The Federal Government on Tuesday said it had not declared a fresh lockdown in the country over the second wave of COVID-19.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the clarification when he featured on a Radio Nigeria programme, ‘Politics Nationwide’.
He said the directives by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday did not amount to a partial or total lockdown.
Mohammed explained that what the Federal Government had done was to reduce the chances of mass gathering by directing its workers from Level 12 below to work from home.
He said the government also reaffirmed the already existing ban on night clubs and other COVID-19 protocols.
The minister said, “The Federal Government has not declared a fresh lockdown. What we have done is that we have simply reiterated the old protocols and asked federal workers on Level 12 and below to stay at home and they will still receive their salaries.
“Lagos State has equally asked their level 14 workers and below to work from home and Kaduna State has done the same. Therefore, there is no fresh lockdown and the issue of hardship and economy meltdown does not arise.”
The minister said the government also reminded Nigerians that the ban on social gathering was still on and churches and mosques should obey the social gathering rules.
According to Mohammed, the protocols on foreign travels for now indicate that those travelling to Nigeria would not be able to come on board unless they have the certificate that they tested negative for the virus.
He said on arrival into the country, they must self-isolate for seven days after which they would go back for a confirmation test.
Give priority to local professionals, contractors, Buhari orders MDAs
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered all Ministries, Agencies and Parastatals (MDAs) to give priority to indigenous professionals for execution of national projects.
Buhari gave the directive on Thursday at the inauguration of the Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation Council of the Executive Order 5, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
This is contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in which the President stressed that foreign professionals should only be considered where it had been certified that local expertise was not available.
“The Federal Government shall introduce Margin of Preference in National Competitive Bidding in contracts, in the evaluation of tenders, from indigenous suppliers of goods manufactured locally over foreign goods.
“All Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) shall ensure that any professional practising in Nigeria must be duly registered with the appropriate regulatory body in Nigeria.
“All MDAs shall ensure that for all consultancy contracts awarded to foreign companies, engineering drawings, necessary calculations, design, among others, are made available to their corresponding Nigerian partners, including arrangements with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as partners towards local production of needed materials,” the statement said.
It explained that Executive Order Number 5 was made to place Nigerian professionals and manufacturers at the centre of the nation’s economy.
The President said his administration would use the Executive Order 5 to midwife a new beginning that would transform Nigeria’s economy from resource-based to a knowledge-based and innovation driven.
President Buhari said suppliers and contractors under national competitive bidding process shall disclose local material (processed or unprocessed), where available and needed for the execution of projects. He added that designs for all contracts, programmes, projects, among others, shall be in English language before signing.
“The Ministry of Interior shall ensure that expatriate quota for projects, contracts, and programmes are granted according to the provisions of the Immigration Act and other relevant laws.
“This will apply where qualifications and competence of Nigerian Nationals are not available or cannot be ascertained, which shall be contingent on training such number of persons as may be required for the execution of the contract or project,” he said.
The President, who is also Chairman of the Presidential Monitoring Evaluation Council, said the team would oversee the general implementation of the Executive Order 5, while the secretariat would be domiciled at the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, supported by the Strategy Implementation Task Office for Presidential Executive Order 5 (SITOPEO-5).
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Ogbonnaya Onu assured the nation that the Council would harness the human and natural resources of the country, reduce exportation of jobs and remove the current renting pattern, which fuels inefficacy.
Lagos blue rail project gets CBN N60bn support (with photos)
- Train to run every three minutes at peak period – LAMATA
The Central Bank of Nigeria says it has offered N60bn support through three commercial banks for a railway project being executed by the Lagos State Government.
The funds are being released specifically for the Lagos Blue (rail) Line, running between Marina and Okokomaiko, which is one of the seven mass transit rail projects being developed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).
Director of Development and Finance at the CBN, Mr Phillip Yusuf, disclosed this on Thursday during an inspection of the project at Marina, Lagos.
Already, he said N45bn had been disbursed, adding that the last tranche of the funds would be released soon.
According to him, this is one of the projects the apex bank and some deposit money banks are supporting under its N1 trillion DCR Intervention, which is part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic to businesses and projects affecting the people.
He named the banks involved as Access Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc.
“The total amount that we have made available for this line is N60 billion. We have disbursed N45 billion; there is another tranche of N15 billion due.
“So, we can see the progress made with the disbursement that had been made so far. This is just one of the many projects under its DCR Intervention.”
Yusuf expressed satisfaction with work done and the solid structure being put in place by the contractor.
He said, “I am quite impressed with what I see on the ground. LAMATA had taken us around and we can see the solid structure that is being put in place in Marina.
“The quality of work is quite impressive and they have shown us all the work done so far. Luckily, I am an engineer; I can appreciate the amount of work being done.
“Most importantly, I see young Nigerians welding, fabricating and there are over 500 jobs on site. For me, that is a very good take away.”
The Managing Director, LAMATA, Mrs Abimbola Akinajo, said, “The vision of the state is to ensure that this project will be operational in the first quarter of 2022, as we are on track.
“One of the major things in every project is funding, and with the support we have from the CBN and three other banks – Sterling, Fidelity and Access, we will ensure we meet our goal and target.”
She said that LAMATA was at present constructing the first operational phase of the Blue Line, adding that five stations at Mile 2, Alaba, Iganmu, National Theatre and the Marina would be constructed within the axis.
She said that the Marina station would actually serve as the hub in Lagos State because both the Blue and Red lines would terminate at the place and the Green Line which would come from Lekki would also terminate at the Marina station.
Akinajo said that the Marina station would serve as an interchange because every form of transportation would be catered for there.
She called for the stakeholders’ collaboration on the project to enable the state government to achieve its aim, stressing that three sets of coaches would commence on the line in 2022.
She said that each of the coaches would carry not less than 1,000 passengers, adding that the signalling system in place would allow the movement of train every three minutes during peak hours.
The line is expected to run on the surface in the central reservation of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway between Igbo-Elerin Road (Okokomaiko) and Iganmu. It will then be elevated from Iganmu along the south side of the expressway passing the junction with Eric Moore Road, crossing just south of the National Theatre to Iddo, then south to Lagos Island with a terminal at Marina.
Concession of railway services coming soon – NRC MD
Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria, has hinted about plans for the concession of train operations in the country as a way to speed up and sustain ongoing development of rail transport system.
He stated this just as he said the corporation would continue to run the system in ways that would make the repayment of loans taken easy.
Okhiria spoke on Wednesday when he appeared at a town hall meeting organised by Raypower FM under the theme: “Interrogating the Essence of Chinese loans in Nigeria”.
Recently, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the Federal Government had taken $2.5bn loan to complete the new 156km Lagos-Ibadan railway built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.
Okhiria said at the Raypower forum that the corporation was considering concession and efficiently moving rail at an affordable price to quickly turn out the repayment.
“We are not ruling out even concession of the railways,” he said.
The NRC MD however did not give details on when and how the concession would be achieved.
A concession agreement, according to Investopedia, is a contract that gives a company the right to operate a specific business within a government’s jurisdiction or on another firm’s property, subject to particular terms. “Concession agreements often involve contracts between the nongovernmental owner of a facility and a concession owner, or concessionaire. The agreement grants the concessionaire exclusive rights to operate their business in the facility for a stated time and under specified conditions,” the authority adds.
A project consultant and partner at ALG, Joan Miquel Vilardell, contributing to an AfDB Transport Forum discussion, had said that the private sector participation had been positive in several railways worldwide, usually under concession.
But he noted that the initial concession model used in Africa and Latin America had not led to enough investment, especially in infrastructure.
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