The Federal Government has stated its resolve to assist Cross River State in realising it’s economic aspirations embedded in its proposed Deep Sea Port project and other tourism attractions through ensuring that it’s major roads are of quality standard.
Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, made the pledge while in the state on inspection of highway projects in the south-south zone of the country.
Meanwhile, the Contractor handling the project, SERMATECH NIG. LTD. has asked for more funding in order to deliver on the project as at when agreed upon.
The Project Manager, Ismon Ewah, also lamented that: “The only challenge is the funding, we have not received up to 50% of demobilization. What we have been trying to do so far is capacity and commitment which the minister has promised to address”.
Fashola, however, said that he was pleased at the level of work currently done and assured the contractor of more funding in order to meet up the stipulated time frame of delivering the project.
“Irrespective of the tough times, this administration is able to keep the contract there and we have paid some money. It will take some time to finish the road but it can now be managed”. Fashola said.
The Ogun State government has directed Julius Berger Plc to suspend the ongoing reconstruction work on the busy Lagos-Ibadan expressway during the peak traffic hours.
The government stated that with effect from Monday, August 8, the construction company should not work on the highway from 6:00am to 10:00am and between 4:00pm and 10:00pm.
The government encouraged the contractor to work full blast between 10:00am and 4:00pm and also during the night after 10pm.
The State government also expressed deep concern about the hardship being faced by Nigerians who ply the busy expressway on account of the ongoing reconstruction.
A statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Taiwo Adeoluwa, stated that the measure had become necessary, as they observed that the already bad traffic situation on the expressway had been further compounded by the increasing spate of armed robberies reported along the road.
Ameliorate Disruption To Lives
The statement read: “The Ogun State government welcomes the ongoing reconstruction works in the full realisation of the fact that this will ultimately bring greater relief to our people.
“We however, note that the effort has come with temporary pain, in the nature of perennial traffic congestion and security challenges”.
“In the past few weeks, we took two steps. We increased Police and security patrols on that axis and opened up discussions with the Federal Controller of Works, Ogun State and the contractor.
“We suggested that they should consider working late evenings and overnight in order to ameliorate the disruption to the lives of commuters on the ever-busy expressway and Ogun residents. It is a thing of regret that our suggestion was spurned,” the statement added.
Redesigning Security Architecture
The government said it made the request based on experience and recalled that before the advent of the Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s administration, armed robberies occasioned by bad portions of the road; traffic congestion caused by unruly drivers driving against the flow of traffic and tanker drivers parking indiscriminately on the median were the order of the day.
“The public will recall that we confronted these challenges headlong. We set up a task force to checkmate the excesses of the trailer drivers so much that the Governor personally led regular enforcement teams on the expressway.
“We also invested heavily on redesigning the security architecture of the state by deploying Armoured Personnel Carriers, elite Quick Response Squad (QRS), Operation MESA and the state Traffic Enforcement and Compliance Agency (TRACE).
“We have also repeatedly intervened by undertaking major repair works on bad stretches of the road, not minding the fact that it is a Federal Government highway.
“Additionally, we took responsibility for clearing traffic, maintaining security and cleaning after the departure of our monthly religious visitors,” it stated.
The government expressed delight that its efforts ultimately restored relative sanity on the road and greatly reduced robbery incidents, but noted that that was until the recent intervention by Julius Berger.
It further explained that the objective of the directive was to mitigate the man-hour losses and socio-economic disruptions occasioned by the ongoing reconstruction work.
The Ogun State government assured the road users that it would continue to monitor the situation and proactively engage the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing and the contractors, with a view to fashioning a robust intervention that would address both the security and traffic situation on the road.
They also implored the people of the state to remain calm as they work round the clock to redress the inconveniences.
The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has attributed the poor electricity supply across Nigeria to attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta region by militants.
The Minister said this on Thursday at a forum organised by members of a civil society organisation in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
Mr Fashola argued that one year was a short time for government to deliver on all its campaign promises, while giving an account of his term in office.
According to him, out of the 26 power plants built to generate electricity across the country, 23 depend on gas, lamenting that the activities of vandals in the southern region had made it impossible to power those plants.
However, some members of the civil society groups in the audience expressed displeasure with the Minister’s reason for the present condition of electricity supply in the country.
