From Uche Usim, Abuja
To ensure smooth takeoff of the Jos Inland Container Depot (ICD) otherwise known as a dry port, the Federal Government has announced plans to establish a direct rail link and dual carriageway network from the airport and Jos town to the facility.
To this end, a Federal Government delegation comprising the Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, and other top officials of the ministry visited the Jos ICD in Plateau State, at the weekend to see the extent of work on site.
They were conducted round the facility by Governor Simon Lalong, who pledged to ensure that the momentum of work is sustained till completion.
In his remarks after the tour, Amaechi described dry ports as priority projects because of their employment content.
“The Jos dry port will create about 250 direct jobs and 600 indirect jobs. in the first phase. The location of the Jos dry port is good because it is near the Jos Airport and a rail station. So, the connection by railroad and air makes it ideal for multi-modal access.
“I want the NSC to meet with FAAN to create a road linking the airport to the dry port. The NSC should work with the operators of the dry port and submit to the ministry the technical specifications of the rail coming into the ports with the financial implication. We’ll discuss with General Electric on the way forward.
“I urge the Plateau State Government to, please, fence the project, build additional access roads and contribute its equity, which is 20 per cent,” Amaechi said.
Bello, who doubles as the promoter of the ICD projects across the country, told Daily Sun that the project would be the next to commence operations after Kaduna.
He said the transport ministry was in talks with General Electric, the Nigerian Railway Corporation, the Works Ministry, FAAN and other stakeholders to ensure direct rail, air and road links to the facility.
“The Jos dry port is well located. It’s located close to the Jos airport and the Jos railway service. So, the rail link needed isn’t long at all. It’s a short distance and so it’s not a very costly project to undertake. The Transport Minister is determined to see the development of our maritime industry. He’s bent on ensuring trade facilitation. He wants to decongest Lagos and open up the economy. Transportation is key and it’s an integral part of local, regional and international trade.
“This Jos dry port will serve Jos and its environs when operational. They don’t have to come to Lagos or Port Harcourt to clear their cargoes. It comes straight to this facility using road, rail or air. It also has multiplier effects. Jobs are created, revenue is generated for the government and stakeholders. It’ll open up this zone because the hassles in port business will be eliminated.
“Indeed, I’m impressed by the Plateau State government’s enthusiasm. They’re talking about fencing the dry port, which is vital. The NSC as a promoter will have a consultant on site because each dry port must conform to its masterplan and that is what our consultant will ensure,” he said.
Education: Minister lauds UNICEF’s support
From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Nigerian government has expressed gratitude to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for logistics, financial and other forms of support received for the development of education in Nigeria.
Government noted that such support has complemented its effort, resulting in expansion and extension of educational services to the underserved.
Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who played host to new UNICEF Country Representative, Mr. Mohammed Malik Fall, in Abuja on Friday, also informed him about several educational programmes designed to lift the standard of education in Nigeria, soliciting the support of the world body towards the realisation of the projects. Adamu said the ministry of education was consistent and committed to capacity building of staff as well as strengthening its systems in readiness for the implementation of its education programmes in Nigeria.
He restated the commitment and determination of the Nigerian government to abide by the agreements or co-operation that would further result in stronger, quality and affordable education in Nigeria.
Adamu also appealed to UNICEF to double its support programme for the girl-child and teacher education being implemented by government. Fall identified quality and affordable education as long-term solution to the myriad of problems facing some third world countries
He particularly pledged his commitment to support government’s effort to improve the standard of education in Nigeria.
NABDA: No GMOs in circulation –FG
From Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Federal Government has debunked insinuations that genetically modified products were in circulation in the country.
Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Lucy Ogbadu, who cleared the air on the issue recently, declared that there was no genetically modified food or product currently released for sale in the Nigerian market. Ogbadu explained that only four GM crops were currently undergoing field trials in the country, namely the white black-eyed beans known as the Maruca -Resistant Cowpea (Bt Cowpea), African Bio-fortified Sorghum Nitrogen Use Efficient, Water Use Efficient And Salt Tolerant (NEWEST) Rice and the BT cotton trial for commercial release and placing on the market.
She noted that the agency was following the globally accepted regulatory standards on the release of GMOs for public use in any country, adding that there was no cause for alarm as the National Biosafety Management Agency, responsible for the regulation and control of the practice and deployment of the GM technology in Nigeria, was ensuring the observance of the rigorous risk management procedures stipulated by the Cartagena Protocol and other national and international protocols guiding the processes of GM technology.
A statement by Head, Communication, Ifeoma Ndefo, quoted Ogbadu as saying that safety concerns were germane in any new technology, particularly relating to food; but that the concerns raised by some Nigerians on safety of GMOs in the past year were seemingly sponsored by the anti-GM groups.
She insisted that the attacks launched against GMOs and biotechnology will not deter the agency from ensuring that Nigerians benefit from safe and responsible application of agricultural biotechnology.
NOUN: NOUN graduates 12 first class, 5,963 others
From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
No fewer than 5,975 students have been cleared by the management of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) to be awarded various classes of degrees at the sixth convocation next weekend, having successfully completed their academic programmes and fulfilled other criteria as required by the institution.
The NOUN management told Daily Sun that graduates cut across eight faculties, selected from over 78 study centres across Nigeria, including prisons and other rehabilitation facilities in the country.
At a pre-event press conference in Abuja, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abdallah Uba Adamu, explained that the 2017 edition would be the second to be held at the permanent site of the university in Jabi, Abuja.
The Vice Chancellor disclosed that 12 students would be awarded First Class degrees in different courses with “quite an appreciable number of students graduating with Second Class Upper and Lower as well as Third Class.”
He defended the validity of the certificate being issued by NOUN, debunking misconceptions and misrepresentation in some quarters that the certificate was neither tenable nor accepted for use in some places or for further academic and career pursuits.