South-East Governors Name 2nd Niger Bridge after President
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
Governors from the south-east region have named the Second Niger Bridge after President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari Sallau, the president’s personal assistant on media, wrote on his Facebook page: “Following consultations, the governors of the south-east have agreed that the second Niger Bridge shall be named the Muhammadu Buhari Second Niger Bridge”.
Speaking at the virtual inauguration of the bridge, Hope Uzodinma, the governor of Imo, said despite the south-east not voting for him, Buhari fulfilled the promise he made to the geopolitical zone.
“He asked for our votes, we did not give him. He made a promise and now he has fulfilled the promise even though we didn’t vote for him.”
Charles Soludo, governor of Anambra, said: “As you (Buhari) leave office, the south-east will remember you. It would not be inappropriate to call you Mr Infrastructure. This is a promise delivered.”
Reacting to the naming of the bridge, Tolu Ogunlesi, a special assistant to the president on digital and new media, said the south-east governors agreed to name the new bridge after the president.
“Following consultations, the governors of the south-east have agreed that the Second Niger Bridge shall be named the Muhammadu Buhari Second Niger Bridge.”
On December 15, 2022, the federal government opened the Second Niger Bridge for use, in order to ease traffic in the south-east during the festive season.
The bridge opened for one month during the yuletide and was later closed to traffic on January 15, 2023, for the completion of the Loko-Oweto Bridge and link roads between Benue and Nasarawa states.
On May 15, the bridge was fully opened to motorists, while some finishing touches like lane markings were ongoing.
In a statement on Monday, Femi Adesina, the president’s spokesperson, said Buhari is expected to commission seven legacy projects, including the Second Niger Bridge, on Tuesday.
On his part, Bashir Ahmad, special assistant on digital communication to Buhari, on Tuesday, announced that the 1.6 km long bridge has been named after the president.
“The name is now being officiated. Thank God for our brand new Muhammadu Buhari bridge. Thank you, President Muhammadu Buhari,” Ahmad wrote on his Twitter page.
“The second Niger Bridge is to officially be called/known as Muhammadu Buhari Second Niger Bridge,” Ahmad added.
Buhari: FG Invests Loans in Critical Infrastructure
Barely a week to handover of power, President Muhammadu Buhari declared that making infrastructure development a key point of focus in his administration was a deliberate action to create wealth and make poverty alleviation easier.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja at the virtual commissioning of three bridges, three secretariats and one road project undertaken by his administration, the President defended criticisms of the debt profile of his administration saying, “we do not act on infrastructure by accident. It has been a deliberate choice for our government as a tool to fight poverty, to create economic growth and employment and to open the path of prosperity for our people.”
Buhari emphasized that while he shared the concerns of Nigerians, the debts are tied to projects that have been executed in very transparent circumstances and are there for everyone to see. He added that the wealth of other nations is traceable to their investments in infrastructure made possible by debts redeemed over decades.
“As we look at the debt profile, I urge us to also look at the assets and investment profiles, some of which were paid for by debt and some by investment income.
“In 8 (Eight) years, I am proud to say that we have doubled Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure to GDP from about 20% to over 40% and that is no small undertaking.
“The projects that we hand over today apart from others such as rail, sea and airports, gas pipeline projects that have been previously completed, symbolise our country’s sharp focus on delivering prosperity,” he said.
Elaborating on the significance of the projects, which he described as frontal efforts to address multi-dimensional poverty as well as improve business efficiency and service delivery time, the President said of the 3 (three) Bridges:
“The Ikom Bridge is meant to boost trade in and around the Calabar Port and Free Zone and facilitate transport connectivity from the South-South, through the North Central to the Northeast. This is a bridge across the Cross River itself.
“The Second Niger Bridge, which has been long in the making, and is certainly now a reality, is a bridge of choice across the River Niger to bring relief to those crossing from the Southeast to the Southwest.
“The Loko-Oweto Bridge, across the River Benue will provide a shorter connectivity for those traversing from Benue to Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory. It cuts off travel through Lafia and provides connectivity to Keffi and Abuja.”
