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Kugbo Bus Terminal: No vision to Beautify Abuja by past Administration – Akpabio

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, on Tuesday, lamented that the past administration did not have vision to beautify the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, compared to states like Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Katsina .

President of the Senate stated this at the official flagoff the construction of Kugbo Bus Terminal, in Abuja.

He said the event is a significant milestone in the administration’s ongoing efforts to enhance the infrastructure and public transportation system in Abuja.

According to him, “The FCT is actually an international arenal, that should be beautified with an international coloration but unfortunately before the Advent of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Administration people Wonder whether we actually have a capital city considering the fact that if you go to Akwa Ibom State, and you see the roads, the airport and then you go to Rivers state and you see what Mr Project has done and then you go to Katsina, and other states of the federation including Kano , Kaduna and all that, you start wondering why FCT was neglected , i don’t think FCT was neglected I think the problem was that there were no vision.

“There was no vision that is the way I see it because if somebody recognized the fact that this is where all the ambassadors of various countries come this is where all heads of states, would come then there would have been a need to complete most of the artillery roads and even develop more”.

He continued, “This event is a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to enhance the infrastructure and public transportation system of the capital city of our beloved country.

“The development of these bus terminals is more than just a construction project; it is a testament to the good works and commitment of President Bola Tinubu’s government to the progress and modernization of Nigeria”.

Akpabio disclosed that, “This terminal will serve as a vital hub that will facilitate the efficient movement of people, reduce traffic congestion and improve the overall quality of life for residents and visitors alike in the city.

The Senate President stated that “the Kugbo Bus Terminal is designed to be a state-of-the-art facility, equipped with modern amenities to ensure comfort, safety, and convenience for all users.

“They will provide a structured and organized environment for our public transportation system, promoting greater efficiency and reliability.

“This project aligns with a broader vision for Abuja as a model city, not just within Nigeria, but across the entire African continent. A well-organized public transportation system is the backbone of any thriving metropolis, and with these terminals, we are laying a solid foundation for sustainable urban development.

He lauded the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Barrister Nyesom Wike for the remarkable strides he made within a period of one year in transforming the capital into a modern city with efficient infrastructure.

Akpabio recalled the recent commissioning of several projects in the Federal Capital Territory Recently by his administration.

Akpabio commended the Minister for his efforts to upgrade transportation networks, construction of abandoned roads, enhance public services, and develop state-of-the-art facilities which, he said, are clearly visible and have been widely praised.

The Senate President said these infrastructural development would attract both investors and tourists thereby making Abuja a prime destination for business, public service and leisure.

He stated that, “the minister’s commitment to these developments has earned commendations from supporters and critics alike, highlighting the positive impact of his initiatives on the city’s growth and modernization.

“I extend my heartfelt appreciation to all those who are working tirelessly with him to bring Abuja back to the original plan as conceived by previous leaders. Let it be made known to you that your dedication and hard work are instrumental in driving our nation forward.”

The Senate President also acknowledged the support and cooperation of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for given free hand to the Minister to restore Abuja to its original plan.

Akpabio said: “The restoration is manifesting daily and the flag off of this construction of Kugbo Bus Terminal is a testament that FCT will soon be better than many capital cities of developed countries.

“I seek the continued collaboration of the stakeholders and residents to ensure that these facilities are protected from theft and destructions. It is our collective responsibility to protect what belongs to us as the monies used for these projects belong to you and I as citizens of Nigeria.

“May I use this opportunity to appeal to the contractor to ensure that this project is completed on time and to the highest standards of quality. We must and should build a public transportation system that we can all be proud of.

“In conclusion I want to reiterate this present government’s unwavering dedication to the development of infrastructure that meets the needs of our growing population. The Kugbo Bus Terminals represent a significant step in this direction, and I am confident that they will serve as catalysts for further development and prosperity in Abuja and beyond”.

In his brief remarks at the ceremony, FCT Minister, Nyesome Wike, thanked the President of the Senate, for accepting to personally flag off the project.

