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Senate Committee Faults N4.5bn Railway Allocation

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Railway Projects

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Gbenga Ashafa, has faulted the N4.5bn earmarked for the Nigerian railway in the 2016 budget, describing it as grossly inadequate to meet the immediate needs of the industry, according to Punch report.

He said this on Tuesday during an inspection tour of the railway facilities in Lagos by the joint Senate and House Committees on Land Transport.

Ashafa said, “What that amount can do in one year for a corporation with an overhead of N399m, I don’t know; this is because the bulk of that sum is tailored towards the personnel cost. For the record, the Nigerian Railway Corporation has a total of 9,700 employees.

“While we are inching closer to where we ought to be as a nation in the area of land transport, we are clearly not anywhere close to the mark. The task of moving from a dispensation of single track railway to the standard gauge and then towards exploring the possibilities of electronic railway depends on all of us present here.”

He added that the inspection tour was in line with the lawmakers’ responsibilities in carrying out the oversight functions of the ministries and departments under their supervision.

Ashafa said it had become imperative for members of the committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives to carry out on-the-spot assessment of all the paper work submitted and defended before them.

The Chairman, House Committee on Land Transport, Aminu Isa, expressed his delight at the NRC’s achievements and assured the corporation of the House’s assistance.

He said, “This corporation, if given the chance, will do better. We as honourable members intend to intervene and see how we can greatly assist the NRC in this 2016 budget. I hope the corporation will be able to take us to the level where South Africa and Ethiopia are with their railway systems.”

The Managing Director of the NRC, Mr. Adeseyi Sijuwade, in his address, said the railway which had been comatose for decades was now back on track.

He said, “Following substantial progress on the ongoing rehabilitation projects, the NRC now operates mass transit trains, intercity passenger trains, cargo trains, excursion and specialised charter trains all over the country.

“We are equally optimistic about commencing the movement of petroleum products from Lagos up the North soonest to further strengthen railway relevance to Nigeria’s economic growth.”

Sijuwade added that the NRC was also involved in the movement of cement from Ewekoro to Minna, Kaduna and Kano for the Lafarge Cement; the movement of wheat and flour products from Lagos to Kano for Flour Mills Limited; and the movement of containers from the Apapa Port to Kaduna and Kano for APMT and ICNL.

The Director of Operations of the NRC, Mr. Niyi Ali, lamented that the lack of funding towards the completion of the Safe Train Control system had slowed down its implementation.

A modern railway signal system, the STC, allows the NRC to monitor real-time movements of trains on the tracks, with the aid of the On Board Computers installed on its locomotives, according to him.

The NRC began a trial implementation of the project last year, he added.

“The problem we have is funding. The contractor has not been paid for over a year. This is one of the projects being funded by SURE P and since its demise, the project has slowed down. A lot of equipment has already been shipped in,” Ali said.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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President Buhari Accuses Governors of Stealing LG Funds

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Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has once again accused state governors of stealing monthly allocation due to local government under them.

The president spoke at a parley with members of the Senior Executive Course of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, held at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.

Speaking at the event, the president stated that it beats anyone’s imagination how some governors collected money on behalf of council areas in their states, only to remit just half of such allocation to the council chairmen, who would further deplete the remittance by filching it. Investors King learnt. 

 ‘‘I found it necessary to digress after reading my speech and this digression is a result of my personal experience. What they did, this is my personal experience, if the money from the Federation Account to the state is about N100m, N50m will be sent to the chairman, but he will sign that he received N100m. The governor will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wants to share it with,” the president narrated. 

‘‘This is what’s happening. This is Nigeria. It’s a terrible thing; you cannot say the person who was doing this is not educated. He was a qualified lawyer, he was experienced, yet he participated in this type of corruption.” he queried. 

Furthermore, the president clarified that state governors and local government chairmen should be held responsible for the underdevelopment in the rural areas noting that most of the local governments lack basic amenities. 

Similarly, the National Union of Local Government Employees on Thursday backed the position of the president on the embezzlement and mismanagement of local government funds.

Responding to Buhari’s position, the  President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Hakeem Ambali, said Buhari was merely stating the obvious.

