Saraki should resign as Senate President — Oshiomhole

The Federal Government in its first formal response to the gale of defections from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday described the exit of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, as a good riddance that would remove obstacles to the delivery of good governance.
The government’s reaction was articulated through the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Saraki as Senate President slowed down governance — Lai Mohammed
Speaking after the regular Federal Executive Council, FEC meeting, Alhaji Mohammed said: “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.
“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.”
On the effect on Kwara politics, he said: “Realising this, the true APC members in the state have come together to strengthen the party, open its doors to new members and reposition it for the 2019 elections, with a view to delivering Kwara to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“This was what we did this past weekend, and you saw the way the people reacted. Yet, what happened at the weekend was not even a rally. It was a consultative stakeholders’ meeting. And it was a defining moment for the millions of Kwarans seeking political direction and emancipation.
“Thankfully, the national leadership of our party has hearkened to our demands by dissolving the exco and constituting a caretaker committee.
“That offers a fresh start for the APC in Kwara. No one tree, no matter how big, can make a forest. Every Kwaran is important in the emerging political dispensation in the state, and it is the realisation of this new dawn that has set the state agog for the APC.”
He said that with the defection of the Senate President, “Kwara State is now breathing the air of relief. The future of the party in the state can only get better.”
‘Query to Saraki, an afterthought’
Meanwhile, chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim (PDP, Kwara South), yesterday described as an afterthought and an academic exercise the query purportedly issued to Saraki by the APC leadership.
Ibrahim in a statement said Saraki didn’t need to answer a query that had become redundant and overtaken by events.
“All Senators who have defected from APC did so on their own free will. As matured men and women, we took the decision to leave the APC by ourselves.
“We did so because we felt that the party no longer represents the ideals that we once fought for. The Senators are political leaders in their own rights, and they represent their different senatorial districts. So, it is preposterous for the APC leadership to be writing that Dr. Saraki should be held responsible for the decision of my colleagues concerning their political careers.
“Is it Saraki that caused the antagonism between Sen. Suleiman Hunkuyi and Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai which led the Senator to defect? Is it Saraki that caused the problem between Kogi Governor and Sen. Dino Melaye when the party appeared helpless in calling the governor to order as he moves to annihilate the Senator who contributed so much to his election? Is it Saraki that compelled a man of Sen. Abdullahi Danbaba of Sokoto’s standing to defect? Is it Saraki who forced Sen. Monsurat Sunmonu from Oyo State to defect? Can Saraki be blamed for Sen. Abdulazeez Murtala Nyako’s defection after the Senator had complained about the lack of equity and inclusiveness in the APC in Adamawa State? One can give so many examples to demonstrate how the non-commital leadership of the APC looked on, without taking action to stop the sorry state of affairs that made the gale of defections inevitable.
“With regard to allegations on the conduct of proceedings in the National Assembly in general, and the Senate in particular, it should be noted that the Senate is a body of equal members and the Senate President is only primus inter pares , first among equals. The Senate President cannot impose any decision on the entire body. Meanwhile, the APC was yesterday seeking to downplay the significance of the defections saying the defectors were entitled to their freedom of expression even as it challenged them to ensure that they allow such in their respective.
In a statement Wednesday in Abuja, Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena said the ruling party “is neither distracted nor surprised by the defection of Senate President Bukola Saraki; Governors Abdulfatah Ahmed and Aminu Tambuwal of Kwara and Sokoto states; National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi; and others from the party.
“To our members in Kwara, Sokoto and the other 34 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory FCT, remain steadfast and courageous. Encourage one another in our streets teeming with APC members and supporters from North to South, and East to West,” he added.
PDP, Atiku, Turaki welcome Tambuwal, Abubakar, others
Reacting to the wave of defections yesterday, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has welcomed to its fold Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and Kano State deputy governor, Professor Hafizu Abubakar, following their defection from the All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday.
The party in a statement issued by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, described Governor Tambuwal’s decision to quit the ruling party as courageous and patriotic, adding that his choice of PDP portrayed him as a statesman who puts the interest of the nation above all.
“In welcoming Governor Tambuwal, the PDP notes that he had continued to conduct his activities in strict adherence to democratic principles, both as former speaker of the House of Representatives and executive governor of Sokoto State.
“The party has no doubt that Tambuwal will, indeed, contribute immensely towards the rebuilding of our dear nation on the platform of the PDP,” the statement read.
While lauding Tambuwal’s return to the PDP, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, described the party as the genuine home of democracy in Nigeria.
He congratulated Governors Tambuwal and Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, Abubakar and Nigeria’s Ambassador to South Africa, Alhaji Ahmed Ibeto, for teaming up with like minds on “the mission to rescue Nigeria.”
A statement from his media office noted that when in December 2017, Atiku urged the APC to embrace the true tenets of democracy or lose its soul, he was greeted with hostility and his warnings were scorned.
“At that time, Atiku had warned that without justice, there could be no unity and without internal democracy there could be no internal cohesion,” the statement read.
Similarly, PDP presidential aspirant, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, SAN, called on the party to provide all defectors with a level playing ground to pursue their aspirations.
Turaki described the PDP as the biblical Noah’s Ark in which you either get on board or get drowned, he was quoted as saying in a press statement issued by the director of media of his campaign organisation.
He assured those defecting that the National Executive Committee of the party, led by the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus had enthroned equity and justice which have made members to be proud of the party.
He said: “The party needs a candidate with integrity, credibility, education, knowledge and capacity to lead, in addition to being a bridge builder who will bring hope and strengthen the unity of the country besides enjoying the trust and confidence of the people.
S-West PDP welcomes defectors
Meanwhile, the South-West leadership of the PDP has formally welcomed the defectors to the party saying that Nigeria has been wobbling and dangerously perching on a precipice, thereby necessitating the need for patriots to depart from the APC to join their compatriots in PDP to salvage the nation from the vicious grip of those it termed as mediocre currently oppressing the nation. The statement was signed by Mr. Ayo Fadaka, zonal spokesman of the PDP.
Meanwhile The PDP last night, hosted the defectors to a dinner at the Transcrop Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

