President Muhammadu Buhari has commissioned the $1.457 billion Abuja- Kaduna rail services.
The President, during the commissioning at Idu Station in Abuja, yesterday, promised that the Federal Government would link all states and commercial centres in the country with rail lines.
The president later took a train ride from Idu to Kubwa, a suburb of Abuja.
The modernisation phase of the project commenced with the signing of the contract for the construction of Abuja (Idu) to Kaduna (Rigasa) rail line in 2009.
Buhari said the new rail line would significantly enhance and provide affordable and safe movement of passengers and freight between the Federal Capital Territory and Kaduna State.
He noted that the train operation would also serve as a major catalyst for industrialisation and generation of employment.
Nigeria’s first high speed rails system, which connects the Federal Capital City of Abuja and northern commercial capital, Kaduna, yesterday began commercial operations as President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the train service.
Meanwhile, President Buhari reportedly stunned the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, following his decision to nominate Akintunde Ibitayo Akinwande, as the executive chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
According to a report, Akinwade, a professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was nominated ahead of Fashola’s preferred candidate, Olasupo Shasore.
However, he and Femi Amzat, Fashola’s commissioner for works, were defeated by Akinwunmi Ambode, the preferred candidate of Bola Tinubu, a national leader of APC.
Following Ambode’s victory at the poll, the relationship between Tinubu and Fashola has not improved since then, and it was widely reported last year that Tinubu did not support the appointment of Fashola as minister because of their strained relationship.
But a Presidency insider told newsmen: “Shasore was dropped because the president does not want anything that will stoke tension in the Lagos axis again.”
According to the source, Buhari personally sought out the NERC nominees as he is doing in critical areas of his administration.
He said: “The president’s expectation is that with more professionals in his team, including those from the Diaspora, he will be able to deliver the goods in these critical areas.”
With his nomination, Akinwande will succeed Sam Amadi whose tenure ended in 2015.
It was gathered that Buhari sent Akinwande’s name and other nominees to the Senate for confirmation before they embarked on their long recess last Thursday.
Other nominees include: Musiliu Olalekan Oseni (South-West), Dafe C. Akpeneye (South-South), Okafor Frank Nwoye (South-East), Sanusi Garba (North-West), Nathan Rogers Shatti (North-East), and Moses Arigu (North-Central).
NERC, which regulates the power sector, is key to the resolution of the electricity crisis as the government has already privatised distribution and generation entities.
It is under the control of the Federal Government and is currently being managed by Manitoba of Canada on contractual basis.
Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road
No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.
By: Taneh Beemene
Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank
The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.
Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms
Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.
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