The Nigerian Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has made some clarifications on the withdrawal of General Electric from railway concession in the country, insisting that the FG has not signed any agreement with the American company.

According to the minister, GE was still negotiating with the Federal Government on the planned $2.7 billion deal to concession and rehabilitate Nigeria’s narrow gauge railway when it backed out.

The minister stated this speaking on the the ‘Morning Show’ of Arise News Network, insisting that GE did not abandon the railway deal on account of Nigerian economy.

He said further that GE was no longer in the business of transportation and had to hand over its interest in the deal to another firm.

“General Electric did not pull out. One thing that thrives heavily in Nigeria is rumour, I don’t know where you got that information, no concession agreement has been signed, none. We have been negotiating, there is no way you will get a concession agreement in one year.

“What happened is that most of their business activities, they have dropped a lot of (them), I don’t know if it includes energy, transportation and all that. When they found out that they couldn’t continue in that line of business…because they were no longer in transportation business, the next company took over the lease, they didn’t pull out, it has nothing to do with our economy, they were excited about this thing.”

Amaechi futher revealed that GE had told him that they had for 11 years approached successive administrations in Nigeria to do the railway concession but the company was not successful because previous administrations wanted to award contracts for the railway while that of Muhammadu Buhari, preferred the concession model, adding that South African firm, Transnet SOC Limited, which deals in pipeline, port, and rail construction would now take over from GE and that a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) would be set up with Transnet and other firms to do the job.

“I said I wasn’t going to award any contract because railway is too expensive. The total investment is supposed to be $2.7 billion, which is N1 trillion. No government can pull out N1 trillion to rehabilitate the entire narrow gauge.

“Now, the South African company has continued, they want to do the rehabilitation, we are at the point of setting up the SPV before we can sign the concession agreement.

“Have we finished negotiations? The answer is yes; the problem we have is that they want another six months to get their ministers in South Africa to give them approval to set up an SPV and we can’t sign without that because there are four companies involved.

“The four companies will form an SPV with which they will come to the table to sign. Each company, especially the one in China, say they will need six months to be able to convince their government to go into the concession. We are good to go, we are waiting for our partners,” he added.

 

Source: NAN

One of the hallmarks of a thriving economy is found in the social blend where entertainment unfolds in varieties within its suburban settlements. From local events that employs the theatrics of performing artistes, to ticketed shows such as stage dramas, comedy shows, musical shows, and exclusive gigs; a fully-ploughed creative ecosystem brings spectacles, verve, and good living wages for practitioners. This is the course set in motion by  Governor Udom Emmanuel.
 
The breakthrough project AKWA IBOM Talent Showcase; first of its kind,  is one of the emerging platforms that has put steam into increasing the capacity and accelerating the active talent pool of Akwa Ibom State entertainment industry. As a key fragment of the functional whole, the talents showcase represents the entry strategy that unveils a 3-phrase stimulus plan for the ecosystem- DISCOVER, DEVELOP, DEPLOY. This engagement has robust economic and social impact potentials for the state and conveys a stream of actions that puts the creative industry in Akwa Ibom State  on a trajectory to growth and global relevance.
 
A GLOBAL OUTLOOK
 
Tourism, which is a proven high-net earner for major world economies, is one of the core drivers of globalization, and as such a connector that opens up various races of the world to culture exchange and trade by providing key support structure that encourages diaspora participation and economic growth.
 
Focusing on Entertainment, major global cities have created strategic alignment and ride the wave of epic and acclaimed events, playing host to tens of millions of tourists who come to unwind and connect with the rich culture. Between the exotic Broadway shows which makes New York City the glam city of the world, Australia’s prominent Sidney Opera House that headlines star-stunning shows, to Rome’s amazing audience view of Teatro Sistina, and Beijing’s famous Capital Theatre; high-worth productions in Music, Dance, Drama, Comedy adds value to the talent pool and strengthen local economies. Pivotal services such as tech-based capacity providers and distribution agencies further stretch the potential of the skill-base that can earn consistently good wages in a well-articulated entertainment industry value chain.
In Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel acknowledges the potential that home-grown talents can contribute to the economy, and has initiated a stimulus program to DISCOVER, DEVELOP, and DEPLOY the best skill assets and productions to the world. AKWA IBOM Talent Showcase is an entry strategy to set in motion the plan to invest in  the subsector.
 