Nigerian Govt intensifies effort to tackle Apapa gridlock

The Nigerian Government has intensified efforts to resolve the traffic gridlock at Apapa, Lagos, by closely monitoring progress of the Operation Restore Order.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visited the area to assess the situation.

Senor Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, said in a statement on Monday that “the 72-hour operation which is advancing in addressing the problems, had commenced last Friday evening and is now being extended for another 48 hours in order to allow for a more effective restoration.”

He said the Vice President was being briefed at regular intervals.

“Both the Federal Government and the Lagos State Government are in constant consultations, and are working with all the relevant agencies and stakeholders to comprehensively and completely tackle the challenges of Ports congestion and the traffic gridlock.

“Also, concerns arising from the operation itself, including those regarding the relocation of trucks and trailers to parks, are being reviewed and would be promptly sorted out by the relevant agencies. This is an emergency situation that necessitates some urgent measures towards a quick restoration of order.”

Akande expressed the Nigerian Government’s appreciation for the cooperation of all concerned, adding that government would do everything possible to solve the problem by not only ending the gridlock now, but also developing a Plan of Action for a permanent solution in collaboration with the State and all stakeholders.

Commercial activities to begin on Lagos-Ibadan rail gauge

The Nigerian government says commercial activities will soon commence on the Lagos-Ibadan standard rail gauge upon completion.

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said this after inspecting and assessing the ongoing project at Adunbu Village area of Ewekoro local government in Ogun State.

Mr Amaechi stated that award of contract on relocation of gas and oil pipelines in Lagos axis would be relocated in earnest so that it would not to slow down the project.

“I am pleased with the quality of work both in track laying and civil work. They have been able to do about 4 Culvets in Lagos even though they are unable to solve the technical issue but relocation of a new station will not hinder the progress of the project,” the minister said.

” The task given to the contractor, China Civil Engineering Construction Company, CCECC are in two faces, one is Ebute Meta to Ibadan while other one is Apapa to seaport. They should be able to complete Ebute Meta even though this government said all railways should terminate at seaports,commercial activities will begin from Ebute Meta to Ibadan which is the original contract. Work is progressing rapidly from Iju to Ibadan,” he explained.

Mr Amaechi said; ”Am not impressed with the tracks they had laid, though they promised to lay 3 kilometer per day and what they have laid so far was nine kilometers but they have assured us that they can lay 1.5 kilometer per day because they are dealing with bridges which is one third of the construction.”

