President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged his determination to urgently address the infrastructure deficit and related challenges confronting the South-East.
He noted that the Igbo remain an integral part of the country.
The president made the pledge, yesterday, in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, during a reception held in his honour by the state government at the Government House.
According to the president, his administration would fulfill all promises made to the South-East zone during the visit of its leaders to him, in October.
“The leaders raised several concerns on the condition of roads and other infrastructure in the region and I want to assure that we will deliver on all our promises.
“The 2018 budget captures several strategic projects in the region which includes roads, power, agriculture, social services, among other areas,” he said.
Buhari noted that his visit to Ebonyi was an affirmation of his government’s commitment to achieve a united Nigeria for the benefit of all citizens.
“We are the most populous country in Africa with over 300 ethnic groups as our diversity is unique among nations of the world.
“I thank the citizens of Ebonyi for their warm reception and hospitality since my arrival which has made me happy to be in the state.
“I also commend the state governor for his numerous infrastructural strides of which I have commissioned some projects he initiated,” he said.
He also paid glowing tributes to the late former governor of the Old Eastern region, Dr Akanu Ibiam, whom he unveiled a statue erected in his honour in Abakaliki, by the state government.
“Ibiam is a great Nigerian whose contributions and notable record in humanitarian—free primary education advocacy and rural development have been inspirational to all”.
Speaking, the state Governor, David Umahi thanked the president for the visit, noting that it confounded those who doubted the possibility of his visiting the state.
“We want to thank you for your assistance in areas of agriculture, harnessing of mineral resources among other areas of the state’s development.
“You have assisted us in becoming a force to be reckoned with in agriculture especially in rice production as we assure to redouble our efforts to meet the rice needs of the country,” he said.
NAF Probes Bombing Of Civilians In Yobe
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has began investigation into fighter jet air strike in “Buhari village” in Yunusari Local Government Area of Yobe state.
Yunusari, which shares an international border with Niger Republic has an area of 3,790 km2 and a population of 125,821 according to the 2006 census.
This is contained in a statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF Headquarters, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, yesterday day in Abuja.
“Following intelligence on insurgents movements along the Kamadougou Yobe River line, an aircraft from the Air Component of ‘Operation Hadin Kai’ was detailed to respond to the suspected insurgents activities in the area along the Nigeria/Niger border at about 0600hrs on September 15.
“The aircraft while operating South of Kanama observed suspicious movement consistent with the insurgents’ behaviour whenever a jet aircraft is overhead.
“Accordingly, the pilot fired some probing shots. It is important to state that the area is well known for continuous insurgents activities.
“But unfortunately, reports reaching NAF Headquarters alleged that some civilians were erroneously killed while others were injured.”
According to the director, the initial release denying the involvement of NAF aircraft was based on the first report available to the Air Component which was subsequently forwarded to NAF headquarters.
He added that the report stated that civilians were bombed as the aircraft detailed for the mission was not carrying bombs.
Gabkwet explained that based on the report, a board of inquiry had since been set up to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the incident.
Meanwhile, Gov. Mai Mala-Buni of Yobe has directed government hospitals in Geidam and Damaturu to offer free medical services to those who sustained injuries in the disaster.
This is contained in a statement by Mr Buni’s spokesperson, Mamman Mohammed, in Damaturu yesterday.
Buni also directed the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to provide relief materials to victims.
NUT Tasks NASS On Teachers’ 65 Years Retirement Age Bill Passage
The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), has urged the national assembly to expedite action on passage of the Harmonised Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria Bill 2021.
The Secretary-General of NUT, Dr Mike Ike-Ene, made the appeal in an interview with The Tide yesterday in Abuja.
He said the passage of the bill and its eventual signing into law by the President would go a long way in giving teachers the hope that their profession was being given the needed attention.
Ike-Ene said the hope of passage of the bill on June 30, having been mentioned on the Order Paper, was dashed because of the controversy that followed the debate on the Petroleum Industry Bill, now an Act.
