- AfDB, EU Commit $18m to Construction of 1,008km Lagos-Abidjan Highway
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and European Union (EU) have made financial commitments worth $18 million to the construction of a 1,008 kilometres stretch highway that will run from Lagos in Nigeria through other cities in the West African coast to Abidjan in Ivory Coast, the President of Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS) Commission, Marcel Alain de Souza, has disclosed.
Souza, stated this on Friday during the ninth steering committee meeting of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Programme in Abuja.
He stated this just as the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said at the meeting that the Abidjan-Lagos super highway project would resolve a lot of the cross border challenges that affected integration in the ECOWAS region, as well as boost regional trade in the region.
The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway is a 1,008 kilometre road that will traverse five countries in the region including Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Benin Republic, Togo and Nigeria, and will reportedly provide access to vibrant sea ports which account for about 90 per cent exports and 60 per cent imports across the sub-region.
Souza, who in his remarks, described the presence of Osinbajo at the ministerial committee meeting as a sign of Nigeria’s commitment to the highway project, stated that the project had already attracted $9 million support from the AfDB and $9 million from the EU.
The funds, he stated would be solely expended on the project as participating member countries will provide an additional $1 million as part of feasibility study for the highway project. He also explained that while the feasibility study for the project could start before January 26th, 2018, construction would likely start in six months’ time.
He however lamented the delay in implementation of the project despite its importance to developing the regional economy.
“We have discussed with the former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and other private sector to support us. 42 years of integration, ECOWAS has not achieved 15 per cent of its goal and 70 per cent of trade in the region is done through this route. So, hopefully, the construction will start in six month time,” said Souza at the meeting which was attended by ministers of works from Nigeria, Republic of Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo
In his remarks, Osinbajo, said beyond trade and other economic prospects, the project would go a long way to promote tourism, create jobs and open small businesses in the region to global opportunities.
According to him: “The development of the Abidjan-Lagos project is the flagship of the entire ECOWAS enterprise and we believe that it will promote regional integration, enable trade, tourism and other forms of economic activities in our sub region and create the much needed jobs for our large youth population.”
“No doubt, it will connect West Africa by means of efficient road network. It is one of the easiest and most direct ways of boosting local and international economies by extension our regional economy. The corridor will inevitably open up new vista of economic opportunities and set the stage of foreignisation of the vast informal economies that exist in our region,” he added.
He pledged Nigeria’s commitment to the project and its completion on schedule, adding that the nation’s recent ratification of the treaty was a demonstration of its commitment.
The Vice President said: “The project will go a long way in resolving the hindrances to cross border trading in West Africa with obvious positive implications for our business environment and beyond linking the major economic centres in West Africa, it is our hope that it will steer regional economy and regional bloc across the continent.”
He also described the project as a testimony of the strong relationship among ECOWAS member nations, despite language and currency differences.
While commending the efforts of AfDB, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and other financial institutions on the project, Osinbajo, said it would strengthen existing relations within the region.
“I will like you to keep in mind as you commence your deliberations that beyond the hard infrastructure, which is the main priority of this committee, we must also pay attention to the development of the requisite self-infrastructure, good brotherliness, mutual respect, security and rule of law.
“As we build the super highway, we must also build the highway of unity, brotherhood and prosperity for all of our people within ECOWAS and the African Union,” he explained.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Ministerial Steering Committee, and Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said the meeting was held to work towards the project financing.
He acknowledged commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari and the ECOWAS Commission to improving trans-border trade.
COVID-19: World Bank to Support Nigerian Frontline Healthcare Workers With $114.28m
World Bank Strengthens Nigerian Response to COVID-19
The World Bank has once again approved another $114.28 million financing for Nigeria to improve its COVID-19 response time and further curb the spread of the virus in Africa’s most populous nation.
The multilateral financial institution said the money will help Africa’s largest economy prevent, detect and respond to the threat of ravaging COVID-19 better.
In a statement titled “Nigeria to boost states capacity for COVID-19 response” and released on Friday, the lender said the fund includes $100 million credit facility from the International Development Association and $14.28 million grant from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.
The statement reads, “Through the COVID-19 preparedness and response project (CoPREP), the government of Nigeria will provide grants to 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory as immediate support to break the chain of COVID-19 local transmission and limit the spread of coronavirus through containment and mitigation strategies.”
