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…As Amaechi Welcomes President Buhari To Perform Another Ground-Breaking

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By
GIFT OKPARA
Like never before , development is fast spreading in the transportation sector. This will definitely improve the living standard of Nigerians and boost the economy generally.

Another good news is that, soon, Nigeria will be ranked among nations with the most affordable and efficient rail transport system.

Aside from achieving a good transportation system in the country, projects embarked upon by the Ministry of Transportation through the indefatigable Minister Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi would address the problems of unemployment in the country.

For instance, the Rail projects, when completed are expected to employ over ten thousand Nigerians. This will to an extent reduce crime and criminality.

Accordingly, In line with the present administration’s commitment to localize content, Amaechi is ensuring that maintenance, operation and repair of the entire Rail system does not rest on the Chinese but on Nigerians themselves.

It is on this premise that the Federal Ministry of Transportation engaged in discussion with experts in the Rail sector to build a Transportation University for the country.

Already, about three hundred Nigerian students on government scholarship are in China studying different courses in Railway Engineering. They would upon graduation automatically be employed to teach Railway Engineering in the Transportation University.

According to Amaechi “The truth is that we lack the skill for the maintenance and operation of the Railway system in Nigeria. Over a long period of time the manpower eroded. What we are doing now is that we have agreed that the Chinese company that is going to build the Lagos-Kano Railway would also build the University of Transportation “.

“In this University, you have Aviation, Maritime and Railway. We cannot continue to depend on the Chinese whenever anything goes wrong with the train. If you go to Lagos to see the Railway in Ebute -Meta, you will find all sort of things they bought under Abacha that are not in use, this we want to stop”, he said.

The importance placed on Railway transportation by the present administration cannot be overemphasized as the University will be the first in the country to offer courses and award degrees in Railway Engineering .

Engr. Baba Kobi, Director Rail Services in the Ministry has this to say. “As a means of having the facility to improve on capacity and enhance local content in Railway Engineering you need to produce the required level of experts. I don’t know if there is any Nigerian University that is offering it as a course”.

“We have recognized Railway as a very important infrastructure to improve on our economy which is also the desire of Nigerians at this point in time. Railway has become a major backbone of our economy, so it follows logically that we must have the local content in terms of knowledge and capacity, to plan, build and operate the railway and that is where the idea and concept of Transportation University came about”.

“We have looked at the possibility of engaging the interested investors in the sector to add to their content, support for local capacity building in form of Transportation University. This is primarily the issue, It means that we may not have to bring the resources for this purpose, may be just to provide the support in terms of legislature and regulatory”.

“From the need assessment , the little we have done is that the catchment area for students should be just like any conventional University in Nigeria where they would go through the necessary procedure for admission”, he said.

Kobi also added that, “This does not mean that the University cannot organize Short Courses for people to enhance their knowledge and capacity. Therefore, like any other conventional University they can develop diploma courses especially for Railway Engineering. So, for us in the transportation sector, we will have the opportunity to realize the establishment of the University. For instance, all the projects that are coming under the CCECC, they are handling two major Rail Modernization projects for us which is the Lagos-Kano and Lagos-Calabar projects. These two projects, we have an understanding that they will establish a Transportation University for Nigeria”, he explained.

On this note however, barely three weeks after he led Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo to perform the ground-breaking ceremony of the Wagon Assembly Plant in Kajola,Ogun State, Amaechi will again on Monday 2nd December, 2019 in company of other top Ministry officials arrive Daura,Katsina State to welcome President Muhammadu Buhari to perform the ground-breaking of the first Transportation University in Nigeria.

Okpara, an aide of the Transportation Minister writes from Abuja

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Governor Udom Emmanuel Loses Father

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Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel has lost his Father, the Late Elder Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang.

The sad event occurred on Sunday, December 1st 2019. He was aged Ninety (90years.)

According to a family source, after due clearance from the Head of the Family, Pastor Edo Ekim ( the Father of the celebrity Nollywood actress, Ini Edo) , the first Son of the departed Patriarch, Mr. Gabriel Nkanang (Jr.) was authorized to make public the demise of the late Patriarch.

Burial arrangement according to family sources will be announced in due course.

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Border Drill: Benin Republic unrepentant — FG

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The Federal Government has accused the Republic of Benin of being recalcitrant in its importation of prohibited goods for ultimate dumping in to Nigeria’s market in spite the partial border closure order.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made the accusation when he featured on a “TV Continental”, live Programme, monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

“Regrettably, the signs out there are not positive in the sense that in the last few weeks, the amount of seizures that have been made do not show that our neighbours are in a hurry to comply with Nigeria.

“As we speak today, there are three ships heading toward Benin Republic laden with about 105,000 metric tons of rice.

“This is a country of about 12 million people. That rice is meant for ultimate consumption of Nigerians.

“In addition, Benin Republic just negotiated with Japan to receive rice worth 30 million dollars.

“It is clear that the ultimate destination of the rice will be Nigeria and that is why we are appealing to our neighbours.

“First preservation is the first law of survival, we are doing this to preserve our economy and the security of our country,” he said.

The minister who disclosed that the border drill will be in place as long as necessary, noted that Nigeria could no longer continue to play the big brother at the expense of its economy and national security.

“The facts at our disposal reveal that 10,000 vehicles are imported every month into the Cotonou seaport.

“For a population of about 12 million people to be importing 120,000 vehicles in a year means that the vehicles are going to Nigeria with sufficient market.

“As I have said, there is no gain without pain, there will be discomfort at the beginning ultimately we believe it is going to be to the ultimate interest of Nigeria,” he said.

The minister reiterated that both Benin Republic and Niger Republic were hurting Nigeria’s economy and security because of their non compliance with the ECOWAS Protocol on Transit Goods and State of Origin.

“We have been on this dialogue since 2015 and the truth of the matter is that there has never been any legitimate transit trade between us and the two countries

“This is hurting our economy, affecting our security and no country will fold its arms when the overall interest of its people is being jeopardise,” he said.

The minister said that government decided to prohibit sale of fuel in filling stations less than 20km away from the borders because of the high level of smuggling of the product to neighbouring countries.

He said no fewer than 160 filling stations were affected by the directive and they were in such a large number because they primarily engage in smuggling.

“These are stations that when you drive into them in the day time, they will not be dispensing fuel until late in the night when they will smuggle the product across the border,” he said.

Mohammed disclosed that a very sizable proportion of the subsidised imported petrol into the country was finding its way to Benin Republic, Niger Republic and some other West African countries.

“What we find out is that we are actually subsidising the product not just for Nigerians but for many West African countries.

“For instance, if the landing cost of pms is about N200 today, in order to cushion the effect on the people, government sells at N140 per liter.

“Meaning that for every liter of fuel bought, the government is paying N60. If you consume one million litres a day, the government is paying N60 million a day.

“You can imagine that from what the government pays, it is the neighboring countries that benefit about 50 per cent of it,” he said.

Mohammed said that it had been provenly established that 95 per cent of illicit drugs , arms and ammunition came into the country through the land borders with attendant effect on increase in terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and other crimes.

He said with the border drill directive, there had been drastic reduction smuggling of drugs and arms into the country, thereby reducing rate of crimes.

The minister said that government was aware of the effects of the border drill on the citizens, particularly the spike in the price of rice, but the people must bear the temporary pains to reap the benefits.

NAN reports that most of the viewers that called in to the programme supported the government on the partial border closure directive.

They contended that Nigeria had been reduced to a dumping ground for decades.

Some of them gave the examples of China that closed its borders for decades to achieve its vision of self reliance and becoming a nation to reckon with globally

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