President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote has lauded the decision of the Federal Government to reconstruct the failed Apapa Wharf road as its grim state serves as both an embarrassment to the country and a huge financial loss to the government on a weekly basis.
Dangote who spoke on Tuesday said “The economy loses more than 20 billion daily and it affects all businesses across the country. All our operations in the hinterland in Ilorin, in Kano are operating at 40 per cent maximum capacity”
Lamenting the state of road infrastructure in the country, Dangote said: “Today there is no linkage road going from South West to the North. You have to go all the way through Ajaokuta, Obajana, lokoja and you have to go by the uncompleted road Obasanjo started 13years ago.”
Commenting on his resolve to personally get involved in the Apapa Wharf road reconstruction, he said: “Because it is very embarrassing! We can’t just sit and have a road like that in the heart of trade in Nigeria. More than 60 per cent of our country’s import and exports come through the port and we leave it un-attended. That is why we started on our own. Flour mills said they will join us, but now government changed the design because they want all the cables and pipes underground and to have a more robust solution.”
Commenting on why he is personally involved in the Apapa Wharf road reconstruction, he said: “Because it is very embarrassing! We can’t just sit and have a road like that in the heart of trade in Nigeria. More than 60 per cent of our country’s import and exports come through the port and we cannot leave it un-attended. That is why we are invested in this project. The government also changed the design because they want all the cables and pipes underground and to have a more robust and sustainable solution to this problem.”
To help in bringing the cost down, he explained that he forced his company to do it at zero profit. According to him, “We will be spending 2.5billion and also Flour Mills for reconstructing 2km double lane in Apapa on each side making a total of 4km” He further explained that “the biggest job is drainage because that is what is destroying the road. We will make sure this problem is sorted out once and for all. This thing should not be allowed to happen. We started discussion with the government over 1year and we are happy that we have been given the opportunity to finally fix it.”
It would be recalled that the FG last weekend handed over the troubled road to Dangote Industries Limited and Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN) for immediate reconstruction with concrete overlay.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the construction of the road was signed by the FG, DIL, NPA and the FMN.
Babatunde Fashola, minister of power, works and housing, signed the agreement for the handover of the road, on behalf of the Federal Government, while Hadiza Usman, managing director, NPA, and Joseph Makoju, honorary advisor to Aliko Dangote, president, Dangote Group, and Gbedebo, signed for their respective organisations. The three organisations are embarking on the project as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) to Apapa, where they all do business.
The construction work to be handled by AG Dangote, a civil construction company, and joint venture between Dangote Group and AG of Brazil, would utilise concrete slabs as against asphalt, common with road construction in this part of the world.
AG Dangote is not new to road construction, they have successfully constructed concrete roads in Ibese, Ogun State and currently working on roads in Obajana, Kogi State and also in Benin City, Edo state.
Managing director and chief executive of AG Dangote, Ashif Jumar in a chat with the media also said: “We are building a four kilometer concrete dual carriage road that has a life span of over 40years. It is a rigid pavement road of 250 millimeters thickness with solid underlying materials… We have already mobilized to site, but our major challenge is the chaotic Apapa traffic and the inclement rainy season. I appeal for patience and cooperation.”
Speaking at the MOU signing ceremony held at the Conference Hall of Area B Command of the Nigeria Police, Apapa, Honorary Adviser to the President/Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Engineer Joseph Makoju said the Group is moved by the deplorable state of the road which informed the need to look for like-thinking partners to effect repairs and salvage the road.
According to him, the deplorable state of the road has impacted negatively on businesses, activities and lives of people within the locality. He explained that the state of the road crippled economic activities as people spend whole days in traffic losing precious work hours. Makoju opined that the two kilometer road to the gate of Apapa is vital to the nation’s economy and described it as the national economy’s artery.
He commended the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, who he said put in extra efforts to ensure the handing over of the road for reconstruction as the project has been on ground for over a year. The new road, he said will be concrete based in contrast to laterite base and has a life span of between 30 years to 50 years.
He described the road reconstruction as a higher form of corporate social responsibility as Dangote Group is not asking for tax rebates. According to him, businesses need to engage with host communities through corporate social responsibility projects to ensure sustainability.
He said, “…here at Dangote, we have built houses, new towns, hospitals, schools, roads, markets and awarded scholarships in the communities where we have our operations but this is a higher form of corporate social responsibility. This project is a higher form of intervention on a national level, intervening in provision of critical infrastructure.”
