FG Says Abuja Airport 57% Complete

planeThe Federal Government has again reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring the re-opening of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on April 19, 2017.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said this on Thursday during an interview with reporters in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

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runway under construction

He made the assertion after inspecting the progress of work at the facility, alongside the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed.

Mr Sirika said the rehabilitation is 57 per cent complete, reassuring air travellers that the airport will be re-opened with a new runway and a new terminal building on the scheduled date.

runway under construction
runway under construction

The assertion follows the disapproval of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation over the pace of work at the airport.

The Chairperson of the Committee, Honourable Nkiru Onyejeocha, warned the contractors to keep to the stated date of completion, noting that the Committee will not tolerate request for extension of time.

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Speaking earlier at a meeting in Lagos State, Mr Sirika said he will resign if the airport is not opened by April 19.

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He noted that the level of work on the Abuja runway in the past three weeks shows that the re-opening will be on schedule.

FG Reveals Plans To Construct Four New Runways

FG Reveals Plans To Construct Four New RunwaysThe Federal Government says four new runways will soon be constructed at four international airports in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Lagos.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this on Tuesday when he led the Minister of Information around facilities at the Kaduna International Airport.

The Minister added that the expansion of the runways at the four airports would offer more direct local and international flights, as well as eliminate delays often experienced in the course of landing and taking off of aircraft.

“There will be a second runway in Abuja. Hopefully within the next 24 months, we would have a new runway.

“And then there is a second runway in Kano (the military runway), a second runway in Lagos and a second runway in Port Harcourt,” Mr Sirika said.

The Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, on his part briefed reporters on the Federal Government’s plan of a complete makeover on some of the airports across the country.

“As a government, we’ve put in place to the best of our ability, arrangements that will ensure security and also guarantee safety of operation both on tarmac and off tarmac, and on route,” he said.

Nigeria Eases Immigration Processes To Boost Economy

Lai Mohammed, Visa Processes, Immigration Processes, NigeriaThe Federal Government has reviewed the visa processes for foreigners who wish to visit Nigeria for business and tourism purposes.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, explained in a statement that the review was aimed at removing bureaucratic bottlenecks and encouraging business travellers and tourists.

He said the measures were part of the government’s action plan for the ease of doing business, and efforts to boost tourism and the economy.

“The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has reviewed the requirements for Nigerian visas to make them more customer friendly, and details of this review are available on the NIS official website, www.immigration.gov.ng.

“Types of visas currently reviewed include Visa on Arrival (VoA) processes, Business Visas, Tourist Visas and Transit Visas,” the minister said.

Mr Mohammed hinted that business visas are available for foreign travellers who wish to travel to Nigeria for meetings, conferences, seminars, contract negotiation, marketing, sales, purchase and distribution of Nigerian goods, trade fairs, job interviews, training of Nigerians, emergency/relief work, crew members, staff of NGOs, Staff of INGOs, researchers and musical concerts.

He added that tourist visas are also available to foreign travellers who wish to visit Nigeria for the purpose of tourism, or to visit family and friends while Nigeria Visa on Arrival is a class of short visit visa issued at the port of entry.

The minister noted that the visa is available to frequently-travelled High-Net-Worth Investors and intending visitors who may not be able to obtain visa at the Nigerian Missions/Embassies in their countries of residence, due to the absence of a Nigerian mission in those countries or exigencies of urgent business travels.

He noted that other actions taken by the Immigration Service include the harmonisation of multiplicity of Airport Arrival and Departure Form/Cards into a single form for all agencies of government to save foreign visitors from the current frustrating practice of filling three different forms or more, and the decentralisation of services to the State Commands.

“Reissuance of passports for change of names due to marital reasons or lost cases have been decentralised to all State Commands and Foreign Missions to save passport holders from additional costs and inconvenience of travelling to the Service Headquarters in Abuja.

“Additional 28 offices have been opened for issuance of Residence Permits in Nigeria, bringing the issuance of Combined Expatriate Residence Permit And Aliens Cards (CERPAC) closer to the doorstep of employers of expatriates at all 36 states and FCT,” the Information Minister said.