The NULGE President nevertheless admonished the president to go beyond the statement and ensure governors, especially those in APC to sign the local government autonomy bill into law.  

“He should go beyond that statement. He is the leader of the party, he should ask them to sign the autonomy into law; he is the leader of the governors,’’ he said.

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Ramaphosa Braces for Calls to Resign Over $580,000 Theft at Farm

The panel found the president may have violated sections of the constitution following a theft of $580,000 that was stashed in a sofa at a game farm he owns.

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Cyril Ramaphosa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s allies are steeling themselves before a meeting of the governing party’s top leaders at which he’s likely to face calls for his resignation.

The African National Congress’s National Executive Committee will on Thursday discuss the findings by an advisory panel that there may be a case for Ramaphosa’s impeachment. The panel found the president may have violated sections of the constitution following a theft of $580,000 that was stashed in a sofa at a game farm he owns.

The release of the panel’s report on Wednesday night triggered a slump in the rand. The NEC meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

Party officials met with the ANC’s chief whip and the speaker of parliament to discuss the report on Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter. A group of NEC members sympathetic to Ramaphosa held a meeting of their own, said the people who asked not to be identified discussing private party matters.

Pule Mabe, the ANC’s spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment sent by text message.

Resignation Option

The meeting of Ramaphosa’s supporters was called by Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele. Two NEC members who are close to Ramaphosa expressed concern that the president may opt to resign — a replay of what happened in June when the scandal over the game-farm theft first erupted and he took advice on whether or not he should quit.

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Ibom MRO to Bring in Forex to Nigeria 

Akwa Ibom State to open a cutting-edge smart terminal building at the Victor Attah International Airport

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U.S dollar - Investors King

The governor of Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel, has announced that the state is close to opening a cutting-edge smart terminal building at the Victor Attah International Airport and that this will generate foreign exchange for Nigeria. 

Investors King has also learnt that an MRO facility for aircraft would be operational from January.

This comes on the heels of praise from his Edo State counterpart, Gov. Godwin Obaseki, who attended the Tuesday reception in Uyo for two additional A320-200 Airbus aircraft that the state’s Ibom Air fleet had leased from a European company.

Speaking at the event, the governor of Akwa Ibom said that while there were already efforts underway to persuade the government to lease the MRO, the MRO is an investment because it was built with naira, despite its current depreciation, and will therefore generate income.

The Akwa Ibom governor said “Our terminal building is world-class in Africa, our MRO is world-class. If you find one today in the entire Gulf of Guinea, tell me I’ll disassemble this one and build another.

“Look at our MRO; what you see here can accommodate two 747 aircraft as well as eight CRJ aircraft, which we are flying for servicing at the same time.”

“This is the only MRO in this part of the world today, and these facilities are not built with local currency, but we are building this MRO with naira that has no value.”

“I invest in areas where we can see a return on our money. Right now without blinking an eye, I can make over $ 30 million with this MRO if we decide to sell but we are not selling, we will make a foreign exchange from this investment.

“Airbus is on us to come and lease our MRO for all their regional flights, but we are not selling.

“We are going to open up this place ( MRO facility) from January next year for commercial activities and we are going to earn in dollars.”

He thanked Ibom Air’s Board of Directors, Management, and Staff for making him proud, emphasising that “they have done very well.”

Gov. Obaseki, who spoke at the event, stated that Akwa Ibom has become the country’s flagship state for its efforts to invest in and make significant strides in the aviation sector.

Obaseki described Akwa Ibom as the country’s flagship state for its efforts to invest in and expand the aviation sector. “Ibom Air is always completely booked.” Let me thank you on behalf of Nigerians,’’ Obaseki said.

In his remarks, the Managing Director of Ibom Airlines., Mr Mfon Udom announced plans to begin regional flights in 2023.

Udom said the new addition to the fleet of Ibom Air would expand its carrying capacity and boost employment opportunities in the state by 40 per cent.

“With this new capacity coming on board, we are delighted to inform our passengers that we have increased our offerings, providing more frequencies for their convenience.

“The Uyo-Lagos and Uyo-Abuja routes now have three frequencies each every weekday, while our Lagos-Abuja passengers will have seven frequencies to choose from both ways, every weekday,’’ he said.

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