FOR leaders like Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Nigeria’s Transportation Minister, nothing interests them like rendering service to mankind.
Ever since Mr. Amaechi ascended to his present political status, he had always been on his toes to deliver on his mandate in the nation’s transportation sector. One thing that distinguishes Amaechi from the other ministers in the present administration, including past ones, is the fact that Amaechi has an unquenchable thirst for service delivery. His urge to reposition the nation’s devastated transportation sector has no limitation.
For real, those who work or have worked with the former Rivers State governor can attest to his style. His proactiveness and commitment to tackling daunting and challenging issues that will trigger development to all cannot be overemphasized.
Back then in Port Harcourt, Amaechi would commit time at night inspecting projects with ‘torch light’, that is how restless he is in committing to service delivery. For him, the job must be done before he takes his cool. Anyhow, one would have taught that after serving Rivers State in his forties jumping from one project site to the other, Amaechi would act the typical ‘big man’ Nigerian minister or any other political appointee by attending to only official duties, being the overall boss in the transportation ministry, but, that is not the case. Amaechi would dash to the office at 8.am attending to official matters until late night. For Amaechi, there is no dull moment.
Working with a pragmatic, selfless and service-itching boss like Amaechi requires determination and commitment. You must be ready to kill sleep. You must be on your marks and you must be at his beck and call because for him, service delivery cannot be compromised, nothing can deter him to forge ahead except for the fact that death is no respecter of mankind.
Recently, however, series of developmental efforts had been vigorously pursued by the Buhari’s “strong man” to better the transportation sector. Precisely on July 1, 2016 Amaechi had signed a contractual agreement with China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) on the construction of the Lagos-Calabar coastal railway project.
Amaechi signed the agreement on behalf of the Federal Government. At the brief event which took place at the ministry’s conference room, Amaechi said the contract was an addendum to the Lagos-Calabar coastal railway project which was initially awarded by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to the Chinese company at a contract cost of $11.917 billion.
Amaechi also disclosed that at the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari Government, the Federal Government negotiated the contract with the China firm and agreed at a contract cost of $11.117 billion thereby saving a whopping sum of $800m. Amaechi reiterated that the Buhari-led government has completed the signing of the same contract with a different contract sum in order to legalize the new deal. “What we have done today is the signing of the same contract but different contract sum to make it legal. President Muhammadu Buhari has assured me that he is committed to the development of the rail sector in Nigeria and would not leave any ‘stone unturned’ to achieve that dream”, he said.
Okpara Gift Chikwulogwo,
Amaechi also noted that the first and second segments of the projects run through Calabar-Uyo-Aba-Port Harcourt-Yenagoa-Otuoke-Ughelli-Warri-Sapelle-Benin-Ore-Ijebu-Ode-Lagos with a target of covering all the seaports along those routes in good time.
Similarly, on the August 31, 2016, Amaechi took further step in signing two commercial contract agreements with the same Chinese firm on the Kano-Kaduna segment of the Lagos-Kano rail modernization project with a contract sum of $1.685 billion and the Calabar-Port Harcourt segment extending to the Onne Deep Sea Port of the coastal rail project at the cost of $3.4 billion with the Chinese engineering firm.
Amaechi who spoke briefly at the event described it as symbolic. “In the sense that what we are doing is the segmentation of that same contract in line with the agreement with the China-Exim Bank”.
Amaechi said, the federal government would release its counterpart funds soonest assuring that with the cooperation of the China-Exim Bank, the projects would be completed in November, 2018. “I assured Mr. President that we need to complete these projects in two years time,” he said.
Okpara Gift Chikwulogwo,
The potentials of Ogun cotton production
Sometimes you achieve a break through for which the only adequate response is “Thank you, Lord”. The signing of the Memorandum of
Understanding for “Arewa Cotton” to establish a ginnery in Ogun State is one of such instances.
Cotton and its production is central to the economy of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital and the cottage industry in the state with mainly women but also men producing Adire, the local tie and dye fabric which they sell in the state’s markets and beyond
to make a living.
Unfortunately, during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, the government banned the importation of cotton though with the right intention to increase employment, but the policy seems to have been unevenly implemented because while the dyers could no longer get cotton in the South, they could in the markets of Kano up North and this brought about great setbacks to the cottage industry in Abeokuta due to the troubles often encountered with customs officers when trying to move it into Ogun State. The confiscation of cotton worth millions of naira, the stress of trying to reclaim their seized products, and other untold hardship they experienced for over four years, all combined to convince the dyers that they desperately needed a way to buy cotton fabric locally and this desire got answered when the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment mooted the idea to establish a ginnery factory in the South-West, Nigeria and the big question now is where should it be sited?
