Osinbajo Flags Off Lagos-Ibadan New Rail Project

Yemi Osinbajo Flags Off Lagos-Ibadan New Rail ProjectNigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday performed the ground breaking for the commencement of work on the new Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project.

It has been another busy day for the Acting President who flew into Lagos State for the commissioning, shortly after swearing-in the new Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

Speaking at the ceremony which took place at the Nigerian Railway Compound in Ebute Metta, Professor Osinbajo restated the Federal Government’s resolve to revive and modernise rail transportation in order to ease pressure on the nation’s roads.

The Acting President, in statement made by public by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, said: “I am extremely pleased and honoured to be here this morning for the ground breaking ceremony of the Lagos-Ibadan section of the Lagos -Kano standard gauge railway project. This is an epochal moment in our national life in many ways.

“First, it signals the determination of our President and Commander-in- Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, to modernise the national rail system in keeping with his promise to the Nigerian people. If there is a project close to the heart of the president, it is the rail project which he promised the nation upon assumption of office. The President himself made a visit to China, and reopened the negotiations on the Chinese support for this project.

“Second, this ceremony also marks the commencement of our plan to move speedily to improve links between Lagos, which is the national economic nerve centre and major port to other state capitals and towns across the country.

“Thirdly, our ground breaking today reflects the plans of the Federal Government to build a globally competitive economy with first grade infrastructure. The critical role of infrastructure, and for this purpose railways, in this strategy is underscored by our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, as well as the 2016 and 2017 budgets. We have made provisions for matching funds in the 2016 budget to complement the concessionary loans taken from the Peoples Republic of China, and our appreciation goes to the Chinese Government and the Chinese Exim Bank, who are, and have always proved to be reliable partners to Nigeria.

A Boost To Economic Activities

“And some may be aware that we have the entire Lagos-Kano standard gauge track as well as the Lagos-Calabar railway track in the 2017 budget, negotiations on the Kaduna-Kano portion of the track is now completed and this phase is next in line.

“We have already provided our portion for funding Lagos-Calabar rail as well and we expect that negotiations on the foreign component of the funding will be finalised in the next three months and that the Lagos-Calabar project as well will come on stream.

“An active and vibrant railway system confers many benefits on the society and our ultimate goal is to restore a railway-using culture for both commercial and personal transportation. We are confident that the national rail project will create up to half a million jobs and facilitate the movement of over 3.2 million tonnes of cargo per annum.

“It will also reduce the burden on national highways, thus reducing the deterioration of the road network and increasing the lifespan of our roads. Indeed by helping to reduce freight cost, the railway network will support efforts to diversify the economy and enhance our export potential.

“Just as several of our cities are being known as railway towns in the past, we expect a boost to economic activities along the railway lines that will eventually cut across the entire country. To achieve this objectives, the Federal Ministry of Transportation has completed visibility studies for up to 13 routes which has been identified for connecting state capitals and major commercials centres to the rail network. We should begin to see significant activities in this regard very shortly.

Fast And Efficient Train Service

“It is important however, to have viable self-sustaining and self-improving railway service. It should be one that is not reliant on government funding which may not be available at all times. It should be one that could be upgraded and improved over time and not left to decay due to management issues or lack of attention. This is why the Federal Government supports the replacement of the 1955 Railway Act with a legal framework that opens railway projects in the country for greater private sector participation. In this way, we expect to ensure the resources and management to run efficient modern and reliable train services.

“Let me conclude by acknowledging the vigorous and energetic efforts of the Honourable Minister and his team in the Ministry of Transportation to get us to this point. The Honourable Minister of Finance also deserves to be commended for the efficient and competent handling of financial negotiations.

“But I think it bears repeating: that Rotimi Ameachi’s bulldozing approach to ensure that we are here today on this first day of construction so quickly!

“I am confident that we will see the same zeal and result in project executions so that the construction of the railway lines will be completed on schedule. Just for emphasis, as a reminder to our excellent partners and manufacturers CCECC, we are looking forward to a fast and efficient train service between Lagos and Ibadan within the projected time frame, which is on or before December 2018”.

