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Prioritising Onitsha river concession

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Prioritising Onitsha river concession

After so many years on the fence, it was most gratifying the other day to hear of the sense of urgency with which the man­agement of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has undertaken the proposed ap­pointment of private concession­aires to manage our River Ports for better effectiveness.
Of course, the native bonding between our country and rivers can never be over emphasised. Foremost in this most abiding of relationships is the holy truth that the country derived its very name from a river – the Niger Area. Added to this follows the very complimentary reality that the colonists that the Almighty used to effect this initially set up enabling settlements at that river’s confluence with the River Benue at Lokoja in the present-day Kogi State.
It is equally notable that before the proliferation of roads in the country, these two – and the oth­er many rivers tributary to them – were the providers of the many crisscrossing routes that tra­versed the country and beyond. No doubt, it was only consequent upon this that development or­chestrated by the discovery of the embouchure of the Niger ensued. To this effect, rather than from the upland access through the Sa­hara, the Atlantic was to prove the easier and surer way to access the land and its interiors. Palatable or to the contrary, the truth remains that the rest is now history.
The more interesting aspect of this as it concerns our nation, however, is that as time made slow progress, these veritable routes of national and interna­tional transport in the days came to be discarded for the roads that were later constructed to aid them. So much that presently the nation’s roads have become so overburdened with vehicular traffic that they are hardly ever in shape in spite of or due to lack of regular rehabilitation. So dire has this become that but for the im­plementation of the use of other alternatives like railways and wa­terways, the nation’s transporta­tion industry may one day grind to a halt.
Thus our happiness at this recourse to the waterways by NIWA. Established by the federal government to ‘direct, manage and control’ navigation activities on the nation’s many waterways, the regulatory body with as many as 17 area offices throughout the land has only recently come alive to their responsibilities. Accord­ing to its Managing Director Barrister Boss Mustapha, as he toured NIWA’s areas offices in Onitsha, Warri, Oguta and Yene­goa, they have only just been is­sued a certificate of compliance by the Infrastructure Concession Regulation Commission (ICRC) to go ahead with the concession­ing process of the Onitsha, Lo­koja and Oguta river ports. This is with a view of having the pri­vate sector play a role in bringing these otherwise decaying facili­ties in the revamping of the na­tion’s ailing economy.
There is no gainsaying the un­derlying advantages of this laud­able move by government. If ac­complished to the letter Insha Allah, there is no end to the ben­efits to be reaped from it. Apart from affording our roads the much cherished cushion it had been crying out for over the years, it will also go a long way in open­ing up a whole lot of new fron­tiers that had been lying fallow over the years. Apart from open­ing new revenue windows for the government, many jobs will also be provided for the many unem­ployed persons lining the streets of our many towns and villages.
For instance, the river port at Onitsha in the South East – when commissioned and put in use as planned – will go a long way in wiping the tears of the long suf­fering traders in its largest mar­ket in West Africa who had been making do with ports so far away from their domicile that business costs often skyrocket just because of freight charges incurred. There is no doubt that with its envis­aged opening, port activities at these sea ports in places as di­verse as Lagos in the South West, Port-Harcourt, Calabar and War­ri in the South South are bound to suffer some loss of patronage. But like pundits have opined, it will all come out better for the country. The more so if the port at Onitsha – as hoped – will be made a port of final destination.
We at the Authority are of the opinion that NIWA gives the granting of these concessions the spirited shove it awaits so that the nation can start repeaping its advertised benefits immediately. Admittedly, Barrister Mustapha is as reported impressed with the ‘beyond-compare’ state of the car­go handling equipment and other facilities on hand at Onitsha. On this note we appeal that each port be treated independently, with­out waiting for all to be ready be­fore they can be concessioner as it were. It is on record, after all, that one at Onitsha was first con­structed in the Second Republic and abandoned, only to be refur­bished and re-commissioned in the last presidential dispensation. Sadly it has been out of use ever since because of innate bureau­cracy. We would theNIWA liaise effectively with the Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Shippers Council to see an end to this anomaly.

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#ENDSARS: Senate President asks Nigerian youths to embrace dialogue, peace at Eid-el-Maulud

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#ENDSARS Senate President asks Nigerian youths to embrace dialogue, peace at Eid-el-Maulud

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has cautioned the Nigerian youths who recently protested demanding for better policing and political governance, to embrace peace at this years Eid-el-Maulud celebration especially as the Government has acceded to their demands.
This was contained in a statement by his special aviser(Media) Ola Awoniyi that was issued in Abuja on Wednesday.
In the statement Lawan
felicitated with Nigerians, particularly the Muslim Ummah, on the occasion of this year’s Eid-el-Maulud, which is the celebration of the birth of Prophet Mohammed.
According to Lawan, the youths, having made their points, in the spirit of the occasion should embrace peace and engage government through dialogue, as the corrections they seek can only manifest under a peaceful atmosphere.
Lawan noted that this year’s celebration comes at a time that Nigeria is striving to restore law and order in the chastening aftermath of the #EndSARS protest.

