Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the ongoing Wagon Assembly Plant in Kajola, Ogun state, will employ about 5,000 Nigerians directly and indirectly.
The project which was commissioned by Prof Osinbajo on Sunday, is a private investment undertaken by CCECC and is aimed at the production of rolling stock spare parts and maintenance equipment needed for the railway modernization programme of the Federal Government.
Prof Osinbajo described the ground-breaking ceremony as a historic turning point owing to the significance of the railway as an alternative and comfortable mode of travel and holds the master key to transforming commerce in Nigeria.
“By linking our ports to rail lines and now, building the rolling stock locally, import and export business within and out of Africa’s largest market will be completely transformed. When completed, it is expected that the plant would produce some parts of the wagons for the Lagos – Ibadan, and Abuja – Kaduna rail lines, but also for the central rail lines and to satisfy the needs of other rail operators within the West-African sub-region.
“The plant would offer an important platform for engineers, technicians, artisans and other professionals to gain the specialized skills required for the production and maintenance of rolling stock. This will invariably conduce to spin-off businesses in the region of operation in particular and across the country wherever rail networks are in existence. The plant is expected to generate about five thousand (5,000) direct and indirect jobs.”
He told CCECC that President Muhammadu Buhari is hopeful that the project will speedily move to the next phase, which is the assembly and construction of coaches and locomotives.
“I have a message also for you from the President and this is to CCECC which is that we expect that you move on very quickly to the next phase of this project which is the assembly and construction of coaches and locomotives.
“This for us will be a significant breakthrough and we look forward to hearing from you as quickly as possible when this will come into operation,” he added.
He thanked the host community for showing support to the government while urging them to effectively cooperate with the contractors in safeguarding and protecting the investments.
Shehu said, “The fact that you are having less people reporting in the Villa for work does not in any way suggest that there is a split of the relationship.
“How many people were removed from the President’s office? I need to go back and do a check on their number but yes, 35 from the office of the vice president had been indicated as having been asked to leave.”
According to him, President Buhari had always wished that his administration was slimmer and lighter without spending unnecessary money to run governance.
The presidential aide denied any rift between the President and the Vice President, saying a divided government would not mean well for the leaders and the nation in general.
He explained that the sole aim of the reduction in the number of political appointees in the office of the Vice President was to save taxpayers’ money and nothing more than that.
Shehu said, “It is not by coincidence that you have a higher number coming from the office of the vice president because he had far more responsibilities than ordinarily with the case.
“So, it is not a relationship problem, it is purely official. The relationship between the President and the Vice President has remain cordial, solid, and a trusting one.”
“It has always been like this, it will continue to be like that. It is in the nation’s interest that we have government that is one.
“Division at the highest level of government is unhelpful. There is no division between them, there is good understanding, and as I said it is a trusting relationship,” he added.
Barely two days after the news of the sack surfaced, Mr Shehu confirmed that there has been “a streamlining of staff” going on for a while.
The President, according to him, had always had fewer staff than the Vice President and there were always plans to reduce the number of staff at the Aso Villa.
The presidential aide said, “The Presidency wishes to confirm that there is, on-going, an unprecedented overhaul of the nation’s seat of government, arising from which a number of political appointments have either been revoked or not renewed in the second term.”
Shehu explained that the exercise to relieve the appointees of their duties was in line with the directive of the President, adding that a number of political appointees among the few that served in President Muhammadu Buhari’s office were not returned for the second term.
According to him, the exercise aims to streamline decision-making, cut down multiple authorities and reduce the cost of running the present administration.
“The office of the Vice President, His Excellency Yemi Osinbajo has, in compliance with the directive of the President, equally been shed of a number of such appointees.
“In carrying out these exercises, the overriding objective is to save taxpayer money and deliver needed service to the public,” the presidential aide added.
He, however, denied reports of a rift between the President and the Vice President, stressing that the exercise was not targeted to undermine Professor Osinbajo’s office.