Here is how the building units of this plan is laid:
 
DISCOVER- PITCHING OPPORTUNITIES WITH TALENTS
The surging youth population in Nigeria has a direct impact on our growth potential as a country. For Akwa Ibom State, with an estimated two million active young people both at home and abroad, the talent cluster for performing artistes leave much to be expected. AKWA IBOM Talent Showcase has set the precedent by opening up the stage for over 5,000 budding Performing Artistes to step up and showcase the skills discovered. From the auditions data, Music, Dance, and Drama are the top skill set that is prevalent in the ecosystem. The feedback from participants of the showcase validates that a sustained effort to discover talented new artistes is the most effective strategy to enrich the state’s creative community and make opportunities a-dozen-a-dime for career-minded beneficiaries.
Governor Udom Emmanuel “has all the pegs in the right hole”, the statement is glaring, thousands of young people that may never have seen a stage or the spotlight are on the verge, to contribute and excel in a promising creative industry. 
 
Furthermore, the discovery of production-based skills which are significant in delivering rated performances is a niche that engages a projected minimum of 5,000 jobs annually, within a suitably-designed stream of program that feeds the ecosystem so far over 5000 youths have been given an opportunity to showcase their potentials across the state. Tech careers that support production and distribution are becoming the most sought-after skills, a goldmine of opportunity for imaginative and impressive young people to achieve relevance with their arts.
From Musicians, Actors, Dancers, Emcees, Comedians, Circus and Stunt Performers, Art Directors, Production Designers, Costume Designers, Special Effect Designers, Illustrators, Animators, Sound Engineers, Music Composers,  Cinematographers, Photographers, Film Editors, to Brand Developers, Business Developers, Legal Counsels, Vendors, and Digital Media personnel; the knock-on effect of a deliberately created opportunity(Talent Showcase Events, Open-Mic Events, Sector-based Trainings, Bootcamps) for new talents to gain exposure and go professional carries with it a clear picture of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s brave vision, inspiring the potentials of young AkwaIbomites  to ‘rise to the Faith of Greatness- ‘DAKKADA’.
 
 
DEVELOP- TRANSFORMING TALENTS THROUGH CAPACITY BUILDING
 
Like in sports, the performance of every game originates from the consistent input during training. For Artistes to consistently perform at top level, a strategic developmental process is imperative in refining raw talents into marketable assets. Identifying sellable talents and introducing seasoned trainings techniques and procedures for budding performing artistes to improve their core skills and strengthen their artistic depth positions the entertainment ecosystem stimulus plan on the trajectory to growth.
Capacity Building, especially for performing artistes, cannot be overemphasized. For budding career artistes in Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel has committed significant investment (in policy and infrastructure) to ensure that an initial cluster of over 5,000 young Akwa Ibomites with identifiable creative skills that can add value and boost the quality of creative output from the ecosystem are nurtured and molded into valuable industry assets. Encouraging collaborations with seasoned industry professionals from Akwa Ibom State and beyond.
 
Governor Udom Emmanuel, who is notable for encouraging and supporting youth development, supports a pragmatic approach to groom and progressively build the creative and technical capacity of performers and production personnel for the industry.
Through an annual capacity building plan, over 5,000 youths in Akwa Ibom State are receiving top-of-the-rung trainings in skills acquisition, such as Acting, Singing, Dancing, Event Hosting, Comedy, Production Designing/Planning, Costume Designing, Makeup, Special Effect, Stunt Actions, Video Editing, Photography, Videography, Music Production, Animation, and Personal Development. When completely transformed, these are the critical creative mass that will add real economic value through capacity deliberately harnessed by the industry stimulus plan.
 
 
DEPLOY- PUTTING OUR BEST FOOT FORWARD
 
The most compelling phase of this industry stimulus plan is designed to connect our trained and sellable artistic assets to the global market. Much credit to accessibility of technology, the ease of acquiring top-notch production equipment and distribution of content is the golden goose of the entertainment ecosystem. The industry’s trade potential is defined by good contents, and having an emerging cluster of over 5,000 thoroughly-bred professionals to develop, produce, and distribute over 1,000 great contents (events and shows ideas that cuts across fiction, reality, movies, songs, comics, industries, tourism, environment, culture, education, health, businesses, news, sports, broadcasting) annually to a global audience of 100,000,000 viewers, an industry is rife and on the rise.
 