Extension of time
Reacting to time extension of the project advocated by the contractor during inspection by the joint committee of National Assembly on land transport, the minister said the contract was for three years and does not need extension.

According to him, government is just trying to force them to complete the project within first year.

Mr. Amaechi urged the engineers working with the contractor to understudy technology and engineering aspects, to have more knowledge and understanding of the expertise.

The minister said the present administration would not jettison the local content law.

He said that Nigeria would import locomotive and coaches from Indonesia, adding that Nigerian engineers should understudy as countries like China, Indonesia and South Africa are still understudying General Electric, GE.

Benue Governor finally dumps Ruling party

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has finally ended speculations about his party by officially defecting from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Ortom made the announcement at the Benue State Government House today, Wednesday, July 25, during a meeting with local government councillors.

He was originally scheduled to attend a reconciliatory meeting with Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the APC and other leaders of the party in Abuja in continuation of the party’s efforts to convince him to stay.

However, this could not happen, as youth besieged the Government House and blocked its entrance preventing him from attending a reconciliatory meeting called by APC leaders in Abuja.

In mid-July, Ortom announced that he had been red-carded by the party and had become free to join another party of his choice. Days later, after meeting with Oshiomhole, he made a U-turn, saying he was still “flying the APC flag”.
There have been congratulatory messages both from the people of Benue and from his new party, the PDP.

Manufacturers urge CBN to reduce interest rate

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reduce its Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) from 14 percent to boost lending to the real sector.

The MAN President, Dr Frank Jacobs said the reduction would show CBN’s sincerity and seriousness in boosting lending.

Jacobs was reacting to the decision of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting of the CBN, which retained the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 14 percent, to combat inflation due to foreseen increase in government spending ahead of the 2019 elections.

The committee also retained the Cash Reserve Ratio at 22.5 percent, Liquidity Ratio at 30 percent, and the Asymmetric corridor at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR.
The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele said that the MPC was concerned with the decreased number of loans given out by Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to the real sectors of the economy.

He stated that the bank would continue to churn out policies aimed at encouraging banks to increase the flow of credit to the real sector to consolidate economic recovery.

He said that CBN would implement a framework that would incentivize the DMBs to increase lending to the manufacturing and agriculture sectors, through a differentiated dynamic cash reserve requirement regime.

“This will direct cheap long term bank credit at nine percent, a minimum tenor of seven years and two years moratorium to the employment elastic sector of the economy,’’ Emefiele said.

The MAN President queried the rationale of drafting a plan that would induce the deposit money banks to lend to the real sector at single digit rate when the controlling lending rate was 14 percent:
“It is not going to work, considering past interventions of CBN and the fact that most banks are reluctant to lend to the real sector.
“If the CBN is serious and sincere about stimulating lending to the real sector at nine per cent, it should start by lowering the MPR to accommodate such decision.”

He expressed disappointment at the retention of the rate at 14 percent since July 2016, noting that the high interest rate had hindered job and wealth creation in the economy:
“So, we may have to take a risk and lower that interest rate to a level that is obtainable in some other countries where you can borrow money at about two to four percent.”

Jacobs submitted that to spur economic growth, recovery and industrialization, funds should be made available to the real sector at five percent.

SMEs Association calls for industrial development centres

The National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASMEs) has called on the Nigerian government to transfer Industrial Development Centres (IDCs) to State governments to ensure their optimal performance and effectiveness.

The Chairman, Lagos State Chapter of NASME, Mr Solomon Aderoju, made the appeal in an interview with news reporters on Tuesday in Lagos.

In Aderoju’s view, State governments will be in a better position to manage the centres since the centres are domiciled in such States.

There are 23 IDCs in the country and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) is in charge of the centres.

The centres were established to provide industrial extension services, boost entrepreneurship skills, appraise loan applications and to help purchase and install machinery for small entrepreneurs.

The centres also conduct research into industrial products involving designs.

Aderoju noted that many of the IDCs were in a state of neglect and disrepair, thus negating their role in stimulating growth of the MSMEs sector and driving the nation’s industrialisation agenda:
“If State governments are not willing to handle it, they can give them to SME associations to oversee them.
“SME associations will handle them better because the associations know the significance of the centres to their operations.