He also thanked the chairmen of the Senate and House Committee of FCT for their support through funding in the 2024 Appropriation Act.

According to him, ” the Terminal we are flagging-off today, is not only for those who can afford it, it is also for those who cannot afford it. When completed in the next 12 to 15 months, the safety of commuters will be highly guaranteed, because it would bring an end to the incessant cases of “One Chance”, which has in the last few months led to the untimely death of unsuspecting residents in the FCT”.

Wike assured that the project would be completed and ready for use in record time, as those who would be saddled with the running of the parks were already working and planning towards its take-off.

” The project when completed would be operated by a private body, not the National Union of Road Transport Workers ( NURTW). We will ensure that whatever is obtainable in developed countries in the sectors would be done here to enhance patronage and confidence.”, he asserted.

NEWS

Constitutional Amendment Crucial for Efficient Implementation of LG Autonomy – Lawyer

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An Umuahia-based Legal Practitioner, Mr Chuwkuemeka Nwachukwu, has said that the 1999 Constitution must be amended to allow for effective implementation of the Supreme Court judgment on Local Government (LG) autonomy.

Nwachukwu said this in an interview in Umuahia on Friday.

He said that the 1999 Constitution as amended “has a lot of loopholes”, which must be critically addressed before the LG Autonomy Act and judgment of the nation’s apex court could be effectively enforced.

He, therefore, called for an Executive Bill from the Presidency for the immediate amendment to take care of “the lacuna in the Constitution that has been pointed out over the years”.

Nwachukwu said that failure to do so could undermine the import of the landmark Supreme Court judgment of Thursday on LG autonomy.

He said that clear legal frameworks were essential for effective governance and implementation of judicial decisions.

According to him, this will help to ensure that LGs can operate as an autonomous third tier within defined legal boundaries, thereby enhancing local administration and accountability.

The legal practitioner also called on the Federal Government to set up a monitoring mechanism for checks and balances in the implementation of the judgment across the states of the federation.

Also reacting to the judgment, the immediate past Chairman, National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Abia chapter, Mr Ikechi Nwaigwe, said the Supreme Court’s decision had nothing to cheer about yet.

Nwaigwe said that until every process was put in place to realise the desired LG autonomy, Nigerians should not think it is yet Uhuru.

He argued that desperate Nigerian politicians would always work against the wishes of the people with all their might.

“I am not yet excited by the decision of the Supreme Court, which affirmed the financial autonomy of the LG system.

“It is a good development but we have not reached our El dorado on the issue of LG autonomy.

“I said so because I know Nigerian politicians are desperate and can work so hard to upturn the process of achieving complete autonomy because it will be for the good of the Nigerian people.

“I will be excited if President Bola Tinubu will ensure that the process is completed with necessary legislation passed and proper implementation begun,” he said.

Nwaigwe said that the process of getting proper autonomy should not overlook the process of who becomes LG chairman and persons who might be godfathers to them.

“The process of reaching the desired destination should also ensure the Independent National Electoral Commission conducts the elections to promote competition among parties.

“If the State Governments, through their State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs), conduct the elections, the judgment will not achieve the desired goal.

“The state governors will still manipulate the SIECs and the elections,” he said.

In Imo, the state Chairman of NULGE, Mr Charles Okere, said that the LG autonomy would help to promote the welfare of council woŕkers.

Okere, who hailed the judgment, said it would facilitate projects execution according to the peculiar needs of the people at the grassroots.

“The judgment is a welcome development even though it only guarantees financial autonomy because the councils’ administrative responsibility still rests with the State Assemblies,” he said. (NAN)

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Foreign News

ECOWAS Court Nullifies ECOWAS Commission Staff’s Dismissal

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The ECOWAS Court of Justice has nullified the dismissal of Mr Momodu Cham, a former staff of the Commission, saying it breached Article 69 of the ECOWAS staff regulations.