Governor Udom Emmanuel knows exactly the potentials of this untapped market space, and as a known thinking-economist has added to his economic focus, the production of visible and viable value from the mass supply of our performing arts talents. The state-based support to jumpstart an industrial revolution in the creative industry ecosystem has come full cycle and how it is deployed will accelerate the growth of our tourism sector.
 
THE PRODUCTS- the development phase of this stimulus plan as stated earlier serves the purpose of training selected performing artistes to fit multiple and specific roles in music, dance, drama, comedy, broadcasting, event hosting, and stunt performance. Matching verified skills to production ideas sets the ball rolling in churning out fleets of content. In itself content is fleeting, hence the demand and the need to consistently create good contents (The Products), and distribute for a price. Over 1,000 productions annually, spread around businesses in the ecosystem will provide more than 5,000 jobs for performing artistes and production professionals, with exponential growth capabilities.
 
THE DISTRIBUTION- technology has greatly redefined the channels where audience around the world receives contents; as such it is embedded as the core driver for deploying this stimulus plan for the entertainment industry in Akwa Ibom State. Through Cable Television and Digital Media, thousands of produced and rated contents from the ecosystem can make primetime viewing on multiple platforms with foreign exchange earnings in tow. Social Media is big for views on images, videos, and live-streaming, and can be monetized with the promise and delivery of great quality content. More so, these great contents can boost the programming quality of local television stations in and around Akwa Ibom State, especially AKBC.
 
THE BOTTOMLINE- An estimated annual minimum of Millions of Dollars in revenue is the set bar for earning from distributing talents that has been Discovered, Developed, and Deployed. Governor Udom Emmanuel is right once again, and now the best of the pick from our entertainment industry sends their invitation to the world, in readiness to share our creative, rich, and awe-inspiring culture, talents, and experiences. On this trajectory, Akwa Ibom State is better for it.    
 
MefLyn Anwana  
SA on New Media To The Governor
 
 
#AksTalentShowcase
#NightOfStars
In 2003, the Akwa Ibom State Government of Nigeria began a journey of many miles, a journey that will not only be arduous and expensive but a journey that is promising and prospering if properly sojourned.
The State Government proposed having a deep seaport. It decided to take advantage of the depth Ibaka waters offer- 16.5 meters deep without dredging. But is there a need for a seaport?
 
Reason for a Seaport
 
Recent reports show that the seaports currently serving the country, West and Central African sub-region are reaching saturation. In August 2018, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State had to cry out to the Federal Government to ensure that seaports in other parts of the country become functional to decongest and ease gridlock in Lagos State.
 
Besides, the need for viable alternatives has become critical for major shipping lines sailing the West African coastlines. With limited land to expand the existing seaports in Lagos and the inhibiting conditions against the development or expansion of other ports, the proposed Ibom Deep Seaport offers an ultra-modern deep seaport with modern cargo handling equipment, facilities and systems that can address the capacity challenges constraining other seaports across the region. The greenfield site has substantial land available for future expansion.
 
Due to its proximity to target markets in West and Central Africa, neighbouring hinterland countries and major shipping lines calling West/Central Africa, large gateway market size to attract direct vessel services and sizeable transhipment cargo hinterland for feeder shipping network connection, as well as its capacity to handle post and New Panamax vessels at its specialized terminals, the IDSP is in an enviable position to emerge as the first major transhipment hub for the region. 
 
According to Maritime experts, the transhipment container market for the IDSP is estimated to grow from about 1.2 million TEUs in 2021 to about 4 million TEUs in 2040. Immense potentials you may say! But what gives the seaport this vast potential you may wonder.
 
