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Lost assets: Cardoso leads Lagos eight-man rebuild team

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  • Sanwo-Olu signs executive order

 Fola Raheem

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Wednesday signed an Executive Order for the formation of an eight-man board to coordinate efforts to restore assets lost or damaged in the recent attacks by hoodlums on public and private facilities in the state.

Citibank Nigeria Chairman, Mr. Yemi Cardoso, will head the Board of the Lagos Rebuild Trust Fund. The board members were unveiled at a press conference at the Governor’s Office, Alausa, Ikeja.

A statement by the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, reported Sanwo-Olu said the government decided to put the destruction behind it and face the huge and necessary task of rebuilding the state.

The government, he said, would be embracing new standards of governance and building stronger partnerships, which would enable the state to bequeath stronger institutions and cohesion among residents.

He spoke of how many friends and admirers of the state had been calling to lend a hand in the rebuilding of the razed assets.

He said, “In the last few weeks, we have been inundated with local and global offers of assistance to rebuild our state and recover all we lost to arson and violence in October. It is obvious that we can no longer wait to begin the onerous task of reconstructing Lagos. In the next few days, our government will be sending a bill to the House of Assembly for the establishment of a Trust Fund to Rebuild Lagos.

“Today, I am signing an Executive Order to set up an eight-man Lagos Rebuild Trust Fund Committee, which will begin to oversee our recovery process. To ensure the highest standards of probity, transparency and accountability, FBN Trustees headed by Mr Kunle Awojobi will oversee the Lagos Rebuild Trust Fund Committee. The Committee will comprise five members from the private sector, two members from the public sector and one member from the International Donor Aid Community.

“We will embrace new standards of governance and build stronger partnerships, stronger people, stronger institutions, and stronger Lagos. Our strength lies in our uncanny ability to overcome the most complicated challenges because we have people who genuinely love Lagos State and will assiduously do all they can to preserve its peace and unity.”

Sanwo-Olu said the trust fund would be responsible for getting detailed cost of restructuring and rebuilding of destroyed assets.

The Funds, he added, will also advise the state government on the most critical assets to prioritise and identify emergency response service critically needed.

The rebuilding plan, the governor said, would be all-inclusive, stressing that the government would welcome support and contributions from well-meaning individuals and corporate organisations who believe in the Lagos dream.

His words: “I believe this is the starting point of a new socio-economic process. I am hopeful that this initiative will help us to seamlessly make the transition to a rebuilt Lagos with upgraded public structures, facilities and amenities. I know that the ashes that presently dot our landscape will birth modern and globally acceptable infrastructure.

“At the centre of this decisive action to rebuild Lagos is the need to closely work with the people and organisations who call Lagos home; those who believe in the Lagos dream, and those who share our collective vision of a mega-city that thrives on peace and unity among all ethnic groups.”

Other members of the Trust Fund’s Board are the Managing Partner, Olaniwun Ajayi LP, Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi, SAN; Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman; Co-Founder and CEO, Flutterwave; Mr. Gbenga Agboola; Vice Chairman, Standard Chartered Bank, Mrs. Bola Adesola – all representing the private sector – and a representative of an International Donor Agency.

The Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Sam Egube, and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Jimi Hotonou, are members of the Board representing the public sector.

As part of the government’s objectives to fully heal the wounds of the crisis, the governor also announced six other committees. They are: Business Continuity Committee; Assessment Committee; Execution, Measurement and Evaluation Committee; Communication and Engagement Committee; Trust Fund Implementation Committee; and Security and Enforcement Committee.

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Zamfara killings: Buhari says it’s time to crush bandits

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President Muhammadu Buhari was aghast by the latest orgy of violence visited on innocent people in Zamfara State by bandits and issued a fresh order to security agents to crush the gunmen.

More than 25 people were killed in attacks on Gobirawa, Rini, Gora, and Madoti Dankule in Bakura and Maradun LGAs in Zamfara — the death toll has since risen.

