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AISA raises concern over inaction of FG in sustaining MoU with Russia on Ajaokuta resuscitation

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AISA raises concern over inaction of FG in sustaining MoU with Russia on Ajaokuta resuscitation

The African Iron and Steel Association (AISA) has raised issues over the inaction of the Nigerian Government to sustaining the bilateral agreement to revamp the Ajaokuta Steel Complex ocasioned by the recent visit by President Muhammadu Buhari to his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin.
It would be recalled that Shehu Sharagi and Leonid Brezhnev led Nigeria and Russia when the two countries first started to build the Ajaokuta steel rolling mill in 1979.
In October 2018 almost forty years later, Nigeria returned to the bilateral agreement with Russia to resuscitate the now derelict steel factory complex.
The accord to revive the Ajaokuta project was reached during a meeting between Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia
The partnership was aimed at helping to get sections of the factory into production before the end of 2019, however the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the arrangement
Former secretry African Iron and Steel Association, Dr. Sanusi Muhammed said the Nigerian President’s effort in returning to Russia that originally started the Ajaokuta Steel and the New agreement was a welcome development for the country.
Muhammed spoke during a visit by the National Association of Material and Meturlogical Engineering Students (NAMMES) led by its national President Umah Riseline Ojochogwu to the headquarters of AISA in Abuja.
He said,
“During the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Russia he met president Putin and they signed some agreement and it was aired all over the country. 
“That gladened our hearts. We felt yes we are now moving forward, unfortunately COVID-19 came in and the efforts for the Russians to come to Nigeria to see what is left of Ajaokuta and how they can move it forward had to be postponed. 
“The minister of mines and steel development severally mentioned the suspension of international flights due to COVID-19 that the Russians could not come into Nigeria again but that immediately the window for flights landing and taking off in Nigeria is opened the Russians will come to Nigeria and they will start off.”
Muhammed expressed dismay that even though the window for flight operation has been opened for over one year for international flights unfortunately they are not seeing the Russians again. 
He said, “According to the initial agreement, the Russian Government through it’s own financial institutions was going to fund Ajaokuta $450m. African Bank, a Bank established by African  countries to help develop the Continent promised pumping in $1b. 
“So a total of $1.45b was there and we were very happy to hear that, even though these figures were mentioned before the technical board of Ajaokuta steel company. The technical board is a very critical arm of Ajaokuta. That is is what inform us what is required and how we will go forward.”
He said they have not been able to get to that. 
“Of recent I heard some information, I have no proof, that that agreement is not the way we thought it was. The African bank says they cannot fund $1b unless there are certain conditionalities. Very strigent conditionalities so we began to feel some drawbacks. 
He said they are still trying to find out the true situation adding that they will still continue. 
Muhammed said,
“The ministry has been informing Nigerians on the developments of the steel industry unfortunately for the last six months we have not heard anything from the ministry. 
“We tried to find out, the information was in a sketch so we have not received the kind of information we expected.
Speaking against the backdrop of posers from the students on their future and the fate of the meturlogical industry in Nigeria he said, the National Association of Material and Meturlogical Engineering Studens, (NAMMES) in Nigeria is the reservoir for meturlogical profession. 
He said they have been doing all their best to get things done. “Unfortunately persistence comes with a lot of challenges we have been fervently pursuing this course since the 70s. 
“The initiation of Ajaokuta steel company and Itakpe has brought in great opportunity for meturlogists. “Unfortunately along the line, some people say they were saboteurs who didn’t want to see Nigeria developed and to kill Nigeria is to make sure the meturlogical center does not take off. So we have been fighting along that line.” 
According to him, they have been closely linked up with the ministry responsible for meturlogical industries in Nigeria, the ministry of mines and steel development. “We have written to them, we have discussed with them, we have interacted with them, there is nothing we have not said, to revive the meturlogical industry, we need the support of the ministry of mines and steel development . 
“Steel is one of the meturlogical materials but Meturlogical industry is composed of so many things.So we are looking at the bigger field when we talk about meturlogical industry. 
“Steel has been the backbone for meturlogical development this is why any nation that is developed today they pay premium to the meturlogical development, they pay all the necessary attention to that sector unfortunately Nigeria did not seem to have the wherewithal to get the meturlogical institute on with the meteorological industry. 
He said all the efforts that were made, the saboteurs are all over the place, to ensure that the Ajaokuta does not function. “Those abroad are using Nigerians, you and me, this is why permanent secretaries and ministers would say they would not put any money in Ajaokuta again. 
“Most of those nations that are developed their Government played vital roles in the initiation of of their industries particularly the steel industry. 
“They nurtured it till it developed. It is after it developed to a certain level they then start talking of privatization but initially they were at the helms of affairs for the development of the meturlogical industry. 
“So we have been trying to see in Nigeria we have leaders who thinks about Meturlogy and its importance. I am sorry to say until today we have not started. “