Features of the Ibom Deep Seaport
 
Strategically located in the South East of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria (a leading oil and gas producing state in Nigeria), the approximate coordinates of the IDSP scaled from the British Admiralty Chart No. 1387 are Latitude 4° 32’ 35’’ N; Longitude 8° 14’ 7’’ E and UTM coordinates 415168 m E; 502,199 m N (UTM Zone 32N). According to the project official website, the 2,565 hectares greenfield port area is designed for New Panamax Class vessels with channel (18.24m); turning basin and berth depth (16.72m) and quay length of about 7.5 km. When fully developed, the container terminals will be able to accommodate up to 13 New Panamax Class container vessels and two very large feeder vessels. With immense business potentials that abound, giving the project the attention it requires for its realization would be seen as a wise course of action.
 
Since its conceptualization, contributions have been made by successive administration towards its realization. Obong Victor Attah's administration designed the seaport. Out of 10 million US Dollars, his administration paid 5 million US Dollars for its designed and had negotiations with São Tomé for the development of Industrial City for the Seaport. 
 
The Akpabio's administration took it up from there. He said he acquired 14, 900 hectares of land for the take-off of the Seaport. Just weeks before the end of his tenure, Akpabio obtained approval from the Federal Executive Council for the commencement of the project. Discerning that time was against him, and that the task for the realization of the project will be in the hands of his successor, Governor Udom Emmanuel, he assured that his successor has the capacity to handle the task. 
 
While commissioning a drainage system in Uyo on 19th May 2015, Governor Akpabio said " As we have commissioned numerous projects today, by the Grace of God we will start the Ibom deep seaport so that Akwa Ibom will be taken to the rest of the world and I am assuring you today that Udom Emmanuel will perform creditably well to make us realize this project and others about to come". Will his successor, Governor Emmanuel live up to expectations?
 
Governor Emmanuel in the Dock
 
Just like Biblical Joshua who was given the weighty responsibility of taking the Israelites into the promised land, Governor Emmanuel perhaps understood the expectations ahead of him. 
Taking cognizance of the economic benefits the Ibom Deep Seaport Project will have on the people of the state and the country in general, as he took over the administration of the State, Governor Udom Emmanuel put in place motions towards the realization of the project. 
 
14 days into his administration, the Governor inaugurated the first committee of his administration, the Technical Committee for the Actualization of Ibom Deep Seaport Project thus offering clear indication that this is the flagship project for his administration. The Governor ensured that the 10- Man Committee is imbued with men of experience especially as the committee was headed by Barr. Mfon Usoro, a one-time Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). Results were expected.
 
Six months into office, in November 2015, during a media chat, the State Governor assured that before 2018 runs out, the State should be able to have a deep seaport. Intensive work began. However, a State cannot develop a seaport alone. Seaport development is in the Exclusive List. 
 
The State Governor then had the herculean task of convincing the Federal government on the need to invest in the project. At every opportunity, Governor Emmanuel became enmeshed in preaching the gospel on the gains the Federal Government could have if they invest in the project. 
 
In one of those moments, the result of his gospel bore fruits. While addressing a Town hall meeting of the government and people of the State on Thursday, 2nd March 2017, the Acting President, Prof. Yemi  Osinbajo, announced that Federal Government was fully committed to the Ibom Deep Seaport Project and has made provision of N1 billion in Nigeria Port Authority 2017 budget  for the development of the project. He added "This is a project Federal Government is taking seriously". The assurance served as the icing on the cake. It signaled the birth of the long awaited partnership. How did the Udom Emmanuel's administration embrace this development?
 
The current Transaction Advisers, Global Maritime and Port Services (GMAPS) of Singapore had commenced work on the procurement stage.
On 24th of December 2017, the procurement Process for the Seaport development was approved by Ministerial Project Development Steering Committee ( MPDSC). On the 8th of January 2018, the Request for Qualification (RFQ) from interested investors was published. 
 
According to the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Housing and Special Duties, Mr Akan Okon, this was done through a virtual data room.
 
The Commissioner says that at the end of the exercise, 174 downloads of the RFQ were received. Out of that 174, he explains that only 40 bidders registered that they will submit their RFQ but at the end of the day, only eight were able to submit their RFQ. 
 
Okon says that based on the submission, on the 20th of March, 2018, that RFQ was opened and evaluation done by MPDSC. He offered insight to the fact that at the end of the evaluation, three of the companies were pre-qualified, meaning that they met the requirement that was published. The three international firms who met the requirements are the consortium of Bollore and Power China, China Road Breach Corporation, CRBC and China Harbour Engineering Company of Nigeria. You may wonder then, at what level does this development keep the project?
 
