The Senate yesterday urged the Federal Government to make funds available to contractors handling Baro River Port project for final completion of the project.
The call followed the adoption of a motion at plenary on urgent need to complete all the necessary components of Baro River Port Project of Lower River Niger.
The motion was sponsored by Sen.Bima Enagi (APC-Niger) and co-sponsored by 22 other senators.
Moving the motion at plenary, Enagi said the Federal Government had awarded contract for dredging of the Lower River Niger, construction of Baro Port and installation of cargo equipment.
He said the project was designed to ensure access road for movement of goods and services to Northern part of the country for improvement in socio-economic activities in the north.
He said Baro port project was expected to generate 3,000 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs.
He added that the project on completion would improve the road network by keeping heavy duty trailers and trucks off the roads.
This, he said would help expand the life span of the roads.
Enagi said the Baro Port and cargo handling equipment components of the project had been completed and commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 19.
He, however, said the Lambata -Bida road awarded in 2015 and the Agaie-Katcha-Baro road awarded in 2018, if completed, would facilitate movement of goods from the port to the northern part of the country.
The lawmaker maintained that the Lambata -Bida road had only recorded 20 per cent completion while the Agaie-Katcha-Baro road recorded only per cent progress.
He said funding of the access roads had been grossly inadequate as N670 million and N4.5 billion so far had been released for the project out of the N17 billion and N33 billion appropriated.
Enagi said that over N40 billion had been expended on the various components of the Baro port project without achieving any significant progress towards utilisation of the port.
Also contributing, Sen. Adamu Alero, (APC Kebbi), who seconded the motion said there was the need to also complete construction of second Niger Bridge.
He said heavy vehicles conveying goods for haulage were contributing in destroying the roads in the country.
Alero said the completion of the Baro port would have significant improvement on the economy.
Sen. Ali Ndume, (APC-Boronu) urged President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan to personally meet with the executive to provide funding for completion of the project.
He said the senate could use the opportunity of working on the budget at the moment to appropriate fund for the project.
Senate in its resolution also resolved to urge the Federal Government to facilitate rehabilitation of the narrow gauge railway in Baro to ensure rapid socio -economic growth of Nigeria.
It also urged for continuous dredging and maintenance of National Inland Water Ways (NIWA) of the River and Benue Niger to ensure navigability.
The Senate also mandated its Committees on Marine Transport and Works to investigate activities on the Baro Port and make recommendations to facilitate its completion.
Earlier, the Senate at plenary also received and adopted an Ad-hoc Committee on investigation of the causes of pipeline explosions in Komkom, Rivers and Ijeguu in Lagos state.
The report was presented by Sen. Gobir Ibrahim (APC-Sokoto).
The senate having adopted the 16 point recommendations of the report, urged the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to identify those responsible for the pipeline explosion for appropriate sanction.
FEC Okays N13.08trn Budget Estimate For 2021
The Federal Executive Council (FEC), yesterday, approved the sum of N13.08trillion as budget estimate for 2021.
Yesterday’s meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, at the end of the meeting, told journalists that that FEC had approved the budget estimates for 2023.
According to her, the budget proposal was N379 per dollar exchange rate; oil benchmark of $40 barrel per day; and oil production volume of 1.86 million per day.
Buhari had written the National Assembly, last Tuesday, to notify his intention to present the 2021 budget before the joint Assembly next week.
The Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, had said during plenary, last Tuesday, said the president would present his budget next week for quick passage of the appropriation bill into law.
The Senate President while commending the Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning for carrying out comprehensive legislative work on the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, stated that consideration of its report by the upper chamber would precede presentation of the 2021 budget estimates next week by the President.
“The Joint committee will present its report to the Senate today for consideration. This is a precursor to the presentation of the 2021 Budget Estimates by the Executive Arm of Government soon. I am aware that the Executive will be presenting the 2021 Budget Estimates by next week,” Lawan said.
INEC Plans Migration To E-Voting, Meets Machine Producers
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Monday, commenced the processes that would lead to the replacement of manual voting with an electronic voting system.
Already, the commission has invited manufacturers of electronic voting machines around the world to practically demonstrate how the machines work, preparatory to the full migration.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this during the demonstration of electronic voting machines.
He said, “Over the years, the commission has been automating the critical pillars of the process. The biometric register of voters has been updated continuously. At the moment, the INEC register of voters is the largest database of citizens in Nigeria.
“In addition, the combination of biometric voter cards commonly known as the Permanent Voter Card and the Smart Card Reader have revolutionised the accreditation of voters during elections.
“More recently, the introduction of a number of portals has facilitated the seamless nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties as well as the accreditation of observers and the media.
“Most significantly, the commission now uploads polling unit level results in real-time on Election Day to a portal for public view. These are significant innovations that have deepened the transparency and credibility of elections and the electoral process in Nigeria.
“The commission developed the specifications of the functions required of the machine. After extensive discussion and review, the commission took the decision to invite original manufacturers of electronic voting machines around the world for a virtual or practical demonstration of the machines.”
Yakubu revealed that over 40 companies, which indicated interest, would demonstrate to the commission how their IT solutions meet its specifications.
“The commission is aware that Nigerians want us to deepen the use of technology in elections. Let me reassure Nigerians that the commission is committed to expediting the process leading to the deployment of the EVMs in elections in earnest,” the INEC chairman said.
PDP Knocks Akeredolu Over Comments On Mimiko, Ex-CJ
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Campaign Council for Ondo Governorship Election has condemned a statement credited to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Governor Rotimi Akeredolu against a former governor of the state, Olusegun Mimiko, and a former Chief Judge of the state, Justice Olasehinde Kumuyi.
Akeredolu was alleged to have said on a television programme that Mimiko and Kumuyi were his “enemies for life” for not supporting him and his party, the APC, ahead of the October 10, 2020 governorship election.
The PDP campaign council described the statement as hate speech.
This was contained in a statement titled, “PDP Condemns Akeredolu’s ‘Enemy For Life’ Comment On Mimiko, Kumuyi,” which was signed by the Chairman, Publicity Sub-Committee of the council, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Monday.
He said Akeredolu and the APC had become deflated and overwhelmed by the massive support for the PDP’s candidate, Eyitayo Jegede across the state.
The PDP said it was unfortunate that “the governor can toe such ungodly path in his desperation to cling to power despite being rejected by his people due to his failures.
“Akeredolu’s recourse to hate comments against patriotic leaders and citizens of Ondo State over the consensus by the people to replace him with the PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede.
“Our campaign wants Governor Akeredolu to note that the Ondo people cannot be cowed by his enmity towards them. Ondo State belongs to the people and Governor Akeredolu cannot intimidate anybody to submission.”
When contacted, the state Commissioner for Information, Hon Donald Ojogor, declined to react to the matter.
“They deserve no comment for their misdirected aggression,” Ojogor added.
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