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Reps to probe planned privatisation of National Theatre, TBS, stadiums

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The House of Representatives is set to probe the Federal Government’s planned privatisation of the National Theatre, Tafawa Balewa Square, both in Lagos, and other national assets, especially as the already leased ones have failed.

The decision was based on a motion of urgent national importance moved by the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu.

Okechukwu had earlier moved the motion on Thursday but the House stepped it down to confirm if it would not clash with an existing probe into abandonment and sale of Federal Government assets.

On Monday, the House revisited the motion and adopted it.

In the motion, Okechukwu noted that one of the most effective tools that the Federal Government could deploy to move the nation out of its present economic crisis was to plug revenue leakages.

He said, “The House is worried that issues bothering on lease of the Federal Government assets have always been compromised by the key actors for their selfish benefits to the detriment of the nation, with no much value at the end of it all.

“The House is convinced that there is an urgent need to review all leases of Federal Government assets, with a view to expunging all sale provisions and enacting new ones in line with the current state of affairs to be determined by the market forces.

“The House is convinced that this exercise would help the Federal Government recover lots of revenues in the hands of few individuals reaping of the system.

“The House is concerned that if this urgent step is not taken immediately, the same trend would continue especially with the Federal Government intention to concession the National Arts Theatre, Tafawa Balewa Square, all the River Basin Development Authority, the National Stadium in Lagos and the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja.”

The House resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to “review all related leasing and concession of the Federal Government assets and report back to the House within six weeks.”

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We resisted governors’ pressure to borrow for March shortfall – Zainab Ahmed

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said the Federal Government rejection a suggestion by state governors to borrow from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to augment the N50 billion federation account allocation committee (FAAC) shortfall in March.

She stated this on Monday while featuring on the Good Morning Nigeria programme, a daily breakfast show on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

Recall that Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki had alleged that the FG printed N60 billion to support March federal allocation to states.

But the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, dismissed Obaseki’s claim describing it as “unfortunate and totally inappropriate.”

Ahmed said that whenever there was a reduction in federal allocation, the Federal Government would take money from some reserve accounts, adding however that in the case of March allocation which fell short by N50 billion, all state governments were asked to manage their resources.

“It is a difficult time, I can explain to you how difficult it is not just for the Federal Government but also for the states, we see increasing reduction in our FAAC revenue,” she said.

The minister also said, “In the month of March, we had a shortfall of FAAC that is almost about N50 billion and we did not have enough accrued in any of those accounts, the states to be honest wanted us to borrow from the Central Bank, but we resisted, we just told everybody to go back to live within what they had.

“So it was very surprising for us when we heard a sitting governor saying that the CBN had printed money for FAAC; that was very unfortunate because it is not true.”

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Mercedes-Benz stuns with another seven-seater crossover SUV

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A few days after Mercedes-Benz revealed what it calls the mother of all electric vehicles in the form of the sophisticated EQS luxury sedan, it has added another stunning product to the Mercedes-EQ family of cars, the EQB.

This is a seven-seater, crossover sport utility vehicle that is to the GLB-class what the EQA is to the GLA.

Car and Driver in a report quotes the premium German automaker as saying the EQB is based on the GLB crossover.

Mercedes-Benz EQ is a series of battery electric vehicles manufactured by Mercedes-Benz. The first model was previewed at the Paris Motor Show in 2016 with the Generation EQ concept vehicle.

The EQB will be launched first in China, where it debuts in a luxuriously equipped all-wheel-drive version with AMG Line styling.

Europe is to have it next in three versions: front- and all-wheel-drive models and a range-optimizing mid-level EQB.

The new vehicle will however not be released to the US market until next year.

While the sheet metal and glass are identical, the styling department under Gorden Wagener has cleaned up the exterior for a more contemporary and sophisticated look.

The front is graced by the trademark EQ headlight/fascia assembly, with a horizontal light bar stretching over the entire width.

This element is reflected on the tail end, which boasts a horizontal light strip as well.

There are EQ-specific colours and wheels, and there will be a choice of regular or AMG-Line front and rear bumpers.

The interior is carried over from the GLB as well, but it comes with EQ-exclusive color and trim options, including rose gold (pictured here), one of Wagener’s favorite colors.

Due to the battery packs in the floor, interior space suffers a bit: Daimler cautions that the third row will only work for people up to 5’5″ and the trunk shrinks considerably.

That said, the EQB is still a crossover SUV that offers more space than usual for its exterior dimensions.

The EQB was unveiled in China, and it will be launched there first as a fully loaded model with a standard AMG Line look, all-wheel drive, and two motors that make a combined 288 horsepower.

Europe will get both the EQB350 4Matic with around 268 horsepower and the front-wheel-drive EQB250 with 221 horsepower; there will also be a mid-level version designed as a long-range model. Both China and Europe will see the EQB at dealers within the 2021 calendar year.

The US will have to wait until 2022, and the company is mum about the possible powertrain options.

Car and Driver says, “What we can deduce from our experience with the EQA is that even the least powerful versions of the EQB will come in at around 4500 pounds, which we hope won’t translate into plodding, cumbersome handling characteristics, even if that would feel a bit less out of place in a people hauler like the EQB than in a compact hatch like the EQA.

“There will be no true AMG version, unlike on the EQS and the EQE. However, we’ll suspend judgment until we can drive it.”

 

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Audi to light up Auto Shanghai with new E-Tron

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Audi has released a first teaser of its new E-Tron sedan ahead of the launch of the lustrous car today April 19 at the 2021 Auto Shanghai.

But it only showed the long front end, though the company is back with a second teaser that reveals much more for the car.

The latest teaser, posted to Audi’s Weibo account, the Facebook-like Chinese social media site, shows the car in profile with dramatic shadows obscuring most of the bodywork. But a little tweaking in Photoshop reveals a bit more of the car’s styling.

One of the first things jumping out is the rear overhang, which looks oddly elongated compared to the front.

Audi will show off the car at Auto Shanghai 2021 on Monday, April 19.

However, while its reveal is imminent, the new sedan isn’t expected to go on sale until the 2023 model year, so it will be a bit before you can buy one.

It should be the first model to ride on the brand’s Premium Platform Electric architecture that Audi jointly developed with Porsche.

The teaser confirms much of what is expected – a sedan similar in size and shape to the Audi A5 Sportback.

However, the new E-Tron does look sleeker than the A5 Sportback, with a lower greenhouse and unique proportions. One can even spot the charging door on the rear quarter panel.

Elections will power the new fastback sedan, though the setup remains unclear. A single-motor model will power the rear wheels, while a dual-motor setup in higher performance trim will power all four.

It should also sport 800-volt charging and offer around 300 miles of range, though that could be less in the US with its strict testing regiment. Inside, people should expect to see a similar design to what’s in the E-Tron GT, though it will be a bit less luxurious as this new E-Tron will likely slot below the GT.

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