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Leaders Kick as $1.5b Loan for Lagos-Ibadan Railway is Stuck

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  • Leaders Kick as $1.5b Loan for Lagos-Ibadan Railway is Stuck

Federal lawmakers came under fire yesterday for delaying the $1.5billion Chinese loan for the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan standard rail gauge.

The National Assembly slashed N21billion off the N31billion estimate in the 2017 budget for the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

All conditions for the loan were met over six months ago. Only the lawmakers’ approval is yet to be obtained.

Last month, the presidential request for the loan’s approval was read by Senate President Bukola Saraki and referred to the Committee on Foreign Loans headed by Senator Shehu Sani. Since then, it has been kept in abeyance.

Stakeholders faulted the lawmakers, wondering why such an important rail project which connects the nation’s economic hub to other parts of the country was left unattended to.

Former Senate Minority Leader Senator Olurunnimbe Mamora said the issue deserved expedited action given the importance of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project. “Whatever the reason the lawmakers have for not according it the priority it deserves, they should have a re-think”.

According to him, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is the busiest road in the country and there is an absolute necessity to have an alternative. “That’s why the rail project is not only desirable, but inevitable. The earlier we did it, the better. It would take off a lot of load, as far as the transportation of heavy goods is concerned. This way, it would reduce haulage on the roads.”

Mamora added: “It should be a priority thing for us to do. My appeal is to the National Assembly to have a re-think and approve the loan in the interest of the nation.

”We have many ports in Lagos and we need to use the train to evacuate goods to all parts of the country. Too much pressure on the roads is responsible for the state of disrepair of our roads nationwide. The plan of the present government is to connect all state capitals with rail.”

Lawyer and human rights activist Monday Ubani said if it was true that the National Assembly is dilly-dallying on the matter, then it amount to “the worst decision taken by the National Assembly, because 90 per cent of Nigerians will want an efficient railway system in Lagos, which would connect other parts of the country”.

The Second National Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said having an efficient railway system would reduce pressure exerted on roads by trucks.

He said: “What baffles me is that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is in the majority in the National Assembly; must the lawmakers sabotage the programme of their party? Whose interest are they representing?”

Afenifere Publicity Secretary Yinka Odumakin said the issue had been on for quite sometime, adding that it appeared there were forces bent on sabotaging the Southwest.

Odumakin said: “What they are doing cannot be an accident; they want to deny the Southwest projects that are very dear to it. I want to say doing that would be very daring and unacceptable.

“We are waiting for them and will definitely rise up against this abnormally. The Southwest has a lot to offer in terms of ensuring the advancement of the country. What they do not understand is that the project does not stand to benefit the Southwest alone, but the entire country through mutual interaction, facilitated by communication.”

Fromer Transport Minister Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said it would be a bad omen, if the National Assembly worked against the project.

He said: “The issue of railways again? When I was minister, we did everything within our powers to give the necessary support to the project. We ensured that the railways from Lagos to Calabar functioned well. Again, we have not got full rail development in Nigeria.

“Whoever offers us any assistance we should embrace it. I want to appeal to the National Assembly to reconsider its stand and support what will bring progress to the Southwest and the entire country.”

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.

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Over 1M Nigerians Have Completed Online Voters Card Pre-Registration – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) affirmed that over 1 million additional voters have completed their online pre-registration for the ongoing nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) within the last four weeks across the country.

INEC’s national commissioner, and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said this through a statement released in Abuja on Monday.

Of the 1 million new eligible voters, 259,450 people have completed their registration in Osun State and it is currently been followed by Edo state with 98,286 new voters.

These two states were closely followed by Anambra state with 65,014, followed by Bayelsa with 63,250, and later Lagos State with 61,991, this came as Yobe with 1,893, followed by Sokoto State with 2,453, Jigawa 2,593, and Zamfara with 2,769 were some of the least stare registered.

The state’s distribution of the online fresh registration released by INEC in Abuja on Monday showed the weekly update provided by INEC for week four which also reveals that the commission received 1,135,395 applications.

The figure of the total applications received includes those for voter transfer, requests for replacement of Permanent Voter Cards, and update of voter information record, etc.

According to the commission, the distribution of the 1,135,395 total applications by age group showed that 740,063 of them were youths between the ages of 18 to 34 years.

The applications from the middle-aged of between 35 to 49 years old were 278,042; the elderly from 50 to 69 years were 102,578; while the old from 70 years and above were 14,712

The distribution by occupation indicated that artisan constituted 75,877 of the total applications; farming/fishing – 81,096; public servants -25,298; business -230,551; house wives -25,816; students 355,227; civil servants 44,093; traders 97,624; others/not specified 199,813.

Also, the distribution by gender showed that females constituted 492,449 of the received applications while males were 642,946 as well as showed that 12,274 of the applicants indicated to be persons living with disabilities.

