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Same economic consideration driving Kano-Maradi rail, Enugu-Bamenda highway – BMO

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The economic motivation and philosophy behind the Kano- Maradi rail project are the same driving the 403km highway linking Enugu to Bamenda in Cameroon, Buhari Media Organisation has said.

Bamenda is in Cameroon, while Maradi is in Niger Republic.

The Kano-Maradi rail project has faced a lot of criticisms from many influential groups and opinion leaders as a way to spend on a project, a new corridor linking Sahelo-Sahara with Nigerian coast.

But the BMO maintained that only hypocrites would condemn the Kano-Maradi rail but keep silent over the Enugu-Bamenda highway.

It said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju, and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, that it would be sheer hypocrisy for anyone to condemn the rail project but remain silent on the highway project in the South.

It stated, “We find it strange that many people, including opposition elements who saw everything wrong with President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of a rail project linking three states in Northern Nigeria to a border town in the Niger Republic, are unusually silent about the government’s decision to stick with the 2007 agreement with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Cameroon.

“But for us, the same economic factors that the Buhari administration took into consideration in committing itself to the $1.96bn standard gauge rail project are not different from the decision to link one of the major cities in Southern Nigeria to a city in Cameroon.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the 387km railway line is to run through Kano, Jigawa and Katsina states which are significant trade hubs with massive markets including Dawanau which is believed to have an annual trade volume of $2.5bn, to Maradi which is the major transport and agriculture hub of Niger’s south-central region.

“It is also important to note that 11 out of the 12 stations on the route are in Nigeria with the terminal point at the border town of Maradi which is 622 kilometres from Niamey, the capital of Niger while the highway into Cameroon will terminate within 300 kilometres of Yaounde, the capital city.

“The Enugu to Bamenda highway will drive a lot of economic activities in several Nigerian communities in the South, up to the border with Cameroon, but it is only the rail project that has the potential of opening up a vibrant export route into our landlocked neighbours, especially as it is to be linked to the Lagos-Kano rail line which already has an extension to the Apapa ports via the Lagos-Ibadan rail line.

“So we make bold to affirm that the economic considerations for the two projects are similar and both will add a lot of value to commercial activities along the corridors.”

The BMO also criticised the Peoples Democratic Party, which was critical of the Kano-Maradi rail project.

It stated, “Of all the criticisms that trailed the project, the one that many discerning Nigerians found hard to live with was that of PDP which through its media handlers described it as wasteful.

“However, it is the same party under the Goodluck Jonathan administration that conceived the idea of linking Nigeria to Niger and in fact had a more elaborate plan that would have begun in Zaria, in Kaduna State and terminate in Niamey which is almost 700km from Maradi where the current project is ending.

“So under President Buhari’s watch, Nigeria is making considerable investments on two major cross-border infrastructure projects and the administration deserves credit for remaining committed to actualising them even if it did not originally conceive them.

“And as the President said in one of his recent TV interviews, it’s all about economics though some sceptics opted to ignore his justification of the Kano-Maradi project.”

The group also reassured Nigerians that the President would keep to the terms of his vow to improve on the country’s infrastructure, despite the dwindling oil revenue.

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VAT claim is about fiscal federalism- Lagos State

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Lagos State government on Thursday said it has a strong case in its demand to collect the Value Added Tax (VAT).

It said its claims were also about fiscal federalism.

The state said VAT collection would neither impoverish other states nor would the process be cumbersome.

Commissioner for Information Strategy Gbenga Omotoso, who spoke on ‘Your View’ on TVC, said: “Lagos has a solid case in the ongoing legal dispute as the crux of the disagreement is about equity, justice and fairness.

“Whichever way it goes, it will also enrich our jurisprudence and enhance the way we see and relate to the law.

“No matter what, Lagos will always stand for true fiscal federalism.”

The commissioner noted that the volume of air, sea and road transport activities in Lagos puts pressure on the state’s infrastructure.

He added that additional revenue from VAT would facilitate infrastructure development for faster movement of goods and services, as well as economic growth for the benefit of Lagos and other states since prices will fall.

On the demand for a special status for Lagos, Omotoso described Lagos as a ‘giant that carries most of the burden of Nigeria on its shoulders and the engine-room of the nation’s financial and business activities.

“Lagos must be empowered to play this role to the benefit of Nigerians”, he insisted.

Omotoso noted that other states can partner with Lagos to generate more revenue or resources by taking advantage of its huge population and massive market to sell their agricultural produce and other products, while profits realised therefrom would be repatriated to create more wealth for farmers and other producers in such states.

According to him, Lagos almost became an orphan following the movement of the Federal Capital Territory to Abuja in 1991, resulting in modest support from the Federal Government.