He stated that the measures taken by NIS fit perfectly into the 60-day national action plan for ease of doing business in Nigeria which he said was recently approved by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), as well as the Federal Government’s efforts to boost international tourism.

FG Says Digital Switchover Deadline Is Achievable

Lai Mohammed, Digital Switchover, John MomohThe Federal Government has asked Nigerians not to rule out the possibility of achieving the digital broadcast switchover deadline of June 2017 set by the International Telecommunications Union.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, made the call on Thursday at a public hearing of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee set up to investigate the process of the planned digital switchover in Nigeria.

He stressed the need to review the business model inherited from the previous administration before the set deadline.

“We know it’s very ambitious but if you aim for the sky, you might at least get the ceiling.

“We don’t want to say June 2017 is unachievable, we’ll relax. But if we are able to roll out another six by May, then we know where we are,” the minister said.

The Chairman of the House Ad-hoc Committee, Representative Sunday Katung, also emphasised the importance of the digital switchover.

Deadline Implication

However, the Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and CEO, Channels Media Group, Mr John Momoh, stressed the need to place the interest of stakeholders and that of the country first.

Mr Momoh advised that Nigeria should work towards ensuring that a good switchover transition was achieved rather than emphasising deadlines.

“Again, I say that we shouldn’t be looking at deadlines. I think we should just work towards making sure that we have a very good switchover.

“When we set a deadline, we put ourselves under pressure.

“The ministry is working very well with the border states to make sure that there is no confusion in terms of interference.

“We should just be focused and see how can we transit to digital, rather than emphasise deadlines.

“Deadlines will put us in trouble,” the BON Chairman warned.

Other issues discussed at the gathering include funding and the need to have a better business model backed by a good legal framework to accommodate the transition process.

Senate Admonishes Culture, Tourism Ministries Over Revenue Generation

Federal Government Recovers Loot
Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed

The Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism has faulted the Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, for the inability of the ministries of culture and tourism to generate sizable revenue in 2016.

The committee members made the criticism on Tuesday during a budget defence session at the National Assembly in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

They noted that the culture sector which is under the Ministry of Information generated only 620,000 Naira in 2016.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, described the revenue as extremely low.

He stressed that the ministry’s officials must shore up their revenue profiles.

Mr Mohammed, however, argued that the ministry was not designed to generate revenue.

Federal Government Warns Citizens Against ‘Muslim Brotherhood’

Federal Government Warns Citizens Against 'Muslim Brotherhood'The Nigerian government says a cell of a Boko Haram affiliate, called the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ in Kogi state, is acquiring bomb-making chemicals and high-calibre weapons to perpetrate “acts of terror”, including attacks on banks, arms depots and prisons in the country.

According to a statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, intelligence monitoring showed that the cell was making frantic efforts to advance its IED-making capability through the acquisition of chemicals used for producing IEDs and aluminium powder, a fuel source for amplifying explosions.

In his words: “Further intelligence monitoring has revealed that members of the Muslim Brotherhood are planning to forcefully free their members who are in detention in Kogi, Abuja and Kaduna, including one Bilyaminu, an IED expert for the group who is now at Kuje prison,”

The minister, therefore appealed to Nigerians to be vigilant and to report any suspicious persons or movements to the appropriate authorities.

President Buhari Is Hale And Hearty, FG Tells Nigerians

Muhammadu Buhari, NigeriansThe Federal Government has urged Nigerians to disregard what it called ‘subversive messages’ about President Muhammadu Buhari’s health.

The government said the fabricated messages, being circulated via text messaging and the social media, were orchestrated by those who feel threatened by the emerging order.

In a statement on Wednesday the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, said that there was no iota of truth in the messages being circulated on the health of the President.

He maintained that the President is hale and hearty and condemned the purported reports of emergency meetings of the State Governors in Abuja or anywhere.

President Buhari watching a programme on Channels TV

Tools To Divide Nigerians

The Minister noted that “the naysayers have also resorted to the use of ethnicity and religion as tools to divide Nigerians, overheat the polity and cause panic among the citizenry, in addition to using fake news and disinformation to distort government activities”.