Okoye, providing an update on the online pre-registration which started nationwide on June 28, disclosed that the commission, also on Monday, commenced physical registration at its 811 state and local government area offices nationwide.

According to the statement, “As of 7 am today, Monday, July 26, the number of new registrants has risen to 1,006,661. The detailed distribution of the registrants by age, State/FCT, gender, occupation, and disability for week four of the exercise has been uploaded on the commission’s website and social media platforms.

“However, the distribution by age still shows that 740,063 (or 73.5 percent) are young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 34. As earlier announced by the commission, physical or in-person registration begins today, Monday, July 26 at our 811 state and local government area offices nationwide.

“The exact locations of the designated centers have already been uploaded to our website and social media platforms. For further details, citizens are encouraged to contact our state offices through the dedicated telephone numbers provided in the uploaded publication.

“‘Nigerians who pre-registered online can now complete their registration at those centers based on scheduled appointments. In addition, other Nigerians who prefer to register physically/in person can now do so at those centers.

“Both online pre-registration and physical/in-person registration will continue simultaneously until the suspension of the CVR exercise on June 30, 2022, to enable the commission to clean up the data and compile the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election.”

Okoye appealed to all citizens who wished to register to approach any of INEC’s state or local government area offices nationwide to do so, as the commission entered the next phase of the CVR exercise.

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Oyo State Budgets N330M Monthly To Support Community Policing In LGAs

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Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State

Oyo State Governor, Seye Makinde has said that the state has set aside a monthly budget of N330 million to be spent on security across the 33 local governments in the state.

The governor who disclosed this in Ibadan said each local government in the state is expected to spend N10 million to support the security of lives and property in their domain.

He said part of the measures was the instruction to local government chairmen to involve traditional rulers as well as other voluntary residents in policing their areas.

Each local government is to spend N10 million monthly on this security arrangement.

Makinde explained that the initiative amounts to spending N330 million in the 33 local government areas, besides other efforts the state government had put in place to tighten security.

“We said each local government should set up a security committee, which should include traditional rulers and voluntary people willing to police their areas.

“I encouraged them to budget N10 million to service the committee every month. For the entire state, that’s N330 million per month by all local governments, excluding what we are doing generally at the state level,” the governor told a group on a visit to him during the recent Muslim festival.

“On security, most of the data in the past months shows that things are now improving. The Igangan incident, some days ago, was only falsified by some people who were saying that Fulani herdsmen had invaded Igangan again. The truth is actually about the NCS and smugglers. They know each other.

“Customs officials were accused to have entered Igangan, which is not a border town. But we are working with Federal authorities and they have arrested most of them.

“The gun that was collected is still with us. I said I won’t release it until I get the attention of the Federal authorities.

“In the Constitution of Nigeria, Oyo State is a federating unit. We are not saying Federal agencies should not carry out their operations here. But they must tell us; they must inform us. They may not disclose the details of the operation to us, but we must know about it.

“If we had known about the operation, we would have pre-informed the security detail in the town and those who died could have been alive. The Amotekun Coordinator that died in Igboora would have still been alive today.

“How can you go operating in an unidentified vehicle in a town where the security tactics have been heightened? As they wanted to enter the town, they were confronted because we have heightened security in all of those places.

“So, we will keep appealing to them and to our people that false information won’t help anybody. Nobody will profit politically from the security issues we are faced with. It is our collective responsibility. The people will play their part and the government will play its own part,” Makinde said.

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Security Operatives Arrest Sunday Igboho in Cotonou, Benin Republic

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The security operatives in Cotonou, Benin Republic have arrested Yoruba freedom fighter, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho.

An anonymous source privy to the arrest disclosed on Tuesday morning.

According to the source, Sunday Igboho was arrested in Cotonou while trying to travel to Germany from the West African nation.

President Buhari-led administration is now working with the Benin government to repatriate him to Nigeria.

The source said, “Sunday Igboho has been arrested in Cotonou. He was arrested about an hour ago.

“He was supposed to travel to Germany through Cotonou this night. He wanted to leave Africa through Cotonou. He was arrested by security operatives in Cotonou.

“They are planning to bring him back to Nigeria.”

It would be recalled that the Department of State Services had declared Igboho wanted after its operatives carried out a bloody midnight raid on his residence in the Soka area of Ibadan, Oyo State.

DSS Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunnaya, had advised Igboho to turn himself in to the nearest security.

“Those cheering and eulogizing him may appeal to or advice him to do the needful,” Afunnaya said. “He should surrender himself to the appropriate authorities. He or anyone can never be above the law.”

Pelumi Olajengbesi, one of the lawyers representing Igboho and others arrested in his House, told SaharaReporters he had not confirmed the news of Igboho’s arrest in Cotonou.

“I will contact Yomi Aliu (SAN) to verify the news,” he said.

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