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Normalcy returns to Abuja-Kaduna Expressway as Buhari talks tough

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Normalcy has been restored to “bandit-infested” Abuja-Kaduna Expressway following President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to deal mercilessly with highway criminals across the country.

Prior to the Presidential Order, bandits had operated along the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway for four consecutive days.

During their operations, they abducted an unspecified number of travellers.

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Buhari had in the week under review again directed security agencies to urgently address the resurgence of kidnapping and other crimes on the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway and on other roads across the country.

The President, who presided over a meeting of the National Security Council on November 25, assured that Nigerians would soon witness serious security improvement as specific orders had been given to all security agencies to tackle security challenges across the country.

Following the Presidential Order, the Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with other security agencies recorded a breakthrough as many bandits, including a notorious bandit terrorising the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway, Yellow Magaji Arusa, were neutralised.

A statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer, Kaduna State Command, ASP Muhammed Jalige, on Saturday confirmed the killing of Magaji alongside some members of his gang.

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The police killed Magaji when they raided a facility known as Sir Joe Guest Inn, located at 8, Sajo Street, Unguwan Maigero Area of Sabon Tasha in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

“It is significant to state that the neutralised bandit Yellow Magaji until his demise was among a syndicate of bandits terrorising Kaduna-Abuja highway of recent,” Jalige said.

The security officials were also reported to have ambushed some of the bandits around Kaduna South Local Government Area where they had gone to buy “alcohol and pentazocine; an opioid pain medication”.

Buhari had earlier declared open the 9th General Assembly of the African First Ladies Peace Mission on Monday in Abuja, where he raised alarm over the activities of insurgents and bandits across the African continent, saying such activities had led to more widespread displacement and poverty.

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He said: “It is not in doubt that women and children are the worst affected by the breakdown of peace.

“Therefore, as mothers, I believe, you are in a better position to drive the processes of peace and actions where necessary.

“Indeed, I’m happy to know that your forum has been working towards promoting peaceful coexistence within the continent in so many ways.”

The Nigerian leader pledged support to the resolutions of the African First Ladies Peace Mission aimed at promoting peace and development in the continent.

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Also on November 22, the President approved February 2022 as new date for the National Convention of the All Progressives Congress.

The Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, confirmed this development to State House correspondents at the end of a closed door meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

NAN reports that the meeting was also attended by the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee, Mai Mala Buni, who is also the Governor of Yobe State, as well as Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State.

Bagudu, who was not specific on the exact date for the convention in February, said it was shifted because four states were yet to complete their congresses.

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The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, also met behind closed doors with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on November 22.

Lawan, who spoke to State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting, expressed the hope that the President would soon sign the recently-passed Electoral Amendment Bill 2021 into law.

NAN also reports that some governors had expressed their reservation about direct primaries as contained in the Electoral Amendment Bill 2021, urging the President not to sign it into law.

The Senate president, however, maintained that the National Assembly had done its job by transmitting the passed bill to Buhari for him to sign into law.

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On November 23, Chief Executive Officer of the Midstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Farouk Ahmed, and the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Gbenga Komolafe, were officially presented to Buhari by the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.

Ahmed and Komolafe, who addressed State House Correspondents after the presentation, reassured that there were no plans to increase the official price of Premium Motor Spirit for now as being speculated in some quarters.

Ahmed maintained that the marginal queues witnessed last week at filling stations in Abuja and some parts of the country, had nothing to do with any supposed plan by government to hike PMS price.

He, however, explained that the queues were caused by the payment logistics in US dollars by depot owners, and the issue had been addressed by relevant authorities.

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Also addressing the correspondents, Sylva said the President was happy with the level of implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.

According to him, Buhari urged the regulators in the petroleum industry to do what is best for Nigeria.

On the recent increase in the price of cooking gas in the country, the minister said: “The president is worried over the situation just like all other Nigerians.”

Sylva said although the price of the essential commodity was not regulated by Nigeria, some steps would be taken internally to provide some relief, ahead of the yuletide season.

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The President on November 24, shortly before the commencement of the virtual meeting of the weekly Federal Executive Council in Abuja, led the cabinet members in wishing his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, a happy 77th birthday celebration.

The President congratulated Gambari on the attainment of age 77, jovially saying: “You are still going strong, congratulations!”

The Ministers present chorused with laughter, expressing their birthday good wishes to Gambari.

Gambari, who joined the government as Chief of Staff following the demise of the former holder of the office, Abba Kyari, is the founder of the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, a non-governmental “think-tank” established in Abuja.

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NAN reports that the Council meeting approved April 2022 as official date for the commencement of the operations of much-awaited Nigeria Air.

The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, disclosed this when he along with Ministers of Transportation, and Finance, Budget and National Planning, Rotimi Amaechi and Dr Zainab Ahmed respectively, briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the FEC meeting.