Osinbajo: Patronise ‘Made-In-Nigeria’ Goods To Drive Economy

Yemi Osinbajo, Made-In-Nigeria, Economy, Chris Ngige, Kayode FayemiActing President Yemi Osinbajo has reaffirmed the Federal Government’s determination to drive the Nigerian economy with locally manufactured products.

Professor Osinbajo made the pledge at the 2017 National Productivity Day in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

According to him, the current economic realities indicate that continued dependence on importation is not sustainable.

He, however, called for the patronage of made-in-Nigeria goods.

“Permit me to make a comment on made-in-Nigeria initiative, which has also been recognised here.

“As the president said in his 2017 budget speech, we must grow what we eat and we must use what we make; we must patronise made-in-Nigeria products to encourage local production,” Professor Osinbajo said.

Bedrock Of Every Economy

In his opening remarks, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, stressed the importance of the occasion.

“We are here today to celebrate and reward excellence in service by recognising individuals and organisations that have made significant contributions to the growth and development of the nation.

“The National Productivity Day is therefore a day we set aside to demonstrate that high productivity is the bedrock of every economy.

“It is time to reflect on ways of energising all sectors of the economy towards our goal of institutionalising productivity consciousness and excellence in service,” the minister said.

Celebrating Criminal Brigands

The Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, on his part highlighted the importance of a reward system in encouraging local entrepreneurship.

“Society can only develop and be productive when our reward systems are robust and effective.

“Good must be rewarded and evil must be punished; government can however, not do this alone.

“It is a task we must all tackle collectively right from the family unit to our community to the nation at large.

“We can only make progress and be productive when we stop celebrating criminal brigands and start recognising unsung heroes in our society,” the minister said.

The National Productivity Day has been set aside by the Federal Government to promote local production of goods and services, as well as reward indigenous entrepreneurs who are contributing to the growth of the economy.

At the 2017 edition, 15 individuals and five organisations were rewarded by the government for their contributions to Nigeria’s economy.

FG Sets Up National Task Force On Rice, Wheat Production

Rice-Production-in-NigeriaThe Nigerian government has established a National Rice and Wheat Task Force to set up targets that will yield comprehensible and self-evident results in rice and wheat production.

At the inauguration of the Task Force on Tuesday Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said: “What we are trying to achieve is that agriculture is our main stay and we are trying to evolve a strategy for our economy, a strategy for employment and a strategy for feeding our people”.

Professor Osinbajo said that feeding the nation’s population was the focus of the Buhari administration.

“Rice and wheat is our main focus, and making sure that in one year we can show the world that we are serious,” he stressed.

Emphasising on the need to develop strategies to rejuvenate the whole value chain, he gave terms of reference to the panel.

The panel is to set up production targets for rice and wheat in the participating states, determine the scope and particulars for government support needed towards the attainment of the set targets and consider and proffer the best off-take and marketing arrangements that will encourage maximum effort among farmers  and millers.

They are to also determine the rice and wheat value chain deficiencies and recommend solutions for addressing them, mobilise farmers and millers in identified target states to engage the Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and other available support facilities and establish timelines for the delivery of goals set by the Task Force.

After the Vice President listed the terms, the Chairman of the Task Force and Governor of Kebbi State, Mr Atiku Bagudu, thanked the Vice President for the consideration and stated that the disconnect between farmers and millers must be addressed.

He added that the two bodies in the value chain needed to be mobilised for maximum results.

A statement by a spokesman for the Vice President, Laolu Akande, said members of the task force include Governors of Kebbi State Senator Abubakar A. Bagugu, Dr. A. U. Ganduje of Kano State, and Mr David Umahi of Ebonyi State.

Others are the Minister of State for Agriculture, Lokpobiri Heineken, the President of Rice Farmers Association, Mr Aminu Goronyo and the President Wheat Farmers Association, Saliu Mohammed.

FG Wants Damaged Forcados Terminal Fixed To Boost Power

Prof Yemi Osinbajo on Forcados damaged terminal The Nigerian government has called for an expedited repair of the Forcados Export Terminal operated by Shell, and the activation of an alternative process to ameliorate the gas supply deficit and boost power.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo told officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Shell in Forcados, Delta State, that President Muhammadu Buhari was concerned about the damage done to the terminal in February.

