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PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI’S 2018 NEW YEAR ADDRESS

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PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI’S 2018 NEW YEAR ADDRESS

I join my fellow citizens this morning to welcome and celebrate the New Year 2018. This year promises to be pivotal in our quest for CHANGE.

Unfortunately, I am saddened to acknowledge that for many this Christmas and New Year holidays have been anything but merry and happy. Instead of showing love, companionship and charity, some of our compatriots chose this period to inflict severe hardship on us all by creating unnecessary fuel scarcity across the country.
The consequence was that not many could travel and the few who did had to pay exorbitant transport fares. This is unacceptable given that NNPC had taken measures to ensure availability at all depots. I am determined to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again.
Such unpatriotism will not divert the Administration from the course we have set ourselves. Our government’s watch word and policy thrust is CHANGE. We must change our way of doing things or we will stagnate and be left behind in the race to lift our people out of poverty and into prosperity.
My address to fellow Nigerians this morning is devoted mainly to informing you about the intense efforts this Administration is putting to address our country’s huge infrastructural deficit.
We are going to make significant in-roads in advancing road, rail and power projects across the country.
The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is one of the drivers of this Government’s commitment to renew and increase Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure in order to achieve global economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

With regards to Railways, we have set ourselves ambitious targets. Already in construction stage is the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway.
The line should reach Ibadan from Lagos by the end of 2019 and will carry two million passengers per year and five million tons of cargo will be transported every year giving a substantial boost to the country’s economy.
Construction of the Kano – Kaduna segment is expected to commence this year and reach Kaduna by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021 the two ends will be joined so that we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route.
The Abuja – Kaduna route will be boosted by additional rolling stock next Thursday and will be able to handle one million commuters annually.
At the same time I have approved and negotiations will be concluded in the first part of this year for the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line covering Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Makurdi, Lafia, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and Damaturu. The Abuja to Itakpe line will go through Baro and terminate in Warri with construction of a new seaport at Warri.
Negotiations are also advanced for the construction of other railway lines, firstly from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic passing through Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia to Maradi.
Secondly, Lagos to Calabar the “Coastal Rail” through Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo and Calabar. In the next few years, all these Nigerian cities will be linked by functional modern rail systems, giving enormous boost to the social and economic life of our people.
With respect to the Abuja Capital Light Rail, progress has reached 98% completion, as at 64% completion when we assumed office. Only test runs remain before start of operations.

This train service will stimulate economic activities in the Federal Capital and provide residents with an efficient and safe transportation system. Twelve railway sub-stations around the capital over a 45.2 kilometre route will serve as a catalyst and a pull factor to the economy of the area. The Light Rail System will reduce traffic congestion and carbon emission in line with the Administration’s policy on climate change.

Management of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) has been reconstituted and has been charged with a 12 week rapid intervention in road repairs to cover all the geo-political zones. Government is undertaking repairs and maintenance of 44 roads within the six geo-political zones.

Twenty five major highways will be funded under the N100b SUKUK facility. Each geo-political zone will benefit by an equal amount of N16.67b. The following major highways are to receive special attention:

a. Oyo – Ogbomosho,

b. Ofusu – Ore – Ajebandele – Shagamu,

c. Yenagoa Road Junction – Kolo Otuoke – Bayelsa Palm,

d. Enugu – Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Way,

e. Onitsha – Enugu Expressway,

f. Kaduna Eastern Bypass,

g. Dualization of Kano – Maiduguri Road,

h. Dualization of Abuja – Lokoja – Benin Road,

i. Dualization of Suleja – Minna Road.

In addition, Government has approved work to start on the re-construction of Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano road which is in a state of disrepair. Work will soon start and is expected to be completed in 2019.
More Nigerians across the country are experiencing improved power supply to their homes and businesses. However, power remains a concern to this government because too many people still do not have regular and reliable supply.

The Payment Assurance Guarantee Scheme which started in January 2016 has enabled the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader to raise so far N701 billion to assure Generation Companies of at least 80% payment for any power delivered to the national grid.

Consequently, generation has now reached 7,000MW. On December 8, 2017 the country achieved 5,155MW of power delivered to consumers, the highest level ever recorded.
Several moribund projects have been revived. Repairs of Afam Power Station added 110MW in 2017 and another 240MW will be added this year through a private investment partnership.

Katsina Power Project is now being tested and producing 10MW of power from wind for the first time in Nigeria. It should be fully operational this year.

The Zungeru 700MW Hydroelectric Power Project, stalled by court cases is due for completion in 2019. The transmission and other requirements to operate the 30MW Gurara Phase 1 Hydroelectric Plant, the 40MW Kashimbilla Hydroelectric Plant and the 215 MW Kaduna Gas/LPG/Diesel Power Plant will also be completed this year.

A landmark project, Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project is at last taking off. This project has been on the drawing Board for 40 years, but now the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the 3,050MW project has been agreed with a Chinese joint venture Company with a financing commitment from the government of China. Completion is targeted for 2023.

