The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Abubakar has urged Nigerians to brace the odds and make effort in the task of nation-building.
In a recorded message to mark Nigeria’s 60th Independence anniversary, the President of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs prayed for the nation’s prosperity and guidance and for her leaders to succeed in building a befitting nation for all Nigerians.
The Sultan admitted that there will be challenges ahead but believes that with a will and determination to succeed, Nigeria will be great as desired by the people.
The President also directed that the railway stations be renamed after Nigerians who have contributed immensely to nation-building.
President Buhari commended all who in the 33 years of its creation made the project a success urging host communities for the rail line to maximise the potential the rail line avails them.
The Federal Ministry of Transportation tweeted on Monday that President Buhari will inaugurate the Itakpe-Warri railway ancillary facility yard virtually.
The Itakpe-Warri railway line is a 276 kilometres railway line that links Warri in Delta State to Ajaokuta, in Kogi State.
The rail service has 12 stations with two located between Itakpe, Ajaokuta and Warri. They include Itakpe; Eganiy; Adobe; Itogbo; Agenebode; Uromi; Egehen; Igbanke; Agbor; Abraka; Okpara and Ujewu.
Find below the full statement released by the Presidency after the commissioning of the rail project:
AFTER 30 YEARS IN LIMBO, PRESIDENT BUHARI INAUGURATES 326 KM ITAKPE-AJAOKUTA-WARRI RAIL LINE FOR COMMERCIAL OPERATION
After more than three decades of delay, President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday inaugurated the 326 KM Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line for commercial operation as well as the ancillary facilities yard, at the recently named Goodluck Jonathan Railway Complex in Agbor (Owa-Oyibu), Delta State.
At the virtual opening of the rail line linking Itakpe to Warri, President Buhari directed the Federal Ministry of Transportation to link all the nation’s ports of origin and destination – Apapa, Tin Can, Warri, Onne, Calabar Ports- to the rail network in order to significantly improve overall transportation and economic capacities.
The President declared that his administration recognised the importance of the railway mode of transportation as a vital backbone to support industrialization and economic development.
”Accordingly, I have approved the prioritization of viable railway routes for either new rail lines or the reconstruction and rehabilitation of some, to achieve effective and efficient train services supporting the country’s trade and commerce.
”The Railway Infrastructure that I have the honour to commission today is the rail line from Itakpe via the steel town complex of Ajaokuta to Warri, and is an important link for the country’s economy as the central rail line.
”This Government has also approved to link this line further from Itakpe to Abuja, thereby, connecting the Northern Zone of the country and also extending southwards to link the Warri Ports,” he said.
The President expressed confidence that the project, which serves as a vital link of South-South geopolitical zones of the country to the Northern zones, would be completed during the tenure of this administration.
”It will link people across the cultural divides and expand the frontier of trade and commerce, which will lead to better standards of living for our citizens,” he said.
President Buhari recalled that to further give recognition to Nigerian sons and daughters who have distinguished themselves at nation-building and development, 11 railway stations and railway village were named after some deserving citizens.
He listed them as follows: Adamu Attah Station, Itakpe; Abubakar Olusola Saraki Station, Ajaokuta; Augustus Aikhomu Station, Itogbo; George Innih Station, Agenebode; Anthony Enahoro Station, Uromi; Tom Ikimi Station, Ekehen and Samuel Ogbemudia Station, Igbanke.
Others are Goodluck Jonathan Railway Complex, Agbor, Owa-Oyibu; David Ejoor Station, Abraka; Michael Ibru Station, Opara; Alfred Rewane Station, Ujevwu; and Michael Akhigbe Railway Village, Agbor
The President enjoined all Nigerians in the transportation industry, especially the railway sub-sector, to continue to support the Government in its stride to achieve other railway infrastructure projects.
He also enlisted the support of all at realizing this milestone of a functional and full-fledged central railway, after more than 30 years during which the project has suffered several setbacks and false starts.