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Don’t pay lip service to resolution, South-South Study Group (3SG), urges Southern Governors

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** demands for a referendum

The South-South Study Group, (3SG) has charged the Southern States Governors not to pay lip service to their resolution but ensure that it does not stop with the communique but backed with action to lift the lot of their people from the present servitude and disadvantages that they have been subjected to.

They therefore called for a national referendum to give political action to their resolution on restructuring and their common position against open grazing among others.
The group challenged the Governors not to allow themselves to be weighed down by politics of their party affiliations as they commended them for the far reaching resolution.
The 3SG, which is a network of some of the South-South’s leading professionals in the public and private arena, gave the indication in a statement they issued on Sunday.

The statement which was signed for the group by Otoks Dan Princewill further challenged the Southern governors against shying away from articulating the desires of their people in the competive environment between the large majority of progressively minded Nigerians and the few persons determined to foster regression.

Endorsing the intervention of the Southern governors, 3SG said:
“The timely intervention by the Southern Governors presents a watershed moment as the nation becomes a contested arena between the progressive will of the people and the regressive whims and caprices of a few.
“It is for this reason that the commendable display of astutely effective diplomatic effort by the Southern Governors across party lines emphasizes the urgency and need for relief as demanded by Southerners of all affiliation.
“On this note, the Southern Governors must realise that now more than ever, regardless of party affiliation, the citizens of Southern Nigeria look up to this collective body of Southern Governors to protect them from rampaging marauders and bandits, to push forward their collective interests and hold many more positive Conferences also involving other Southern stakeholders in the immediate future for the sake of the rapidly deteriorating national state of affairs.
“Nigerians at home and in diaspora are waiting on edge with baited breath in expectation that this presents hope for a new beginning.”
Affirming that the resolution of the governors on restructuring was explicit, the group said:
“The Communiqué of the Southern Governors explicitly explains what Restructuring entails; review of resource control, revenue allocation formula, strict adherence to federal character principles in appointments and the shared interests of the Federating States.
“It is pertinent to acknowledge that our festering national ills have been dramatically amplified by a current approach of gross insensitivity to the diversity and the multicultural nature of Nigeria. This complete neglect of the most primary characteristic of Federalism by the current Federal Government worsened the already festering national malaise.
“The solutions to our national problems arising from diversity and multiculturalism were clearly stated only with slight differences and variations in the national conferences of 1995, 2005, and 2014. Interestingly, the ruling party in its review of the National Question reaffirmed these same solutions based on the imperative of Restructuring.”

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Governance failure: Bello lashes out at southern colleagues, says they also contributed

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Governor, Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has lashed out at his Southern counterparts for taking on President Muhammadu Buhari as if he is the sole reason for failure in Governance at all levels admitting that the failure is across board, hence the President alone should not be held responsible.
The Governor who featured on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme, monitored in Abuja warned the southern States’ Governors to be cautious with their utterances so as not to heat up the polity.
He said, “Let me caution each and every one of us, leaders across board including governors and all of the leaders across Nigeria that we should be careful about the words we use,” Bello warned.
He said when addressing topical issues especially about security, unity and national cohesion of leaders and politicians should be careful about the words they use when they are addressing the various topical issues.
Bello said, they get it wrong when they make it look as if they are taking it on President Muhammadu Buhari, because the situation Nigeria found itself today is as a result of maladministration of successive administrations.
“There have been collective failures across board, so let’s not just blame it alone on the federal government or the President.
He also challenged the Governors to endeavor to implement financial autonomy for judiciary if they truely believe in restructuring

The Governor said instead of demanding restructuring they should first summon the courage to implement financial autonomy for the judiciary and the legislature in their various states.
It would be recalled that on Tuesday, the governors of 17 southern states in their resolutions asked President Muhammadu Buhari to restructure the nation among other demands, after a meeting in Asaba, Delta state.
Speaking on the development in an interview on Channels TV on Friday, Bello noted that the president has since heeded the calls for restructuring by signing executive order 10 an order that had been suspended.
He said that governors should implement certain demands in their various states, before making such from the federal government.

