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Finance Minister Promises Adequate Funding for Abuja-Kano Road Project

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The Minister of Finance and Co-Ordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun and his Federal Ministry of Works counterpart, Senator David Umahi have embarked on the inspection of the Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano Dual Carriage Way.

The Finance Minister in his remarks said,”We are here today on an inspection tour under the mandate of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda to examine and hear from the contractors and see their commitment, encourage and support them to the early completion of this all important project and to urge them to do more.

Edun reiterated that the infrastructure was a critical priority of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu led administration “in order to get food prices down, ease transportation of agricultural produce, movement of people freely across the country, and stabilise the economy.

Edun assured of availability of funds for the early completion of the road project.

He noted that the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano dual carriage way is a viable project adding that he has no doubt about the completion of the project on time by the contractors.

He said, “We have come, we have seen the level of commitment of the contractors to the completion of the project as soon as possible.”

The Minister who was satisfied with the level of work done promised that the fund for the completion of the project was being worked out and would be made available to the contractors, reiterating the need for the speedy completion of the project.

Edun who commended the level of progress made on the project said the on-going attempt was to improve domestic resources mobilisation available to highly viable projects such as this.

Earlier the Minister of Works, David Umahi disclosed that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had directed that, “They must ensure that work is completed on this project in 24 months.” Umahi added, “The two ministers are sorting out the payment modalities and ensuring milestone completion of the project.”

While commending the Minister of Finance and Co-Ordinating Minister of the Economy on the reassurance of the release of funds for this road and other infrastructure projects also thanked him for taking critical decisions about the completion of the projects.

According to Umahi, “We have set specifications that will make the projects stable and stronger” noting that the contractors had been directed to concentrate on major carriage ways, adding that Nigerians were going to have a sigh of relief.

He is optimistic of the 24 months completion period of the project with the assurance of the Minister of Finance on the expeditious release of funds. He added, “Our plan for Nigerians is for good roads that they can use at any time, emphasizing that the Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy is more committed than us.”

Mr. Benjamin Butt, Programme Manager of Julius Berger, the contractor handling the project while highlighting the stages of development of the road project disclosed that the company was using Construction Methodology known as Recycling Technology in the rehabilitation of the Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano Dual Carriage Way.

NEWS

Armed herders attacks soldiers, kill one, injured another in Benue

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From Attah Ede, Makurdi

Troops of Operations Whirl Stroke (OPWS), operating in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States, were reportedly attacked by suspected armed herdsmen leading to the death of one soldier, while another one was injured in Ochuekwu, Benue State.

The soldiers were deployed to Ochumekwu, Apa local government area of the State to keep peace following constant attacks on the community by the armed herders.

Force Commander, Operation Whirl Stroke OPWS Major General Sunday Iserihen Igbinomwanhia who confirmed this to newsmen on Monday, in Makurdi, said one personnel was killed and one injured.

He however said the troops in response killed three and injured several of the herdsmen, while one AK47 and rounds of ammunitions were recovered from them.

” OPWS is currently carrying out a clearance operation to flush out suspected armed foreign herders who have invaded Kwande local government area of the State”, he said.

It could be recalled that in February, a soldier was killed and two (2) others were injured in Agatu local government when suspected herders laid ambush on the troops.

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NEWS

Borehole Drillers Seek Expatriate Levy Review

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The Borehole Drillers’ Association of Nigeria (BODAN), has urged the Nigerian Government to reconsider its decision on the Expatriate Employment Levy (EEL), as it poses a threat to the survival of the drilling sector.

BODAN President, Mr Francis Uzoma, told newsmen on Monday that the decision has prompted many foreign drilling companies to consider relocating to other countries.

The Expatriate Employment Levy mandates an annual fee for organisations employing expatriate workers, requiring $15,000 (£12,000) for a director and $10,000 for other employees.

This move, according to the Federal Government aims to encourage foreign companies to increase the employment of Nigerian workers.

Uzoma said the federal government should reconsider the decision by reviewing the mandated levy to be more considerate in line with current economic realities.

According to him, its members, especially the foreign investors have been worried about the new decision saying it was not beneficial to continue to operate in the country.

“I just came out from a meeting with my members and they have expressed concern about the new law which mandates organisations employing expatriate workers to pay $15,000 for a director and $10,000 for other employees.

“These companies have already indicated their intentions to leave the country, many of them are Indian and Asian drillers.

“There are predictions of massive job losses, affecting mainly Nigerian workers and would contribute to unemployment.

“We are calling for total review of this annual levy as the one-month window given for payment is not tenable and would affect the economy.

“Without such reconsideration, there’s a risk of drilling companies relocating to neighboring countries, as they have expressed dissatisfaction and unfavorable business conditions”.

These effects, he added include potential repercussions on the borehole sector, hindrance to knowledge transfer, and limitations on equipment and technology use.

He stressed the potential retaliation from foreign investors, particularly Nigerians in diaspora, highlighting the importance of considering the policy’s impact.

He mentioned his intention to write to the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, outlining the adverse effects of the policy on the economy.

NAN recalls President Bola Tinubu’s cautionary statement during the recent launch of the EEL handbook, where he warned against using the levy to obstruct potential investors.

He highlighted the government’s expectations to enhance revenue and promote indigenisation, emphasising the objective of balancing employment opportunities between Nigerians and expatriates.

Tinubu clarified that the government’s aim is to narrow wage gaps between expatriates and the Nigerian labor force.

Also, it is to simultaneously foster increased employment opportunities for qualified Nigerians within foreign companies operating in the country. (NAN)

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Foreign News

Cambodia Arrests 2 Foreigners for Smuggling 2.27 kg Narcotics

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Cambodian customs police at the Phnom Penh International Airport said they have arrested two South Korean nationals for an attempt to smuggle 2.27 kg narcotics to South Korea.

The duo, a man and woman, were caught Sunday night while they checked in for a ZA215 flight bound for Seoul.

The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia said in a news release on Monday.

In their body searches, our customs officials found many packs of drugs wrapped around their waists, the news release said.

“As a result, some 1.29 kg of crystal methamphetamine and 0.98 kg of ketamine were seized from the two suspects’ possession.’’

The Southeast Asian country has no death sentence for a drug trafficker.

Under its law, someone found guilty of trafficking more than 80 grammes of illicit drugs could be jailed for life.

According to the country’s Anti-Drug Department (ADP), Cambodia nabbed 3,899 drug-related suspects, including 106 foreigners, in 1,659 cases from Jan. 1 to March 3, 2024.

According to the report they confiscated a total of 2.79 tonnes of narcotics.

Most of the seized drugs were ketamine, crystal methamphetamine, methamphetamine tablets, heroin, ecstasy, and cocaine. (Xinhua/NAN)

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