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Bad Roads: Federal Government Releases N650bn For Capital Projects

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The Federal Government said on Wednesday that road construction and repairs under the Ministry of Works and Housing were a significant beneficiary of N650bn so far released for capital projects in the 2019 budget.

It also named the ministries of transportation and power among the biggest beneficiaries of the funds released.

The Minister of Finance/Budget/National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, gave the figure in Abuja, while speaking with State House Correspondents after the meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, had said the nation’s roads were not as bad as they were portrayed.

He also said poor funding was the reason road projects were not executed at a faster pace by the government.

On Wednesday, Ahmed was asked to respond to the excuse given by Fashola. She said, “It is true that we are not able to fund the budget 100 per cent, but whenever we release funds for capital projects, the Ministry of Power, the Ministry of Works and Housing are always the priority and the Ministry of Transportation.”

Indeed, the finance minister declared that about N650bn had been released by the government for capital projects this year.

“In October, when the President was submitting the budget to the National Assembly, he indicated that he had given a directive that we should release N600bn for capital expenditure. We already have more than that. The target for us is to be able to release up to N900bn by December. But right now, we are at about N650bn capital release.”

She added that the government also allocated N247bn to Fashola’s ministry in the 2020 budget.

“It gives me an opportunity to state that the Minister of Works and Housing has a proposed budget of N247bn for the year 2020 and the greatest component of this budget is the fixing of Nigerian roads,” Ahmed said.

She added, “Our fiscal space is tight; resources are limited because revenues are underperforming, but at the time we have funds to release, the highest proportion goes to power, transport, works, and housing.”

Ahmed recalled that the government introduced measures to partner the private sector on-road funding and had issued Sukuk bonds since 2017.

She said, “We have introduced some measures that have seen private sector participants getting involved in road construction. One of these measures is the Road Infrastructure Task Credit Scheme that Mr President approved by Executive Order early this year. So far, we have 17 companies that are carrying out 19 roads (projects) across the six geo-political zones.

“I also want to remind you that for the past two years, we have issued Sukuk bonds. In 2017, it was for the construction of 25 roads. In 2018, 23 roads; there is also another one that is being processed.”

The minister disagreed with the notion that most of the bad roads in the country were federal roads, insisting that the majority of bad roads belonged to the various state governments.

“We have a lot of roads in the country but not every road you see is the responsibility of the Federal Government. The major arterial roads are the ones that are the responsibility of the Federal Government.

“The majority of the roads in the country are within the purview and responsibility of states as well as local governments”, she added.

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JUST IN: Lagos Begins House-To-House Search For COVID-19 Patients

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Lagos State Government has commenced house-to-house case identification to detect possible cases of COVID 19 in the State.

This was contained in a statement from the Lagos Ministry of Health on Thursday.

The statement quoted that the Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, as saying this during a joint Ministerial Press briefing on COVID19 intervention in Lagos State held on Thursday in Alausa, Ikeja.

Abayomi said the COVID19 case identification campaign tagged the ‘Community Active Case Search’ is expected to run for two weeks in the first instance across the state.

He stressed that the officials carrying out the exercise can be identified with the COVID-19 outbreak Response tags and letter from the Local Government.

He said, “In the coming days, some of our health workers will be moving around in pairs to administer an electronic questionnaire at homes and healthcare facilities to make inquiries about symptoms of cough, cold and fever.

“This is in a bid to intensify our search for possible cases of COVID-19 in different communities across the State. I implore you to give them your maximum support by providing accurate information that would help in containing this pandemic quickly.”

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Oando, Aiteo, Seplat, Other Local Oil Companies Collaborate To Fight COVID-19

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As the Federal Government of Nigeria and States government are fighting to contain the impact of the global pandemic COVID-19 oil and gas sector, the largest contributor to the economy has also risen to the occasion in an initiative spearheaded by the NNPC.

In a television programme interview on Monday, April 6 the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, said “The coronavirus pandemic is a global issue; as a country, we are not insulated from it as already seen by the growing number of people affected by the virus.

The first thing that needs to be resolved is the health of our countrymen, this is a difficult time for the country, and no Government on its own can resolve all the issues the pandemic has thrown at us. This industry is one that clearly benefits from the country, we contribute to the growth and development of the country and so we must come together to support the country.”

