Posts

ICYMI: What President Buhari said during Itakpe-Warri rail line commissioning

*Govs Okowa, Obaseki commends Buhari administration

President Muhammadu Buhari, On Tuesday, September 29, inaugurated the 326 km Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line for commercial operation, as well as the ancillary facilities yard, at the recently named Goodluck Jonathan Railway Complex in Agbor (Owa-Oyibu), Delta State.

The President, who declared the rail line open for commercial operations at a virtual meeting in State House, instructed the Federal Ministry of Transportation to link all the nation’s ports of origin and destination – Apapa, Tin Can, Warri, Onne, Calabar Ports – to the rail network to enhance overall transportation and economic capacities.

The President declared that his administration recognised the importance of the railway mode of transportation as a vital backbone to support industrialization and economic development.

“Accordingly, I have approved the prioritization of viable railway routes for either new rail lines or the reconstruction and rehabilitation of some, to achieve effective and efficient train services supporting the country’s trade and commerce.

“The Railway Infrastructure that I have the honour to commission today is the rail line from Itakpe via the steel town complex of Ajaokuta to Warri, and is an important link for the country’s economy as the central rail line.

“This Government has also approved to link this line further from Itakpe to Abuja, thereby, connecting the Northern Zone of the country and also extending southwards to link the Warri Ports.”

“It will link people across the cultural divides and expand the frontier of trade and commerce, which will lead to better standards of living for our citizens,” he said.

President Buhari recalled that to further give recognition to Nigerian sons and daughters who have distinguished themselves at nation building and development , 11 railway stations and railway village were named after some deserving citizens.

He listed them as follows: Adamu Attah Station, Itakpe; Abubakar Olusola Saraki Station, Ajaokuta; Augustus Aikhomu Station, Itogbo; George Innih Station, Agenebode; Anthony Enahoro Station, Uromi; Tom Ikimi Station, Ekehen and Samuel Ogbemudia Station, Igbanke.

Others are Goodluck Jonathan Railway Complex, Agbor, Owa-Oyibu; David Ejoor Station, Abraka; Michael Ibru Station, Opara; Alfred Rewane Station, Ujevwu; and Michael Akhigbe Railway Village, Agbor

“I implore those who work on this line to uphold maintenance and safety culture necessary for long-lasting service in this difficult terrain.

“By the same token, I urge other sectors who will be primary beneficiaries of this transportation backbone, including, the iron and steel sector, stakeholders in agricultural and mining sectors on this corridor, as well as the host communities to protect and sustain this infrastructure and maximize the benefits that could be derived from it and which is readily available at their doorsteps.

“This project will increase the volume of their trade and kickstart and resuscitate the iron and steel complexes.

“All these, I hope will improve our industrial potentials and capacities as well as boost employment,’’ he said.

President Buhari said projections indicate that the commencement of operation of the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Rail line will account for close to one million passengers annually and also unleash approximately 3.5 million tonnes capacity of freight annually that will service all off-takers on the corridor and beyond.

Congratulating the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi and his team on successfully completing the project, the President recognized the host communities on this corridor for their patience during the long wait of over 30 years for the realization of the project.

He also commended the host communities for their cooperation during the completion works by the Federal Government.

He assured Nigerians that his administration would continue, within available resources, to judiciously connect commercial and industrial hubs to boost trade, generate wealth and create employment.

In his remarks, Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa commended President Buhari’s bi-partisan approach to governance, saying ‘‘it is a thing of pride and joy that this rail line was completed under your watch.’’

“Deltans are excited that this day has come,’’ he said, adding that the Ika nation is glad of the recognition accorded former President Goodluck Jonathan, in naming the railway complex in Agbor after him.

Okowa urged the private sector to take advantage of the historic corridor by establishing investments that will create jobs for locals, curb youth restiveness and stem the tide of criminality.

“It is imperative that the Federal Government in collaboration with the States provide adequate security cover for this rail line corridor,” he said.

In his remarks, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki congratulated the President on the feat of completing the project, saying it is quite fortuitous that few days to the country’s 60th independence celebration, the President has achieved the completion of this critical infrastructure.

“For us in Edo State we are excited that we have a few stops that have been completed and we are going to be working with you to utilise this infrastructure,” he said.

The Edo Governor appealed to the minister of transportation to extend the rail line to the industrial park in Benin City to facilitate the movement of goods to the northern part of the country.