Read the full statement below:
BUHARI, OSINBAJO WILL, TOGETHER, SCRIPT A GLORIOUS FUTURE FOR NIGERIA
The Presidency wishes to confirm that there is, on-going, an unprecedented overhaul of the nation’s seat of government, arising from which a number of political appointments have either been revoked or not renewed in the Second Term.
The exercise, which has been ordered by the President, is to streamline decision-making, cut down multiple authorities and reduce the cost of administration.
It is also an appropriate response to the general perception that the Presidency has an oversized and bloated workforce which acts as a drag on efficiency.
As may have been noticed by discerning members of the public, a number of political appointees among the few that served in the office of the President were not returned for the Second Term.
The office of the Vice President, His Excellency Yemi Osinbajo has, in compliance with the directive of the President, equally been shed of a number of such appointees.
In carrying out these exercises, the overriding objective is to save taxpayer money and deliver needed service to the public.
As far as the President is concerned, there is no scope for an excuse for administration after getting a huge mandate to run the country for four more years.
In the light of this, the Presidency wishes to strongly deny rumours of a rift between President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The relationship between the two leaders remains excellent and trusting. Together, they will script a glorious future for the nation.
The media reports of a soured relationship are originating from the minds and mouths of mischief-makers, who are desperate for entertaining stories from the Aso Rock Villa with which to titillate the public.
This ulterior motive is the basis of the wrong interpretation given to the recent exercise in the Presidency.
There has been a streamlining of staff going on for a while.
The President has always had fewer staff than the Vice President, and there were always plans to reduce the number of staff at the Villa.
The streamlining was not personal or targeted to undermine the Vice President’s office, as the so-called insider sources quoted by the media appear to make it seem.
The President is in absolute control of his government.
The media should stop attributing non-existent powers to some people.
There cannot be anyone too powerful for President Buhari to control.
Some appointments have been revoked at the Presidential Villa, the Presidency has confirmed.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement forwarded to Channels Television on Friday.
He noted that this was done in line with the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, although he denied the reports of a rift between the President and the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Shehu said, “The Presidency wishes to confirm that there is ongoing, an unprecedented overhaul of the nation’s seat of government, arising from which a number of political appointments have either been revoked or not renewed in the second term.
“The Presidency wishes to strongly deny rumours of a rift between President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.”
The presidential aide explained that the development was an exercise that has been ordered by the President to streamline decision-making, cut down multiple authorities, and reduce the cost of administration.
According to him, it is also an appropriate response to the general perception that the Presidency has an oversized and bloated workforce which acts as a drag on efficiency.
“As may have been noticed by discerning members of the public, a number of political appointees among the few that served in the office of the President were not returned for the second term,” Shehu noted.
He added, “The office of the Vice President, His Excellency Yemi Osinbajo has, in compliance with the directive of the President, equally been shed of a number of such appointees.”
An Excellent Relationship?
The President’s spokesman stressed that in carrying out the exercises, the overriding objective was to save taxpayers’ money and deliver the needed service to Nigerians.
He believes there is no scope for an excuse for the present administration after getting the mandate to run the country for another four years, as far as the President is concerned.
Contrary to reports of a rift between the first and second citizens, Shehu insisted that the relationship between the two leaders “remains excellent and trusting”.
“Together, they will script a glorious future for the nation,” he said.
The presidential aide, however, decried that reports of a soured relationship were originating from the minds and mouths of those he described as mischief-makers.
He alleged that there was an ulterior motive behind the reports, saying that was the basis of the wrong interpretation given to the recent exercise in the Presidency.
The President, according to his media aide, has always had fewer staff than the Vice President and there were always plans to reduce the number of staff at the Presidential Villa.
He stated that there has been a streamlining of staff going on for a while and the exercise was not personal.
Shehu insisted that the exercise was not targeted to undermine the Vice President’s office, as it was reported.