The lender, however, stated that grants for states would be based on the adoption of COVID-19 measures and strategies. In particular, the strategies must be in line with the ones put in place by the Federal Government.
“CoPREP will enhance the institutional and operational capacity for disease detection through provision of technical expertise, coordination support, detection, diagnosis and case management efforts in all states and the FCT as per the WHO guidelines in the strategic response plan,” it stated.
The bank added that it would help the Federal Government in such response capacity through the training of frontline healthcare workers and provision of the necessary equipment to aid their work, strengthen public healthcare network for emergencies and generally improve their response efficiency.
Shubham Chaudhuri, the World Bank Country Director, Nigeria said, “Nigeria has ramped up its efforts to contain the COVID -19 outbreak, but more needs to be done at the state level, which are at the frontline of the response.”
Mismanagement of Public Funds and Resources Will Destroy Nigeria, Says Stakeholders
Some concerned stakeholders have said the broad-based financial misappropriation, abuse of public office by Public Officeholders and unchecked borrowing will destroy the nation’s present and future if not checked.
According to Auwal Musa, the Executive Director, CISLAC, who spoke at a stakeholders’ dialogue on ‘Policies, Gaps and Alternatives in Fiscal Transparency in Private Sector Governance,’ organised by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and Transparency International (TI), with support from OXFAM’s country office in Nigeria, abuse of power and financial recklessness as been going on for far too long.
Musa said, “This has been going on for too long, and every singular effort from the citizens is termed as hate or unpatriotic. Meanwhile, the consequences of this anomaly are staring us in the face on a daily basis and are on the increase. Increased poverty; banditry allegedly occasioned by rising unemployment; and unpatriotic citizens trooping into leadership positions to perpetuate the looting and misappropriation due to no oversight and punitive sanctions, not to mention health, infrastructure and societal decay. The list is inexhaustible.”
He also implored the Government that in order to reduce the excessive misuse of public resources, mismanagement of finances and strengthen the financial management system, the holes that encourage people to evade and undermine the collection of taxes must be bridged and in-depth economic improvement devised to close policy gaps.
“There are many areas in which the government can increase its revenue drive. For instance, in the Oil and Gas sector, there are a lot of gaps as a result of lack of a clear legal framework through the PIB, which will enable the sector to be more efficient, transparent and competitive. Again, the oil theft needs to be blocked; other areas like maritime revenue can be harnessed in these sectors.
“Also, the government should block the areas where revenues are supposed to be collected and are not collected. For instance, the audit report clearly shows how the government is losing revenue.” he said.
The stakeholders urge policymakers to look for other sources of revenue that can guarantee development in Nigeria.
Also, speaking at the event was the Programme Manager, Tax, Justice, Environment and Conservation of Nature, CISLAC, Chinedu Bassey, who said one of the reasons to strengthen the Nigerian financial management system is to stop people from stealing and mismanaging resources meant for development.
Iheme Madukairo, the Manager, Large Tax Audit, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), advised Nigerians who evade taxes to stop such act that the law will take its course.
He said “Enforcement is out there, sleeves are rolled up to do the job that we are mandated to do by the act and sooner or later, we will catch up with them. The sanctions have also increased by virtue of the finance act. The penalty has been increased, once it is found out that it is a deliberate act to breach the law, the law will take its course.”
Lai Mohammed Says Buhari Has Recovered Over N800bn in Looted Funds
Buhari Has Recovered Over N800bn in Looted Funds
President Muhammadu Buhari government has recovered over N800 billion looted by corrupt Nigerians since the beginning of this administration in 2015.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, disclosed this on Tuesday at a press conference held in Abuja.
He said, “This administration’s fight against corruption is as strong as ever, and we have the records to back up this claim.
“This administration has recorded over 1,400 convictions, including high profile ones, and recovered funds in excess of N800bn, not to talk of forfeiture of ill-gotten properties.”
President Muhammadu Buhari has made recovery of Nigeria’s stolen assets one of his priorities since he became president in 2015.
Several of Nigeria’s untouchables have been convicted despite political experts and social commentators saying the war against corruption should not be only against opposition but also against those in the ruling party that seems to have been overlooked.
Still, the ruling party has insisted that members of the party have been convicted and one of such is Kalu.
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