Also speaking, Amaechi said the project was fully funded by the Nigerian government, adding that 8 of the 10 stations are in the Niger-Delta/ South South region of the country.

“There is no loan on this project, it was funded from the budget and I had the directive of the President to go and revive it and complete it as soon as possible,’’ he said.

According to the Transportation Minister, the project started under the military era in 1987 but ‘‘underwent protracted hiccups, prolonged abandonment and massive vandalisation,’’ before it was resuscitated by the Buhari administration.

President Buhari approves Interim Committee for NDDC

*Sends NDDC board list to Senate for confirmation

In line with his recent directive for a comprehensive audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), covering from 2001–2019 period, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of an Interim Management Committee (IMC) to prepare for the audit.

They are: Dr. Gbene Joi Nunieh as Acting Managing Director; Dr. Cairo Ojougboh as Acting Executive Director, Projects, and Chief Ibanga Bassey Etang as Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration.

The IMC was inaugurated by the Honourable Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, in Abuja on Tuesday.

The Inauguration of the new NDDC Board Members – whose names have been sent to the National Assembly for confirmation – will be put on hold until the forensic audit exercise is completed. The IMC will run the organization in the intervening period.

Meanwhile, the Senate on Tuesday started the process of confirming the appointments of nominees for the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, after President Buhari had sent NDDC board list to Senate for confirmation.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan read a letter from President Buhari, announcing the 16-member board at plenary. Lawan asked the committee on Niger Delta to conclude the screening of the nominees and submit a report, within one week.

According to the letter from the President; the nominees include Dr. Pius Odubu, a former deputy governor of Edo State, who would serve as Chairman; while Bernard Okumagba from Delta State, would serve as Managing Director and Otobong Ndem from Akwa Ibom State was nominated as the Executive Director, Projects.

Others include, Maxwell Okoh from Bayelsa State; Jones Erue from Delta State; Victor Ekhatar from Edo State; and Joy Nunieh from Rivers State; Nwogu Nwogu from Abia State; Theodore Allison from Bayelsa State; Victor Antai from Akwa Ibom State; and Maurice Effiwatt from Cross River State.

Olugbenga Edema from Ondo State; Uchegbu Kyrian from Imo State; and Aisha Murtala Muhammed from Kano State representing North-West area on the board are also on the list.

The other names on the list are, Ardo Zubairu (Adamawa State), who will represent the North East; and Ambassador Abdullahi Bage (Nasarawa), who would represent the North Central geopolitical zone.

From Niger Delta creeks to billionaire farmer: An ex-militant’s story

In 2017, when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, went on a tour of the Niger Delta to quell the rising tension in the region, it not only birthed the Niger Delta New Vision for the region’s development & revamped the bedrock to a stable economy, it also open the door to a new frontier, an agriculture revolution.

Weeks after he left the Niger Delta, the tension and occasional assault on oil pipelines almost went extinct. It was as if the VP had used a magic wand from one of Harry Potters’ sold out series. Peace enveloped the region and the falling oil prices which could easily have colluded with insecurity and uncertainty in the region quietly went away.

There was a new hope for Nigeria and he was rightly applauded locally and internationally for intervening at a time when things were most sensitive. But not only did he calm things in the Niger Delta, he opened an avenue for some of the ex-militants.

For those who have had the privilege to be in this same room as Prof. Osinbajo, you’ll agree that he is the full package. He is a leader, father, orator, inspirational speaker, lawyer, pastor, teacher etc but most importantly is the fact that he loves Nigeria. He loves Nigeria so much that sometimes you wonder why? This he shares in common with President Buhari who has so much belief in him that he sent him to deliver a Holy Grail. But that is a story for another day.

When Retson Tedheke listened to a speech by Prof. Osinbajo where he noted that there was a new oil well in Nigeria and he explained that if they can carefully mine it, they will have gold on their hands. That oil well was agriculture and a certain entrepreneur, Tedheke, was inspired by the Vice President’s speech

At the time, he was an ex-militant, but the entrepreneur in him was always going to come out, it only needed an inspirational speech and an outlet from the erudite professor of law. Oh boy, did that speech work? Yes, it did. It worked like magic. He caught the bug right there and he knew in his mind what he was going to do to put himself on the billionaire list.

