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FG, EU Sign N728bn MoU to Improve Energy, Transport in Nigeria

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The Federal Government and the European Union (EU), Thursday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to improve education, energy and Transportation programmes in Nigeria.

The MoU was signed at the EU-Nigeria Strategic Meeting held at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja which also involved the granting of loans to two Nigerian private companies and banks by the European Investment Bank, as part of the Global Gateway strategy.

This includes a “2X Challenge” €50 million credit facility with Access Bank for loans to female entrepreneurs and managers in Nigeria, expected to create jobs and growth in line with the green economy priorities.

The second €14 million loan is for Emzor Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients to finance the construction of a manufacturing plant for the production of anti-malarial drugs.

Nigeria’s Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Atiku Abubakar Bagudu penned the MoU for the country while EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainem, signed for the Union.

Chief Executive Officers of the private firms involved signed the agreement for their respective companies while the EU Commissioner penned for the EU.

This major package forms a central part of the EU-Nigeria cooperation to advance the country’s green, resilient, digital inclusive transition under Government priorities and Global Gateway, the EU’s positive offer to deliver sustainable and trusted connections with partner countries.

Speaking at the event which was witnessed by the Permanent Secretary, Nebolisa Anako, and other high level government officials, the Minister said: “Today marks yet another milestone in the annals of the EU-Nigeria development cooperation. The EU -Nigeria relations is one of the most vibrant development partnerships in terms of volume, thematic interventions, modalities and geographical spread in deployment of resources.

“The EU-Nigeria Strategic Dialogue is happening at the take-off of the current Administration in Nigeria and presents opportunities for proper articulation and consolidation of priorities in our Partnership.

“This meeting is a demonstration of our shared commitments for achievement of the mutual objectives of our partnership and multilateralism in these challenging times.

“Our partnership has come a long way on many fronts, namely: collaboration on energy security, regional peace and security, migration management, trade and regional integration, environmental stability and climate change, humanitarian emergencies and crisis management to mention a few.

“The EU – Nigeria Development Cooperation is one of the most vibrant development partnerships in terms of the volume, thematic interventions, modalities and geographical spread in deployment of cooperation resources.

“Indeed, a recent survey shows that over 5,200 communities benefited from various water, sanitation, energy, education, health and other micro project interventions over the course of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP States from the year 2000 – 2020.

“Within the Framework of the Nigerian National Development Plan (NDP) 2021 – 2025 and the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the single most important commitment that will propel Nigeria to lasting security, sustainable stability and shared prosperity is focused investments that will harness the potentials of our citizenry for productivity, economic growth and development.

“Being our closest continental neighbor with advanced political systems, economic prosperity and social cohesion, it is in our mutual interest for Europe to support our efforts in harnessing demographic dividends.”

In her opening remarks, Commissioner Urpilainen said: “I am delighted to be visiting Nigeria to further strengthen our partnership, and I look forward to launching a package of new actions, as part of the Global Gateway strategy and EU support to Government priorities.

“Building on our long-standing cooperation, and in the best spirit of shared responsibility, commitment and accountability, the EU will continue to invest in our common future and priorities of security, democracy and prosperity for all – not least through the package of loans and grants I am signing and launching here today that will benefit the Nigerian businesses, farmers, youth and the society a as whole.”

She said, “I am very happy to announce today two financial agreements in crucial sectors for Nigeria and the region: health and entrepreneurship. The partnership with EMZOR pharmaceutical Industries is a significant step towards accelerating treatments against malaria and healthcare access across the region while reducing the dependence on the importation of essential medicines.

“We are proud to accompany the development of a pioneer firm committed to strengthening the antimalarial supply chain and production.

“Supporting entrepreneurship is also at the heart of our action in Africa. With a new credit facility with Access Bank, our objective is to improve access to finance for female entrepreneurs and to stimulate job creation while supporting sustainable business practices aligned with green economy priorities”.

In his remarks, Ambroise Fayolle, EIB Vice-President said the package developed jointly between the EU and Nigeria, will drive new programmes through Global Gateway.

It includes: climate smart agriculture (€29 million), Sustainable energy (€37 million)

Access to health services (€45 million); Education: support to youth and education development in the North West region (€5.4 million) which will contribute to policy improvement of the teaching profession and the capacity building of teachers.

