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VP Osinbajo Commissions Shared Facility For MSMEs, New Power Station In Anambra

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Shoemakers association grateful, says output will increase

VP: Southeast is a strategic industrial, trade hub

Detailing some of the ongoing and completed Federal Government projects in the Southeast, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, affirms that the Buhari administration considers the zone a strategic industrial, trade hub, and a major player in Nigeria’s economic growth.

The consideration and the projects would also help in lifting people out of poverty.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this earlier today at the inauguration of two completed projects in Anambra State: the MSMEs Shared Facility at the Ogbunike Leather Trading Cluster, and the Awka 120MVA 132/33kV Sub-Station.

The VP observed that the Second Niger Bridge Project which connects Asaba in Delta State and Onitsha in Anambra State has now achieved 65% completion and will be completed by October 2022.

Besides, he noted that the concession of the Onitsha Inland River Port is in its final stages, while both the draft Concession Agreement and the Full Business Case (FBC) have been transmitted to the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) for necessary action.

According to the Vice President, “let me also assure you of this administration’s commitment to seeing through the major infrastructural projects that will have a transformative impact on this zone. The Second Niger Bridge Project which connects Asaba in Delta State and Onitsha in Anambra State has now achieved 65% completion.

“By the time it is completed in October 2022, the Project will offer significant socio-economic benefits for the contiguous States and indeed the entire nation by easing traffic flow, improving road safety, and creating greater opportunities for residents and neighbouring States, thereby regenerating economic life.”

Continuing, the VP noted that the concession of the Onitsha Inland River Port is in its final stages, adding that once the Port becomes operational, it will effectively decongest the Apapa ports and ultimately translate into a reduction in the cost of imported goods.

“The cumulative effects of all these measures is to open up the Southeast and our resolve to pursue these projects to their completion is an indication that the administration sees the zone as a strategic industrial and trade hub. They also demonstrate our conviction that Anambra State and the Southeast at large, have a huge role to play in our drive to foster economic growth and lift our people out of poverty. The commissioning of this facility here today is a milestone in our nation’s economic adventure,” he says.

On the Ogbunike Shared Facility project, the Vice President said the initiative would transform businesses within and around the cluster, hugely increasing their production capacity.

“I am told this leather cluster has about 2000 stores with almost 30,000 MSMEs operating here. So, I have no doubt that this facility will be of immediate value to all of them. When asked, some of MSMEs operating here said they are able to produce 200 to 400 shoes a month, using manual processes. With this facility, the MSMEs located here would now have a potential monthly production of 96,000 shoe soles, 44,000 slippers, 44,000 shoes and 22,000 boots.

“This project will also help provide relative succour to MSMEs by also housing a One-Stop Office for MSMEs. This arrangement brings all relevant regulatory agencies under one roof to enable MSMEs requiring services or facing difficulties to access them with ease.”

On the Awka Power Station, the VP said “the commitment of the Buhari administration to ensuring the completion of this Awka NIPP 132kV Grid Substation now provides a hitherto unavailable 70MW additional power capacity for driving industrial growth and boosting the economy of the State, with positive knock-on effects on employment and socio-economic upliftment for residents of the State.”

Prof. Osinbajo explained that beyond commerce, the power project “is also connected to the new ultra-modern airport at Umueri,” noting that “we are looking here at a substantial addition not just to power capacity, but more importantly at the capacity of the residents of this State, and businesses in this State to be more effective.”

While thanking the Vice President, Governor Willie Obiano, acknowledged the support the State has received from the Federal Government across different sectors including MSMEs, infrastructure projects, among many others.

He noted that thousands of small businesses have benefitted from schemes implemented by the Federal Government including direct disbursements to businesses in the State.

Speaking earlier, a representative of the Shoe Manufacturers Association of Anambra State, Chief Clement Okemefuna Emesim, expressed appreciation to the Federal Government for fulfilling a promise made in 2018, while appealing to governments to patronise the products from the leather hub in the State.

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Lagos Assembly moves to end open grazing, considers VAT bill

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The Lagos State House of Assembly says the Prohibition of Open Cattle Grazing Bill, when passed will ensure harmonious relationships between herders and farmers in the state.

The assembly made this known after the bill was read on the floor of the house for the second time, by the Acting Clerk, Olalekan Onafeko, at plenary on Monday.

It said the bill would also protect the environment of the state and the South-west zone.

The House also read for the first and second time, the state’s Value Added Tax (VAT) bill, and asked the Committee on Finance, which was handling it to report back on Thursday.

The Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, who described the Prohibition of Open Cattle Grazing Bill’ as timely, thereafter, committed the bill to the committee on agriculture for public hearing.

The speaker also suggested that the bill should make provision for the registration of herders, and prepare them for ranching.

“Allocating parcel of land is not enough, but there should also be training for those who will go into ranching, as ranching is expensive and requires adequate preparation,” he added.

VAT

Concerning the VAT bill, the speaker said it would further lead to an increase in revenue and infrastructural development.

”This is in line with fiscal federalism that we have been talking about,” he said.

Mr Obasa said the VAT law, when passed, would help the state meet challenges in its various sectors.

He also urged the Lagos State government to do everything legally possible, to ensure the judgment of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, was sustained even up to the Supreme Court.

The speaker lamented a situation where about N500 billion would be generated from the state, while N300 billion was generated from other South-west states, but paltry amounts would be disbursed to Lagos State in return.

Mr Obasa said it was an opportunity for the state to emphasise again, the need for the consideration of true federalism.

