand to lose.
“Saraki no doubt is an important factor but where, in Kwara and even in Kwara you cannot say that Saraki can make Buhari lose election.
“For other seats I cannot bet but I can bet that Saraki cannot determine the electoral fortune of Buhari.
“For others who are leaving especially those in the core North. They need Buhari more than he needs them.
“Many of us won election because he added value to our electoral fortune,” he said.
The lawmaker stressed that the APC was not perturbed in view of the fact that there would also be defections from other parties to the party.
While admitting that the defection to other parties would deplete the number of legislatures in ruling party, he said it would not cause collateral damage.
“When you talk of those who defected to APC in 2014, I was one of them and I am still in APC, same for others like Abdullahi Adamu and Adamu Aliero are still in the party. I can keep listing their names,” Ndume said.
He said the APC is still in the majority in the Senate in spite Saraki’s defection.
“The APC is in the majority,’’ Ndume said.
They said: “Saraki cannot run to another party with the crown of APC. Nobody in the APC will be surprised about the development, in fact they have stayed little bit longer than we thought. Last week the Kwara State Governor was alluded to have said he was leaving but he didn’t say when. So, we are not surprised at all.
“But these are what I might call temping moments because I had faced similar situations in my state, when people were leaving. But the beauty of democracy is that whether big or small, it is one man one vote, on election day, no difference between a senator, a president, a journalist and any other person.
“In a sense we have to accept that once a couple for any reason or the other find that they are not compatible, the only honourable thing is to go.
“I was happy for one thing that the senate president as a mark of honour accepted that he is leaving not because the new leadership did not make effort, he admitted that not only did I do everything possible along with the Vice President, along with some governors and we had meeting with the President, but he argued that those efforts came too late. But I couldn’t have started acting before i was born.
Lai Mohammed, minister of information, says Senate President Bukola Saraki slowed down the progress of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Mohammed said this on Wednesday while briefing state house correspondents after the weekly federal executive council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the council chamber of the presidential villa in Abuja.
On Tuesday, the senate president and Abdulfatah Ahmed, governor of Kwara state, defected from the ruling party to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Mohammed, who is also from Kwara, said Saraki behaved like a member of the opposition party while in APC.
He said the party stands to lose nothing with his defection but would rather heave a sigh of relief.
“If Senate President Bukola Saraki were not a member of the APC, the party and the government it leads could not have suffered more than they had already done, with regards to the delay in passing the budget, approving key appointments and so on,” he said.
“In other words, Saraki has behaved all along as a member of the opposition, deliberately slowing down the progress of the APC-led federal government.
“It is therefore neither a surprise nor a blow that he has defected. Perhaps, the only surprise is that when he eventually defected, it was a mere whimper!
“If we didn’t gain by having our member as Senate President, we stand to lose nothing by losing him.”
The defection of Abubakar, who has been at loggerheads with his boss, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, was confirmed by the PDP on its Twitter handle and in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.
Abubakar had accused Ganduje of voting state resources to remove him from office.
He also alleged that his life and those of his family members were in danger, especially with the withdrawal of some of his security aides.
He said his office was also being disrespected and that he was still occupying his private house instead of official residence.
Responding to the allegations on Wednesday, the Commissioner for Information and Culture in Kano State, Muhammad Garba, said Abubakar was too insignificant for the state government to vote money to fight.
Garba, who spoke after the Kano State Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, said Abubakar was at the meeting with more security details.
He said it was the choice of the deputy governor for him to be operating from his personal house, adding that the fund for the construction of the official residence was being handled by Abubakar.
The deputy governor defected to the PDP after this.
A governorship aspirant in Delta State on the platform of All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Osiobe Okotie, yesterday, said those that defected from the party to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and other political parties are people that have skeletons in their cupboards.
Addressing newsmen at Osubi Airport near Warri, where he was welcomed from vacation from the United States of America by his supporters, Okotie said: “Anybody that is defecting from APC today does not mean well for Nigeria and is bound to fail.
“Integrity is what will deliver Nigeria. It is high time we stopped glorifying thieves. The future of Nigerians matters. Nigerians travel to Dubai, US, and Europe. Can’t we build Nigeria to look like Europe or America and people will come here to visit us and we would be making money the way these countries are doing?
“Those who are defecting today are people who have skeletons in their cupboards. Business is not done as usual, they are not comfortable, there are many blockages. We have the TSA account just one account, now a lot of wastage has been stopped, a lot of stealing has been stopped.