However, he tasked government to do more in terms of providing a conducive and enabling business environment for businesses to thrive stressing that If the environment is conducive and right, businesses will thrive and do more in terms of interventions in national infrastructure.
Revival! Dapo Abiodun’s Strides In Reviving Quality Education In Ogun
That was the most apt and most resounding word coming from the vocal box of the then gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State. Prince Dapo Abiodun minced no word about his intent to work round the clock to revive education from the near-comatose it had been plunged into in Ogun State, a state which was before then known for being among the best in Nigeria.
Empirical evidence, as well as historical antecedents, pointed to Ogun State as Nigeria’s cradle of civilization. But all that changed over time due to neglect and lack of deliberateness on the part of people at the helm of affairs then. Now that he is in the saddle, Governor Dapo Abiodun has unleashed his ingenuity to bring back the lost education glory of the state which has proudly produced many icons of global repute as well as thought leaders and political gladiators with an impact that has remained indelible for ages.
During the silver jubilee of the historic launch of the Free Universal Primary Education in January 1980, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo addressed the Government and people of Ogun State at the Ogun State House of Assembly. According to the former Premier of Western Region, “Education is a fundamental right, and it is the inalienable right of every Nigerian citizen to be educated free by the state. To treat education as a privilege, the opportunity to acquire which is limited to the children of the well-to-do and the rich, or which must be paid for from loan given to the student by the state, is a most misguided policy. For the avoidance of doubt, by free education we mean the abolition of not only of fees but also of all kinds of levies, by whatever name called that are still being imposed and collected in some parts of the country.”
With this speech, foremost statesman, Chief Awolowo, re-emphasized the significance of popular education of the masses, even though free education had been core of his politics. This ideal has equally been enunciated by Governor Abiodun whose has tasked his administration to get the state back to the enviable top. In his inaugural speech, Governor Abiodun made no pretence about the enormity of challenges in the education section. He lamented the state of the education sector, which he described as so worrisome, particularly in funding, white elephant projects some of which were moribund, unpaid salaries, controversial campus relocation, hasty appointment, among others.
Governor Abiodun brought his sense of duty to bear immediately he assumed duties. He made free education mandatory for pupils in primary and secondary schools. Prior to his coming on board, these groups of students were subjected to paying indiscriminate fees and levies with little or nothing to justify such payments. His declaration of free education put an immediate end to the N3,700 levied on students as adopted by the former administration on the advice of the Parents Teachers Association.
“The fee negates the free education policy of this administration. It is like payment through the back door,” Abiodun said when defending his administration’s decision to take the burden of school fees off parents whose salaries are already stretched.
When questions were raised about the sustainability of the stoppage, he assured that his team was on top of the situation and would be working with school principals and headmasters general to look into the issue and proffer ways in which the gaps created by the stoppage would be blocked.
“I hereby suspend the payment in all our schools. We will also look into the issue of principal and headmaster generals. I have told them to go and look at and how we can make it work without having to charge anybody because we promised we are going to offer free education.”
This has put paid to indiscriminate charges in primary and secondary schools, an initiative that has seen an increase in the rate of student enrolments in primary and secondary schools.
Governor Abiodun in his maiden address after the resumption, made it clear that his administration was going to tackle the hydra-headed challenged headlong. “We are going to bring our education sector up to standard.
“Yes, we have the largest number of tertiary institutions in this State, however, the performances of our students are not encouraging and we have to change that so we may be declaring a state of emergency in the education sector.”
One of the earliest actions Abiodun took as Governor was setting up visiting panels on tertiary institutions in the state to assess the challenges facing the institutions, evaluate them and recommend actions to be taken to address the issues. These Panels have been submitting their reports; and the governor has alluded to the fact that his administration has resolved the issues at Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, and the embattled Tai-Solarin College of Education (TASCE), Omu, Ijebu, adding that the state government has set up a Government Delivery Unit for education in the state.
Governor Abiodun has also demonstrated that he is for all institutions irrespective of their ownership structure. He has continuously visited and celebrated wins of privately owned institutions as well as those owned by both Ogun State and Federal Governments while also has pledged infrastructure development to aid their operations.