The Commissioner explains " At this stage, we have been able to come up with the preferred bidder and the reserved bidder for the project and as soon as this is approved, the full business case will be sent to the Federal Executive Council for further approval. I can assure you that as soon as that is done, the construction of the project will commence.”
 
Elucidating further, Okon states “The Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Transport set up Ministerial Project Development Steering Committee (MPDSC) which is made up of representatives from the same Ministry, the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA), ICRC, the programme Manager, representatives of ICPC and EFCC, members of the Technical Committee and Akwa Ibom State Government. Every process leading to where we are now is being approved by the Federal Ministry of Transportation."
 
He adds that before the end of the year, they should come to the end of the entire transaction since everyone involved in the project was showing great commitment.
 
Interestingly, the Commissioner announces that with the level reached with the project and government's timetable, by the end of November 2018, the groundbreaking of the project should take place. But is the Federal government also ready for its commencement? In his recent visit to Akwa Ibom State Government House, after the bid conference of the project,  the Chairman, Project Development Steering Committee and Director, Maritime Services, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Sani Umar Galadanchi said the Minister of Transportation has passion for the project and promised to continue to work with the state Technical Committee and other stakeholders to achieve result.
 
He added, " this project is not just for Akwa Ibom State, it is for the country and Africa in general. I wish to inform you that we have been working in a way that by God's grace, the project may commence sooner than later."
Nevertheless, for such magnitude of project to thrive when it commence, there must be certain supportive imperatives put in place by the State government. Has provision been made for them?
 
In June 2018, while brainstorming with stakeholders and Investors at Government House, Uyo over the realization of the project, the State Executive noted that the State Government had met with the communities and fulfill all their obligations. 
 
On road infrastructure, work has began on 55.1km,12 Lane Superhighway leading to Ibom Deep Seaport.
This is a carriageway which starts from Esit Urua in Eket/ Ukpenekan Junction in Ibeno , criss -crosses Esit Eket, Mbo and ends at East west road in Oron Metropolis with a Fly-Over that empties into Uyo-Oron Daulized Road .
 
The project is a State government project undertaken by the Udom Emmanuel's administration under the Alternative Project Funding Approach. It is prosecuted by Elba construction firm. According to the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Works, Akparawa Ephraim Inyang, the project is specially designed to serve the seaport, taking cognizance of its durability to withstand heavy duty trucks.
 
The Chairman of the Committee for the realization of the Ibom Deep seaport, Barr Mfon Usoro adds that in collaboration with the Federal government, the State is vested with the task of developing 2565 hectares for the project. She says the State Government has acquired a license for a free trade zone which is part of the building blocks for an industrial city. She explains that the industrial city will have features like agriculture, oil and gas, petrochemicals, marine-related industries, auto assembly plants, power plants, as well as real estate developments.
Barr Usoro mentions that plans are in motion by the Udom Emmanuel's administration to relocate residents around the site of this project to a more comfortable location as the project is set to begin in full scale. 
 
Assessing contributions made towards the project, an indigene of Mbo, the host community of the project, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem who also serve the State as the Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State government notes that the strides attained by the Udom Emmanuel's administration towards the realization of the project has been plausible.
 
In his remark recently in his office in Uyo when he played host to the people of his community, under the aegis of Uda Community Development Union, Ekuwem added “His Excellency, the Governor has spent Millions of Dollars on the Ibom Deep Seaport. It is a fact. There are seven steps to this seaport. We are now on step seven which is the last step."
 
Also bearing her mind on the  project, the Technical Committee Chairman for the Realization of the Project,  Barr Mfon Usoro says past leaders of the State deserve commendations for the initiative and contributions they have made towards the project. She adds that Governor Udom Emmanuel has lived up to expectation evidenced in the strides he has achieved in the project within his three years in office. The Chairman further points out that the Udom Emmanuel's administration is also deserving of commendation over his commitment, strategic push and go-getting spirit, a gesture she insist is responsible for the critical milestone attained  in the implementation of the Ibom Deep Seaport (IDSP) project.