“Some people are into politics because of what they want to make, how they want to satisfy their individual needs and abandon the need of the people.
“This is a case of light and darkness and light will overwhelm darkness because there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said the growth in the telecommunications in can be sustained through the provision of pervasive broadband access that will further boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Currently there are about 162 million active mobile connections and over 100 million internet users, with teledensity standing at over 116 per cent, as at May this year, a development that NCC has described as impressive.
Speaking at the 2018 ICTEL Expo organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in Lagos recently, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said the next frontier to deepen digitisation globally is through the development of broadband, otherwise known as high-speed internet access.
According to him, the NCC will continue to promote the development of broadband in Nigeria in order to sustain the growth and gains of telecommunications in today’s digital era.
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Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, Consumer Affairs at NCC, Mrs. Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, said: “Nigeria has an auspicious target to achieve 30 per cent broadband penetration by the end of the year in line with the National Broadband Plan (2013-2018), and I am happy to inform the public that despite teething challenges, we have so far hit 22 per cent threshold of the 30 per cent broadband target.”
“With telecoms’ contribution to Nigeria’s GDP currently standing at over nine per cent, it is expected that ubiquitous broadband access will further deepen the contribution to GDP. More access to telecoms/broadband access means more contribution to GDP, but less access means lower contribution to GDP. With better and wider access coverage, the contributions of telecoms to GDP will move from 9 per cent to a little over 10 per cent,” Danbatta said.
He explained that the realisation on the centrality of broadband to enhancing digital life, which comes with a lot of benefits for individuals and corporate organisations, has informed the decision by the current leadership of the NCC to put broadband penetration topmost on the ladder of its 8-Point agenda.
Danbatta said the ongoing licencing of wholesale Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) in geopolitical zones to complement existing infrastructure on an Open Access Model (OAM) basis, the development of framework on spectrum trading, formulation of policy on national roaming and active engagement of stakeholders and state governments to remove impediments to telecoms infrastructure deployment by operating companies in their states, are among regulatory interventions, aimed at accelerating the digital ecosystem.
Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday announced he will begin a “ 10 working days holiday ” from August 3 to August 13 .
“ President Muhammadu Buhari begins a 10 working days holiday from August 3 , 2018 . ” special adviser to Buhari on media , Femi Adesina said in a statement .
He said the president ’ s holiday is “ In compliance with Section 145 ( 1 ) of the 1999 Constitution , a letter has been transmitted to the President of the Senate, and the Speaker , House of Representatives to that effect .
“ While the President is on vacation , the Vice President will be in acting capacity as President.
“ President Buhari will be in London for the holiday . ” Adesina said .
A socio – cultural / political group , Ndigbo People ’ s Assembly , has declared its support for the presidential ambition of Chief Alfa Muhammed Oliver Balogun ( MO come 2019 .
The group said that Balogun has the depth and capacity to lead and drive Nigeria forward and also restore the nation on the path of peace and development .
The Assembly ’ s chairman , Chief Hyginus I. Ghaboh , disclosed the group ’ s position in his remarks during a courtesy visit to the presidential aspirant in Abuja .
He described the spate of killings in the country by bandits as unacceptable , adding that it can only be tamed by a truly competent and patriotic leader .
He added , therefore , that the cap fits Chief Balogun , who he described as “ a man with outstanding qualities whose great achievements in his state and the country at large cannot be overemphasised . ”
He noted that the Ndigbo People ’ s Assembly bemoaned the state of affairs in the country , saying that it clearly shows “ the gross failure ” of the Muhammadu Buhari led APC Federal Government to carry out the primary function of government which is the security of lives of its citizens .
“ President Buhari and the APC have exhibited a total lack of capacity and knowledge to in basically every state of the federation.
“ We are now more divided as a country than we were during the dark day of civil war . Our country is filled with rivers of blood flowing into the Atlantic Ocean , yet our government is not taking action ” said the statement.
“ For us to rebuild our economy and reunite our country , we have decided to support AlfaBalogun to steady the ship with radical transformation and political stability of our nation , ” he said .
Meanwhile , the Congress of Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria has honoured a renowned business /Trado -medical practitioner , Alfa Muhammed Oliver Balogun for his contribution to nation building and youth empowerment .
A press statement issued in Abuja yesterday and signed by Dr . Obu O . 0 Obu , and Comrade Chidi Leo , the group ’ s national chairman and public relations officer respectively described Chief Balogun who is the Oba – Alamo 1 of FCT , Abuja as ‘’ an epitome of hard work , dedication and dignity in service to society . ’’