Buhari also commissioned 200 kilometres out of the 365 kilometres Abuja-Kano highway noting that the road, the Second Niger bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway were all funded partly from dividend income earned from investment in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), repatriated funds from overseas, and recoveries from proceeds of crime successfully prosecuted at home.
“This is an example of the change that we promised; to invest dividend income in visible assets that last for generations and to put proceeds of crime to public and enduring use for the country.
“Our anti-corruption approach does not end in courts. Stolen and recovered assets are utilized for the common good,” he stressed.
The President also commissioned three Federal Secretariats in Anambra, Bayelsa and Zamfara States, believing that they would “reduce the cost of governance by bringing federal civil servants under one roof for efficient service delivery,” thereby reducing expenditure on rent for office spaces.
He also named the Secretariats after distinguished Nigerians as follows: Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Federal Secretariat in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State; Ebele Okeke Federal Secretariat in Awka, Anambra State; and Malam Yahaya Gusau Federal Secretariat in Gusau, Zamfara State.
In his remarks, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola said the construction of the infrastructure generated economic activities around them, providing means of livelihood for hundreds of thousands who worked there.
According to him, travel time is reduced by more than 50% in many of the places we surveyed; Property values of landowners have appreciated by up to 30% in the surveys conducted on land values where we have delivered infrastructure.”
The Minister added that these are some of the attempts by the Government to push back against multi-dimensional poverty.
Goodwill messages were delivered at the event by the Governors of Anambra, Imo and Delta States, Minister of Labour and Employment as well as the Obi of Onitsha and the Asagba of Asaba.
Again, Tribunal Steps Down Obi’s Petition
For the third time, the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, was forced to step down hearing in the petition filed by Mr Peter Gregory Obi and the Labour Party, LP, against the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The petition was stepped down by the court following a poor schedule of documents being sought to be tendered to establish the allegations of malpractices during the February 25 presidential election.
At yesterday’s proceedings, the court discovered that the documents were not properly scheduled as ordered by the Court.
In the drama that ensued at the point of rendering the documents from the 23 local government areas of Benue, a lot of discrepancies were uncovered.
All efforts to reconcile the anomaly and reschedule the documents were unsuccessful as the errors were beyond immediate solution.
To save the situation, counsel to Obi and the Labour Party, Chief Emeka Okpoko SAN, sought to use documents not filed to conduct the proceedings, but the move was rejected on the ground of illegality.
In the end, the court stepped down hearing of the petition and ordered the legal team to go and re-file the schedule of documents in line with the provisions of the pre-hearing report.
The hearing of Obi’s petition had run into stormy waters three times, prompting the shift in the hearing of the petition.
At the time of this report, Peter Obi and the Vice Presidential candidate, Datti Baba Ahmed, were in the court as their lawyers were running helter-skelter to the Registry of the Court to file a new schedule of documents.
Meanwhile, the five Justices led by Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani hearing the petition have retired to their chambers to await when the legal team will put its house in order.
In Maiden Meeting, Crush Oil Thieves Now, Tinubu Orders Service Chiefs
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
President Bola Tinubu, yesterday met with the Service Chiefs and heads of security and intelligence agencies and told them that he would change the security architecture of the country to blend with his philosophy to address the insecurity challenges across the federation.
The President also said as far as he is concerned, ‘Nigeria should not go on her knees as a result of security challenges while other countries are working, moving forward and recording tremendous achievements.’
Tinubu stated this in his maiden official meeting with Security and intelligence heads led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor at the Presidential Villa, Abuja as the the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major Gen.Babagana Monguno (retd), who briefed State House correspondents after the meeting that lasted two hours, said the President has directed heads of security agencies to come out with their blue prints.
He ordered the security agencies to crush anyone involved in oil theft, stressing that his administration will not tolerate such menace.
“He is going to embark on a lot of reforms in terms of our security architecture, he is going to take a closer look at our misfortunes in the maritime domain, focusing particularly on the issues of oil theft, that as far as he is concerned, he is not going to tolerate oil theft wherever the problem is coming from it must be crushed as soon as possible,” he stated.