On their parts, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, insisted that the government has made progress in delivering on its promises to fight corruption, tackle insecurity and trying to fix the economy.
The Director Centre for Democracy and Development, Idayat Hassan, said the objective of the gathering was to provide an opportunity for the All Progressives Congress-led administration to give account of its stewardship in the last one year in line with its campaign promises.
The meeting is coming on the heels of the series of attacks on infrastructure in the oil rich Niger Delta region by militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, which is said to have rendered the energy sector paralytic.
The Federal Government has restated its position that there is no going back on the increase in electricity tariff in the country.
The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) at a public hearing at the Senate explained that the National Assembly has already empowered the National Electrical Regulatory Commission (NERC) to fix tariff in the country.
Officials from the labour unions in the electricity sector, who also attended the hearing, voiced their displeasure at the increase and noted that they were not consulted before the decision to increase tariff was made.
The Minister, however, insisted that the increase in electricity tariff is unavoidable if the country must enjoy steady power supply.
On its part, the Senate insisted that the Federal Government needs to urgently address some critical problems in the power sector.
On February 16 this year, the Senate at plenary asked the Minister, NERC as well as electricity distribution companies to immediately suspend the new electricity tariff that have seen charges raised by over 40 per cent.
The Senate also directed its Committee to hold a public hearing to get the views of stakeholders on the electricity tariff hike and how to move the sector forward.
Channels Television’s Linda Akhigbe reports although government is insisting that it is not insensitive to the plight of Nigerians, the hike in electricity tariff without a reciprocal increase in electricity supply in many areas in the country is a bitter pill for many Nigerians to swallow.
The Federal Government has blamed the poor state of the economy on corruption and the falling price of crude oil.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, expressed the view while speaking at a meeting with members of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).
As the administration marks its first year in office, five federal ministers held a meeting with members of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria.
The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige; Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah were part of the ministerial delegation.
Media executives listened to the ministers as they took time to explain their achievements and challenges over the past one year. The most challenging for the new administration has been the economy.
The Information Minister said that Nigeria was passing through a very a difficult time and that the road to economic prosperity would be rough. He said that if the present administration had not been elected, the country’s economy would have collapsed.
“Our economy, or whatever is left of it after years of serial mismanagement and massive corruption is in a very bad state. Throw into the mix, the huge fall in oil price and you have nothing but a disaster of an economy.
“But this government is aware that it was not elected to make excuses but to put the nation back to work,” he said.
The ministers promised that the administration would focus on tackling insecurity and fighting corruption as these are the major ways of revamping the economy.
They, however, noted that there was a backlog of issues to be sorted out, like the huge debt owed contractors, which the Power Minister explained.
“We must not allow yesterday’s misfortunes to recur again. It starts from the gradual process of failing to do simple maintenance; failing to paint or failing to clean.
“The impact of what we see today clearly didn’t start today. So if we have paid contractors, we clearly won’t have the kinds of roads that we have today.
“My meeting with contractors in Power and in Works over the last 10 days, the common thread is that they haven’t received payment for an average of three years.”
Nevertheless, the minsters reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to embarking on infrastructural development across the country.
The ministers also gave the assurance that the government would fulfil its election campaign promises to Nigerians.
President Muhammadu Buhari has granted state governments relief from the monthly deductions regarding CBN salary assistance loans, to enable the states recover fully from the current financial crunch.
Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun said this while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the National Economic Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osibanjo.
The Minister called on the state governors to submit details of their financial data to enable the government to predict how much support they would be needing.
Also, the National Economic Council is to reconstitute the board of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company with representatives from the six geopolitical zones.
The National Economic Council also adopted the national road safety strategy document to address the current overlap and streamline the role and responsibility of the road safety management activities.
The council decried the current petrol crisis in the country urging Nigerians to be patient with the NNPC as efforts are in place to get the queues out by next week.
Barely 24 hours after the Federal Executive Council meeting, another major executive meeting; the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting, has been summoned by the Presidency.
The meeting, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had most of the governors in attendance.
The meeting which ended at about 4:50PM, discussed the lingering fuel scarcity and the need for state authorities to pay salaries.
Also discussed were strategies to boost Nigeria’s reserves in the Excess Crude Account and then the power challenges in the country.
At the Federal Executive Council meeting held on Wednesday, short-term and long-term plans were made to revamp the nation’s refineries before the end of 2017 and also put an end to importation of petrol by 2019.