”I implore those who work on this line to uphold maintenance and safety culture necessary for long-lasting service in this difficult terrain.
”By the same token, I urge other sectors who will be primary beneficiaries of this transportation backbone, including, the iron and steel sector, stakeholders in agricultural and mining sectors on this corridor, as well as the host communities to protect and sustain this infrastructure and maximize the benefits that could be derived from it and which is readily available at their doorsteps.
”This project will increase the volume of their trade and kickstart and resuscitate the iron and steel complexes.
”All these, I hope will improve our industrial potentials and capacities as well as boost employment,’’ he said.
President Buhari said projections indicate that the commencement of operation of the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Rail line will account for close to one million passengers annually and also unleash approximately 3.5 million tonnes capacity of freight annually that will service all off-takers on the corridor and beyond.
Congratulating the Minister of Transportation Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi and his team on successfully completing the project, the President recognized the host communities on this corridor for their patience during the long wait of over 30 years for the realization of the project.
He also commended the host communities for their cooperation during the completion of works by the Federal Government.
He assured Nigerians that his administration would continue, within available resources, to judiciously connect commercial and industrial hubs to boost trade, generate wealth, and create employment.
In his remarks, Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa commended President Buhari’s bi-partisan approach to governance, saying ‘‘it is a thing of pride and joy that this rail line was completed under your watch.’’
”Deltans are excited that this day has come,’’ he said, adding that the Ika nation is glad of the recognition accorded former President Goodluck Jonathan, in naming the railway complex in Agbor after him.
Okowa urged the private sector to take advantage of the historic corridor by establishing investments that will create jobs for locals, curb youth restiveness, and stem the tide of criminality.
”It is imperative that the Federal Government in collaboration with the States provide adequate security cover for this rail line corridor,” he said.
In his remarks, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki congratulated the President on the feat of completing the project, saying it is quite fortuitous that few days to the country’s 60th independence celebration, the President has achieved the completion of this critical infrastructure.
”For us in Edo State, we are excited that we have a few stops that have been completed and we are going to be working with you to utilise this infrastructure,” he said.
The Edo Governor appealed to the minister of transportation to extend the rail line to the industrial park in Benin City to facilitate the movement of goods to the northern part of the country.
In his remarks, Minister Amaechi said the project was fully funded by the Nigerian government, adding that 8 of the 10 stations are in the Niger-Delta/ South-South region of the country.
”There is no loan on this project, it was funded from the budget and I had the directive of the President to go and revive it and complete it as soon as possible,’’ he said.
According to the Transportation Minister, the project started under the military era in 1987 but ‘‘underwent protracted hiccups, prolonged abandonment and massive vandalisation,’’ before it was resuscitated by the Buhari administration.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has emphasised the importance of obedience to God’s word and instruction noting that they are essential for successful nation-building.
According to him, the church has its role to play in nation building. Creativity, innovation and hard work, according to him are also vital instruments which the church needs to focus on to move the nation forward.
He made this remark during a special Sunday Service at the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly in Abuja.
“It is the church that transforms everywhere. That creativity that God commanded us to do everywhere is what will change our nation. Our creativity, innovation and hard work, and this is a command. So if we obey God, our nation will change.
“There are many countries all over the world with huge resources and many other countries that have no resources. It is creativity that makes the difference,” he said.
Professor Osinbajo also asked the church to continue to emphasise the virtues of hard work and diligence particularly at a time when young Nigerians need guidance on understanding the meaning of true success.
“Sometimes when we hear what is being preached in churches it’s almost as if life is to be lived by miracles and that people don’t really need to put in any work.
“The reality is that true success is line by line, precept by precept, building block upon building block, hard work innovation, character, that’s the measure of true success and somebody has to teach that because that is what the church has always been known for.”
The Senate has passed the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill thereby giving approval for the establishment of the Nigerian Peace Corps as an agency under the Ministry of Interior.