“We are expecting that as the national assembly has resumed, the bill will be one of the first few bills to be passed.
“We expected the bill to be passed on June 30 concurrently by the two houses having been mentioned on the Order Paper but the debate of the Petroleum Industry Act and debate of the Electoral Reform Bill took the day.’’
The Secretary-General commended the National Assembly for its commitment to ensuring conclusion of work on the bill.
He expressed optimism that when passed, President Buhari would not hesitate in signing it into law.
He thanked the President for the effort to reposition the teaching profession, saying the union had been in the forefront in the struggle for elongation of tenure for teachers, among other things.
According to him, we have actually been fighting for some of the things the President promised to do for teachers, for instance, the elongation of years.
“We have been agitating for 65 years retirement age or 40 years by service and one of the reasons for the agitation is that we discovered that about 26 states did not recruit a single teacher for over 20 years.
“Yet teachers were retiring in their dozens, in hundreds and more deaths were being recorded as a result of the growing insecurity, particularly in schools.
“Some died naturally, others were resigning, yet teachers were not being employed.”
He further said, “We have also been agitating for Teachers Special Salary Structure (TSS) but hazard allowance was granted instead.
“The hazard allowance accumulated to 27.5 per cent of the basic of teachers’ salaries which were not what we were agitating for.
“We thank God that the Buhari’s administration has promised to implement the TSS and since that pronouncement, NUT, government and other stakeholders have been working to ensure implementation.’’
Ike-Ene disclosed that the promise made to teachers by the president would be implemented at different levels, stressing that while some would be passed into law, others would be implemented as policies.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in June, transmitted a letter on a Bill to increase the retirement age for teachers from 60 years to 65 years.
The Bill also seeks to extend the years of service for teachers from 35years to 40 years.
Meanwhile, the president at the commemoration of the World Teachers Day on October 5, 2020, approved a special salary scale for teachers and special pension scheme.
He also said the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) will begin to fund teaching practice in universities and colleges of education.
He further promised to ensure provisions for rural posting allowance, science teachers allowance and peculiar allowance.
The president also promised sponsorship of at least one refresher training, construction of low-cost housing for teachers in rural areas and reintroduction of bursary award.
Other promises are, expansion of the annual Presidential Teachers and Schools Awards and payment of stipends to Bachelor of Education students and automatic employment after graduation.
Traffic Congestion: FG Builds Three Flyovers, Interchange
The Federal Government is collaborating with Ogun State Government to secure the Right of Way (RoW) for the construction of three bridges and an interchange on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said this during an inspection of the highway last Wednesday.
Fashola, who was joined by Gov. Dapo Abiodun at the Lotto Bridge under construction, said the highway accommodated over 40,000 vehicles daily, hence the urgent need for additional flyovers and interchanges for decongestion.
The bridges are under construction at Makun, MFM and Lotto (Mowe) areas on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
“We are trying to execute an interchange that will separate the main carriageway and give commuters choice, especially those going to religious places to worship, those going to universities and so on and so forth.
“So that what used to cause the congestion is limited to the barest minimum if not totally eradicated when the road is finished.
“So, we now require additional land to build the interchange, that is why I called the governor (Dapo Abiodun),” he said.
He said that the Buhari administration inherited several stalled projects which he was committed to completing by adequately funding the projects
Fashola expressed satisfaction with progress of work on the ongoing reconstruction/rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
On his part, Gov. Abiodun assured that the state government would give all the land and support needed.
Earlier, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Mr Olukayode Popoola, gave the measurements and dimensions needed for the bridges and interchange.
Popoola also gave details on the number of buildings and services on the Right of Way of the bridges which, without paying compensations, would stall the project.
He said that section one of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway project, which spans from Ojota in Lagos to Sagamu Interchange, “has achieved 56 per cent completion”.
Also, during inspection of section two of the project, which spans from the Sagamu Interchange to Ojoo in Ibadan, the Federal Controller of Works in Ogun, Mr Umar Bakare, said that the section was 63 per cent completed.
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