“The President is in absolute control of his government. There cannot be anyone too powerful for President Buhari to control,” he said.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is set to visit Niamey, Niger Republic for an extraordinary Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Summit.
Osinbajo is representing President Muhammadu Buhari at the meeting.
A statement signed on Friday by the spokesperson for the vice-president, Laolu Akande explained that the Summit will include other ECOWAS Heads of State and Government and will review the ongoing situation in Guinea Bissau.
The Vice President will depart Abuja this morning and return later today.
President Buhari had earlier in September attended a one-day ECOWAS Heads of State and Government Extraordinary Summit on Counter-Terrorism, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Given the growing threat of terrorism in the sub-region, the West African leaders had called for the Summit to review different initiatives taken so far, and redefine the priority intervention areas for the containment of the worrisome attacks in the area.
The decision to convene the Summit was reached at the 55th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Abuja on June 29, 2019.
President Buhari at the summit renewed his call for West African leaders “to strive to provide the necessary resources and tools” for regional initiatives such as Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the G5 Sahel Joint Force, to lead the war on terrorism, violent extremism and trans-border crimes across the region.
Social Commentator, Yinka Odumakin, has said that there have been ‘serial assaults’ on the office of the Vice President.
Speaking on Channels TV’s Politics Today, he held the opinion that the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had been stripped of many of his duties.
He said this in reaction to the President’s decision to sign a new bill on offshore oil fields.
The Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari’s had travelled to London on Monday to submit the new bill for his assent – a situation which has since sparked controversy and intensified speculations that Osinbajo has been sidelined.
According to him, although some may argue that some of the functions are at the discretion of the president, the transmission of power to the office of the Vice President when he is leaving the country is different as it is a constitutional matter.
“There have been serial assaults on that office for a long time now,” Odumakin stated.
“Since after Osinbajo sacked Lawan Daura, there has never been any data transmission to the National Assembly whenever the president is travelling out of the country.
“Outside that, we have seen that most of the functions given to his office have been stripped.
“Many of them have been taken to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.
“You can say that most of those functions are at the discretion of the president but the question of the President’s transmission of power to the Vice President when he is leaving the country, is a constitutional matter.
“The constitution says that when the President is going out of the country, he shall write to the National Assembly, transmit to the Vice and when he comes back, he will send another letter… that has not been done in this case.
“What we have now seen is the Chief of Staff, taking bills to London for the President to sign”.
The Presidency has, however, debunked reports of a misunderstanding between the Office of the President and the Vice President.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Babajide Omowurare, made this clarification while briefing journalists at the National Assembly earlier on Wednesday.
He explained that the constitution permits the President to work from anywhere.
Omowurare, however, remained silent on why the President did not transmit a letter to the National Assembly, handing over responsibilities to the Vice President.
Nigeria and Vietnam have signed agreement on waiver of visa requirements for holders of valid diplomatic and official passports in both countries.
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mr Vuong Dinh Hue, witnessed the signing and exchange of Memorandum of Understanding during a meeting on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, signed on behalf of Nigeria while his counterpart, the Vietnamese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Nguyen Minh Vu, signed on behalf of his government.
Both countries also agreed on the establishment of a joint commission on trade and strengthening bilateral ties, as well as to increase cooperation in the areas of agriculture, tourism, defence and security, among others.
They also agreed to explore other areas that would further strengthen existing platforms in order to boost economic ties between the two countries.
Professor Osinbajo, who received the Vietnamese delegation, noted that Nigeria and Vietnam established diplomatic relations in 1976.
He added that the impressive development strides recorded by Vietnam over the years have been a source of encouragement to Nigeria.
“We’ve been very keen watchers of your development, especially in the areas of agriculture, trade, services, industry, and I must say the impressive growth of Vietnam has always been a source of encouragement here for us in Nigeria,” the Vice President was quoted as saying in a statement by his spokesperson, Mr Laolu Akande.