As I mentioned earlier, the Transmission Company of Nigeria can now distribute all the 7,000MW that can be generated. TCN and the Niger Delta Holding Company have added 1,950MVA of 330 down to 132KV transformer capacity of 10 transmission stations and 2,930MVA of 132 down to 33KV transformer capacity of 42 sub-stations including Ikot Ekpene, Aba, Alagbon, Ajah, Ejigbo, Funtua and Zaria.
This Administration is working with the privatised distribution Companies to overcome the continuing challenges of distribution.

These massive public works should spearhead the recovery and lead millions back to employment. You will recall that it was not until last year that we got out of the economic recession into which the country had fallen as a consequence of past unsustainable economic policies which projected short-term illusory growth.

The government is slowly stabilizing the economy.

It was in order to change the steady and steep decline that we adopted the more sustainable policies and programmes captured in the Economic Recovery Plan. Diversification efforts have resulted in improved output particularly in agriculture and solid minerals sectors. The relative exchange rate stability has improved manufacturing sector performance.

We have got to get used to discipline and direction in economic management. The days of business as usual are numbered

Two years ago I appealed to people to go back to the land. I am highly gratified that agriculture has picked up, contributing to the government’s effort to re-structure the economy. Rice imports will stop this year. Local rice, fresher and more nutritious will be on our dishes from now on.

By the same token, I am today appealing to enterprising Nigerians with ideas and unemployed graduates and other able-bodied and literate men and women with ideas not to just sit and wait for employment from the government or the Organized Private Sector. Great nations are built by enterprising people who turn their hands to anything that circumstances dictate.

In respect of political developments, I have kept a close watch on the on-going debate about “Restructuring”. No human law or edifice is perfect. Whatever structure we develop must periodically be perfected according to changing circumstances and the country’s socio-economic developments. We Nigerians can be very impatient and want to improve our conditions faster than may be possible considering our resources and capabilities. When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered, my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than structure.

We tried the Parliamentary system: we jettisoned it. Now there are shrill cries for a return to the Parliamentary structure. In older democracies these systems took centuries to evolve so we cannot expect a copied system to fit neatly our purposes. We must give a long period of trial and improvement before the system we have adopted is anywhere near fit for purpose.

However, there is a strong case for a closer look at the cost of government and for the public services long used to extravagance, waste and corruption to change for the better. I assure you that government is ever receptive to ideas which will improve governance and contribute to the country’s peace and stability.

As the electioneering season approaches politicians must avoid exploiting ethnicity and religion by linking ethnicity with religion and religion with politics. Such must be avoided at all costs if we are to live in harmony.

In this respect the rest of Nigeria could learn from the South Western States who have successfully internalized religion, ethnicity and politics.

Political discourse should be conducted with civility, decorum and in a constitutional manner. We all have a collective responsibility to strengthen our democracy and entrench the rule of law. We should draw encouragement from the series of bye-elections conducted by INEC last year which were generally violence free and their outcomes adjudged to be free and fair.

Before I conclude my address I must reassure my fellow citizens that security of life and property is still top of our government’s agenda. We have since beaten Boko Haram. Isolated attacks still occur, but even the best-policed countries cannot prevent determined criminals from committing terrible acts of terror as we have seen during the past years in Europe, Asia, Middle East, elsewhere in Africa and in America.

Our government remains determined to protect all Nigerians in line with our election pledge and promises. On behalf of all Nigerians let me offer our thanks to the Armed forces, the Police, other para-military forces and traditional authorities who are working round the clock to ensure that you and I go about our normal business in reasonable safety.
Terrorism and urban crimes are world-wide phenomena and our security forces are continuously adapting their responses to changing threats.

With regard to rampant cases of kidnappings, we are taking immediate short-term measures to combat this new evil creeping into our societies. Tighter police methods and swift and severe punishment for those proved to be engaged in kidnapping are on the way.

With respect to Niger Delta, Government is still engaging responsible leadership of the Communities to help in identifying and addressing genuine grievances of the region. Our clean-up programme in collaboration with the United Nations is making satisfactory progress.

I am grateful to all the Governors and other Political & Community leaders of the Niger Delta States for their part in bringing relative peace to the areas.
Finally let me again express my heartfelt thanks to all Nigerians who prayed for me during my illness last year. I feel deeply humbled by your prayers and good wishes and I am more determined than ever to serve you to the best of my ability.

Good morning. And I wish everyone a Happy New Year.

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Humanitarian ministry insists States hoarded palliatives

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Humanitarian ministry insists States hoarded palliatives

The minister of Humanitathas denied having any link with hoarded palliatives meant for distribution to the needy during the COVID-19 pandemic by many states as she restated that all palliatives donated to the ministry were distributed accordingly.
The minister made the disclosure on Monday during a national Press conference in Abuja on the activities of the ministry since inception.
She said, “Recently, the world witnessed the unfortunate incidence of looting of palliatives and relief materials stashed away in warehouses in some states of the country during the #EndSars protest.