The Nigerian Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said the embargo placed on Nigeria Air, the national carrier, will be lifted as soon as possible. Sirika and Nigeria Air Nigeria Air Suspension: 1st Letter To Fec: What Happened? According to James Daudu, the ministry’s deputy director of media and public affairs, Sirika said this while receiving Fahad Al Taffaq, United Arab Emirates (UAE) ambassador to Nigeria, in Abuja He quoted the minister as saying the new date for take-off of the airline would be announced soon.


“The suspended national carrier would be activated as soon as possible, although the December 24th earlier given for its take-off is no longer feasible,” the statement quoted him to have said. In September, the minister announced the suspension of the national carrier which was to be launched in December, saying it was a “tough decision” taken by the federal executive council.

Subsequently, Lai Mohammed, minister of information said the national carrier project was suspended due to investor apathy. But Sirika said that was untrue as the “national carrier project has an avalanche of well-grounded and ready investors.” Critics of the current administration had described the project as an avenue to siphon funds.

 

Source: The Vanguard

Nigeria’s oldest airline, Aero Contractors, says it has expanded its operations with the delivery of more aircraft to its fleet.

The CEO of the airline, Capt. Ado Sanusi, said the outfit had, therefore, increased flight frequencies to Abuja from Port Harcourt, Sokoto, Asaba, Port Harcourt and Kano from Lagos.

According to him, the airline will as from Sept. 17 increase its Abuja-Port Harcourt-Abuja, which is now daily flight.

He said the airline will also increase flights from three times weekly to three daily flights on the Lagos-Abuja-Lagos and Lagos-Port Harcourt routes.

“The airline has also increased its Lagos-Kano flights, which at present is five times a week by adding another flight on Sundays.

“So from the above date it will be operating six times weekly to Kano from Lagos.

“Also from Sept. 15, Aero will increase its flights from Lagos to Asaba which at present runs six times weekly to daily flights,” Sanusi said in a statement on Saturday in Lagos.

He explained that the airline which operates Lagos-Asaba-Abuja-Lagos flights six times a week, has added another flight on Saturday for Lagos-Asaba-Lagos only.

“We now have two Boeing B737-500 series, Boeing B737-400 series (which will be rolled off C-check next week) and Bombardier Dash 8-300 series.

“Aero has added another aircraft in its rotary (helicopters), which is AW 139 Helicopter to Aero fleet. So it now has AW 139 and AS 365 which are fully operational.

“We have expanded our schedule because we have additional aircraft and we are also expecting more.

“When we deliver more aircraft, we increase our destinations. What we have done largely now is to increase our frequencies as we increased in capacity,” Sanusi said.

 

Vanguard

The Federal Government has pledged to support research and create liaison with traditional healers with the knowledge of plants to develop, formulate and commercialise research findings into medicinal products.
 
The Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said this on Friday in Abuja while addressing newsmen to mark this year’s African Traditional Medicine Day.
 
Ehanire noted that the theme, “Local Manufacturing of African Traditional Medicine Products in the African Region”, was apt.
 
He stressed that 25 to 45 per cent of pharmaceutical drugs in use today were derived from traditional medicine plants in different parts of the world.
 
According to him, indigenous people all over the world, including Africans, treat common diseases and ailments, using medicinal plants in their traditional practices.
 
He added that the African Region, like Asia and South America, was blessed with countless plant species, many with already known medicinal values, others with yet to be discovered medicinal properties.
 
“Over 50,000 species of such plants are in sub–Saharan Africa, of which it is believed 25 per cent were in use for centuries for treatment and disease prevention,’’ the minister said.
 
He quoted Prof. Maurice Iwu saying in a published handbook of African Medicinal Plants in February 2014, that about 2,000 plant species are presently used in indigenous African Medicines.
 
“Nigeria has over 8,000 species with potential benefits in ethno-medicine or ethno-pharmacy,” he said.
Ehanire said that the Federal Ministry of Health, agencies and stakeholders were studying modalities to give traditional medicine a place in the nation’s health system.
 
He noted that the 2018 commemoration urges utilisation of medicinal plants for finished products an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies, private investors, food and cosmetics companies to create a value chain.
 
The WHO Country Representative, Dr Alemu Wondimagegnehu, said that scaling up local manufacturing was key to contributing to achieving Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals.
 