The Bill which gives legal backing to the Nigerian Peace Corps was passed after the Chairman Senate Committee on Interior, Senator Bayero Nafada gave a presentation of the highlights of the bill prepared by the committee before lawmakers at plenary.
In his presentation, Senator Nafada noted that the establishment of the organisation would empower, develop and provide employment for the youths, facilitate Peace and Volunteerism as well as Community Services, Neighbourhood Watch and Nation-building.
The Committee on Interior is also recommending that the Nigerian Peace Corps and the National Unity and Peace Corps should be merged as one, since both formations appear the same.
Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello has applauded the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, for his significant contributions to the unity, peace, progress and development of the Nigeria, in his first decade on the throne.
In a congratulatory message to Northern Nigeria’s most eminent monarch and spiritual leader of the Muslims, Governor Sani Bello described the sultan’s ten-year reign as one filled with immeasurable activities, challenges and ultimately, overwhelming success.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Jibrin Ndace, the Governor said the Sultan has been able to bring hope and understanding where despair, desperation and uncertainty had taken hold.
He cited instances of the various initiatives and efforts made by the monarch to counter negative perception and reduce influence of ethnic-religious extremists in Nigeria via various fora, which included inviting international Joint Muslim-Christian Delegations to Nigeria.
Governor Bello also noted that, as the 20th Sultan of Sokoto, and the President of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, (NSCIA), Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar’s reign was instrumental to the establishment of Nigeria’s Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), which is championing the course for sustainable peace, security, ethnic-religious harmony among people of various faiths.
“The Sultan’s reign has brought unity and peaceful co-existence and greatly reduced mutual suspicion and tension among people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds.
“He has been able to sustain and enhance the status of the throne and wield influence that transcends the country’s borders.
“These efforts have earned the Sultan national and international recognition including joint nomination with Cardinal John Onayekan, for Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their peace-building roles,” the Governor stated.
“We are proud to celebrate a strategic leader and statesman, whose positive attitude, strong will, discipline, self-confidence and ability to manage people have been significant factors towards the progress and development of the Sultanate in particular and the country in general.
“He has clearly combined his military experience with the Sultanate leadership values in the discharge of his responsibilities,” he added.
While acknowledging the roles of traditional rulers and religious leaders in nation-building, Bello stressed the need for the government to support them by creating the right platform for them to function effectively.
The Governor prayed that the spiritual leader witnesses many more decades ahead, in good health and wisdom to continue with his “remarkable service to humanity,” by promoting mutual respect and condemning bigotry wherever it rears its head.
Sa’ad Abubakar who was a one time serving Brigadier General of the Armoured Corps, Nigerian Army, was recalled to take office as the 20th Sultan on November 2, 2006 following the demise of his brother, Muhammadu Maccido, who died in the ill-fated ADC Airline crash in Abuja.
A Nigerian lawyer, Mr Malachy Ugwumadu, says the recent cabinet shake-up showed that politics is increasingly overriding the more serious consideration of nation building.
Giving his opinion, on Tuesday as regards the cabinet shake-up in Nigeria, Mr Ugwumadu insisted that the sacking of some ministers was long overdue.
He said that the ministers were relieved of their appointments when so much had happened in the negative to undermine the democratic process.
“Quite a number of other persons that naturally would have merited the relief of appointment are still staying.
“We are wondering why the minister of petroleum should not go.
“The Supervising Minister of Education should not remain in office after the crisis in the university during the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ strike.
“This is a man who woke up one day and removed the pro-chancellor of a university. Under the act establishing all the Federal Universities in Nigeria, it is only the visitor that has the right to remove a pro-chancellor. A pro-chancellor is not a cleaner,” he stated.
There have been several comments that the former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, had done so much in the sector and should not have been removed, but Mr Ugwumadu insisted that she was only doing what she was appointed to do.
He questioned what Ms Oduah has done to give her a superlative qualification.
“If you renovated an existing airport for instance, what else would be your duty if you did not do that?”
He gave an instance of a bad landing experience he had on-board an airplane in Nigeria, insisting that the industry still had issues that Nigerians should not be excited about.