He said that while opposition and criticism were all part of democracy, “the crafting and circulation of subversive materials and scare-mongering are not”, warning that the full wrath of the law would be brought to bear on those who were bent on subverting the state.

“The source (or) sources of the fabricated messages are already being investigated and the authors should prepare to face the consequences of their actions.

“The emerging trend of resorting to destabilisation and scare-mongering is not unexpected, considering this government’s clamp-down on the corrupt elements in the society (and) the plugging of all financial leaks which has derailed the gravy train of the looters of public treasury and the enthronement of probity and transparency in the polity.

“While we will neither stifle press freedom nor abridge the citizens’ right to express themselves freely, whether through criticism or protests, the security agencies will neither allow any resort to violence nor a wilful subversion of the state for whatever reason,” the minister warned.

Nigeria Says Negotiations Ongoing To Release More Chibok Girls

Boko Haram, Chibok Girls, Lai MohammedThe Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, says negotiations are ongoing for the release of the Chibok girls and other abductees with the Boko Haram terrorists.

The minister also expressed optimism that the dialogues would yield the desired results in due course.

His remarks were in response to comments made by the Bring Back Our Girls group after a tour of the northeast operations.

BBOG Arrives Northeast On Guided Tour
Mr Lai Mohammed, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili and a member of the BBOG group

Although Mr Mohammed said that there was a near breakthrough in December 2016, he noted that talks were ongoing to ensure the release of the girls.

He added that the government was employing the sticks and carrot method, stressing the need for patience and perseverance on the part of Nigerians.

The minister, however, assured the citizens that the government was doing everything within its powers to ensure the release of the girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorists in April 2014 from their school in Chibok community of Borno State.

Since their abduction, less than 60 of the over 200 girls have been rescued or released.

Abuja Joins The Digital Switch Over Train

Abuja, Digital Switch Over Nigeria’s journey to full transition from analogue to digital broadcasting appears to be gaining momentum as Abuja, the nation’s capital city, joins the moving train.

Residents of the Federal Capital Territory, now have access to 30 free-to-air channels, with nearly 70 per cent local content on their television sets, following the Digital Switch Over that took place on Thursday.

According to the federal government, six more states from each of the nation’s geo-political zones will be switched over in the coming months.

The President, represented by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, said the Federal Government was also determined to ensure a seamless roll-out of the DSO in all the states of the federation because of the multiplier effect of the benefits.

“Technology is transforming our lives and livelihoods daily, in new and more dramatic ways. Perhaps more important are the doors opened by digital transition”.

According to him, the the successful launch of the pilot scheme in Jos in April, has “clearly demonstrated the gains of Digital Switch Over.

“Let me restate for emphasis that this government is irreversibly committed to meeting the June 2017 deadline for the switch over in the West African sub-region and also to the roll-out of the DSO in all the states of the federation.

With this move, the Federal Government has made good on its initial plans to launch digital broadcasting in December.

Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, had earlier stated that the process of digitization would also provide over a million jobs for Nigerian youths within the next two years.

He further stated that digitization of broadcasting offers Nigeria a lot of opportunities with multi-faceted and very far-reaching benefits especially in the areas of economics, politics, education, entertainment, science and technology.

 

Finance Minister Says Nigeria Will Be Out Of Recession By 2017

Kemi Adeosun, Finance Minister, Recession, NigeriaThe Nigerian government has assured citizens that Nigeria would be out of recession and bounce back stronger in 2017.

The government, however, cautioned the people to ensure money is spent prudently and on the right things.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, made the remarks while addressing a gathering of youths at a town hall meeting in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

She noted that several economic palliatives have been provided in the 2017 budget designed to pull Nigeria up through improved partnerships.

Mrs Adeosun asked Nigerians not to lose hope amidst the hardships, stressing that the budget would bring recovery and growth to the nation.

The inter-sectoral meeting, which took place at the Presidential Villa, was the first of its kind where youths were invited to ask questions on the economy and development at the federal level.

Seven ministers including the ministers of information, Mr Lai Mohammed; agriculture, Audu Ogbeh and that of works and housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, among others briefed the younger generation on steps taken by the government to ease the economic hardships.

