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Senate Committee Faults N4.5bn Railway Allocation

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Railway Projects

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Gbenga Ashafa, has faulted the N4.5bn earmarked for the Nigerian railway in the 2016 budget, describing it as grossly inadequate to meet the immediate needs of the industry, according to Punch report.

He said this on Tuesday during an inspection tour of the railway facilities in Lagos by the joint Senate and House Committees on Land Transport.

Ashafa said, “What that amount can do in one year for a corporation with an overhead of N399m, I don’t know; this is because the bulk of that sum is tailored towards the personnel cost. For the record, the Nigerian Railway Corporation has a total of 9,700 employees.

“While we are inching closer to where we ought to be as a nation in the area of land transport, we are clearly not anywhere close to the mark. The task of moving from a dispensation of single track railway to the standard gauge and then towards exploring the possibilities of electronic railway depends on all of us present here.”

He added that the inspection tour was in line with the lawmakers’ responsibilities in carrying out the oversight functions of the ministries and departments under their supervision.

Ashafa said it had become imperative for members of the committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives to carry out on-the-spot assessment of all the paper work submitted and defended before them.

The Chairman, House Committee on Land Transport, Aminu Isa, expressed his delight at the NRC’s achievements and assured the corporation of the House’s assistance.

He said, “This corporation, if given the chance, will do better. We as honourable members intend to intervene and see how we can greatly assist the NRC in this 2016 budget. I hope the corporation will be able to take us to the level where South Africa and Ethiopia are with their railway systems.”

The Managing Director of the NRC, Mr. Adeseyi Sijuwade, in his address, said the railway which had been comatose for decades was now back on track.

He said, “Following substantial progress on the ongoing rehabilitation projects, the NRC now operates mass transit trains, intercity passenger trains, cargo trains, excursion and specialised charter trains all over the country.

“We are equally optimistic about commencing the movement of petroleum products from Lagos up the North soonest to further strengthen railway relevance to Nigeria’s economic growth.”

Sijuwade added that the NRC was also involved in the movement of cement from Ewekoro to Minna, Kaduna and Kano for the Lafarge Cement; the movement of wheat and flour products from Lagos to Kano for Flour Mills Limited; and the movement of containers from the Apapa Port to Kaduna and Kano for APMT and ICNL.

The Director of Operations of the NRC, Mr. Niyi Ali, lamented that the lack of funding towards the completion of the Safe Train Control system had slowed down its implementation.

A modern railway signal system, the STC, allows the NRC to monitor real-time movements of trains on the tracks, with the aid of the On Board Computers installed on its locomotives, according to him.

The NRC began a trial implementation of the project last year, he added.

“The problem we have is funding. The contractor has not been paid for over a year. This is one of the projects being funded by SURE P and since its demise, the project has slowed down. A lot of equipment has already been shipped in,” Ali said.

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

Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Speaks on Looted Palliatives, Explains Delay

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looted palliatives

Looted Palliatives: Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Speaks

Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) has spoken on the recent actions of criminals and thugs who hijacked the #EndSARS protest and looted warehouses where COVID-19 palliatives were kept for distributions.

The group refuted claims that the stolen items were hoarded for certain people instead of distribution to the vulnerable they were meant for. This is despite the fact that some of the palliatives were already rotten by the time criminals broke into the warehouses.

Some of the looters, who spoke with the press, said a sizeable number of the items were already rotten and destroyed by rodents, while one of the lawmakers tasked with distribution claimed he planned to distribute the items on his birthday. A statement that angered many Nigerians.

However, in a statement issued on behalf of the group by Osita Nwanisobi, the Acting Director of Corporate Communications, CBN, on Monday, CACOVID said due to the huge size of the items meant to be distributed, the complex process involved in manufacturing, packaging and the eventual distribution to 2 million most vulnerable families across the 774 local government in the country, the group agreed to conduct the supply in stages, especially given locked down imposed by the Federal Government during the period.

The statement reads, “Members of the Private Sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) wish to call for calm, amidst the looting of COVID-19 palliatives meant for distribution in various State Government warehouses across the country.

“The Coalition is deeply concerned by the recent events and is urging those involved in the wanton destruction of public and private property to immediately desist from these raids, in order to allow the States to proceed with a peaceful and fair distribution of these palliatives to the neediest and most vulnerable in our society.

“Over the past few months, the private sector, through CACOVID has been working with governors, the FCT Minister, and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) to procure, deliver, and distribute these food relief items to almost 2 million most vulnerable families (over 10 million Nigerians) across the 774 local government areas of the country, as part of the private sector’s support towards the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The sheer scale of this nationwide food programme and the timing of the orders and deliveries, which coincided with the lockdowns and reduced movement across the country, compelled CACOVID to roll out distribution in a staggered manner.

“The very large size of the order and the production cycle required to meet the demand caused delays in delivering the food items to the states in an expeditious manner; hence, the resultant delay in delivery of the food palliatives by the state governors.”

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Government

Makinde Directs Schools to Reopen After #EndSARS Protest

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education

Schools to Reopen After #EndSARS Protest, Says Governor Makinde

The Executive Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, has directed schools across the Ibadan metropolis to resume normal activities immediately after the #EndSARS protest.

Mr Olasunkanmi Olaleye, the commissioner for education, Oyo State, disclosed this in a statement issued on Sunday in Ibadan.

According to Olaleye, the directive was after a careful review of the situation in the Ibadan metropolis as promised by Governor Makinde in a state broadcast on October 20.

This was after the governor ordered the closure of all schools, private and public, in the Ibadan metropolis for three days and promised to review the situation on October 23.

Olaleye said the governor thanks the youths who have been cooperating with security operatives in the state to ensure peace and order.

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NIMC to Register, Issue 2.5 million National Identification Monthly

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NIMC enrolment

The National Identity Management Commission has said it would improve registration and issuance of the National Identification Numbers to both Nigerians and legal residents to the current 500,000 to 2.5 million per month.

Aliya Aziz, Director-General, NIMC, said this was the commission’s renewed commitment towards the provision of identity services to the nation.

He gave the assurance while playing host to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, who was on an official visit to the commission’s head office in Abuja.

Aziz said in a statement issued in Abuja by the Head, Corporate Communication, NIMC, Kayode Adegoke, that the commission would meet and surpass the monthly target.

This, he said, would be part of the policy statements in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.

The NIMC boss told his guest that the commission had competent human resources and was looking forward to government support and intervention in injecting the much needed material resources to realise the set objectives.

Pantami charged the commission to increase and improve its performance with regards to NIN registration and issuance, as he also reiterated the target of 2.5 million monthly enrolments.

The minister told his host that the importance of digital identity in actualising the digital economy goals could not be overemphasised and commended the strides recorded by the NIMC despite limited resources.

He assured the commission of government’s support and guidance towards ensuring the fulfilment of its mandate, adding that he had initiated moves to improve staff welfare at the NIMC.

Pantami also assured the NIMC management and staff of his resolve to improve the state of the current infrastructure and equipment to enable the commission to sustain its performance.

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