Mr Ugwumadu also mentioned the 250 million Naira armoured car scandal that is still hanging around the former minister and the shady circumstances that surrounded the investigation of the issue.
He questioned her integrity and insisted that she violated the laws of the land.
He, however, said that there were some ministers that were doing their job well, but stressed the need for political leaders to have a clear vision of what they intend to do before they come into office.
“Collectively, however, they have all failed. I do not admire anybody that is involved in this wobbling called governance.
“We do not have a president that is well wired for this job. We have seen so many people who prepared themselves for the presidency of the country and we have seen so many that came to power unprepared,” he stressed.
The lawyer said that the flip side of the issue was that the nomination that had been made by President Goodluck Jonathan was also centred on political interest and not on nation building.
“There are questions of criminal trials against one of the nominees, Boni Haruna.
“It should be done in a way that the integrity of the whole process should be seen,” he said.
He was of the opinion that the nominees should be screened based of the ministry that they would oversee.
Leader of the Patriots, Professor Nwanbueze said today in reaction to his recent visit to the President, Goodluck Jonathan, that the number one citizen of Nigeria is eligible and has a right to seek a re-election in the 2015 election and his statement concerning the president’s ambition for 2015 was purely a personal advice.
In press statement released, Professor Nwanbueze clarified what he calls insinuation by some indivicuals, that the political summit for next week is aimed at dissuading the president from contesting in 2015.
“My attention has been drawn to the insinuation that the purpose of the National Political Summit holding next week in Uyo is to take a decision to stop President Goodluck Jonathan from seeking re-election in 2015.
“This is very far from the truth. The purpose of the Uyo summit is to agree on a roadmap to stability, progress and unity of Nigeria. The entire aim of the summit is to build national consensus on how to save Nigeria.”
Having cleared the air concerning his advice to the president on 2015 elections, Professor Nwnabueze asserted that the president has every right to contest for a re-election in 2015 as he is also eligible to do so, if he wants to.
“As I said in my interview with the press yesterday, after the Patriots meeting with President Jonathan, the President is perfectly eligible to seek re-election in 2015 and he is free to do so. It is a matter in his absolute discretion to decide whether to run or not to run in 2015.
“My position in this matter is totally irrelevant. Therefore, my personal advice to him not to run is only one factor that he should take into account in deciding for himself whether to run or not to run.
“My advice is purely a personal one and not that of either the Patriots or Project Nigeria; (organizers of the National Summit) and has nothing to do with the Uyo summit as the question of election is not also a matter listed on the agenda of the summit.” he ended.
In spite of the economic and socio-political challenges facing the nation, only the resolve and willingness of Nigerians to confront the issues headlong would get us out of the woods, the Senate President, Senator David Mark has declared.
Senator Mark who stated this in his goodwill message to Nigerians to mark the nation’s 52nd independence anniversary maintained that Nigerians have the capacity to solve their problems.
Admitting the myriads of challenges with building Nigeria as a nation since its independence, the Senate President urged Nigerians to “look inwards and do the right things in conformity with our laws and customs.”
“We can adequately find solutions to our problems” he stated as he shared his optimism in overcoming the on-going challenges.
He further noted the unabated destruction of lives and property perpetrated by members of Boko Haram, ethnic militias and kidnappers, are “hitherto alien to us and is a challenge we must resolve to end.”
He stated that the nation’s lawmakers will continue to be guided by the wishes and aspirations of the citizenry and would legislate on what makes for the good of the nation at all times.
On the anticipated fourth review of the 1999 Constitution, Senator Mark expressed optimism that the exercise would be holistic and targeted towards addressing all grey areas and imbalances in the nation state so that no citizen, group or section would feel oppressed or marginalized any more.
He promised that the national assembly will cooperate with the executive arm of government by laying an effective and result oriented legislative frame work for service delivery to the people.
He however warned that the national assembly will not compromise its oversight functions in the spirit of the checks and balances.