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Why Buhari’s administration’ll not complete Ajaokuta steel project –FG

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From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Federal Government, yesterday, said the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill would no longer be completed in 2022 as earlier promised by the President Muhammedu Buhari-led administration owing to setbacks caused by COVID-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war.

Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, stated this when he addressed State House Correspondents during the special weekly briefing coordinated by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

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He blamed COVID-19 and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia  for frustrating the project on several fronts despite the approval of $2 million by President Buhari for the project.

He said the Federal Government had, before the outbreak of COVID-19, successfully convinced Russia to complete the steel project, but could not proceed with negotiations due to a  force-majeure brought about by the pandemic.

Adegbite said the government made moves  to continue negotiations with Russia after the ease of the lockdown globally, but that progress was again stalled due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

He said the deal with Russia involved a $2 million fee for technical audit required to ascertain the state of the facility before works would begin.

He said the government would engaged a British firm, which is offering its services free, to revive the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited.

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The minister who did not name the British firm, however, stated that the deal failed as the contract was awarded to a company with both Russian and Ukrainian interests.

He, however, noted that the Federal Government would initiate irreversible processes to ensure the resumption and eventual completion of the steel facility beyond the Buhari administration.

“Where we are today, we may not be able to get Ajaokuta to work, but I pray that we can start something permanently. I’ve said it before, when we  came back from Russia, yes, I went to the public and said, look we will deliver Ajaokuta before the end of this tenure. And I pray that I’ll have a chance to go back and apologise and explain what happened to the people before I leave office. It is due to no fault of ours. Everybody was ready to go, but unfortunately COVID-19 came in. So, it is a force majeure. The $2 million is still with the Federal Government…we had started the process of procurement, then with this war, we can no longer go that way.”

He said the ministry was working on projects across the six geopolitical zones which would be commissioned by July this year.

Meanwhile, President Buhari has lauded the Bank of Industry (BOI) for creating over nine million jobs in the last seven years as well as disbursing over N1.24 trillion to 4.2 million beneficiaries in Micro, Small, Medium and Large enterprises.

According to a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari gave the commendation Thursday at the commissioning of the Second Tower of BOI building, in Abuja.

He said that the Bank has continued to successfully execute its mandate as a policy institution of the Federal Government, extending single digit interest rate loans to manufacturers. He urged the management of the bank to ensure that its impact is felt all over the country.

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Nigeria Newspapers

Bauchi mayhem: Six houses, seven shops burnt over alleged blasphemy

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By Ahmed Kaigama

The Bauchi State Police Command on Saturday said six houses and seven shops were burnt by irate youths who went on rampage over alleged blasphemous messages.

Irate youths had rioted at Katanga Community of Warji Local Government Area of Bauchi State on Friday over alleged blasphemy.

The command has ordered an investigation into the crisis that erupted at Katanga Community of Warji Local Government Area of Bauchi State.

Police spokesman, SP Ahmed Wakil, stated in Bauchi on Saturday that some irate youths set six houses and seven shops ablaze in the community on Friday.

He added that some community members also sustained injuries in the assault.

He explained that the assault was a reaction to an alleged blasphemous message posted on the social media by a 40-year-old female employee of the local government council.

“The police deployed troops to the community and they have brought the situation under control,’’ Wakil stated.

He added that the Commissioner of Police in Bauchi State, Mr Umar Sanda had ordered a thorough investigation into the crisis.

Wakil stated also that Sanda appealed to the general public to be calm and to go about their lawful businesses without fear of intimidation.

He reiterated the need for parents and guardians to maintain strict vigilance over the activities of their wards, particularly youths.

Sanda also urged religious leaders and community leaders and elders generally to always speak to youths to desist from truncating the peace in their communities.

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Reno Omokri: Tinubu is more competent than Osinbajo

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Former presidential aide and critic, Reno Omokri has declared that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is more competent than Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Tinubu and Osinbajo are presidential aspirants under the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2023 presidency and will slug it out at the primary at the end of May.

He said in terms of what he achieved in Lagos, Tinubu was far more competent than Osinbajo.

Omokri said he did not like Tinubu and that he fully expected that if the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chose the right candidate, they would defeat Tinubu.

He said to put the record side by side, Tinubu’s record far outweighed that of Osinbajo.

Omokri tweeted: “In terms of what he achieved in Lagos, Tinubu is by far more competent than Osinbajo. I do not like Tinubu.

“And I fully expect that if the PDP chooses the right candidate, they will defeat him. But put his record side by side Osinbajo’s record, and Tinubu is better!”

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