Speaking earlier on the bill on open grazing, Bisi Yusuff (Alimosho 1) lamented that farmers had continuously become afraid to visit their farms, thus causing shortage of food.

Mr Yusuff also said many farmers had become indebted, as they now found it difficult to pay back loans they secured.

His position was supported by Kehinde Joseph (Alimosho 2) who noted that the bill would ensure peaceful coexistence, reduce crime and help to guide the activities of herders.

Olumoh Lukeman (Ajeromi-Ifelodun 1) suggested that the high court should be made to handle cases from enforcement of the bill when passed, or that the state should establish special courts for such purpose.

Also, Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti-Osa 1) expressed support for the bill, noting that it would give a level of security to the state and help reduce economic losses.

He added that Lagos had 250 hectares of land in Ikorodu and another 750 hectares in Epe for ranching.

David Setonji (Badagry II), said: “There was a time we went on oversight function in a school here in Lagos. We were embarrassed by cattle. We had to wait for the herder to move the cattle before we embarked on our oversight function.”

Mr Setonji suggested a collaboration between the Neighbourhood Safety Corps and the police, in the implementation of the law when passed and assented to.

Other lawmakers who contributed during the plenary were Adedamola Kasunmu (Ikeja II), Rasheed Makinde Ifako Ijaiye II), and Sanni Okanlawon (Kosofe I).

(NAN)

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Ngige: FG to recover millions wrongly paid to 588 doctors

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The federal government says it is planning to recover “millions of naira wrongly paid to 588 medical doctors” across the country.

While fielding questions from state house correspondents, Chris Ngige, minister of labour and employment, said the affected doctors wrongly benefitted from the medical residency training fund meant for a particular category of doctors.

The minister said the names of the doctors were uncovered after a scrutinisation of the 8000 names submitted by chief medical directors of federal government health institutions for the training programme.

Ngige said a substantial amount of the money has been refunded by some of the affected doctors while efforts are being intensified to recover the remaining balance.

He said the delay in making the refund by the affected doctors is holding back the residency fund payment by the government.

“Ministry of health has gotten the list of doctors who supposedly are to benefit from the medical residency training fund,” he said.

“Total submission of about 8000 names were gotten and the ministry of health is scrutinising them.

“We have done the first round of scrutinisation and they will now compare what they have with the Post-Graduate Medical College and the chief medical directors who submitted the names.

“The Association of Resident Doctors, in each of the tertiary centres, worked with the CMDs to produce those names, but now that the names are being verified.

“We discovered that about 2000 names shouldn’t be there because they don’t have what is called Postgraduate Reference Numbers of National Postgraduate Medical College and (or) that of the West African Postgraduate Medical College.

“So, this is it and that is the only thing holding back the residency fund payment because it is there already for incurred expenditure has been done by the finance minister and it’s in the accountant-general’s office.”

“So, once they verify the authenticity of those they are submitting, the Accountant-General will pay.

“We are doing that verification because we do not want what happened last time in 2020 to reoccur.

“In 2020, the submitted names didn’t come through the appropriate source, which is the Postgraduate Medical College and payment was affected and it was discovered that about 588 persons, who were not resident doctors benefited from such money.

“They are now finding it difficult to make the full refund. But they have to refund that money. Some are refunding, but there is no full consideration of the account.

“That account has to be reconciled to enable the accountants pay the next round of funding for 2021.”

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has been on strike for a month over “irregular payment of salaries”, among other issues.

Efforts by stakeholders, including the national assembly, to mediate between the federal government and the resident doctors have not yielded results.

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Insecurity: Kaduna suspends weekly market, bans livestock transportation

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The Kaduna State government has suspended trading at the popular weekly Kawo market.

The order on Thursday came days after the government suspended similar markets in five other local government areas of the state.

Kawo market is one of the largest weekly markets in Kaduna North.

It is located in the same area as the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), the Hassan Usman Katsina House popularly know as State House and the Legislative Quarters.

According to a statement by the state commissioner of Internal Security and Homeland Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, on Thursday, “the Kawo weekly market which usually holds every Tuesday in Kaduna North LGA has been suspended with immediate effect”.

“The Government of Kaduna State wishes to highlight that the previous directives suspending weekly markets, and selling of petrol in jerrycans in Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Chikun, Igabi and Kajuru LGAs, as well as banning the felling of trees for timber, firewood and charcoal and other commercial purposes in Birnin Gwari, Kachia, Kajuru, Giwa, Chikun, Igabi and Kauru LGAs, are still in force.

“Citizens are hereby informed that all these directives will be vigorously enforced by security agencies.”

Also, the statement said the state government banned the transportation of livestock.

“The ban also prohibits the transportation of livestock into Kaduna state from other states. Both bans take effect immediately, from today 2nd September 2021.

“The government also wishes to reiterate that the transportation of donkeys into the state is a criminal offence and anyone found engaging in this will be prosecuted accordingly.”

Kawo Market ban

Many traders who spoke with news men in Kaduna welcomed the suspension of the weekly Kawo market.

Apart from the larger weekly trading, trading also takes place daily among residents of the neighbourhood.

Danladi Bala, a grain transporter, said the state government’s decision to suspend weekly trading in the market is right.

“Yes, we are traders here, but the recent suspension of weekly markets in other local government areas will make the Kawo market the target for criminal activities. They will all come here. It is a wise decision from the government,” he said.

Hajiya Mama, a trader, also said she was not suprised by the announcement.

“I trade in the market, but in the last two weeks we have been witnessing the influx of traders with large commodities.

“With the closure of weekly markets in Zamfara and other part of the state, this market will be an option for good or bad traders,” she said.

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