Wondimagegnehu added that stronger public-private-partnerships would boost investments in local manufacturing of medicinal products and help to protect against financial risk by improving economic and social development.
 
He therefore called for stronger collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Health and traditional health practitioners to accelerate local manufacturing of traditional medicine products.
 
Vanguard
British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has arrived at FMDQ Security Exchange building, Victoria Island, Lagos, for a meeting with the Nigerian business community.
 
The prime minister, accompanied by members of her trade delegation, arrived at the venue at 6.30 p.m. on Wednesday.
 
Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mr. Femi Otedola, and Mr. Tony Elumelu, among others, had earlier assembled at the venue.
 
The meeting, expected to last for 40 minutes, would provide an opportunity for forging more bilateral relations between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
 
May had earlier on Wednesday afternoon arrived the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Ikeja, in Lagos after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
 
She is billed to spend time with victims of modern slavery during her brief stay in the nation’s commercial hub.
 
The prime minister’s visit to Lagos comes barely eight weeks after the French President, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, visited the African Shrine in Ikeja, Lagos.
 
Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, accompanied by his deputy, among other state officials, received the prime minister at the airport.
 
After the reception, May drove out of the airport to attend to her engagements in the state.
 
After May’s meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria and Britain signed agreements on Defence and Security partnership, among others.
 
May’s visit to Nigeria is part of her tour of three African countries.
 
 
Vanguard...
Boko Haram terrorists have killed 17 soldiers in a fresh attack on a military base in the Borno, Northeast Nigeria.
 
Military sources told AFP Thursday that the latest attack was the third assault on three different bases in less than a month.
 
On Wednesday evening, heavily armed jihadists riding in trucks stormed and looted weapons and vehicles from a military base in Garunda village in Borno State, the epicentre of the Islamist insurgency that has been raging for nine years.
 
The attack is the latest of a series of bloody Boko Haram assaults on military bases in Nigeria, underscoring the continued threat the Islamists pose to the region and putting the spotlight on the Nigerian government’s claim that Boko Haram is “decimated”.
 
“Our troops came under attack from Boko Haram terrorists in Garunda last night,” a military officer told AFP.
 
“Unfortunately we lost 17 troops, 14 others were injured while an unspecified number is still unaccounted for,” said the military source, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak on the incident.
 
The source added that the militants looted weapons and vehicles before fleeing.
 
In the past month, Boko Haram jihadists have launched two other major assaults on military bases in the remote northeast region.
 
On July 14, jihadists suspected to be loyal to Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, who is affiliated with the Islamic State group, attacked a base in Jilli village, in neighbouring Yobe state.
 
Dozens of troops were killed, wounded or missing, according to several security sources.
 
The army conceded the base was attacked but did not give a death toll, saying that the “troops reorganised and successfully repelled the attack and normalcy has since returned to the area”.
 
On July 26, the Islamists stormed a base on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the state capital of Borno state.
 
The base attacked yesterday in Garunda village of Borno state had just been set up for troops from the 81 brigade who had been stationed in Jilli village and forced to move after the July 14 assault.
 
“The truth of the matter is that the troops in Jilli were relocated to Garunda where a new base was established,” said the second military source, who gave a similar death toll.
 
“Troops were just setting up and the excavator operator was working to fortify the base with trenches against attack from the terrorists when the attack happened,” said the officer.
 
The Nigerian army did not respond to to requests for comment.
 
Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Thursday confirmed in a statement that a staff member, an excavator operator attached to the military, “was killed by Boko Haram yesterday in Damasak, Borno state”.
 
Boko Haram no longer controls swathes of territory in northeast Nigeria as it did at the height of its insurgency in 2014, yet the Islamist militants still pose a threat to the impoverished region.
 
 
Source: AFP
The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said it was shocked to learn of the tragic death of six Nigerian asylum-seekers, among them three children, who were killed in a blast in the far north of Cameroon.
 
The UN refugee agency, said it had learnt that on July 29, 12 asylum-seekers were being forcibly returned to Banki, Nigeria, in a Cameroonian army truck, which drove over an improvised explosive device that exploded.
 
UNHCR added that six Cameroonian soldiers and six other asylum-seekers were also injured in the incident, which took place in Homaka, Mayo Sava Division.
 