According to Sirika, majority shares of 49 per cent of the Nigeria Air project will be owned by strategic equity partners, 46 per cent by Nigerians, while the Federal Government will own five per cent of the shares.

The Minister revealed that the council also approved N1.49 billion for the provision of Automated Civil Aviation Regulatory Equipment to be located at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

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Also speaking on the outcome of the meeting, Ahmed Ahmed said she presented to council for information and discussion the third quarter GDP report for 2021.

On his part, Amaechi also revealed that he presented a memorandum to the cabinet for approval for the award of contract for the provision of training logistics, operational equipment and maintenance support for government under the Integrated National Surveillance and Waterways Protection Solution Infrastructure in Nigeria.

On November 25, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo hosted the outgoing UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, at the Presidential Villa, where he opined that elected leaders should regularly aspire to meet with the electorate.

Osinbajo said that constant engagement with the electorate on justice, peace, security, and social contract could not be allowed to fall through the cracks as they were critical issues.

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“You cannot avoid engaging with the people; there is need to engage in a way that you are trusted. People should see that you are committed enough about their concerns,” he added.

The vice president had also participated in the 2021 LCCI Presidential Policy Dialogue on Friday in Lagos.

Buhari had on Friday bid farewell to Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Abhay Thakur, and his Italian counterpart, Dr. Stefano Pontesilli, during the week under review.

He wished the outgoing High Commissioner well as he assumed higher responsibilities in the Foreign Affairs Ministry of his country.

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Also receiving Pontesilli, the President said that having spent nine years in all, in two different capacities in Nigeria, “you know our country very well”.

He wished him a successful tour of duty at his next posting, which is Guinea-Conakry.

NAN reports that Pontesilli was first Consul-General for his country in Lagos for four-and-a-half years and later ambassador for the same length of time.

The President concluded the week with a greeting to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on his birthday, having attained the age of 75 years.

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He said: “Happy birthday and best wishes to Waziri Atiku Abubakar. I wish you good health and long life.”

The President also congratulated the former Military Governor of Kano State, retired Colonel Sani Bello, who celebrated his 79th birthday on Saturday.

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Gov. Makinde renews pledge to deliver good governance to Oyo people

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Oyo State Governor ‘Seyi Makinde Tuesday, promised that his administration will continue to use the state’s commonwealth for the good of the people in all the nooks and crannies of the south west state.

The governor, who stated this while receiving hundreds of members of the Iseyin Development Union, led by His Royal Majesty, the Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Dr. Abdul-Ganiyy Salaudeen, said all zones in the state will witness rapid development under his watch.

A statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), to the Governor, Taiwo Adisa, indicated that Iseyin residents led by the Aseyin and well-meaning indigenes of the town paid the solidarity visit to the governor at the Government Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.

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While addressing them, Governor Makinde maintained that residents of Iseyin and all other towns in the state should expect more monumental projects across the state, adding that these projects will welcome new faces and bring development to the state.

He explained that the only thing his administration can do is to leave the state better than it met it, calling on all and sundry to join hands with the government in its bid to develop the state.

Governor Makinde, who promised that his administration will continue to spread out and develop the state, said: “I want to greet the Kabiyesi Aseyin of Iseyin, other chiefs, and other dignitaries here present.”Sincerely, I am overwhelmed by this show of appreciation and the reason is that you are acknowledging the works I have been doing since I came into government.

“But indeed, it is your money that is working, not the money of Seyi Makinde’s father. It is our commonwealth and the essence of government is to use the commonwealth for the common good of our people and this is what we will continue to do as an administration.

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“The only thing we can do as a government is to leave the state better than we met it. And, fortunately for my people in Iseyin, where the geography places Iseyin zone, you can accommodate.

“You can see that the journey from Moniya to Iseyin is just 45 minutes now, and it means that someone can be working at Secretariat and come from Iseyin every day. So, it is not necessary that all of us must squeeze ourselves inside Ibadan. “We want to spread out and develop the state as a corridor for all the zones in Oyo state.

“Let me plead with you that development is still ongoing and the government is doing what it is supposed to do in terms of infrastructure. “The development will come naturally from investors but what we need from you is your cooperation with the government.

“Among the projects, we want to carry out is the Trans Motel in Iseyin, which should have been done. But there are few people who are constituting themselves as clogs in the wheel of progress. Baba, please we want you to talk to them because we want nightlife in Iseyin. We want those traveling to Ado-Awaye to have the opportunity to stay and spend the night at Iseyin.

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“Once the university also takes off, we need places for people to sleep. So, join hands with the government.

