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PH-Aba Train Service Begins Operation Month End -FG

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The Federal Government, on Saturday, said train services on the Port Harcourt to Aba route would commence operations by the end of March.

The Port Harcourt-Aba rail project is part of the larger Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railroad project initiated by former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation, Mr. Fidet Okhiria, disclosed this in Port Harcourt on Saturday after leading a delegation to test-run the reconstructed of Eastern Narrow Guage Rail line.

He said workers were currently putting finishing touches on the tracks to ensure that full train operations could begin within the month.

“I am impressed with what I saw today, especially being able to ride the locomotive and wagon on the tracks.

“Last time we visited, we could not use the train because the contractor said it was not proper to run on the train due to imbalance of the tracks.

“The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, has directed that the Port Harcourt route be connected to rail as well as initiate the linkage of Onne Port,” he said.

Okhiria expressed confidence that the contractor would complete the ‘tampering’ of the railroad within two weeks, preceding the targeted three weeks for the train services to resume.

“We are pushing the contractor to make the track safe by deploying semi-automatic signalling of the machine points rather than manual operation.

“Despite resource challenges, the contractors are doing their best and our goal is to achieve this within the next two weeks.

“With this, we aim to commence passenger train services hopefully within March and fully resume transporting people from Port Harcourt to Aba by the end of March,” he assured.

The NRC boss said the project design team had started designing a rail track to connect the Port Harcourt-Aba railroad line to the Onne seaport.

He added that the corporation had begun collaborating with the port’s terminal manager and leading engineers to ensure a smooth project delivery.

“The initial design has been done and handed over to us. We look at it, make corrections and seek approval. Once approved, work will commence,” he added.

Regarding transport fares, Okhiria mentioned that due to the current high cost of diesel, commuters might have to pay higher fares than what was obtainable before.

He said if the NRC could not cover 100 per cent fuel cost, it would aim to generate at least 50 per cent from passengers to sustain operations.

“Additionally, we will assess the conditions of the roads with intent to cover at least 50 per cent of the road costs.

“The government is working with relevant security agencies to ensure adequate security of the rain line and the linkage of security devices from the trains to the control room.

“Communities should protect what the government is putting in place for us. We are striving to ensure that people who come on the train are safe,” he noted.

Okhiria cautioned traders against conducting business on the rail lines, as the trains would no longer slow down for them to remove their goods before passing.

He said that the trains were scheduled to run according to fixed times across all railroads in the country.

 

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Tinubu Lauds Dangote’s Diesel Price Cut, Foresees Economic Relief

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President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, applauded Dangote Oil and Gas Limited for reducing the price of Automotive Gas Oil, also known as diesel, from N1,650 to N1,000 per litre.
The Dangote Group recently reviewed downwards the gantry price of AGO from N1,650 to N1,000 per litre for a minimum of one million litres of the product, as well as providing a discount of N30 per litre for an offtake of five million litres and above
Tinubu described the move as an “enterprising feat” and said, “The price review represents a 60 per cent drop, which will, in no small measure, impact the prices of sundry goods and services.”
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, Tinubu affirmed that Nigerians and domestic businesses are the nation’s surest transport and security to economic prosperity.
The statement is titled ‘President Tinubu commends Dangote Group over new gantry price of diesel.’
Tinubu also noted the Federal Government’s 20 per cent stake in Dangote Refinery, saying such partnerships between public and private entities are essential to advancing the country’s overall well-being.
Therefore, he called on Nigerians and businesses to, at this time, put the nation in priority gear while assuring them of a conducive, safe, and secure environment to thrive.
This statement comes precisely a week after Dangote met President Tinubu in Lagos, where he said Nigerians should expect a drop in inflation given the cut in diesel pump prices.
“In our refinery, we have started selling diesel at about ¦ 1,200 for ¦ 1,650 and I’m sure as we go along…this can help to bring inflation down immediately,” Dangote told journalists after he paid homage to President Bola Tinubu at the latter’s residence to mark Eid-el-Fitr.
The businessman said his petroleum refinery had been selling diesel at N1,200 per litre, compared to the previous price of N1,650–N1,700.
He expressed hopes that Nigeria’s economy will improve, as the naira has made some gains in the foreign exchange market, dropping from N1,900/$ to the current level of N1,250 – N1,300.
Dangote said this rise in value has sparked a gradual drop in the price of locally-produced goods, such as flour, as businesses are paying less for diesel. Therefore, he asserted that the reduced fuel costs would drive down inflation in the coming months.
“I believe that we are on the right track. I believe Nigerians have been patient and I also believe that a lot of goodies will now come through.
“There’s quite a lot of improvement because, if you look at it, one of the major issues that we’ve had was the naira devaluation that has gone very aggressively up to about ¦ 1,900.
“But right now, we’re back to almost ¦ 1,250, ¦ 1,300, which is a good reprieve. Quite a lot of commodities went up.
“When you go to the market, for example, something that we produce locally, like flour, people will charge you more. Why? Because they’re paying very high prices on diesel,” he explained.
He argued that the reduced diesel price would have “a lot of impact” on local businesses.
“Going forward, even though the crude prices are going up, I believe people will not get it much higher than what it is today, N1,200.
“It might be even a little bit lower, but that can help quite a lot because if you are transporting locally-produced goods and you were paying N1,650, now you are spending two-thirds of that amount, N1,200. It’s a lot of difference. People don’t know.
“This can help bring inflation down immediately. And I’m sure when the inflation figures are out for the next month, you’ll see that there’s quite a lot of improvement in the inflation rate, one step at a time. And I’m sure the government is working around the clock to ensure things get much better,” Dangote added.
He also urged captains of industry to partner with the government to improve the lives of citizens.
“You can’t clap with one hand,” said the businessman, adding, “So, both the entrepreneurs and the government need to clap together and make sure that it is in the best interest of everybody.”