“As the Minister of
Humanitarian Affairs, I want to categorically state that the Palliatives
donated to the Ministry by the Nigerian Customs Services, National
Strategic Grain Reserve, and many good willing donors were handed to
State officials for onward distribution to the poor and vulnerable in thier
states.

“The Ministry identifies its strategic role and impact in the everyday lives of the Nigerian. We want to assure the public that we are on ground working every day for Nigerians.”

She expressed satisfaction with the success story of one of the Federal Government’s Investment programs, the N-POWER as 109, 823 benefitiaries have successfully started their own businesses

According to her, “After the two-year period, facts and reports show that some of the
beneficiaries of Batch A and Batch B of the programme have established
businesses in their communities, with no fewer than 109,823
beneficiaries of the N-Power Programme who have identified themselves
as business owners.

According to her, “Current Enrolment Status of beneficiaries for N-power Batch C closed in July 2020 and we have received over 5 Million applications since the portal opened.
“The application process will be concluded as soon as possible to provide additional Nigerian youths access to the programme.
“At this juncture, I want to officially announce that the Central Bank of
Nigeria in collaboration with the Ministry has developed a portal to
enable the exited N-Power beneficiaries to log on and apply for the
various economic empowerment and entrepreneurship options provided by the Central Bank such as the AGSMEIS loan and the AnchorBorrowers Program (ABP). “Interested N-Power exited beneficiaries
should log on to the CBN portal for more information.
The website portal is nexit-fmhds.cbn.gov.ng as displayed on the screen.

Farouq also refuted the claim that her ministry has been feeding the Internally Displaced persons with poor nutritious food saying the Ministry has been making different grains available and also allow other bodies who make donations of their choice which the Ministry cannot restrict or limit.

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FG mulls reversal of Fuel price (PMS) as organized labour mounts pressure

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FG mulls reversal of Fuel price (PMS) as organized labour mounts pressure

The Federal Government may be planning to reverse the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to N160 per litre if the pressure being mounted by the organised Labour on the Federal Government is fruitful.

At the end of the resumed negotiations between government and the labour movement Friday night, the Federal Government indicated willingness to consult widely with the view to reviewing the price downward.

The indication shows that   the new price might be unveiled at the resumed meeting slated for December 7.
The Federal Government said the period between now and then would allow it embark on a wide range consultation over Labour’s request.
Labour had insisted that the pump price must be reviewed downward to N160 before negotiations can proceed on the hike in electricity tariffs and deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who disclosed this at the end of the latest meeting between the Federal Government and organised Labour on the recent increases in the pump price of petrol and electricity tariff, added that the meeting agreed to let the government side consult with their principal and every relevant authority on the request of the Labour
He stated: “The message from the organised Labour is clear; they want a reversal of the pump price of PMS. The parties have agreed to let the government side consult their principal on that. We will consult the President, minister of Petroleum and the Economic Management Team.”
The minister noted that though it was no longer the responsibility of government to fix the pump price of PMS as it had been deregulated, the matter still fell within the realm of the economy.
On the issue of the electricity tariff, Ngige said the committee working on it, headed by the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, already had an interim report and would use the opportunity created by the adjournment of the meeting to undertake field visits to the different Distribution Companies (DisCos) in Nigeria and come back with a more comprehensive report.

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INEC chair: Lawan denies taking N2b bribe to confirm Yakubu

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INEC chair: Lawan denies taking N2b bribe to confirm Yakubu

By James Ojochegbe

The president of the senate Ahmad Lawan has denied collecting any gratification of N2b to facilitate the confirmation of the INEC chairman as alleged by an online publication.

This contained in a Statement issued in Abuja by his special Adviser on media Ola Awoniyi.
The statement reads, “The attention of the Office of the Senate President has been drawn to a report by SaharaReporters alleging that a group led by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, collected N2billion from Professor Mahmood Yakubu to facilitate the confirmation of his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari to a fresh five-year tenure as chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“It is noteworthy that the publication, as always with its ridiculous fabricated reports, could not even expand the entertainment of its readers by providing the names of members of the fictitious group and where the group operates from.
“To be sure, that group exists only in the mischievious imagination of the writer of the fiction.”
The Statement enjoined Nigerians to ignore the report as yet another incident of hallucination by the comical characters operating the fabricated news platform.

“The online medium has long earmed its notoriety as a purveyor of fake news with high profile public officials as its targets. 
“It is well known that only the President can nominate a candidate for appointment or reappointment as Chairman of INEC.
And only the Senate as a body can confirm or reject the appointment, after due screening of the candidate.
“The parliamentary process for the confirmation of nominations by the President is open and involves all distinguished senators.
“The Senate President is only a presiding officer of the Senate and does not lead any group in or outside the august chamber that acts in any way to circumvent the processes of the Senate. “We reassure Nigerians that the Senate President did not receive any gratification, in his or behalf of others, to help Professor Yakubu get a second term as chairman of INEC.”

He challenged SaharaReporters and the sponsors of the false publication to provide whatever evidence that they can in support of their glib claims, failing which Nigerians should dismiss the report as another cheap blackmail from a platform that has no reputation for credible reportage and ethical journalism practise.”

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