He was confident there would be resources for more infrastructure and facilities in transportation, health, education, e.t.c, that will benefit Lagosians and others who troop in every day if the state is allowed to collect VAT.

Omotoso added that the state will sensitise residents concerning its position on the debate.

Also yesterday, Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel said states were entitled to collect VAT.

He was a guest on Arise TV News ‘Morning Show’ aired to mark the state’s 34th anniversary.

According to him, it was wrong for the Federal Government to collect and share revenue from VAT because it is generated from businesses and activities in states.

Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, yesterday asked all taxpayers to continue remitting VAT to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

She said in an advertorial: “The ruling of the Court of Appeal employs all taxpayers in all the states to continue to collect VAT on behalf of the government in compliance with the VAT Act.”

But, Emmanuel said despite the huge oil and gas investments in the state, Akwa Ibom receives a paltry N2 billion from VAT.

He backed his Rivers and Lagos states counterparts, Nyesom Wike and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, both of whom have signed their VAT bills.

Emmanuel said: “If my brother state has gone to court, it is the same principle that we stand on. I think we are all in the same bucket, the same basket.

“All the 36 states do not need to join at the same time. Today my brother in Rivers State has gone far enough.

“I think the case has gone to the Appeal Court and there is also a stay of execution.

“Let me allow the rule of law. But for states saying they do not need VAT, maybe they do not know the hidden treasure in VAT.

“If today I sell a house in Uyo, or any other person sells a property, the value is enhanced because of the good roads, electricity, security and water I have created, and the value I have added to the property. Why should the VAT on the property not come to me 100 per cent?

“Just look at the money I have spent on capital projects in the first quarter put at N143 billion, if you take 7.5 per cent of that, why should all not come to me?”

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No going back on mega protest at UN Headquarters – Yoruba Nation, others

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Self-determination agitators operating on the platform of Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS) have vowed to go ahead with the grand finale of its one-million-man freedom march at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the United States on Friday.

The grand finale of the march coincides with the ongoing UN Assembly where President, Muhammadu Buhari, is expected to address the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on Friday.

Akintoye in a statement, on Thursday, made available to The Nation by NINAS Director of Communications, Maxwell Adeleye, accused the Federal Government of sponsoring a counter-protest at the United Nations Headquarters tomorrow.

He alleged that the Nigerian Government has started hiring black foreigners living in the United States of America with $500 per head to stage a Pro-Buhari and One Nigeria March opposite the United Nations Headquarters.

Akintoye vowed that the will of the people would prevail no matter how the Federal Government tries to scuttle the NINAS Grand Finale March.

Apart from Akintoye, the Secretary-General, Tony Nnadi, who represents the Lower Niger Congress and Prof. Yusuf Turaki, who represent the Middle-Belt Movement at NINAS have also jointly called on the UN to take urgent step to prevent Nigeria from descending into chaos.

NINAS, which described the 1999 Constitution as a fraud against the people of South and Middle-Belt, having been “enacted without the consent of the people,” demanded the conduct of a regional referendum so that the indigenous people can decide on their nationhood, among others.

All the indigenous people of the South and Middle-Belt in the United States and Canada have been urged to troop out in large number tomorrow.

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TCN lost N1.7bn to Borno vandal activities in nine months – Minister

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The Transmission Company of Nigeria says it has lost N1.7 billion in nine months owing to the destruction of electricity infrastructure in Maiduguri, Borno State. Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, stated this on Thursday at a town hall meeting in Maiduguri.
He said the TCN made the revenue loss from January to September this year.
Aliyu, who was represented by TCN Chairman, Sule Abdulazeez, said the loss recorded was on vandalised electricity lines at an average of 740 megawatts per day.
The minister added that in one month, TCN lost an average of N139 million on the wheeling charges and energy lost in the area.
He said a total number of eight 330Kv towers had been brought down by insurgents in Damaturu and Maiduguri within the period.
The minister said an average cost of reconstructing each tower is about N110 million, translating to about N880 million.
“Five towers were successfully erected and stringing completed on Sept. 17, awaiting energisation before the insurgents brought down another two sets of tower (1193 and 1194) at Auna village the next day September.
“Six towers in Oronta village in Abia state were brought down by vandals in Umuahia, while ten drums of aluminium conductors were carted away disrupting erection of a new tower.
“Also, the Escravos to Lagos pipeline was blasted by vandals disrupting gas supply to over six power generating stations in the western part of the country in 2016.”
As a way forward, the minister recommended executing embedded generation such as the proposed NNPC 50MW gas plant, solar farm, and wind farm in Maiduguri.
Maiduguri and environs have been cut off from public power supply since January as a result of the destruction of power infrastructure by terrorists.

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