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Rail Project’ll Boost Regional Integration, Economic Growth –Ambode

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  • Rail Project’ll Boost Regional Integration, Economic Growth

Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday said that the Federal Government was committed to delivering a fast and efficient rail service system between Lagos and Ibadan within a projected time frame of December 2018.

Osinbajo, who spoke at the Ground Breaking Ceremony of the Segment II Lagos-Ibadan Rail Project with Extension to Lagos Port Complex, Apapa, held at the Nigerian Railway Corporation compound, Ebute-metta, recalled that President Buhari, during his visit to China in January 2016, reopened negotiation on the Chinese support for the project under the Lagos-Kano modernization project.

He said the ground breaking ceremony marked the commencement of the government’s plan to move speedily to improve transport links with Lagos, the national economic nerve centre and major port to other state capital across the country.

“An active and vibrant railway system confers many benefits on the society. Our ultimate goal is to restore a railway using culture for both commercial and personal transportation. We are confident that the national rail project will create up to half a million jobs and facilitate the movement of up to 3.2 million tonnes of cargo per annum.

“It will also reduce the burden on national high ways, thus reducing deterioration of the road networks and increasing the life span of our roads. Railway network will support efforts to diversify the economy and enhance our export potentials. Just as several of our cities became known as railway towns in the past we expect to boost economic activities within the railway lines that will eventually cut across the entire country,” Osinbajo said.

In his goodwill message, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode said that the proposed extension of the Lagos-Ibadan Rail Project would go a long way to open up the economy of the South West region as well as facilitate regional integration and growth.

He said the project also marked a new dawn in the transformation of the nation’s transport infrastructure, especially for the South West region.

Expressing delight that the take-off had become a reality, the Governor said aside boosting regional integration, the agricultural sector would receive the long awaited boost as the rail line will be a fast and convenient means of transporting farm produce from the hinterland to the city thereby increasing the economies of the States.

He said: “A direct benefit of this project is that containers and goods from the Apapa Port will now be transported by rail thereby reducing the number of trailers and other heavy duty vehicles on our roads.

“A direct consequence of this project would be less productive man hours wasted on the roads due to traffic gridlock and bad roads due to heavy duty vehicles. In addition, we expect government to expend fewer resources on road repair and maintenance once the rail line takes off and reduce the pressure of articulated vehicles on our roads.”

While thanking President Buhari for approving the Right of Way for the proposed Red Line Light Rail Project by his administration, Governor Ambode also implored the Nigeria Railway Cooperation to cooperate with the State Government during the construction of the Red Line.

“We thank the Federal Government of Nigeria under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari for prioritizing this landmark project which will greatly complement our efforts to deliver a transport system that is befitting of a modern city state. It is also important to note that the Lagos Red Line rail will share the same corridor and Right Of Way with the Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan Rail Line.

“We thank the Federal Government for grating approval for the Right of Way for the Red Line. I want to use this opportunity to implore the Federal Government particularly the Nigeria Railway Corporation to cooperate with us during the construction of the Red Line as we work with them to make the Lagos Abeokuta Rail a big success,” Governor Ambode said.

Earlier, Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, said on assumption of office, President Muhammadu Buhari prioritised the completion of rail projects across the country and challenged the Ministry to hit the ground running to ensure that the project is delivered in record time.

The ceremony was witnessed by several dignitaries including the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, his Oyo State counterpart, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Senate Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, members of the Federal Executive Council, members of the State Executive Council, members of the Diplomatic Corps, traditional rulers, stakeholders in the transport industry, among others.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

African Union Holds Global Conference to Accelerate African Vaccine Development and Manufacturing Capacity

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African leaders assembled at a global meeting to discuss the status of local pharmaceutical manufacturing on the continent, underscored the need to increase local production of vaccines and therapeutics to achieve greater public-health security.

“The production of vaccines and access to vaccines is an absolute priority,” Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, said Monday in opening remarks at the start of the two-day virtual meeting, convened by the African Union.

The meeting was attended by several African heads of state, health, finance and trade ministers from across the continent, as well as officials from global financial institutions, foundations, pharmaceutical manufacturers, business leaders, and the general public. The African Development Bank was represented by Solomon Quaynor, Vice President Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization.

Although Africa consumes approximately one-quarter of global vaccines by volume, it manufactures less than 1% of its routine vaccines, with almost no outbreak vaccine manufacturing in place. The region lags behind in procuring vaccines amid a global scramble for the medicines among wealthier nations. Thus far, only around 2% of the world’s vaccination against Covid-19 has taken place in Africa.