The FEC also said that petrol supply would be available before the end of May, with Port Harcourt and Kaduna Refineries supporting supplies.
It is expected that the ongoing National Economic Council meeting would be discussing ways to implement the plans by the Federal Executive Council.
The March retreat, according to the Vice President, was to provide a forum for in-depth discussions by NEC members of the policy actions that the states and the Federal Government could consider in order to stimulate local production, cut costs and enhance public revenues among other measures to stimulate the economy.
The NEC comprises of the 36 state governors, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and other co-opted members.
The NEC is chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) says the government is working hard to put an end to petrol scarcity before the end of May.
At the meeting of the council on Wednesday, short-term and long-term plans were made to revamp the nation’s refineries before the end of 2017 and also put an end to importation of petrol by 2019.
The Council’s statement is coming amidst scarcity of petrol in the oil-rich nation, a situation that had led to loss of man-hour at fuel service stations across the nation.
After the meeting of the Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, reporters were told that all refineries in the nation would resume production fully by 2017.
Sympathised With Nigerians
There are also plans to ensure that fuel importation will be reduced by 60 per cent by 2018 before a total end to it by 2019.
In the short term, however, the Council said petrol supply would be available before the end of May, with Port Harcourt and Kaduna Refineries supporting supplies.
The Council also sympathised with Nigerians on the hardship they face in long queues to get petrol at fuel service stations, blaming it on sabotage and fuel marketers who the Council claimed wanted to make quick money.
The Council also directed the Department of Petroleum Resources to enforce correct pump prices, promising that 1,200 trucks of Premium Motor Spirit also referred to as petrol would be delivered daily to end scarcity.
The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr Babtunde Fashola, who spoke on the power outages, blamed the situation on insufficient gas supply and vandalism of the Forcados Plants which resulted in a drop in power from 5,000 megawatts to 3,000 megawatts.
Mr Fashola further expressed confidence that the ministry would meet a target of 10,000 megawatts set by the president for 2019.
President Muhammadu Buhari says that sabotage and theft of gas are undermining the efforts of the government to increase power supply in the country.
The President, who said this in a question and answer interaction with the Nigerian community in Tehran, the Islamic Republic of Iran, noted that “although some improvement in power had been recorded in the recent period,” sabotage of pipeline installations continues to be a problem.
He told his audience that Nigeria had everything it takes to generate enough power. “Power is a running battle because the saboteurs are still there. We have the potential. We have gas, we have qualified people but we are contending with a lot of saboteurs who go and blow up installations. When gas is pumped to Egbin and such other power stations, thieves and saboteurs such as the militants cut those supplies.”
He also cited another factor as the reduced role of the government in the sector due to the privatization of the institutions under the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN in the process of which, he said, the facilities “have been sold to a number of interest groups.”
He gave the assurance that the Military task-forces with representation from the Army, Navy, Air Force, the Police and the secret services will be reconstituted to secure the pipelines. “Supplies will become steady; there will be less sabotage as we secure the pipelines,” he said.
The President also updated the Nigerians in Tehran on the efforts of his administration towards ending the Boko Haram terrorism in the country, explaining that a lot had been achieved following the reorganization of the military top command, followed by increased equipment supply and training.
In response to a question on the need to improve healthcare delivery, President Buhari said that efforts had been intensified towards ridding the country of fake drugs and fake doctors, and also what he called “the disgraceful aspects” manifested by “baby factories”.
He enumerated several steps being taken towards the revival of education from primary school level to university.
On the creation of jobs, he placed the prevailing joblessness in the country at the door-step of the last administration which he blamed for giving “a devastating blow to the economy through corruption and incompetence.”
The President said that something urgent would be done about the bad condition of roads, citing the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway as one to be addressed from the coming week by the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who sat next to him at the meeting.
Speaking on the issue of corruption, one of the three issues he identified as the priorities of his administration, President Buhari said that the necessity for compliance with due process of the law was responsible for the delay in the prosecution of the looters of the country’s economy but that “the day of reckoning is gradually coming”.
He also revealed that a number of past officials had begun the voluntary return of stolen funds but expressed the view that his government was not satisfied with tokens.
“We want to have everything back – all that they took by force in 16 years,” the President concluded.