He said that his visit was to assess the situation which he claimed was responsible for the recent drop in electricity supply.

The damage had brought loss of gas supply to power plants and significant loss of potential revenue.

Professor Osinbajo said that the president was equally concerned that the gas projects under the disposal of Shell meant to beef up domestic supply of gas in Nigeria needed to be speedily completed.

‘A Real Problem’

The Vice president, who met on Friday with top officials of Shell that runs the terminal and senior NNPC officials after they flew over the location of the terminal, told the officials that “what is going on here affects the Nigerian people and the economy,” referring to the loss of gas supply to power plants and the loss of potential foreign exchange earning arising from the inability to produce over 250,000 barrels of oil per day, due to the damage done to the terminal.

“The damage done to Forcados affects our oil earnings but also as important is the power aspect. It (Forcados) is a major source of gas. About 40% of our gas supply is affected leading to the problem of power supply in the country,” the Vice President told Shell officials led by Country Chairperson, Mr Osagie Okunbor and NNPC officials led by the Chief Operating Officer for Upstream, Mr Bello Rabiu.

Professor Osinbajo said that at a point few months ago power supply in Nigeria had peaked at an unprecedented 5000 megawatts, but now has dropped significantly including instances of system collapses, showing that the Forcados damage was “a real problem.”

He said: “I came here on the instruction of the President who is concerned about the damage done to Forcados. I came here to see for myself and underscore the great implication for the nation’s economy. Many people don’t even know that power supply is hampered by what is going on here”.

While expressing gladness at the seriousness of purpose he observed from the plans drawn up by Shell and the NNPC, the Vice President asked Shell to do “whatever else can be done and do it as expeditiously as possible,” to repair the damaged terminal.

Repair Plan

A repair plan presented to the Vice President during the visit by Shell indicated that the repair work, which is in three phases, is about concluding its first phase with expectation that the repair would be concluded in May. Meanwhile, the NNPC also presented an interim alternative plan to supply gas to the plants including trucking condensate.

The Vice President further expressed the concern of the Federal Government that IOCs that seat on 80% of gas deposits had not been as forthcoming regarding gas supply to the domestic market.

Professor Osinbajo encouraged the IOCs to do a lot more for domestic gas supply considering the gas supply problems in Nigeria, stressing that “we are clearly suffering in terms of domestic supply”.

He stressed the need for Shell to speedily complete the Bonga and Forcados/Yokri gas projects in order to assuage the plight of the Nigerian people.

According to him, “the president is particularly concerned about this outstanding gas projects”.

The Bonga Gas Diversion project would provide 120 million of standard cubic feet (mmscf) per day when completed by the second quarter of this year, while the Forcados/Yokri gas project would provide 80 million of standard cubic feet per day at completion expected at the same timeline. There is also the Assa North/Ohaji South project which can also provide 500 million of standard cubic feet per day.

Experts say currently, gas production into domestic network in Nigeria had fallen to 601mmscf/d from usual 1.1bcf/d.

The implication is that Nigeria is now losing about half a billion cubic feet per day, which roughly accounts for about 2000 megawatts of electricity.

Permanent Pipeline Security

A statement by the spokesman for the Vice President, Laolu Akande, said that the Professor Osinbajo further told reporters that “there are efforts being made by the Federal and State governments as well as communities to tackle current vandalism challenges”.

He stressed that the government was also looking beyond the present situation into what could be done in the future to prevent pipeline vandalism.

One of the future steps the Buhari’s administration could take to forestall the perpetration of vandalism, according to Professor Osinbajo, is to establish “a permanent pipeline security force.”

He said such a force, if formed, “would be armed with sophisticated weapons to ensure we contain the vandalism, and overhaul security.” He said a permanent pipeline security force was an option to look at.

Also commenting on the issue, the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Akowa, who accompanied the Vice President all through the visit lamented that “the Forcados terminal was important to Delta State and the nation.

The Forcados is where Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) evacuates its products for sale. Now, all the production on land by SPDC is shortened.”