Director of UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Africa, Valentin Tapsoba, condemned the forcible return of Nigeria’s asylum-seekers from Cameroon.
 
“This tragic incident is a disappointing testament of continuing forced returns (refoulements) of refugees and asylum-seekers from Cameroon, despite numerous appeals by UNHCR to the Government of Cameroon to respect its obligations.
 
“The forced return of refugees and asylum-seekers is in violation of the principle of non-refoulement, which constitutes the cornerstone of international refugee law to which the Cameroonian State is party,” Tapsoba said.
 
No fewer than 800 Nigerian refugees and asylum-seekers in Cameroon had been forcibly returned to Nigeria since the beginning of 2018, the UN refugee agency said.
 
Tapsoba further said: “UNHCR once again calls upon the government of Cameroon to refrain from carrying out further forced returns of Nigerian refugees and asylum-seekers.
 
“It also reminds Cameroon of its obligations under international law relating to the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers and the commitments it made by signing the Tripartite Agreement for the voluntary repatriation of Nigerian refugees from Cameroon in March 2017.
 
“UNHCR reiterates its appeal to authorities to provide Nigerian refugees with unhindered access to asylum and stands ready to support Cameroon to ensure all individuals seeking safety have access to efficient screening, registration and documentation procedures”.
 
Some 96,000 Nigerian refugees had sought safety in the Far North region of Cameroon, with more than 8,000 new refugees registered since the beginning of 2018, UNHCR said.
 
According to the UN refugee agency, Cameroon currently hosts more than 367,000 refugees and asylum-seekers.
 
 
Source: The daily mail
 
The Federal Ministry of Water Resources, said on Tuesday that negotiations were on to fully concession the 30MW Gurara Power Plant in Kaduna State.
 
The project is expected to enhance power supply in the northwest part of the country.
 
Mr Benson Ajisegiri, Director, Water Supply and Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the ministry, who made the disclosure, said the Gurara dam would also provide sustainable, cost-effective and feasible option of boosting potable water supply to Abuja.
 
The director disclosed that the Gurara dam also has 1,800 hectares of irrigation land that has been leased to 11 commercial farmers and individuals especially retirees.
 
Ajisegiri stressed that the retirees were considered to enable them go into full agricultural activities.
 
‘‘The dam is of utmost importance to the Federal Government, it will also provide electricity to the industrial area of Kaduna so that they can revive the industries there.
 
‘‘We are just about concluding that, by the time it comes up, you will discover that it can send power to that place and it will improve more industrial activities in Kaduna leading to more employment and so many things.”
 
According to him, the concession model adopted will allow one concessionaire to take custody of the project for a period of time as determined by the financial analysis.
 
He added that the concessionaire will be responsible for generating hydro power and connecting it to the transmission network made available by the Transmission Company of Nigeria for distribution.
 
The director said that the ministry is negotiating with the preferred and reserved bidder in line with the guidelines of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), to drive the processes to benefit Nigerians.
 
He said the rule in the guidelines of ICRC stipulated that a Transaction Adviser be involved in the processes.
 
He stressed that shortlisted firms had been given their Request for Proposal and analysed in choosing the preferred and reserved bidder.
 
Ajisegiri added that the processes are being spearheaded by the Project Delivery Team which consists of ICRC, Ministries of Water Resources, Environment and Power, Works and Housing, Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission and Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company.
 
It will be recalled that the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, had said that his ministry had prioritised the 116 uncompleted or abandoned major projects across the country.
 
Adamu also said resources would be deployed towards completing and commissioning all high and medium priority water projects from 2016 to 2019.
 
‘‘We have concluded a Technical Audit and prioritised the hitherto uncompleted or abandoned 116 major projects that I met in the ministry.
 
‘‘We are deploying most of our resources towards completing and commissioning all the high and medium priority projects from 2016 – 2019.
 
‘‘The dam was designed and constructed with the main purpose of supplying water to the Lower Usuma Dam to meet the demand for water,’’ he had said.
 
The Gurara dam has world class amenities for hydro-power generation, irrigation, farming, tourism development, and fishery.
 
It is located about 75km from the Abuja city centre and has a crest of 3.2km in length, maximum height of 54m, and a reservoir capacity of 880MCM.
 
 
Source: NAN
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