“Our harrowing experience over the past few weeks underscores the need for us as a people of faith to imbibe and demonstrate in our every conduct the virtues of love, peace and tolerance which Prophet Mohammed personifies.

“This trying time requires our prayers and supplications to Allah to intervene to restore peace and love of neighbours to our land. “However, it also requires of us introspection as to the roles we are playing as leaders and individual citizens in building the nation that we desire.”

The Senate President reiterated the commitment of the ninth National Assembly to “the entrenchment of processes that will encourage our youths to tap their talents and pursue their dreams for the elevation of our great country.”

Lawan expresses confidence that “the trials we are going through will ultimately strengthen our bonds as citizens of the same nation and propel Nigeria to its great destiny.”



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Hoarding of Palliatives: Niger APC chieftain accuses Govs of crime against humanity

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Hoarding of Palliatives: Niger APC chieftain accuses Govs of crime against humanity

Former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism and a Chieftain of All Progressive Congress (APC) in Niger state, Mr. Jonathan Vatsa has berated state governors in the country for stockpilling COVID-19 palliatives in warehouses, which were looted by angry youths across the country.
He indicated that governors are the real problems of Nigerians.
Vatsa was however quick to exonerate President Mohammadu Buhari from any blame over the nationwide looting of palliatives, resulting in the loss of lives of “desperate and hungry Nigerians”.
“Buhari can not go to states to share palliatives. It has been entrusted to the governors for onward distribution to the people, so I think Nigerians should excuse Buhari from this unfortunate development”.
Vatsa who is the Coordinator, public affairs to governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger state gave the indication in Minna on Tuesday while reacting to the nationwide looting of palliatives by Nigerians.
“The Governors are making governance very difficult for the President. In fact they are part of Buhari’s problems if not how can someone explain the hoarding of palliatives meant to cushion the effect of Coronavirus Lockdown”.
The former publicity secretary of APC in the state believed that Governors who hoarded palliatives away from Nigerians can never provide dividends of democracy to their people.
He added that “governance is all about the welfare of the people so if you can not give the people what was given to you to give them, what else would they expect from you”, he queried
He pointed out that the governors know quite well that Nigerians are hungry and desperately need these things, so they want to make them very hungry so that they can buy them during election very cheaply with those items.
According to him “with this Singular act, they have deliberately de-marketed this government, and Nigerians have lost confidence in this administration. It is very unfortunate”, he submitted.
Vatsa therefore cautioned the security agents using force on these Nigerians who are merely looting what was meant for them, adding that “what is happening is re-looting the looted”.
Vatsa who argued that the looting of the palliatives does not amount to any crime also believed that “what these governors have done is nothing but a crime against humaninity, that is my opinion on this and its quite unfortunate”.
He also appealed to the youths to stop attacking individuals and private companies, saying that “that does not portray the qualities of future leaders in them.

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Lekki massacre: Senator Ubah asks Buhari to prosecute erring soldiers

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Lekki massacre: Senator Ubah asks Buhari to prosecute erring soldiers

Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah has urged
President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately commence prosecution of all soldiers found culpable in the deadly Lekki Toll Gate shooting.

In a statement, he issued in Abuja on Monday, he described the shooting as a gross violation of the fundamental right of the #EndSARS protesters.

Describing the shooting as barbaric, Ubah said, “I am deeply saddened by reports of extrajudicial shootings and barbaric killing of peaceful protesters in Lekki-Lagos, Nigeria. I wish to categorically condemn in its entirety, these shootings by security operatives who are meant to protect the citizens.”
According to him, “these unlawful shootings by the military and security agents at unarmed protesters are a gross violation of the right to life as enshrined in Section 33 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999; Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
He said the prosecution would go a long way in serving justice to the deceased and their loved ones.
According to him “I am deeply saddened by reports of extrajudicial shootings and barbaric killing of peaceful protesters in Lekki-Lagos, Nigeria. I wish to categorically condemn in its entirety, these shootings by security operatives who are meant to protect the citizens.

“These unlawful shootings by the military and security agents at unarmed protesters are a gross violation of the right to life as enshrined in Section 33 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999; Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

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