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Court Halts Amaewhule-Led Assembly From Extending LG Officials’ Tenure

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The Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has issued an interim injunction directing the maintenance of status quo ante belum following the move by the Martin Amaewhule-led Assembly in Rivers State to extend the tenure of the elected local government councils’ officials.
The Amaewhule-led Assembly, which is loyal to the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, had amended the Local Government Law Number 5 of 2018 and other related matters.
Amaewhule, explained that the amendments of Section 9(2), (3) and (4)of the Principal Law was to empower the House of Assembly via a resolution to extend the tenure of elected chairmen and councilors, where it is considered impracticable to hold local government elections before the expiration of their three years in office.
But the court asked all the parties to maintain the status quo ante belum pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice for the interlocutory injunction.
The court presided over by G.N. Okonkwo also ordered that the claimant/applicant would enter into an undertaking to indemnify the defendants in the sum of N5million should the substantive case turned out to be frivolous.
The court fixed April 22, 2024 to hear the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.
Okonkwo also issued an order of substituted service of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction, originating summons and other subsequent processes on the defendants.
The orders were made following a suit filed by Executive Chairman, Opobo-Nkoro, Enyiada Cooky-Gam; Bonny, Anengi Claude-Wilcox; and five other elected council officials challenging the decision of the Amaewhule-led House of Assembly to extend the tenure of local government areas.
Also named as defendants in the suit are the Governor of Rivers State, the Government of Rivers State and the Attorney-General of Rivers State.
The claimants/applicants are praying the court for a declaration that under section 9(1) of the Rivers State Local Government Amendment Law number 5 of 2018 the tenure of office of the chairmen and members of the 23 local government councils of Rivers State is three years
A declaration that the tenure of office of the elected chairmen and members of the local government areas would expire on the 17th of June 2024 having commenced on the 18th of June 2021 when they were sworn in.
A declaration that the defendants cannot in any manner or form extend the tenure of office of the chairmen and members of the local government areas after the expiration of their tenure.
An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from extending the tenure of office of the chairmen and members of the local government areas.
An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 28th, 29th and 30th defendants (the Governor, the Government House and the Attorney-General) from giving effects to any purported extension of the tenure of the chairmen and members of the local government areas.
They also prayed for an order of interlocutory injunction directing all the defendants to maintain the status quo by not elongating the three-year tenure of the chairmen and councilors.
The claimants further sought an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants from extending the tenures of the chairmen and the councilors.

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Nigeria’s Inflation Rate’ll Drop To 23% By 2025 -IMF

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In a recent release of its Global Economic Outlook at the International Monetary Fund/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington D.C., on Tuesday, the IMF provided projections for Nigeria’s economy, indicating a significant shift in inflation rates.
Division Chief of the IMF Research Department, Daniel Leigh, highlighted the impact of Nigeria’s economic reforms, including exchange rate adjustments, which have led to a surge in inflation rate to 33.2 percent in March.
Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 33.2 percent according to recent data released by the National Bureau of Statistics.
Also, the food inflation rate increased to over 40 per cent in the first quarter of 2024.
Leigh stated, “We see inflation declining to 23 per cent next year and then 18 percent in 2026.”
This is however different from the fund’s prediction of a new single-digit (15.5 per cent ) inflation rate for 2025 which it predicted last year.
He further elaborated on Nigeria’s economic growth, which is expected to rise from 2.9 percent last year to 3.3 percent this year, attributing this expansion to the recovery in the oil sector, improved security, and advancements in agriculture due to better weather conditions and the introduction of dry season farming.
The IMF official also noted a broad-based increase in Nigeria’s financial and IT sectors.
“Inflation has increased, reflecting the reforms, the exchange rate, and its pass-through into other goods from imports to other goods,” Leigh explained.
He added that the IMF revised its inflation projection for the current year to 26 percent but emphasised that tight monetary policies and significant interest rate increases during February and March are expected to curb inflation.
An official of the IMF Research Department, Pierre Olivier Gourinchas commented on the global economic landscape, mentioning that oil prices have risen partly due to geopolitical tensions, and services inflation remains high in many countries.
Despite Nigeria’s inflation target of six to nine percent being missed for over a decade, Gourinchas stressed that bringing inflation back to target should be the priority.
He warned of the risks posed by geo-economic fragmentation to global growth prospects and the need for careful calibration of monetary policy.
“Trade linkages are changing, and while some economies could benefit from the reconfiguration of global supply chains, the overall impact may be a loss of efficiency, reducing global economic resilience,” Gourinchas said.
He also emphasised the importance of preserving the improvements in monetary, fiscal, and financial policy frameworks, particularly for emerging market economies, to maintain a resilient global financial system and prevent a permanent resurgence in inflation.

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