Mr Ogbeh, who heads the foremost sector in Nigeria’s economic diversification plan, said $22 billion has been earmarked to support Nigerian youths interested in agriculture to make a good living in the coming year.

In his remarks, Mr Fashola noted that sabotage of the economy must stop and stressed that recovery was eminent with better labour relations, better infrastructural development plans, improved electricity supply and improved well-being of Nigerians.

This assurance is coming a day after President Muhammadu Buhari expressed optimism that the economic recession would subside by next year.

President Buhari said: “We are optimistic that the external factors that partly contributed to push our economy into recession will ebb in 2017. Until then, I regret that the resources available to fund our missions abroad will not be as robust as we would like.

“We are working hard to turn around our national economy by effectively reforming our macroeconomic environment through measures, some of which were outlined in my budget speech to the National Assembly last week”.

FG Commends Nigerians For Resilience Despite Economic Recession

lai mohammed, commends Nigerians on resilience in economic recessionThe Nigerian government has commended Nigerians for their resilience despite the tough times occasioned by the economic recession, assuring them that the government remains committed to implementing realistic policies that will reverse the trend.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, gave the commendation in Lagos in his keynote address at the 4th Commonwealth Public Relations Congress.

“We are not unaware of the harsh effects of the recession on the citizens. We share in their pains and we make no excuses as we continue to work round the clock to ensure that this tough time is quickly brought to an end. The good news is that the prognosis for a quick end to the recession is encouraging.

“As the saying goes, the recession is a bend in the road, not the end of the road. The challenge for us as a government is to turn the bend, and we are doing just that,” he said.

Mr Mohammed said that while the Buhari Administration rode to power on the crest of change, there can be no change without discomforts.

He, however, assured Nigerians that with persistence on the part of the government and perseverance on the part of the people, there was definitely light at the end of the tunnel.

“The government is investing massively in infrastructural development: roads, railways, power and creating jobs in the process, as part of efforts to pull the country out of recession,” the Minister said.

On job creation, he said 200,000 of the 500,000 jobs promised under the N-Power Volunteers Programme had already been filled and that those selected would start work on December 1.

Mr Mohammed also explained that an alternative funding of the Oil and Gas Industry Joint Ventures, which had been approved by the Federal Executive Council, would also impact positively on the economy.

”This alternative funding is set to increase the net Federal Government revenue per annum by about two billion dollars, lead to an increase in national production from the current 2.2 million barrels per day to 2.5 million bpd by 2019, reduce Unit Technical Costs from $27.96/Barrel Oil Equivalent (boe) to $18/boe and double the net payments to the Federation Account, from about seven billion dollars to over $14 billion by 2020,” he further explained.

He told the gathering that the funding mechanism would also allow the JV business to be self-fund, restore investor confidence, raise the prospects of higher investment in growth activities by the partners and arrest production decline.

Speaking on the theme of the congress “Strategic Management of Reputation Risk in an Interdependent World,” the minister outlined some of the increasing challenges confronting Public Relations Managers, especially the impact of the Social Media which has democratised the means of gathering and disseminating information, and urged participants to come up with innovative ways to surmount the challenges.

“This theme could not have been more relevant. For those of us in the business of managing government’s image. We hope the outcome of your deliberations will offer us a fresh perspective to better handle this increasingly challenging task.

“I said increasingly challenging because as we strive to project a positive image for the government and keep the citizens informed of government activities, we are constantly being forced to devise innovative ways to ensure a better, two-way communication between the government and the people”.

Lai Mohammed Defends FG’s Anti-Corruption Drive

Lai Mohammed, CorruptionAs the Federal Government’s anti-corruption fight comes under intense criticisms, the Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, has blamed corruption for Nigeria’s recession.

Mr Mohammed also insisted that the measures taken by the government were within the ambit of the law.

Speaking at a forum in Abuja on Thursday where the arrest of some judges was addressed, the Minister defended the action.

A former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, also acknowledged that the cost of corruption has brought unimaginable consequences.

He, however, noted that there should be a balance and urged the government to provide a clear blueprint for economic revival alongside the war against corruption.

A former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Nuhu Ribadu and a member of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Advisory Committee, Femi Odejide, also gave their view on the corruption fight.