- Don’t Downgrade Enugu International Airport, Senate Warns FG
The Senate on Thursday urged the Federal Government not to downgrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, as earlier threatened by the immediate past minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika.
The upper chamber also urged the Federal Government to rehabilitate the runway of the airport for the safety of passengers and aircrafts in conformity with international aviation standards.
The Senate passed the resolutions following a motion sponsored by Senator Victor Umeh, titled ‘The threat to downgrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport.’
The red chamber further asked the Federal Government to take steps to complete the new terminal building of the Enugu International Airport and put it to use by foreign and local airlines.
It also urged the Federal Ministry of Aviation and its agencies to develop a water source from the nearby Ekulu River for the use of the airport.
The Senate expressed appreciation to the Enugu State Government for swiftly demolishing and ordering the relocation of the Orie Emene Market, shutting down the nearby abattoir and ordering the immediate removal of the broadcasting mast and other illegal structures close to the airport.
It urged the Federal Ministry of Aviation to return all the generators allegedly removed from the Akanu Ibiam International Airport and taken to the airport in Port Harcourt, on the orders of the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi.
Umeh had observed that Sirika had threatened to downgrade the airport because of what he considered as imminent dangers posed to air travellers by the presence of a nearby market.
He also said that Sirika had expressed concerns over the presence of a state radio mast on the flight path of airlines that threatened the safety of incoming aircraft.
He quoted Sirika as also saying that the presence of an abattoir, which attracted large birds and exposed airplanes to the bird strikes; the locating of a free trade zone and the bad state of the runway, necessitated the threat to downgrade the airport.
He appreciated the concerns of the former minister over the safety of passengers and airplanes using the airport.
He also noted that the airport currently serves travellers from Enugu, Kogi, Anambra, Ebonyi, Benue, cross River and other adjoining states.
In their various contributions, all the senators who spoke, supported the motion, spoke against the proposed downgrading of the airport
Senator Barnabas Gemade noted that the Enugu International Airport was critical to the economic lives of not only the South-East but also neighbouring Benue and other states
He said, “Downgrading the airport is retrogressive to the economic growth of the nation. No part of the country should be relegated to the background.”
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, stressed the need for relevant authorities in the aviation ministry to speed up the upgrading of facilities at the airport.
France, Nigeria to Build New Partnership
France is currently aiming at building a new partnership with Nigeria, with the dispatching of its Minister in charge of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Franck Riester, to Nigeria.
Riester, who was expected at the time of filing this report on Monday, is scheduled to visit Nigeria from 12-14 April, 2021.
A statement from the French Embassy in Nigeria said: “Franck Riester is visiting Nigeria from 12 to 14 April, a visit that follows up on the priorities set by French President Emmanuel Macron during his official visit to Nigeria in July 2018 and his desire to build a new partnership between Africa and France.
“As the largest economy in Africa and the economic engine of West Africa, Nigeria is indeed a major partner for France, the first in sub-Saharan Africa with bilateral trade amounting to a total of 4.5 billion USD in 2019 (2.3 billion USD in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic).”
It disclosed that the minister will have several official meetings in Abuja and Lagos, in order to underline the importance of the bilateral economic relationship and to prepare the summit on the financing of African economies in Paris on 18 May.
It revealed that the objective of the mission is also to further strengthen the links between the French and Nigerian private sectors, and “in this regard, the minister will have in-depth discussions with the main Nigerian economic actors to strengthen bilateral cooperation and investments, both in Nigeria and in France, particularly in the logistics sector”.
It said while in the country, the minister would meet with young Nigerian entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative industries sector, to discuss the major role of their country in African creativity and the development of the African entrepreneurial ecosystem, with the support of France.
It further said: “The minister will also open the ‘Choose Africa’ conference, a €3.5 billion initiative by President Emmanuel Macron dedicated to supporting the development of start-ups and SMEs in Africa to enable the continent to benefit fully from the opportunities of the digital revolution.”
COVID-19: USAID to Provide $3m Grant, Technical Assistance to Combat Food Insecurity in Nigeria
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing financial grant and technical assistance worth $3 million to combat food insecurity in Nigeria compounded by COVID-19 pandemic.
A statement by the agency on Monday said: “On April 12, 2021, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria launched a COVID-19 Food Security Challenge that will provide $3 million in grant funding and technical assistance to youth-led and mid-stage companies working in food value chains in Nigeria.”
The statement lamented that Nigeria is experiencing food insecurity compounded by the COVID-19 global pandemic and its effects on the food value chain in the country.
It stated that the pandemic has disrupted the already fragile agricultural value chains, especially smallholder farmers’ ability to produce, process and distribute food, which has disrupted agricultural productivity and markets, and negatively impacted livelihoods, especially among vulnerable households, women and youth.
The USAID Mission Director, Anne Patterson, said: “We are launching the COVID-19 Food Security Challenge to help innovative Nigerians alleviate food insecurity.
“This assistance encourages private sector-led solutions to boost food production, processing and create market linkage along the agriculture value chain in a sustainable way across Nigeria.”
The statement revealed that in launching the challenge, USAID seeks commercially viable youth-led and mid-stage companies already working in food production, processing, and distribution, noting that successful applicants will present ideas that demonstrably help farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain increase, agricultural productivity and food security within the next six months.
According to the statement, the challenge will award 15 to 25 youth-led companies up to $75,000 each and award 10 to 15 mid-stage companies up to $150,000 each.
Winners will receive funding and technical assistance to rapidly expand their activities to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s food value chain and improve the resilience of vulnerable households to the negative impacts of the pandemic.
FG Plans to Deliver Solar Energy to 25M Nigerians
The Nigerian federal government has commenced its plan to deliver electricity through solar energy to Nigerians whose communities are off the national power grid.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who spoke during an event to mark the programme in Jangefe, Roni Local Government Area of Jigawa State, restated the determination of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to give more Nigerians access to cheap and environmentally friendly renewable power.
Osinbajo said the Solar Power Naija programme would continue across the six geopolitical zones in six states, namely, Edo, Lagos, Adamawa, Anambra, Kebbi and Plateau, in the first phase, and then move to the entire 36 states and the nation’s capital, thus, covering 25 million Nigerians at completion.
Jangefe community got 1,000 solar home system connections for its about 5,000 population, as part of a 100,000 scheme, with a local solar power company implementing aspects of the scheme.
According to Osinbajo, the president had emphasised that Nigeria could no longer rely solely on the grid if government is to electrify the whole country, which meant that an effective strategy had to be developed for decentralising power supply.
The Solar Power Naija programme, which is designed by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), is an ambitious initiative that aims to create five million connections through a N140 billion financing programme that will support private developers to provide power for five million households, which means providing electricity for up to 25 million Nigerians.
The vice president disclosed that the programme was a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement supported by concessionary lending via the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks. He emphasised that structures had been put in place to make the cost of the connections affordable for the target communities.
In addition to the concessionary lending rates, Osinbajo explained that the government had provided subsidies and rebates for private developers to the tune of over $200 million under the REA and World Bank Nigeria electrification programme.
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