He has already mandated the security agencies to come up with a blueprint as far as he knows and as far as he concerned, he doesn’t have the luxury of time; and whatever changes will be made have to be done as soon as possible.
“The President also has decided that whatever ventures the armed forces are going to be engaged in, they must carry along those operatives in the theatre. They must be well fed, well kitted, motivated and given all that they require.
He said it was an appraisal meeting for the President to get briefing on the activities of the different security formations and for him to tell them his own philosophy and what he expects from the security heads.
“The President and Commander in Chief of the armed forces has just concluded a meeting of the general security appraisal committee consisting of the Chief of Staff, Service Chiefs, Inspector General of Police, and heads of the intelligence agencies.
“This is the very first meeting he’s had with the heads of the security agencies. The meeting lasted for two hours.
“Having been briefed by the participants of the meeting, Mr. President, addressed prevailing issues confronting the nation in terms of insecurity and also mentioned his own philosophy towards dealing with national security issues.
“First and foremost, he appreciated the armed forces and intelligence agencies and the wider paramilitary agencies for the work they have been doing in the past couple of years. Their sacrifice, their loyalty, and he also paid tribute to those who died in defending this country, from the great big menace of terrorism, insurgency banditry, oil theft, sea robbery, piracy, etc.
“The President has made it very clear that he’s determined to build on whatever gains that have been made and to reverse misfortunes and turn the tide in our favour.
“As far as he’s concerned, this country should not be on its knees struggling while other countries are working and achieving greater heights,” he said.
President Tinubu said in moving the country forward he needs the security agencies to redouble their efforts, stressing that his own philosophy is one of contemporary security measures dealing with the requirements of the time.
“He has made it very clear that he will not accept a situation in which our fortunes keep declining. And his own trajectory is that national security has to be coordinated, there has to be whatever…whether it is a basket system, but there must be a clearing house.
“All agencies must work to achieve one single purpose. Working at cross purposes and colliding with each other is not something that he will condone. He has made it very, very clear that all the security agencies must comply with the demands of coordination, with the demands of frequent consultations and also timely reports which must be acted on.
“President has said clearly that he will do whatever is within his powers to enable the operational elements but the intelligence agencies must also make their work easy for them by providing the type of intelligence that they require to carry out the assignment,” the NSA said.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has mandated his security chiefs to draw up a fresh blueprint that would guide security operations in the country.
Tinubu, who met with the security chiefs in the country for the first time since assuming office, yesterday, said he had a personal philosophy about how security issues should be handled for effective results.
Obi, LP Challenge Election Results in Rivers, Benue, Niger, 15 Other States
The Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the February 25 presidential election, Mr Peter Gregory Obi and his party confirmed to the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) yesterday in Abuja that they would challenge the election results in 18 states only.
They held that they would not dissipate energies in the states where they won convincingly and without any dispute.
However, at the end of proceedings, Obi and his party tendered certified electoral documents obtained from the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC in only six states.
The documents, mainly, Forms EC8A, election results from polling units were admitted as exhibits to be used to establish their alleged riggings and other malpractices during the election.
Presiding Justice of the Court, Haruna Simon Tsammani admitted the documents as exhibits after they were tendered by Chief Emeka Okpoko SAN who represented Obi and the Labour Party.
Meanwhile, INEC, represented by Kemi Pinhero SAN, issued the documents and certified them as genuine but dramatically announced its decision to object to the admission of the documents.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his Vice, Kashim Shetima, who are 2nd and 3rd respondents and represented by Adebayo Adelodun SAN in the petition challenging their declaration as winners of the election, also hinted to oppose the admissibility of the electoral documents.
Similarly, the All Progressives Congress, APC, represented by Chief Afolabi Fashanu, SAN, argued that it would raise objections against the documents.
Breakdown of the tendered and admitted documents showed that Forms EC8A were tendered in 15 Local Government Areas of Rivers State, 23 in Benue, 18 in Cross River, 23 in Niger State, 20 in Osun and 16 in Ekiti Local Government Areas.
A further hearing in the petition has been shifted to June today by the Court at the instance of the two petitioners.
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