In addition to these areas of support, the package will also contribute to building access in the Nigerian social protection safety net (€46 million), support to border management and reintegration of returnees (€28.4 million), support to the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration of Boko Haram combatants in the North East region (€20 million) and, last but not least, support to improving the criminal justice system, access to justice and the fight against corruption (€30 million).

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Wuye/Wuse Flyover 85% Completed, Ready in May – Wike

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The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr Nyesom Wike, says the Wuye/Wuse Flyover is 85 per cent completed and will be inaugurated in May.

Wike stated this in Abuja on Saturday, after inspecting the project, along with the Vice-President’s residence and  11-kilometre (km) six lane dual carriage expressway linking Airport Expressway to Kuje.

Wike added that the road from Kuje to Airport Expressway, when completed, would open the area for transformative economic growth and development.

The minister, who equally visited the vice-president’s residence being handled by Julius Berger, expressed optimism that the project would be completed in May.

“I must commend the various contractors, the Arab Contractors and Julius Berger.

“The first site we went to is almost 85 per cent completed, that is, one of those interchanges in Wuye District. The contractors are keeping faith with their commitment to handover the project by May.

“Then we also went to Kuje to inspect the six-lane road of about 11km. The road from the Airport Road down to Kuje will open that area of the Area Council.

“The last time when I went to flag off one of the rural roads, we didn’t see much about the contractors, and I did say that the contractors are not serious.

“Going back there today, I am very impressed with the level and quality of work,” he said.

Speaking at the official residence of the vice-president, the minister said the contractors were at the stage of electrical installations, adding that a lot of changes would be seen in the next few weeks.

“We were at the VP’s residence which is being handled by Julius Berger and like I said, they have made further commitment that by May, they are going to hand it over.

“They are known for quality, and we are financing them well,” the minister said.

Wike reiterated that no ongoing project in the FCT would be abandoned, adding that the projects were considered as priority and have been included in the FCT’s 2024 statutory budget to ensure adequate funding. (NAN)

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Benue Rep Hands over Reconstructed Police Division, Quarters

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The Member representing Gwer /Gwer West Federal Constituency, Arc Asema Achado, has pledged to

enhance the working condition of police personnel in the constituency to boost their morale.

Achado made the pledge when he handed over the reconstructed Aliade Divisional Police Headquarters and personnel quarters, on Saturday in Gwer Local Government Area.

“This initiative stems from my firm belief that a conducive working environment fosters the morale of officers, thereby bolstering their capacity to combat criminal activities and mitigate the prevailing insecurity in the local government area”.

He said law enforcement agencies play critical roles in safeguarding the country and needed good working environment to operate effectively.

Achado recalled that the police division and personnel quarters were in a dilapidated state,  and he had to lobby the Federal Government through the Nigeria Police Force to award the contract.

He urged local authorities and Benue Government to provide infrastructure, vehicles and other logistics for the police and other security agencies to be more clinical in the discharge of their responsibilities.

An official of the Federal Housing Authority, Dr Mathias Byuan, said the federal government has made adequate provision for the building affordable houses for Nigerians.

He also said President Bola Tinubu was committed to providing enough funds to all security formations to enhance Nigeria’s internal and external defence systems. (NAN)

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Police Place N50m Bounty on 2 Katsina Bandits

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The Police Command in Katsina State on Sunday promised a N50 million reward to anyone with useful information that could lead to the arrest of two bandits – Modi Modi and Jan Kare.

The Police, in a statement by the Public Relations Officer, Mr Abubakar Aliyu, alleged that the duo had been responsible for most of the terrorist attacks in the state.

The statement alleged that Modi Modi and Jan Kare, all males, were operating within Katsina State, particularly in the regions of Kankara and Safana Local Government Areas.

“The safety of the residents is of paramount importance, that is why we are making these commitments.

We are taking decisive actions against criminal elements threatening peace and stability,” it said.

Aliyu explained that the identity of the informant and the information provided would be kept strictly confidential.

“All concerned citizens are encouraged to give us any relevant information that could assist the security agencies in apprehending the masterminds behind these heinous crimes of kidnapping and banditry in the state,” he said.

He urged anyone with useful information to contact the command headquarters or call the following numbers: 07015142112 08023871144. (NAN)

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