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THE NATION

Abuja light rail project employs 10,000 Nigerians -Lai Mohammed

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About 10,000 Nigerians were employed during the construction of the Abuja Light Rail Project, which was recently commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari, while 100,000 more will be directly or indirectly employed when the project begins full operation.

The Chief Resident Engineer for the Abuja Light Rail Project, Anthony Agbakoba, disclosed this on Thursday while briefing the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who took journalists on a tour of the project, which is now being test-run.

Agbakoba said that in addition, 68 highly-skilled personnel have been trained in Malaysia and China on Railway Operations and Management in order to build the required technical capacity needed to run such a modern rail system.

“FCTA (Federal Capital Territory Administration) and Nigeria now have capacity to supervise similar railway construction projects from start to completion within 3 to 4 years of conception,” he said.

While conducting the Minister and his team round the train stations, the Secretary of Transportation in the FCTA, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, said the present administration inherited the Abuja Light Project at 53% completion stage and delivered the project within 18 months.

He said the project is the first integrated mode of Transportation in Africa that connects the railways and the airport in order to ensure seamless movement of passengers.

Opeifa said a desk will be assigned to the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture at the Airport Station to showcase the nation’s rich cultural heritage and tourism attraction, adding that the station itself is a tourist attraction.

He said although the Abuja Light Rail is currently on a test run with 3 coaches, contract for the construction and supply of 48 additional coaches has been awarded, with the coaches expected to be delivered in batches.

In his remarks, Mohammed, said the Buhari Administration is building a legacy of enduring infrastructure for posterity.

“This administration is not looking for quick fixes because quick fixes don’t work. We are laying a foundation for an enduring infrastructural development. We are painstaking and very transparent and we remain focused and committed,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed expressed the confidence that Nigeria possesses the required technical competence to manage the Light Rail Project and turn it into a huge success.

“Some of the key personnel, who have worked in virtually major rail companies in the world, are actually anchoring the programme. Some of them have been trained in the best schools in the world for transportation and so we are confident of the expertise and experience of the personnel that are handling the light rail and the regional rail,” he said.

The Minister said the level of successes being recorded by the present administration, in its key priority areas, has left the opposition in shock, hence their resort to fake news and hate speech.

The 45.2-kilometre Light Rail Project, which is divided into six lots, comprises 12 stations, 50 culverts, 13 railway bridges, 9 pedestrian bridges, 15 flyovers, and a 21-building Rolling Stock Depot.

Since kick-starting the nationwide tour of Federal Government projects in May 2018, the Minister has inspected eight Federal Government projects, including the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail Line, Lagos-Ibadan, Oyo-Ogbomoso and Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressways, and the Second Niger Bridge.

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THE NATION

Why DSS must obey court order, release Dasuki – APC chieftain, Orji Kalu

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A former Governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, has said if court has ordered the release of former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki, then security agencies should comply with the order.

Kalu, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, made the call while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, on Sunday.

He noted that the various tiers of government, individuals and corporate entities should have respect for the decisions of the courts.

According to Kalu, “We are making many unlawful things possible.

“If a court issues an order that Sambo Dasuki be released, it should be obeyed.

“If we Nigerians genuinely want democracy to endure, we should learn how to respect the laws of the land.

“The law of the land is our constitution and any pronouncement made by the court based on the constitution should be obeyed.’’

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THE NATION

Ortom: No amount of persecution will make me return to APC

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Samuel Ortom, governor of Benue state, says no amount of “torment or persecution” will make him reconsider his defection from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

In a statement issued on his behalf by Terver Akase, his chief press secretary, the governor accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of being a strike squad of the ruling party.

He also alleged that the federal government had been using the anti-graft agency to “cripple governance in the state.”

“After succumbing to nationwide condemnation of its illegal freezing of Benue State Government accounts, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has resorted to yet another shameful act in its desperation to cripple governance in the state,” the statement read.

“The anti-graft agency’s latest move is the bandying of figures in national dailies claiming that such figures are those of transactions in the accounts owned by the Benue State Government.

“It released figures allegedly withdrawn from the Benue State Government accounts without disclosing the dates of the withdrawals and the period during which they were made.

“The commission has also not been able to state accounts into which such monies withdrawn were paid to prove that the funds had been diverted.

“EFCC is contented with publishing the figures without stating how impropriety has been established.

“Are government monies supposed to be kept in the accounts indefinitely without expenditure? Their objective is apparently to give Governor Samuel Ortom and his administration a bad name.

“On this score, it is clear that the EFCC has now become both a strike squad of the APC for torment, and their law court for the trial and conviction of political opponents.

“The commission may torment and persecute Governor Ortom and his subordinates on the directives of the powers that be as much as it serves their purposes, but he will neither be distracted nor reconsider his defection from APC.”

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THE NATION

Osinbajo berates gospel preachers for failure to preach against corruption

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Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has berated gospel preachers for failing to lend support to the Federal Government’s anti-corruption war by failing to preach against the scourge.

Speaking at the 30th National Biennial Conference of the Students Christian Movement (SCM) of Nigeria holding in Enugu, Osinbajo noted that preachers were preoccupied with preaching prosperity rather than righteousness.

“Very rarely do you hear our preachers talk about corruption from their pulpits. If a nation is not righteous nothing will help it.”

Osinbajo said that the problem with Nigeria was neither ethnicity nor religion but systemic corruption.He said that corruption had been so entrenched in the country that if you dare challenge it, you will be in the minority.

He, however, challenged the youths to change the narrative and make the difference by checking the impunity of those that had stolen the resources of the country.

“Our problem in this country is not ethnicity or religion; it is not about Christians or Muslims. Our problems are the same wherever you go in this country.

“The story of our country is about good and evil. It is about those that have left us in this condition by stealing our common resources. Do not let anyone deceive you.”

The acting president challenged members of SCM to ensure that the movement becomes one of the tools that will move the country forward. “You should understand that our country can be delivered by people like you.”

According to him, young Christians have special and distinct roles to play in the transformation of the country which is superior to those of other sets of people.

“All of the great nations of the world were transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not a gospel that tickles people’s imaginations or dwells on prosperity.

“It is not a gospel that fits your fancy. It is a gospel that teaches that righteousness exalts a nation.”

Osibanjo appealed to Nigerians to stand against the plundering of the nation’s resources as well as support the anti-corruption initiative of the Federal Government, irrespective of party affiliations.

Earlier in his address, Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State commended the organisers of the event for a successful convention, stating that Christians needed such events in order to seek spiritual reformation and renaissance, considering the situation in the world.

He said that Christians also needed to contribute their quota toward promoting good living among Nigerians.

Ugwuanyi urged Nigerians to continue to pray for President Muhammadu Buhari and for the peace of the nation.

In an address of welcome, the National President of SCM, Rev. Eric Ighalo, commended Osinbajo for honouring their invitation.

Ighalo said that the conference was about active involvement of youths in reversing the problems that had held the country down through dialogue, collaboration and contention.

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