He added, “We have also been active in several areas, especially in agriculture, oil and gas, innovation and technology.
“I think there is a lot of room for cooperation and collaboration, especially with respect to economy, commerce, but also in the areas of defence and security.
“Also, in areas of energy and mining, we believe there is a lot we can learn from each other and share. We have a very lucrative mining sector and considerable solid minerals and other mineral sources that we think might be of interest to Vietnam.”
Professor Osinbajo, therefore, called on Vietnam to be more open to Nigerian exports and businesses, stressing that the country’s business climate has improved over the years.
According to him, the government has worked very hard on improving the business environment in Nigeria to make it friendlier for business and tourism.
He recalled that the World Bank named Nigeria one of the top 10 most improved economies in 2020 Doing Business Index.
“I’m sure that with the signing of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement, and some of what we are doing, especially in financial services, we are also looking at expanding our scope, especially in Africa. We will be looking at cooperation with the ASEAN countries as well.
“We are grateful for the offer from His Excellency (Deputy PM) about the possible links Vietnam could help us establish with the ASEAN countries. We are also ready to collaborate in whatever way we can to facilitate the relationships between Vietnam, ECOWAS and the African Union (AU),” the Vice President told his visitors.
He gave assurance that the Nigerian government would look into the issues raised by Vietnam in terms of its rice imports into the country and other issues and ‘respond appropriately.’
Earlier in his remarks, the Deputy PM who is visiting Nigeria for the first time noted that that country is one of Vietnam’s largest trading partners and would welcome more investment and economic collaboration between both countries.
“Vietnam appreciates the tremendous successes that the government and the people of Nigeria have recorded in recent times in the construction and development process of the country, which has put Nigeria in a leading position in the West African region, and on the continent.
“I believe we should work faster and together to compensate for the long time passed that our two countries missed. A multifaceted cooperation shall be intensified with time,” Hue said.
A friendly football match between Nigeria and Vietnam to strengthen bilateral ties was also proposed by the Vietnamese Deputy PM, which the Vice President warmly welcomed.
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, says no fewer than 5,955 suspects have been arrested by the police since the beginning of 2019.
He listed those arrested to include suspected armed robbers, kidnappers, murderers, and cultists while over 800 kidnapped persons have been rescued within the period.
Professor Osinbajo made the disclosure on Monday in Lagos at a conference and retreat for strategic leadership officers of the Nigeria Police Force.
He said, “Locally in the past one year alone, the Nigeria Police has between January and this month (October) arrested over 2,348 armed robbery suspects, over 1,400 suspected kidnappers, 694 murder suspects, 1,513 cultists, and safely rescued over 826 kidnap victims, recovered 1,660 firearms and 1,612 vehicles stolen or used for crime are now in the safe custody of the Police Force.”
The vice president commended the police for their efforts at keeping Nigeria safe, saying the people were proud of the work they do.
He regretted that many of the personnel paid the supreme price in the course of duty, while fighting robbers, kidnappers, and other criminals.
Osinbajo was also sad that many have been maimed for life and their families have had to deal with their incapacity.
In spite of this, he was delighted that men and women of the police force go out at all times with exceptional bravery, often beyond the call of duty.
Dynamics Of Crime
The vice president was, however, worried about the threats of terrorism in the North-East, in addition to the series of crimes he said have constituted significant drawbacks to the nation’s security.
He highlighted them to include banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, cybercrime, small and light arms proliferation and sundry transnational crimes.
“The dynamics of crime in the country has over time, become increasingly complex due largely to the impact of technology, global terrorism, socio-economic challenges, and other security situations, especially within the African continent.
“It was in response and in anticipation of these challenges that at the inception of this current administration, concerted efforts were made towards emplacing policies that would re-engineer the Nigeria Police and ensure the restoration of the agency’s primacy within the internal security architecture of the country,” said Osinbajo.