“If we have functional IDCs, cost of production of most goods in the market will reduce, quality and standards of goods will improve and there will be easy transfer of knowledge because we are working together in a location.”
Aderoju emphasised that the centres would create more jobs, improve production of goods and boost the contribution of the sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Managing Director, Goodware Stitches Ltd, Mrs Olatundun Taiwo said equipment in the centres were obsolete:
“My factory is at the Ikorodu IDC, Lagos; the centre can still occupy about 150 entrepreneurs but right now we have less than 20 entrepreneurs using the place.

“The whole place is bushy and we have not had light since March, we have been using diesel to run our generating sets for production.”

Taiwo said having SMEs in a functional location makes it easier to identify, monitor and attract international interventions, partnerships and training.

She stressed that the rehabilitation of the IDCs would encourage and improve sustainable entrepreneurial development in the country.

Nigeria to construct refinery in Katsina

Nigeria is to construct a 150,000 barrels per day capacity refinery in Katsina State.

Minister of State-Petroleum resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu disclosed this in an interview with Journalists soon after the signing of the Memorandum Of Understanding between Nigeria and Niger Republic on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

“We are constructing a refinery from Niger Republic into a Nigerian border town in Katsina State, with a capacity of between 100,00 -150,000 barrels a day. It’s all dependent on the Niger crude volumes. Currently we have mentally structured our minds for a two-year period, to finish the work on the refinery but that depends on what we find during the technical studies,” he said.

Nigerian Minister of State-Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu

Kachikwu explained that, “Although the refinery is going to be Katsina, there is potential for an extension to Kaduna but bear in mind, this started first from a perspective of they (Niger) wanting to build a pipeline from Niger to Kaduna refinery and at the Board of NNPC we shut that down because the asset quality of the crude form Niger was not the same with our own and we would have had to take almost 90 percent of our own crude to match their own 10 percent of their crude so it just didn’t make any sense. So at that point we decided to do a refinery that is targeted at their crude.”

Private investors
Meanwhile, a Nigerian investor, Mr Ibrahim Zakari says he will spearhead the take off of the first 100 percent private driven refinery.

He announced that his company, Blak Oil, Energy Refinery, has mobilised about two billion Dollars in the oil sector.

“I think the two Presidents have already said everything. It is going to be private driven by investors. We are one of the investors who are willing to invest almost $2bn dollars. The funds are coming from abroad, US, Canada, India and the Middle East. It’s going to be a 50 thousand barrel refinery then we will scale it up to 100 thousand with the crude coming from Niger Republic,” he said.

Mr Zakari said it will take the company about five years to complete the project, which will be based in Mashi, Katsina State and will employ over two thousand Nigerian youths.

“It will create 2,500 direct employment and over 10 thousand indirect employments. It will cover not only Katsina and the North but the whole of Nigeria,” he added.

Stop distracting Adeosun over NYSC certificate, group tells critics

Critics have been advised to stop the campaign against the Minister of Finance, Mrs . Kemi Adeosun , over National Youth Service Corps ( NYSC ) exemption certificate , alleging it is a conspiracy to distract and tarnish her reputation.
The Coalition of Civil Society Groups ( CCSG ) , which gave the advice , noted that in NYSC , there is no caveat on age and time to request for exemption letter if one is above 30 years , adding that the scheme is primarily to inculcate in youths the spirit of selfless service to the nation .
In a statement signed by Emmanuel Bako , Mike Olorunfemi , Nnamdi Okoroji, Lillian Cosmas, Fred Okoliko and Bashir Abubakar after their meeting in Lagos yesterday , they urged the public to discard stories trailing the news space .
According to them , the youth service is also meant to emphasise and promote the spirit of oneness and brotherhood of all Nigerians , irrespective of cultural or social background.
They maintained that foreign graduates are not mobilised from the school of study directly but by application by interested persons .
“ To approve and exempt any person is not bound by time if the circumstances surrounding it are considered cogent by the directorate . It would be out of place to condemn the minister’ s sincere gesture for not applying for it .
“ It is based on this that we are bold to say that the hullaballoo occasioned by the media publication was done in bad faith and to cause unnecessary distraction . ”
The coalition argued that the minister is not guilty for staying back after her studies as long as the reasons for doing so are reasonable and justifiable .
“ We applaud her achievements in the Finance Ministry and urge her not to lose concentration but make more effort in properly repositioning the economy for the betterment of Nigerians. ”