“If the economy becomes expanded, there won’t be poverty in the land. So, I want you to visualize what is coming. Iseyin is being linked to Oyo and when the road is completed in six months’ time, it will only take 20 minutes from Iseyin to Oyo. Iseyin is being linked to Ogbomoso and when the road is completed, it will be a maximum of an hour. So, we should expect an economy that will welcome new faces and development.

“Within 20 years, my focus is to make Iseyin link up with Ibadan. So, I want you to be prepared that development is almost at the arrival point to Iseyin and Oke Ogun zone.

“As you have come to show appreciation, we will double our effort as a government. “We will not disappoint ourselves and we will not disappoint you as well. I thank you very much and God bless.”

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Earlier, the National President, Iseyin Development Union, Alhaji Bayo Raji, said that the visit was to thank the Governor Makinde-led administration for the various monumental projects across Oyo State and especially in Iseyin and Oke Ogun land, which includes; the completed Iseyin-Moniya Road spanning 65 kilometers, which link Ibadanland and Oke Ogun; location of LAUTECH College of Agriculture and Renewable Resources in Iseyin; the ongoing Iseyin-Oyo Road construction.

Others, he said, include the recently approved Iseyin-Fapote-Ogbomoso road and the street light electrification at three strategic locations within the Iseyin metropolis as well as the completion of the Saki Township Road and the ongoing Saki-Ogbooro-Igboho Road construction.

Raji added that the government has equally completed various abandoned projects across the state, noting that the state has never had it so good since independence.
He maintained that within two to three years, the present administration has laid new standards for governance, saying: “With what your administration has done, we are assured that the future of Oyo State will be better.

“We cannot thank you enough. But we shall continue to pray for you and your government for redirecting the state policy, showcasing modern standards, and serving as a model in leadership, governance, and party management.”

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Also speaking, Senator Gbenga Babalola, appreciated the governor, saying that the people of Iseyin could not but identify themselves with Makinde, who he described as an uncommon governor, a promise keeper.

Babalola stated: “We cannot but identify ourselves with you. When you were seeking election, we were skeptical because we have always been inundated with promises that were never kept. But since you became governor, you have shown fairness. You have inculcated fairness in governance.”

The Lawmaker equally declared that as a mark of appreciation to the governor, the Iseyin community has decided to confer on him and his wife the titles of Aare Atunluto and Yeye Aare Atunluto of Iseyinland.

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NCC boss, Danbatta charges staff to sustain effective service delivery

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Members of staff of the Ibadan Zonal Office (IBZO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have been tasked to sustain their commitment to regulatory effectiveness in keeping with Commission’s strategic objectives.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, made this call recently in Ibadan when he visited the IBZO of the Commission en route Osogbo to deliver the 10th and 11th Convocation Lecture of the Fountain University.

Speaking later at an interactive session with staff of the Zonal Office, Danbatta commended the zonal controller and his team on the good work they have been doing in ensuring the people of the zone feel the presence and impact, as well as the significance of the Commission’s regulatory activities.

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In a news release signed Tuesday by the NCC Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, EVC urged the staff of the Commission not to relent on the successes that have been recorded, imploring them to rededicate themselves to their assigned responsibilities, in order to sustain effective delivery of regulatory services to the people of the zone in keeping with Commission’s commitment to ensuring greater regulatory effectiveness.

Danbatta asserted that his appeal takes life off the fact that the Commission and its staff have become major drivers of the Federal Government’s vision for the birth of a robust digital economy as encapsulated in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 and the Nigerian national Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025.

“The NCC CEO reminded the staff of the necessity to internalize the regulatory imperatives of the Strategic Management Plan (SMP), 2021-2024, as well as the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 2021-2025, both of which are streamlined implementation roadmaps by which the Commission plans to actualize the national digital economy and broadband targets as articulated by the Federal Government” the statement said.

In his response, the Controller, Ibadan Zonal Office of the Commission, Yomi Arowosafe who spoke on behalf of the staff of the Zonal Office, expressed gratitude to the Management for the visit and promised that the zonal office would sustain effective delivery of NCC’s regulatory services to the people of the geo-political zone.

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The EVC, management and other staff in his entourage were earlier received on arrival at Ibadan by Arowosafe, who led the EVC and his team on a tour of the Zonal Office.

In the EVC covnvoy were: NCC’s Director, Projects, Abigail Sholanke; Director, Digital Economy, Dr. Austin Nwaulune; Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde; Head Research and Development, Kelechi Nwankwo; and other senior management staff of the Commission.

Recall that the IBZO was established in October 2005 to bring the Commission’s regulatory services closer to the South West geopolitical zone, except Lagos and Ogun which are in the purview of Lagos ZonalOffice. However, the jurisdictional sphere of the Ibadan Zonal Office, however includes other South West states and Kwara State.

The recently constructed NCC Zonal Office building at Ibadan became fully functional in 2015 when the Commission’s Management directed staff to commence operational activities from the new complex.

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