Cham had filed the suit following his dismissal from his position as a Procurement Officer with the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (GIABA), a specialised ECOWAS agency.

The applicant, a community citizen residing in Banjul, Gambia, had joined the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) and its President, as first and second Respondents, respectively, in the suit challenging his sack.

Delivering judgment, Justice Dupe Atoki, the Judge Rapporteur, held that the cessation of Cham’s salary by the Commission before the exhaustion of the appeal process was arbitrary, unlawful, null, and void.

According to Justice Atoki, the action of the Commission is contrary to Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

The Court, therefore, ordered the Respondents to pay Cham his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021 to June 2021, as compensation.

It further ordered the Commission to pay Mr Cham’s salaries and emoluments from July to December 2021 as compensation for the unlawful dismissal.

“Requesting an on-the-spot response to charges without prior notice or an opportunity to prepare a defense violates procedural safeguards outlined in the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

“The regulations are designed to ensure an Applicant’s rights are fully maintained until the Council’s final decision.

“Consequently, the summary dismissal of the Applicant by the 2nd Respondent breached Article 69 of the regulation.

“Therefore, the cessation of the Applicant’s salary and other emoluments after invoking the right of appeal is a violation of Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations,” Justice Atoki held.

The Court, however, declined to grant any orders for mandatory injunctions against the Commission and reinstatement of the applicant .

The Applicant had contended at the trial that he was suspended on July 11, 2019, following a forensic audit report by Ernst and Young UK, which implicated him in irregularities related to the purchase of IT equipment for GIABA.

He said that on Jan. 26, 2021, he was summarily dismissed, and his salaries and emoluments were withheld in violation of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

Cham had prayed the court to grant him several reliefs, including a declaration that his dismissal was arbitrary, null, and void.

He also sought an order setting aside his dismissal and the immediate payment of his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021.

The applicant had also prayed for his reinstatement to his position as a Procurement Officer and compensation for costs incurred in prosecuting the suit.

The Respondents, in their defense, had however, maintained that the applicant was properly suspended and later dismissed following a forensic audit report and a subsequent query.

They had also argued that the dismissal was appropriate due to the allegations of gross misconduct, embezzlement, theft, fraud, and abuse of trust.

The three-member panel also had Justices Gberi-bè Ouattara, presiding, and  Sengu Mohamed Koroma, as a member.(NAN)

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NEWS

Gunmen Abducts Acting Rector Benue Polytechnic, Demand N70m Ransom 

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From Attah Ede Makurdi 

Acting Rector, Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo, Engr. Dr. Emmanuel Barki has been abducted by gunmen suspected to be kidnappers.

He was kidnapped while returning from Makurdi to Ugbokolo after official assignment that took place in the State capital, Wednesday.

It was gathered that the Acting Rector was kidnapped along side with some management staff of the polytechnic and his driver.

It was further gathered that the abductors moved them away from the highway and reportedly abandoned the official vehicle of the polytechnic.

A source who disclosed this to newsmen in Makurdi on Friday, on condition of anonymity, said the abductors called the family of the Acting Rector and demanded for N70m as ransom after 24 hours that he was kidnapped with his driver and other management staff of the Polytechnic.

Some since the incident happened, prominent individuals have been paying visit to the family of the Acting Rector to sympathize with them.

The immediate past Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Benue State chapter, Rev. Dr. Augustine Akpen Leva, condemned the dastardly act and prayed for the immediate release of the Acting Rector.

Dr. Leva particularly called on Governor Alia to improve on the security situation of the state to enable people and even the travellers go to places of their choice without been victims of kidnappers.

When contacted, the Benue State command police public relations officer SP Catherine Anene, confirmed the incident, saying investigation is ongoing. 

However, the special adviser to governor Alia on internal security, Chief Joseph Har also confirmed the abduction of the rector.

According to him, the Acting Rector was kidnapped three days ago.

He said he was not aware of any ransom negotiation, but that security personnel have been in the bush since then combing the bushes.

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