He stressed that funding, limited manpower profile, professional capacity gaps, and issues arising from the relationship between the police and the citizens were identified as challenges that needed to be addressed.
Professor Osinbajo believes the Nigeria Police force is without a doubt, one of Nigeria’s proudest assets.
According to him, it is the largest Police Force in Africa and has led police peacekeeping activities in several countries of the world such as Congo, Western Sahara, Sierra Leone, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, and Afghanistan among others.
“We have some of the best trained and best-educated men and women in any force, anywhere in the world,” the vice president said.
He added, “Our policemen and women have served everywhere locally and internationally with outstanding results and accolades.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has restated Nigeria’s commitment to cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) preliminary examination into issues relating to the insurgency in the North East.
In a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo said the Federal Government remained committed to its obligations under the Rome Statute.
A delegation from the ICC led by its Prosecutor, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, paid a visit to Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to clarify the judicial inquiry composed by the Federal Government on some preliminary issues raised.
Osinbajo said, “We have done quite a lot to prove that we are determined to fulfill our obligation under the Statute. And I want to say that, on behalf of the Nigerian government, we respect the process, and there is no reluctance on our part at all.
“Again, let me say that Nigeria is committed to our obligations and the process under the Rome Statute; we are strong supporters of the Statute and the work of the ICC.”
Meanwhile, the ICC Prosecutor, Bensouda, affirmed that since the Court started the preliminary examination, “we have had full cooperation and support from the Nigerian government and authorities, we have also engaged as much as possible.”
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has stressed the need for Nigerians to embrace and promote unity in all parts of the country.
Professor Osinbajo believes this is in the best interest of the nation and its people, adding that the country is better and stronger staying united.
“It is a significant lesson that we have learned from history that we are better together than apart. In other words, promoting unity in diversity is in our best interest,” he said on Saturday in Osun State.
The vice president made the remarks in his speech at the 8th Convocation Lecture of the Osun State University in Osogbo, the state capital.
In the speech entitled ‘Six Decades of Chequered Nationhood: Nigeria Still Holds Key to Africa’s Development’, he insisted that Nigeria “is bound to succeed.”
Professor Osinbajo traced the history of Nigeria’s unity to its leaders who championed the nation to gain independence in 1960.
He noted that unlike countries such as Ghana and Kenya among other African nations that had a single dominant political figure to lead them at independence, Nigeria had three remarkable men and several others.
The vice president said, “Nigeria had Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, and Obafemi Awolowo. These three influential leaders came from diverse backgrounds.
“They possess strong will and naturally had diverse and conflicting views but interestingly, all three of them were in agreement. Everywhere in the world where people have succeeded, the rule is first, merit.”
Professor Osinbajo described the country as a leading nation among other African countries and urged the citizens to support efforts at ensuring unity.
He insisted that despite the challenges facing the country, Nigeria has continued to hold the key to development in the continent.
In his address, the state governor, Mr Gboyega Oyetola, congratulate the graduands and urged them to give back to the society what the institute has positively impacted on them.
The event was also attended by academics, politicians, traditional rulers, as well as various public office holders among others.
Claims that Osinbajo had been sidelined had intensified after President Muhammadu Buhari constituted and Economic Advisory Team (EAC) to replace the Economic Management Team (EMT), which was constituted during his first term.
While the EMT was headed by Osinbajo, the newly constituted EAC will report directly to President Buhari.
But the Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, who was a guest on Channels TV’s Politics Today dismissed the claims.
According to him, all that the president has done particularly this week was just to “tweak governance and get the best for Nigerians”.
He also maintained that the presidency remains one and that there’s been too much suspicion and different kinds of inferences which he believes are only aimed at driving a wedge between both the President and the Vice President.
“The Vice President is the number 2 man in the country… the new economic advisory body can also relate with the Vice President as necessary.
“It’s just some Nigerians who want to drive a wedge between the President and the VP, that read meanings into everything and insinuate but there’s no need for that,” he said.