The need for a new public health order in Africa, which promotes domestic vaccine manufacturing, epidemic preparedness and upgraded healthcare systems to meet the needs of the world’s fastest-growing population, was the conference’s main objective.

The African Union and the Africa CDC said they would continue to work with all stakeholders to identify implementable actions, financing needs and timelines to competitively produce vaccines in Africa.

Quaynor noted that the current undertaking would require immense investment. “Vaccine manufacturing, because of its complexity, is not really an entrepreneurial drive but actually an institutional drive,” he added.

The African Development Bank is working with global and African stakeholders, to articulate a 2030 vision for Africa’s Pharmaceutical Industry in response to several calls received from African Heads of State, who have expressed a strong political will. This vision aligns with its “industrialize Africa” priority strategy.

The vision will build on previous efforts to produce a continental plan of action to boost local African pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, such as the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa adopted in Abuja in January 2005 and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA), prepared by the African Union Commission and the United Nations in 2012, to assist local manufacturers with pharmaceutical production.

Quaynor said Africa could count on the African Development Bank’s support to secure Africa’s health defense system. “Leveraging on our comparative advantages, we will both provide upstream support to governments on the enabling environment, as well as provide financing to private sector and PPPs both indirectly through some of our private equity investee funds and directly through lending, and credit and risk guarantees. We will also use the Africa Investment Forum to bring in all relevant stakeholders and partner DFIs into bankable opportunities…”

The 2030 vision for Africa’s pharmaceutical industry would also work with pharmaceutical industry associations in Africa to create capacity development links between universities and industry in Africa, and work with African scientists in the diaspora, Quaynor said in remarks made on behalf of African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina.

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ITF, Nigerian Air Force, Others, Sign MOU To Advance Research

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The Industrial Training Fund, ITF has signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, and Equipment and Protective Application International Limited to establish the framework that will give room for optimal performance as well as enhance productivity.

The Director General, Industrial Training Fund, Sir Joseph Ari while speaking at the NAF headquarters in Abuja, said the MOU will be pursued with vigour and all the seriousness it deserves so that greater success would be the catalyst that will drive their intentions.

He explained that over the years, ITF had redirected its focus on technical, vocational training and education noting that developed nations are where they are today because of the initiative.

According to him, “even here in Abuja, we have a model of a skills training centre and the model was brought in from the Singaporean experience of the institute for technical education and services of Singapore”.

“We brought a semblance of it here to experience with five trade areas, Mechatronics and Autotronics, Computer Networking, ICT, Facility Technology as well as culinary in both African and Western cuisine is right there in the heart of Abuja in the ITF house, it is like a university”.

“The ITF is well positioned to work hand in hand with the Nigerian Air Force,” he said

The ITF boss added; “I must say that the Chief of Air Staff has a lot of foresight with his men to think about this Memorandum of Understanding because I deed, ITF is where you should be”.

“The ITF came into contact with the Nigerian Air Force even though a lot of the officers of the Air Force might have participated in its programmes in the past and since then I have noticed that NAF has not relented in its efforts to equipped it’s workforce and also upgrade and retrain its people,” Sir Ari added.

He also commended the men and officers of the NAF for their sacrifice in keeping the nation safe.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal, Oladayo Amao said the Nigerian Air Force has a highly technical Service and technology is the bedrock of all its operations.

Represented by the Chief of Standards and Evaluation, Air Vice Marshal, Olusegun Philip, Amao noted that in line with the focus of the Federal Government in promoting indigenous technology, the Nigerian Air Force has been looking inwards to gradually wean itself of overdependence on foreign technology and to become more innovative and resourceful.

“Therefore, in order to advance the Nigerian Air Force’s Research and Development efforts, we have deemed it necessary to formally collaborate with indigenous organizations through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding,” Amao stated.

“These collaborative efforts provide pedestals to leapfrog capability as well as a repertoire of capabilities that can be harnessed”.

“The collaborative efforts also provide platforms to synergise ideas for innovations that are key to achieving meaningful results to solve the technological challenges we currently face in a cost effective manner,” he said.

The Managing Director, Equipment and Protective Application International Limited, Engineer, Kola Balogun however, assured that the MOU entered would be for the overall economic benefit and development of the nation.

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SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.

The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.

In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.

SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.

The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.

“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.

“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”

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