As Nigerians waited anxiously for the President to assign his ministers, many were secretly making permutations on who gets what, just as the ministers themselves were eager to know the portfolios they will be assigned.
Assigning the portfolios on Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari confirmed his headship of the Petroleum Ministry while he appointed the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum.
Former Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, was announced as Minister of Works, Power and Housing.
And for Nigerians, this is key because the economy revolves around power, just as many want to see the roads fixed.
The Solid Mineral Ministry is headed by Dr. Kayode Fayemi, as the former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, was also assigned Transportation and Aviation ministry.
Ministry of Labour and Employment is headed by Dr. Chris Ngige, while the Ministry of Finance is headed by the former Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State, Kemi Adeosun.
In a group of four each, the ministers took their oath.
“Keep Hope Alive”
The President, after the swearing in, said that his administration would continue to implement policies that would improve the economy of the nation.
He emphasised that the Federal Government would implement policies that would generate massive employment for youths and ensure food security.
“We are optimistic that bringing this set of ministers into the service of our country today, is a step in the right direction and a timely move towards realising our positive goals for our country.
“Since we assumed office in May, I have been mindful of the need to ensure that appointment of the new ministers translates into putting round pegs in round holes wile showing sensitivity to our diversity as a people and our various positions as groups of stakeholders of our country,” he said.
The President further told the gathering that he had been mindful of the need not to repeat mistakes of the past where the right people are allocated the wrong portfolios which translated into poor performance to Nigerians collective detriment despite their obvious capabilities.
“Our government shall continue more decisively to implement its policies in respect for the economy and in other areas.”
He reiterated his determination to diversify the economy with agriculture becoming a major sector.
“While working hard to maximise the revenue from oil in the face of the sharp decline of the price of the commodity, we are determined to diversify the economy in agriculture to enhance employment and explore solid minerals, as a major revenue earner.
“The primary aim is to achieve self-sufficiency in production of such staples as rice and wheat and to become a major consumer and exporter of those items as well as solid minerals,” the President stated.
He emphasised that ‘government business’ must be conducted with transparency, citing the adoption of the Treasury Single Account as a way of blocking financial leakages in the public sector to make more funds available for the business of government and welfare of Nigerians.
“Our new ministers must proceed to work speedily and do their uttermost to justify the confidence we have placed in them, not only by their conduct but also by their performance in their various positions,” President Buhari stressed.
With assurances that the country will experience positive changes, the President asked that all Nigerians “keep hope alive” and sustain their optimism about the future of the nation’s economic well-being.
Full List Of Ministers And Portfolios
AbubakarMalami (SAN) – Justice
Geoffrey Onyeama – Foreign Affairs
Khadija Abubakar Abba Ibrahim – State Minister of Foreign Affairs
Brigadier-General Muhammad Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd) – Defence
Adamu Adamu – Education
Professor Anthony Anwuka – State Minister of Education
Kemi Adeosun – Finance
Okechukwu Enelama – Industry, Trade and Investment
Aisha Abubakar – State Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment
Senator (Dr.) Chris Ngige – Labour and Employment
Barrister James Ocholi – State Minister of Labour and Employment
Muhammodu Bello – Federal Capital Territory
Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau – Interior
Senator Udoma Udo Udoma – Budget and National Planning
Zainab Ahmed – State Minister of Budget and National Planning
Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu – State Minister of Petroleum Resources
Babatunde Fashola (SAN) – Power, Works and Housing
Mustapha Baba Shehuri – State Minister of Power, Works and Housing
Chief Audu Innocent Ogbeh – Agricultural and Rural Development
Heineken Lokpobiri – State Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development
Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi – Transportation
Senator Hadi Sirika – State Minister of Aviation
Isaac Folorunso Adewole – Health
Dr. Osagie Ehanire – State Minister of Health
Senator Aisha Al-Hassan – Woman Affairs
Pastor Usani Uguru – Niger Delta
Claudius Omoleye Daramola – State Minister of Niger Delta
Barrister Adebayo Shittu – Communications
Lai Mohammed – Information
Amina Mohammed – Environment
Ibrahim Usman Jubril – State Minister of Environment
Engineer Suleiman Adamu – Water Resources
Barrister Solomon Dalong – Youth and Sports
Kayode Fayemi – Solid Minerals
Abubakar Bwari – Minister Of States of Solid Minerals