At the 40th anniversary and 19th convocation ceremony of the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, the Ogun State Governor offered Miss. Akintola Esther Modupe, the best graduating student of the institution’s automatic employment. Miss Akintola graduated with a cumulative average grade of 3.90 out of the maximum 4. She would commence work immediately after her mandatory one-year national youth service scheme. The same gesture was also replicated during the convocation ceremony of Ogun State Institute of Technology where Governor Abiodun offered immediate employment to the Overall Best Graduating Student with a CGPA of 3.85 on a scale of 4.0, Adedokun Yetunde of the Department of Accountancy.
Governor Abiodun’s administration greatly appreciates the importance of personnel in educational development. As such, he has not only been about renovations and building of a physical structure, even though that has been a front-burner activity for his government. He recently directed that promotional examination and interview for career elongation of primary school teachers to Grade level 15 be carried out. Recently, he approved the release of 2016 and 2017 promotion for 10, 000 teachers.The administration’s monthly commitment to timely payment of salaries and benefits of teachers has always been given 100% attention.
Ogun State Government pays an average of N791million pensions to retired Local Government Council workers and the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, retirees monthly. The present government has vowed to offset an outstanding debt of N32billion in gratuities and death benefits incurred between August 2011 and June 2019 under its Transition Pension Scheme.
Records from the Bureau of Local Government Pensions showed that the present administration has been facilitating prompt release of retirement savings account balance to retirees who had disengaged from the Contributory Pension Scheme with a view to ensuring that senior citizens enjoy better life after meritorious years of service to the councils. Apart from the N791 million being paid monthly as pensions, the Bureau has also paid N4,6 billion as monthly pensions between January and June 2019.
Governor Abiodun’s reinstatement of Deputy Director in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, who was sacked by the immediate past administration for alleged dereliction of duty, shows his resolve to be fair and address all types of injustice meted out to workers. Also reinstated was the former Chairman, Nigerian Union of Teachers, Ogun State Chapter, Mr. Dare Ilekoya who had been compulsorily retired for alleged infractions, during the 2016 World Teachers Day celebration. Governor Abiodun, who announced the reinstatement during the 2019 World Teachers Day celebration held at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Kuto, Abeokuta, said the action was “to encourage teachers and also the right thing to do.”
The Ogun State Governor said that his administration would continue to ensure that the rights of teachers were protected and he called on teachers to be guided by the laws of the civil service.
Abiodun noted that the celebration of the World Teachers Day was a key element of nation-building and a catalyst for the mental, physical, social and spiritual development of humanity, adding that the celebration was a great day of joy for teachers and equally those trained or brought up by teachers.
“I know very much the sacrifices that teachers make on a daily basis to impart knowledge, considering the prevailing socio-economic situation where we have continued to see that students spend a longer part of their days with their teachers. The teachers are fast becoming foster parents as well, and as such, a good student is not just a reflection of the home, but also of the teacher.
Celebrating our teachers is, therefore, not a thing of one, but of all days,” he said.
Abiodun enjoined the teachers to double their efforts so as to achieve better performance from students in the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) and other examinations, commending the academic excellence and sagacity of professional tutors and teachers at the national level through the exploits of Yewa College, Ilaro; Comprehensive High School, Ayetoro; Ijebu-Ode Grammar School; Adeola Odutola College; Mayflower, Ikenne; and, Abeokuta Grammar School.
In its bid to further encourage teachers in the state to do more, the Ogun State Government has disclosed that plans are underway to have the Governor’s Teachers’ School Excellence Award, with a view to creating healthy and meaningful competition among teachers in the state. Governor Abiodun made this known while welcoming the awardees that did Ogun State proud at the President-Teachers School Excellence Award (an award for teachers across the country) held in Abuja.
Abiodun expressed his readiness to domesticate the award to let the teachers know that they can also get their rewards on the earth before proceeding to heaven to get the ultimate laurel.
“I want to introduce a state challenge among teachers in our state. The challenge will be known as the Governor’s Teachers’ School Excellence Award. We are going to domesticate this. What we will do to those that excel will be bigger than what you got from the President-Teachers Award. We will expand it to accommodate more teachers. Today, you have done us proud, our heads are ‘swollen,’ you have done us proud. It is important we sustain it, and one of the ways is to establish the Governor’s Excellence Award,” he said.
