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Actualising Bodo-Bonny Road Project

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Barring any obstacles, the 37.9km Bodo – Bonny Road project will be completed and
delivered in August, 2022. The assurance was given during the inspection of the facility by the Director, Road Designs, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Omotayo Awosanya. He said sufficient funds were available to deliver the project at the guaranteed time.
The N120. 6 billion project handled by German construction giant, Julius Berger, traversing Bodo, Opobo, Andoni to Bonny Island in Rivers State, has 14 bridges. According to Awosanya, with the extensive works already done by the contractors so far, Nigerians would not be disappointed. The Bodo–Bonny Road is a major federal road that successive governments lacked the political will to execute.
The Bodo — Bonny Road project is a public-private partnership arrangement, in which the Federal Government and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited (NLNG) will each bear 50 per cent of the total cost to complete the bridge. However, the NLNG has indicated interest to fully fund the project and deduct the cost from taxes to the Federal Government.
The Tide welcomes the NLNG’s bold initiative, especially against the backdrop that the Bodo – Bonny Road project, conceived about 40 years ago, had been one of the failed projects that vividly accentuate the long-standing negligence of Rivers State in particular and the Niger Delta in general by successive Nigerian governments. Truly, the importance of the road cannot be over-emphasised.
We laud the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for providing the enabling conditions in the state which gave impetus to the commencement of work on this long-awaited project. The Federal Government is likewise commended for conceding to the demands of the government and people of Rivers State to flag off the construction of the road.
Equally commended is the NLNG for showing enthusiasm and cooperation in financing the landmark project. It is hoped that other companies will emulate it. This is a demonstration that the private sector can drive the infrastructural needs of Nigeria. Since the authorities alone cannot plug Nigeria’s intimidating infrastructure deficit, the private sector should be enabled to lead in the provision of infrastructure development while the government serves as an enabler and catalyst.
Besides its primacy to the enhancement of the economic base of the nation, the road, linking five local government areas including Khana, Okrika, Eleme, Andoni and Bonny, will also connect the mainland Rivers State to a tremendous section of the riverine part of the state; in fact, one of the most difficult terrains in the Niger Delta.
It is vile that over-and-above the perennial cries of the communities in that axis, is the accessibility burden on the foremost gas company in West Africa – NLNG – and its ancillary firms. This should have lodged on the conscience of the nation a pang of avoidable guilt. The undertaking is only the latest in a series of similarly transformational infrastructure partnerships ongoing across the country.
Without a doubt, the road has a very significant economic role to play in the state and Nigeria in general when completed. Hence, any attempt to politicise it should be spurned. The NLNG has to be committed to this work since it will be more salutary to it. Much money would certainly be saved from the transportation of equipment and other operational activities between its Port Harcourt base and Bonny, the operational area.
It needs not be accentuated that a massive construction of this magnitude will create jobs directly for engineers, artisans, and labourers; and indirectly for food vendors and suppliers, transporters, quarry operators and so many others in the construction value chain. Already, Julius Berger has expressed that over 300 Rivers youths would otherwise be engaged in the project in January 2021. Certainly, that will go a long way to empower the youths.
Also, upon termination, the project will permanently transform the lives of thousands of Nigerian citizens in and around Bonny Island. It will similarly attenuate the hardship faced by commuters along the Bodo – Bonny axis; facilitate the operations of the NLNG, and bring considerable gains to the lives of farmers, traders, school children and travellers. In actual fact, the construction is evidence of the blossoming peace in the Niger Delta.
Additionally, the road will go a long way to avert the frequent loss of lives on the high sea, eliminate piracy and promote businesses in the area. Of course, huge is the tourist potential that a road to Bonny can harness, while alleviating the misery of the Ibanis. That is why all availed communities should shun selfish interest, cooperate and own the project. Similarly, chiefs, impacted local government councils, youths and the state government have to pull through to ensure perfect harmony towards its consummation.
We find it politic that this project is realised during the life of the present administration. If President Muhammadu Buhari must break the jinx and effectuate his promise for change, he must impede all obstacles to the actualisation of the Bodo – Bonny Road. In that wise, initial land and compensation matters must be perfected. Affected communities have to be taken along, while the security needs of the project should be facilitated to avoid obstructions of any kind.
As earnings from gas become more and more substantial, it is only essential that the Federal Government rises to the occasion. The administration that can provide this road will surely go down in history as the one that conquered the odds and made the difference that mattered most to the Niger Deltans and Nigerians.

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Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion

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The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.

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FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer

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The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.

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Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media

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The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.

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