The gunmen were said to have invaded the communities on motorcycles and shot sporadically, on Wednesday.

Reacting, Buhari said the “insane and persistent violence against innocent people must stop”, adding that “such wanton disregard for life will be brought to an end sooner than later”.

A statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, on Thursday quoted Buhari to have said this, adding,“These criminals should stop pushing their luck too far by believing that the government lacks the capacity to crush them.

“The violence against poor villagers who are struggling with poverty and other severe economic challenges is not going to be tolerated by this administration.”

He directed security agencies to close all existing gaps in their operations while expressing hope that the special operation launched by security agencies will prove decisive in ridding the state of the “frequent and horrifying” bandit activities.

“Let’s not give these criminals any opportunity to succeed by taking the war to their own camps and stop them in their tracks before they even have the time to respond under our massive fire power,” the president added.

Buhari reassured residents of the state of his administration’s determination to defeat the enemies, despite the latest setback.

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MASSOB rejects UK asylum offer, says it’s plot against Biafra

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The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has turned down the United Kingdom’s offer of asylum for its members.

It said the offer was an arrangement probably taken with President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government to divert the attention of the people of Biafra.

A statement by MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu, made available to journalists in Enugu, said the asylum offer was part of plans by the Buhari regime hatched with the British government against the emergence of Biafra.

The statement read in part, “The government of Britain is the sole architecture of the political, economic and religious problems of the people of Biafra in Nigeria even till today.

“It has not shown any remorse or apologise to the people of Biafra.

“Britain killed, maimed mesmerised and wounded our fathers, mothers and brethren through the Hausa Fulanis. MASSOB rejects their asylum gift.

“How can the chief persecutor of the people of Biafra suddenly turn to be our pacesetter? Britain and Nigeria can no longer deceive the world again concerning the plights of the people of Biafra.

“Our unified resilience, resolutions and unshakable spirit of no surrender will continue to hunt down this geographical expression called Nigeria.

“MASSOB demands referendum on Biafra not asylum.”

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Security: Avoid 14 Nigerian states, US warns citizens

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The United States has asked its citizens to stay away from 14 Nigerian states considered as hotspots of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.

It stated this in its latest travel advisories even as it urged its citizens to “Reconsider travel to Nigeria”.

The US State Department in the updated advisory added at least 116 countries this week to its ‘Level Four: Do Not Travel’ list.

The UK, Canada, France, Israel, Mexico, Germany and others are on the list, citing a “very high level of COVID-19.”

Before Tuesday, the State Department listed 34 out of about 200 countries as “Do Not Travel.” The State Department now lists 150 countries at Level Four.

Nigeria is categorised as Level 3.

Unlike countries categorised as Level 4, based on the advice of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nigeria has a good rating on COVID-19 prevalence.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1 Travel Health Notice for Nigeria due to COVID-19, indicating a low level of COVID-19 in the country”, the State Department said.

It listed areas American visitors should avoid, while in Nigeria as Borno, Yobe, and northern Adamawa states due to terrorism and kidnapping, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Zamfara states due to kidnapping.

It also banned American citizens from going to Coastal areas of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Rivers states (with the exception of Port Harcourt) due to crime, kidnapping, and maritime crime.

In a country summary on Nigeria, the U.S. State Department wrote:

“Violent crime – such as armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping, hostage taking, banditry, and rape – is common throughout the country.

“Kidnappings for ransom occur frequently, often targeting dual national citizens who have returned to Nigeria for a visit, as well as U.S. citizens with perceived wealth. Kidnapping gangs have also stopped victims on interstate roads.

“Terrorists continue plotting and carrying out attacks in Nigeria, especially in the Northeast.

“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting shopping centers, malls, markets, hotels, places of worship, restaurants, bars, schools, government installations, transportation hubs, and other places where crowds gather. Terrorists are known to work with local gangs to expand their reach.

“There is civil unrest and low-level armed militancy in parts of Southern Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta region. Armed criminality, including kidnapping and maritime crime, is also pervasive in this region.”

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