The GMD spoke to the first leg of the intervention which saw Upstream players commit N11.4bn ($30million) to be collected in kind and handed over to the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 to aid both the Federal and State Governments in their fight to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
According to the NNPC boss, 33 Upstream companies made the contributions including indigenous companies such as Oando, Aiteo, Seplat, Shoreline, Amni International Petroleum, Eroton Exploration and Production as well as International Oil Companies like Eni, Total, Shell and Chevron. He went on to explain that the contributions from sector players had grown to N21bn and continues to grow as a result of Downstream and Service players joining the partnership.

These contributions will support three thematic areas; the provision of medical consumables such as face masks and testing kits among others, the deployment of logistics and in-patient support systems such as ventilators and the delivery of temporary isolation medical centres and permanent medical infrastructure for use during this period and after the pandemic. The GMD indicated that 60% of the resources will go towards the third thematic area – the delivery of permanent medical infrastructure across the country, seen as a long term intervention to upgrade the country’s healthcare facilities but with immediate visibility and impact.

Scaling solutions rapidly to address what could potentially become a national crisis requires significant investment, innovation and collaboration.

In this regard the individual indigenous companies have gone one step further to deploy additional initiatives to support the containment of the coronavirus; some with Nigeria’s peculiarities in mind.

The sector has made commendable efforts in the area of medical relief. Seplat Petroleum and Waltersmith, have donated some medical supplies and equipment to the Edo State Government, including masks, temperature guns, motorised sprayers and other personal protective equipment.

OVH Energy (an Oando licensee) and Aiteo have also made contributions to the Government’s efforts by way of the donation of ambulances whilst MRS donated test kits, medical overalls and ambulances. Other companies like Matrix Energy made financial contributions towards the procurement of necessary medical equipment.

Hinged on their belief that no one should be left behind or uninformed about the virus and measures to curtail its spread, Oando recently launched a new programme that enables its employees, also known as the Humans of Oando as well as their families and friends, to support awareness on the pandemic and preventive measures to be adopted by the general public.

To this end, they have recorded and disseminated short video messages of themselves in different Nigerian languages to ensure every Nigerian is educated in a language they can easily understand.

With mobile phone penetration in Nigeria over 85%, the company is actively pushing the videos on mobile platforms to ensure it reaches its intended audience of the masses. Oando has also spread a message of kindness via a video, encouraging people to look into their communities and their direct sphere of influence, and show kindness to those who need it the most, reinforcing their belief that continued small contributions will in the long term create a huge impact.

It is encouraging to see the indigenous oil and gas companies playing such an integral role in all facets of containing the spread of the viruses, from education to actual treatment reinforcing a global phenomenon of collaboration to solve the issues that the pandemic has unexpectedly thrown at all of us.

This was resounded by the GMD when he spoke to the fact that today indigenous companies make a significant part of our production contributions are growing steadily, most evident over the last 10 years via the purchase of divested assets from the IOCs and that the future of the oil and gas sector is in these indigenous companies.

“This is the hallmark of good corporate citizenship which the oil and gas industry is known for. We remain accountable to Nigerians and will continue to provide details of what has been collected, how it’s distributed and where it’s being delivered to.” The GMD added.

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Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic, Yahaya Bello Lifts Ban On Religious Gatherings In Kogi

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Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has lifted the social distancing order imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on religious congregations in mosques and churches across the state.

Bello, in a statement issued in Lokoja on Thursday, said that the lifting of the ban was to enable religious bodies to resume their normal worship and services.

The statement was signed by Mr Kingsley Fanwo, the state Commissioner for Information and Communication.

The state government urged all religious leaders to put in place preventive and precautionary measures in their various worship centers in order to contain the outbreak and spread of coronavirus in the state.

Specifically, the governor directed that hand sanitizers must be provided for worshippers at the entrances of all churches and mosques.

” Sitting arrangements in mosques and churches should be done to ensure social distancing.

” We also urge churches and mosques to make their services as brief as possible in order not to keep a large crowd of worshipers within enclosed confinement,” the governor said

Bello then enjoined the religious leaders to continue to pray for the end of the pandemic so that the world could return to normal activities.

NAN reports that Gov. Bello on March 20, ordered the closure of public and private schools (tertiary, secondary and primary) in the state indefinitely as measures in preventing the spread of coronavirus disease in the state.

Bello said the closure of schools and other public gathering places take effect from Monday, March 23, 2020.

The governor also banned all forms of gathering involving 30 people and above as part of the preventive measures against the spread of the virus.

(NAN)

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