A cotton-trade show was held in India in 2012 which was attended by all cotton- producing states in Nigeria and the event gave all cotton growers and producers the opportunity to meet with buyers with samples of cotton staple grown in their states. This staple samples were then put through rigorous tests to ascertain the strength of the cotton staple and its length, factors which affect the range, as well as the quality of the fabric that could be produced with it. It was at this event that the political considerations that often stand in the way of merit-based selection processes in Nigeria was removed and Ogun State was declared “the best cotton-producing state in Nigeria”.
Femi Osipitan, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Apparently, its long staple cotton which is a by-product of the soil type and rainfall pattern is a rarity that Ogun cotton shares with
Mali and Egypt who are among the best cotton producers in the world.
These factors taken together with the thriving Adire industry in
Abeokuta, which represented potential users of cotton produced by
a regional ginnery made a strong case for Ogun State given the Gateway
State the privilege to house the ginnery factory in the South-West
region of Nigeria.
With one masterful stroke by the Governor of Ogun State, Senator
Ibikunle Amosun on August 24, 2016, the State is now
positioned to exploit the entire cotton value chain, from growing the
plant, to spinning and weaving in a ginnery, to production of textiles
for clothing, furniture and other uses by the final consumer and you
can be rest assured that this project offers the opportunity to
open up at least tens of thousands of jobs for the State’s teeming
youths, women and even men.
Femi Osipitan Idi-Aba Abeokuta,
Tribute to Babatunde Edu
DEATH, the ultimate end of all mortals has struck again. This time taking along a man of beautiful spirit, humility personified and a friend, Mr Babatunde Shakirudeen Edu, a scion of the Edu family. His late father, Chief Shafi Lawal Edu, popularly known as S.L. Edu was a great philanthropist, business mogul, environmentalist and a distinguished politician during the First Republic. Chief S.L. Edu’s impact in our national life, particularly in Lagos State, cannot be overlooked.
Mr Tunde Edu towed his father’s line of activities till the end.Being a bibliophile and for research purposes, I had set a task of getting a copy of the biography of the late Chief S.L.Edu, entitled Journey From Epe. When all efforts proofed abortive, I gave up on getting the book.
Strangely, I met Mr Tunde Edu on social media and this was the beginning of our friendship till his demise recently in Accra, Ghana. Though any keen follower of Nigeria’s political and industrial development will surely know Tunde and his younger brother Yomi Edu, both participated actively in politics and commerce.
Mr Tunde Edu in particular was once Lagos State chairman/leader and gubernatorial candidate of Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) during the Second Republic. While Mr Yomi Edu until recently was a Minister of Special Duties and before then a gubernatorial candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Lagos State in 1991.Mr Tunde Edu is both a lawyer and an economist. He has served on the board of several companies in Nigeria like African Alliance, Blackwood Hodge (Nigeria) Ltd etc. He was a polished and groomed gentleman with immense exposure.
Our meeting on social media was the high point of good personality display by Mr Tunde Edu towards younger friends. I was pleasantly surprised when during our communication he gave me his mobile phone number in Ghana and indeed encouraged me to call him as often as possible. Despite the distance, he attended with dispatch to my request for a copy of his father’s biography. Within six days of our communication, I received a call to pick the book from a professor in Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), who just arrived from Ghana. I was kind of imagining the efforts Mr Tunde Edu would have put into locating someone who is returning to Nigeria at that particular period and most importantly a location close to my residence.
I was shocked to learn of his passage at 76. He was a great soul. May almighty God grant him repose and give the family and friends the fortitude to bear this huge loss.
Badejo Adedeji Nurudeen
Time to rejig the economy
AS the head of Nigeria’s Economic Team, I sympathise with the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo because he is leading a team that inherited a broke economic system.
I want to encourage the Vice President by reminding him that the hallmark of great leadership is repose staying engaged with the people. If you don’t communicate with the people, you make them to think negatively. People need to be talked to while coming up with policies that will benefit them. In the land of my fathers, there is a popular saying that if you appear last and you still make the same mistakes of your predecessors, then you are worse off than your predecessors. This sadly explains the current situation in the country or how do you explain the high level of hopelessness pervading the country since the emergence of this government. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) came out on July 18, 2016 with the revelation that inflation has risen to an 11-year high of 16.5%. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) which measures inflation, rose by 0.9% in the month of June compared to 15.6% the previous month. This, according to NBS, was the fifth consecutive month that the headline index will rise. There is an unemployment rate of 2.1%, exports had dropped to 34.6% and imports declined by 7.8% all in this year’s 1st quarter.
So many factors can be attributed to this increase amongst which are continued appetite for imported goods and related products, energy prices and lack of clear government economic policy direction. It is no more news that the feeling of despondency in the country is pretty high and the people are no longer smiling; they have since run out of patience. This is the time to rejig the economy.