Born in Delta state, but then resident in the creeks in Bayelsa, Tedheke made his way to the North Central part of Nigeria, specifically Nasarawa State. If you say Nasarawa State chose him, then you are right, but if you say he chose Nasarawa, you are also right. It was a partnership made in heaven, and only him and the people Gaa’te community in Nasarawa can explain how they have blossomed over the last few years.

On arriving at Ga’ate, the people took to him, they saw something him and at that point they knew they were going to make history together. While still getting to know his new surroundings, Tedheke was gifted three hectares of land to start his new adventure.

This is nothing like the creek, here he needed to learn a new language, meet new people, develop new relationships and make history if he could and somehow all these happened before he could even say Jack Robinson.

As it is with most successful people, Tedheke embraced his humble beginning and got straight to work. All the distractions available in the creek were no more, now was the time to work and make a name for himself and the community that had been so generous to him.

He had heard that President Buhari was determined to diversify away from crude oil and that he had his eyes on agriculture especially rice, which Nigeria had to potential to produce for its near 200 million population and also export to other countries.

The first farm produce was therefore rice and he did get it right. First, he showed how selfless and patriotic he was by branding the rice Ga’ate, after the community that had given him a home and the needed piece of land to start off. This legacy will never go away, the actions by the community and Tedheke showed that Nigeria is stronger together and that there is more to achieve collectively.

This was not a relationship based on ethnicity, religion or tribe but one built on ‘will’ and the Nigerian spirit that cannot be broken. Hand in hand, they started from 3 hectares to 3,000 hectares. Tedheke then went on to found National Farmers Group and Cooperative Society Ga’ate, Nasarawa, a cooperative that currently supports hundreds of farmers and workers.

Reflecting on his achievements in Nasarawa, he said, “We did it by being true Nigerians and developed it close to Abuja so anyone can see what we do. I’m originally from Bayelsa state, born in Delta state, now I live here and the Governor (of Nasarawa) is my Governor,” an emotional Tedheke said.

The business that started with N1.5 million is now worth about a billion naira through crowdfunding. With about 300 to 500 workers on the farm from across the country and hundreds more in indirect labour, Ga’ate is gradually becoming a community to reckon with and is finding its way on the global map.

The limelight beamed on Tedheke and Ga’ate when on Thursday, October 17, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, accompanied by the Nasarawa State Governor, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, paid a visit to the NFGCS Farm Centre, which Tedheke founded. It marked the germination of an inspired seed of words into a forest of achievement.

He noted that was inspired by the Buhari administration’s focus on agriculture diversification of Nigeria’s economy. He said receiving the VP on his farmland, as well as the Nasarawa State Governor was the “happiest day of my life.”

How we’ll develop the Niger Delta- Akpabio

The newly appointed Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Minister of State, Mr. Festus Keyamo have resumed with the pledge to develop and positively change the narratives of the Niger Delta, in line with the Buhari administration’s Niger Delta New Vision.

The New Vision for the Niger Delta is designed to “develop a new and prosperous Niger Delta through the Federal Government’s forthright partnerships with State Governments, the Private Sector and Local Communities.”

At a reception organised by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs. Didi Walson-Jack and management staff in Abuja on Wednesday, the Ministers said they were prepared to leave huge footprints of success stories in the ministry with developmental projects that would address the needs of the people.

Akpabio said the issues of capacity building, inadequate infrastructure, poverty alleviation, youth restiveness, entrepreneurship, environmental degradation, amongst others, will be tackled head-on.

According to newspaper reports, Akpabio pledged to work harmoniously with the Minister of State to ensure that they lived up to the expectations of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Akpabio added that he loved leaving marks anywhere he worked and called on staff and management of the Ministry to ‘put all hands on deck to ensure that our developmental efforts yield fruits’.

He said, “I love leaving marks wherever I visit, it is a great privilege on our part being selected to work with you, to see how we can turn around the fortunes of the Niger Delta region.

“Of course you know why this ministry was set up, specifically that region would have been like a golden egg, but has been neglected for long. If not because we’re just coming for the first time, I would have asked for your achievements so far, especially in the areas of construction of bridges, employment and others.

“Being a Niger Delta person, I will ensure that things are better for further and effective development of the region. So, the president is looking forward to commissioning a lot of projects in the Niger Delta region. I believe the Niger Delta region and its people, they are looking forward to the alleviation of poverty in their lives and transformation of infrastructure.”

In the same vein, Keyamo pledged to give his best in appreciation of the confidence repose in him by President Buhari.