- Permit: FG Audits Foreigners Working on Project Sites
The Federal Government has conducted an audit to find out the number of foreigners working on 127 works and housing project sites across the country.
It also announced that the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing had inaugurated a full audit to ascertain the number of foreigners working on all project sites nationwide, beyond just the works and housing sectors.
President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed these while speaking in Abuja at the 60th Anniversary of the Nigerian Society of Engineers in preparation for the 2018 National Engineering Conference and Annual General Meeting which begins on Monday (today).
Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said, “The Executive Order Number Five issued earlier this year is one step towards ensuring that in the short term, the economic benefits of our investments in infrastructure are maximised for the benefit of Nigerians. The implementation committee of ministers set up to ensure compliance has already started work.
“Therefore, while we have taken loans from overseas to execute some of these projects, we did not sign away the rights of Nigerians to benefit from them. I am happy to inform you that the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has conducted a snap audit of 77 works construction sites and 50 housing sites to ascertain the number of foreigners employed on those sites and whether they have work permits on the work they are undertaking.”
He added, “The report shows that first, there are 8,950 workers on those 77 works project sites, out of which 227 are foreigners and 8,723 are Nigerians. On the housing side, the inception report shows that we have 51,360 workers and no foreigner was found working on those sites.”
Buhari said foreigners must obey Nigerian laws and must obtain work permits if they must continue working in Nigeria.
He said, “But the ministry has gone beyond that; they have now commissioned a more detailed and full audit of all construction sites and we are waiting for the results of the findings. Let me declare that why the government of Nigeria welcomes foreigners and investors to our country, we expect that, like in all law abiding countries; foreigners can only work after obtaining work permits in accordance with our laws.
“This is one of the objectives of the Executive Order Number Five and in cooperation with the NSE, will be most welcome towards achieving our long term objective of delivering prosperity to the greatest number of Nigerians.”
The NSE, President, Adekunle Mokuolu, applauded Buhari for his courage in giving Nigerians the Presidential Executive Order Five.
“It is important that I mention here again that the NSE considers the Executive Order Five which is for planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian content in contracts and science, engineering and technology, as a call to action for Nigerian engineers.”
Mokuolu observed that it had been an uphill task getting successive governments to understand the importance of indigenous engineering innovations to national economic and social development.
He, therefore, noted that the conference would re-emphasise, from an informed point of view, the need to prioritise rural integration in the approach to infrastructure development as a nation.
No Plans To Relocate AFRICOM HQ To Nigeria Or Any Part Of Africa- U.S. Replies Buhari
The United States has said there is no plan to relocate its Africa Command from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other part of Africa despite the worsening state of insecurity in the region.
The US gave the response barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to the US government to consider relocating AFRICOM to Africa to assist Nigeria and other adjoining countries to combat worsening terrorism, banditry and other security crises.
The President made the plea in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on April 27.
Germany-based Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the US military headquarters that oversees its operations in Africa.
Buhari’s request followed a series of recent military casualties in Nigeria’s decade-long fight against Boko Haram terrorists, fresh expansion of the insurgents’ bases to Niger and Nasarawa States, and heavy waves of abductions and killings by bandits in the North.
Buhari said, “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.
“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.
“The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.
“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.”
However, the US government on Thursday ruled out any plan to relocate AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any part of Africa.
According to the United States Department of Defence’ Pentagon, previous studies have shown that the cost of relocating AFRICOM from Germany to Africa is very huge.
In an emailed response to The PUNCH, the Pentagon said although it would continue to value Nigeria and other countries in Africa as important partners, the American government would not consider relocating AFRICOM to any part of the African continent at the moment.
This newspaper had asked if the US would consider Nigeria’s request to relocate AFRICOM to the continent.
“It would be inappropriate to speculate on any future actions. However, at this time, moving this headquarters (AFRICOM HQ) to Africa is not part of any plans, but USAFRICOM’s commitment to their mission, our African and other partners, remains as strong today as when we launched this command more than a decade ago,” US Pentagon spokesperson, Ms. Cindi King, said.
King also ruled out any plan to consider Buhari’s request in an ongoing global US defence review.
She said, “Although there is an ongoing Global Posture Review, the relocation of Combatant Command headquarters is outside the scope of its assessment. In the case of AFRICOM, previous studies have concluded that the cost associated with the relocation of this headquarters is significant and likely to incur the expense of other engagement opportunities and activities that more directly benefit our valued African partners.
“We greatly value the partnership with Nigeria and appreciate President Buhari’s recognition of the United States’ positive contribution to African peace and security, as well as other regional partners that have made similar past pronouncements. The United States remains committed to continuing our close partnership with African countries and organisations to promote security and stability.”
It’s ‘near impossible’ for America to accept Buhari’s invitation –Campbell, ex-US ambassador
Meanwhile, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has listed reasons why it is “unlikely or near impossible” for the US government to relocate AFRICOM from Stuttgart in Germany to Nigeria or any part of the continent.
He said aside from the fact that the cost of doing so is very huge, the Nigerian military had proved to be a difficult partner for the US over the years.
Emefiele Says CBN Will Resist All Attempts to Continue Maize Importation
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has vowed to resist all attempts to continue the importation of maize into the country.
Godwin Emefiele, the governor, CBN, in a statement titled ‘Emefiele woos youths to embrace agriculture’, said: “the CBN would resist attempts by those who seek to continually import maize into the country.”
Emefiele, who spoke in Katsina during the unveiling of the first maize pyramid and inauguration of the 2021 maize wet season farming under the CBN-Maize Association of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, said maize farmers in the country had what it takes to meet the maize demand gap of over 4.5 million metric tonnes in the country.
“With over 50,000 bags of maize available on this ground, and others aggregated across the country, maize farmers are sending a resounding message that we can grow enough maize to meet the country’s demand,” Emefiele said.
He explained that the maize unveiled at the ceremony would be sold to reputable feed processors.
He added that this would in turn impact positively on current poultry feed prices, as over 60 per cent of maize produced in the country were used for producing poultry feed.
Nigeria’s Spending Structure Unsustainable, Budget Head Says
Nigeria’s current trend of spending more money on running the government than on building new infrastructure is unsustainable, the country’s top budget oversight official said.
Low revenue collection and high recurrent costs have resulted in actual capital expenditure below two trillion naira ($4.88 billion) a year for a decade, Ben Akabueze, director-general of the Budget Office, said Tuesday in a virtual presentation.
“Hence, the investments required to bridge the infrastructure gap are way beyond the means available to the government,” Akabueze said. Recurrent spending, allocated towards salaries and running costs, has accounted for more than 75% of the public budget every year since 2011, he said.
Africa’s largest economy requires at least $3 trillion of spending over the next 30 years to close its infrastructure gap, Moody’s Investors Service said in November. The country’s tax revenue as a proportion of gross domestic product is one of the lowest globally, according to the International Monetary Fund.
“Huge recurrent expenditure has constrained the provision of good roads, steady power supply, health care services, quality education and quality shelter,” Akabueze said.
Nigeria should amend its constitution to create six regions to replace the existing 36 states, which each have their own governments, Akabueze said. The country also needs to reduce the number of cabinet ministers to a maximum of 24 from more than 40 and cut federal ministries to fewer than 20 from the current 27, he said.
“No country can develop where a large part of its earnings is spent on administrative structures rather than on capital investment,” Akabueze said.
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