He added that the state government will continue to give all necessary support to teachers in the state, saying that his administration would continue to do all in its power to return the state to its place of pride in the education sector.
“If out of 15 awards, we have won 4, that means there is 11 to share between the other 35 states. That means we have done well. I want to assure you that we will give you all the needed support to sustain all that you have achieved,” he said.
Abiodun also disclosed that the State Government would support the winners with cash gifts as a way of incentives, saying that no goodwill go without its reward.
In another development, the administration is currently embarking on the rehabilitation of Public Schools across the 236 Wards in Ogun State.
With the amount of focus this administration is giving to repositioning and strengthening the educational institutions, it is only a matter of time before Ogun State regains it pride of place in the educational sector nationally and globally.
Communications Minister Orders Deactivation Of Voicemails On Existing Phone Lines, Says Network Operators Exploiting Nigerians
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has ordered the deactivation of voicemail services on all existing phone lines in the country.
The minister said Mobile Network Operators are using the automatic activation of the voicemail service on their platforms to exploit Nigerians.
Pantami, who spoke through a statement issued by his spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman, on Thursday, directed the sector regulator, the Nigeria Communications Commission, to immediately ensure that the service providers complied with the order.
The directive was a continuation of the minister’s ongoing campaign against perceived exploitative practices by the telecom operators.
Recently, he directed the NCC to stop alleged ‘illegal’ deduction of subscribers’ data by the service providers.
NCC has also been directed to ensure a reduction of the rates charged for data by telecom operators in the country.
In the statement signed by Suleiman, the minister noted that the voicemail service should be voluntary, and not imposed on consumers.
He directed NCC to ensure that subscribers are given the option of accessing the service via an activation code.
According to the minister, unpatriotic elements in the sector have devised subtle ways to defraud unsuspecting Nigerians.
Parts of the statement read, “The attention of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has been drawn to the latest trend of financial exploitation by Mobile Network Operators in the country, through the automatic activation of the Voicemail Service on their platforms.
“Based on recent reports reaching the office, the practice has gained momentum in recent times.
“The voicemail service should be accessed at the discretion of the subscriber and not by default.
“The minister finds it worrisome and totally unacceptable that telecoms subscribers incur financial charges for a service they are compelled to use by default.
“It is apparent that the recent clampdown on the exploitative activities of some Mobile Network Operators in the country has beamed the searchlight on the sector properly and some unpatriotic elements in the system are devising subtle, ingenious methods of defrauding Nigerians.”
The minister, in the statement, further observed that voicemail was not a popular service among mobile phone users in Nigeria.
Most consumers, particularly those in rural areas, do not understand the language used by the operators to program the service, the statement added.
The statement explained that Pantami vowed that the ministry, under his leadership, would not overlook any attempt to undermine the Federal Government’s anti-corruption crusade.
Pantami added that he would not condone any attempts to defraud subscribers in the country.
“In the light of this, Pantami has issued a broad policy directive to the Nigerian Communications Commission to immediately ensure that issues regarding automatic voicemails are addressed on all existing phone lines and the subscribers given the option of accessing the service via an activation code,” the statement said.
The minister, according to the statement, insisted that the rights of consumers must be protected, in line with global best practices.
BREAKING: We’ll Regulate Social Media Despite Criticism —- FG
There is no going back on the planned sanitation of the social media space, the Federal Government insisted on Thursday.
Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed stated this in Abuja during an audience with online publishers.
He declared no amount of criticism will deter the government from going ahead with the proposed measure.
He insisted it was the right thing to do as Nigeria was not alone in this regard.
BIG STORY12 hours ago
BREAKING: Court Throws Out Busola Dakolo’s Rape Case Against Fatoyinbo, Says Its A Waste Of Time, Orders Busola To Pay N1m
ENTERTAINMENT12 hours ago
BREAKING: BON Awards 2019, 2020 Hosts Announced!
BIG STORY2 days ago
BREAKING: Senate Approves N10bn Loan For Kogi Three Days To Gubernatorial Elections
BIG STORY2 days ago
BREAKING: Convene NEC Meeting Or Resign Now, APC Governors Tell Oshiomhole
BIG STORY8 hours ago
Rape Allegation: Busola Dakolo Vows To Appeal Court Judgement
BIG STORY18 hours ago
LASU Undergraduate, Five Aiye Cult Members Shoot Man In His Manhood