By Adedapo Adesanya
The Edo State Government and the United States will explore areas of investment in agriculture, economy, healthcare and education, among others to sustain the gains recorded by the Godwin Obaseki-led government.
According to the governor at a recent meeting with the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mrs Mary Leonard, on a courtesy visit to the Government House, Benin City, his government was sustaining efforts at engendering sustainable growth and development and ensuring economic prosperity for the people of the state.
He said, “For us, it is all about our economy. We have been able to grow our economy to align with its potential. We are addressing a whole lot of issues, particularly security and healthcare to sort out the economy.”
“We are working to fire our economy to the extent that we utilise the economy to the benefit of our people, and one key driver for us is agriculture; food. The number one pressing issue in Nigeria today is food availability.
“We are going to make sure we focus on food production and economic growth. We are engaging with our young people and trying to position them to take advantage of the opportunities in culture and technology globally.
“In order to be competitive economically, the key asset you need are your people; the key driver they need is education. They have to be educated. We are emphasising education, particularly basic education,” he added.
He also affirmed his government’s commitment to ending the menace of human trafficking and illegal migration in Edo, noting that, “We realised that it is that lack of hope and poor education that fuels irregular migration, and we have tried as much as we can to curtail that menace of irregular migration by creating hope for them; nobody wants to leave home if the home is comfortable.”
Highlighting the success recorded by his administration in the health sector, the governor said the state partnered with the Association of Nigeria Physicians in the Americas (ANPA) to provide free medical outreach to the Edo people.
He said, “A couple of weeks ago, we received 67 medical practitioners in our state and they worked with our personnel on the ground to improve quality healthcare delivery to our people. For us, with healthcare, it’s about the foundation.
“If we have the basic health footprint right, as well as the training of community healthcare heads, then it will not be too challenging dealing with diseases such as malaria and distributing vaccines.
“We are looking forward to working with the Royal Palace in building a royal collection and the whole idea is to build the Edo Museum of West Africa Art (EMOWAA) where you will have a lot to see when you come in.”
In her speech, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mrs Leonard, acknowledged the government for its anti-trafficking laws, noting that they have helped in curbing irregular migration among young people in the state.
SERAP Drags FG to Court over $23m Abacha Loot
By Adedapo Adesanya
A suit has been filed against the federal government by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) over the recently recovered $23 million looted by ex-Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
In a suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1700/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, the group is asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari and Mr Abubakar Malami to release and widely publish a copy of the agreement on the Abacha loot with the US.”
In a statement on Sunday by SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) is joined in the suit as respondent.
The United States government had in August signed an agreement with the federal government to repatriate the $23 million Abacha loot to Nigeria. It was in addition to the $311.7 million Abacha loot repatriated from the US to Nigeria in 2020.
“The Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations impose transparency obligations on the Federal Government to widely publish the agreement on the $23 million Abacha loot,” SERAP argued in the suit.
“Publishing a copy of the agreement with the U.S. would allow Nigerians to scrutinise it, and to monitor the spending of the repatriated loot to ensure that the money is not mismanaged, diverted or re-stolen.
“The repatriated $23 million Abacha loot is vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. A substantial part of the estimated $5 billion returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been mismanaged, diverted, or re-stolen, and in any case remain unaccounted for.
“Publishing a copy of the agreement would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties, including the management of repatriated loot,” SERAP said.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Atinuke Adejuyigbe, said the Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their government’s activities.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Lagos to Severely Punish Those Behind Mushin Collapsed Building
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The owner of the building that collapsed in the Mushin area of Lagos State and others would be “severely punished,” the state government has promised.
On Friday, it was reported that a 3-storey building on 2/4 Oye Sonuga Street, Palm Avenue, Mushin, Lagos collapsed, killing four people and injuring others.
In a statement issued yesterday, the new Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Omotayo Bamgbose-Martins, said the state government would go after whoever is indicted in the incident, hinting that an investigation has commenced to unravel what happened.
During a visit to the scene of the unfortunate incident, the Commissioner directed that the adjoining building be pulled down for safety reasons, adding that efforts are on to rescue those who might have been trapped in the rubble.
He disclosed that the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory have been directed to unravel the cause of the collapse.
NNPC Opens Talk with Financers on Gas Projects
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has established talks with the United States Finance Corporation and the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) to seek financing for its multi-billion-dollar gas projects.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, disclosed this at the Nigerian International Economic Partnership held in New York as part of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Mr Kyari said: “Inclusion (in energy transition) means we need to be supported. We are already talking to the US DFC, and the EXIM so that they can give us financing and funding for our gas projects, and this is very critical so that we can have that flexibility to move forward and at the back of this.
“I’m sure some of you may be aware that today, we are getting a grant to build baseline carbon emission studies in our country by the United States Government. This is very helpful in the sense that President Muhammadu Buhari, has also asked that we need to be supported. Currently, the major source of financing we are having is from the African Exim.”
Nigeria’s transition to net zero by 2060 requires enormous investments in gas projects which have been positioned as the country’s major transition fuel.
Mr Kyari said Nigeria is looking for opportunities to leverage the gas resources in the country to provide the possibility required for the energy transition.
It will cost $410 billion to transit, according to the federal government, and huge gas projects like the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NNPC, ECOWAS Commission, and Morocco to deliver pipelines along the African corridor will gulp billions of dollars.
“We are embarking on massive infrastructure and to see how we can deliver the Morocco gas pipeline which will pass through some countries to provide a number of securities including bringing people out of poverty and increasing gas supply in the domestic market,” Mr Kyari said.
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