“I sincerely appreciate and respect the position and the view of our brothers from the southern part of the country for calling for restructuring,” he said.
“Mr. President has heeded to the call for restructuring. He granted the autonomy for the judiciary, granted the autonomy for the legislature, and granted the autonomy for the local government by going ahead to sign all the executive orders.
“At various levels, whatever we are demanding, especially at governorship level, let us make sure we practice it at home. You are demanding for zoning, let’s make sure we practice it at home. You are demanding for equity, let’s make sure we practice it at home. You are demanding for fairness, let’s make sure we practice it at home.

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Backlash as Northern group accuses Ameachi of witch-hunt over NPA MD’s suspension

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A group Concerned Northern Forum (CNF) in what seems like a backlash has accused the minister of transportation Rotimi Ameachi of witchunting, blackmailing and bullying the embattled Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority Hadiza Bala Usman,.
The group who vowed to defend her to the last is accusing Ameachi of getting back at her for not allowing him unfetterred access to the purse of the authority to amass the fiinancial war chest to execute his presidential ambition for 2023.
The group alleged that her suspension was a deliberate case of witch-hunt, blackmail and bullying saying it is an affront on the integrity of the north.
They gave the indication on Friday at a press conference held at Arewa House, Kaduna where they faulted the investigative panel set up by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
The chairman of the group, Alhaji Mohammed Salihu Danlami, said they are aware of the grand design of a witch-hunt by the Minister against Hajiya Hadiza Bala Usman where he has moved from one phantom offence to the other all in a desperate attempt to tarnish her image.
According to him, Amaechi had initially started with a phantom allegation of non-remittance of monies to the coffers of government, which did not gel as the managing director could not be faulted on the remittances.

Danlami added: “Having failed on that line of offence, Amaechi then moved and developed a far-fetched TOR for the panel to conduct all manners of inquiry across administrative procedures, communication channels and procurement.

“We have followed every details of this unfortunate development and wish to unequivocally state that we regard Hadiza Bala Usman’s suspension without following due process not only as an assault on women inclusiveness in governance, but also as an attack on northern Nigeria, and a well-orchestrated attempt by Amaechi to embarrass the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for rewarding the uncommon character, competence and capacity with which Hadiza Bala Usman discharged her duty to Nigeria by recently renewing her appointment as the head of NPA for another five years.”
He reiterated that at the time Hadiza Bala Usman took over the headship of the NPA in 2016, the agency was a cesspool of corruption and had become incapable of adding value to the Federal Government to the level expected of an entity that is the gateway to the Nigerian economy.

“Hadiza Bala Usman immediately set out to reposition the NPA for greater operational efficiency and revenue generation by blocking all avenues of corruption that hitherto undermined the agency. In a bid to achieve this noble objective, she unavoidably stepped on the toes of very powerful political figures with vested interests in the running of the NPA.

“Specifically, she insisted that all revenue generating operation of the NPA must fully comply with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the Federal Government. This meant that all companies who had been operating with impunity in handling monies belonging to Nigeria were called to order, and that concession agreements skewed against national interest were reviewed.

“In no distant time, her patriotic actions yielded results with the NPA posting unprecedented remittances in billions to the coffers of the government from 2016 to date.

“We at the Concerned Northern Forum felt very proud of the giant strides of Hadiza Bala Usman especially when we read in the news how global bodies such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Association for Ports and Harbours (IAPH), amongst others, in recognition of her strides at the NPA, appointed her to head strategic aspects of their operations,” he said.

Danlami noted that the group was shocked at the embarrassing news of her suspension and investigation, adding: “Whilst we are not opposed to probity in governance, there appears to be a sinister and clandestine motive behind the setting up of Amaechi’s administrative panel of enquiry when there is a clear procedure to discipline erring chief executives of parastatals as approved by Mr. President himself in a circular dated May 2020.

“It is evident that he has set up this kangaroo panel of inquiry to do his bidding. In which world does a complainant become the judge and jury over a case? 
In their curiosity they asked why
Hadiza Bala Usman, was asked to step aside in an organisation whose decision making is carried out by an executive management composed of a Managing Director and three Executive Directors?
They equally asked the minister how
she could single-handedly carry out all of the allegations for which she has been suspended?
‘Why then was she singled out for embarrassment and reputational damage? These are questions Rotimi Amaechi must answer,” he added.

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