From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Federal Government has signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) for the completion of the ltakpe-Ajaokuta -Aladja railway line and the expansion of Warri port.
A statement signed by the Director, Press and Public Relations (PPR), Mrs. Yetunde Sonaike, said the railway would be extended to Warri town, Warri Port and Warri Refinery. It will go northwards from Eganyi-Jankura-Baro-Abuja.
He said the port deal included the construction of deep-sea port as well as industrial parks on the Bonny Island in Rivers State.
The director quoted Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, who signed on behalf of the Federal Government, as saying, during the official signing ceremony, that the Central Line was one of the most important lines.
While promising that government would commence negotiations as soon as the President Muhammadu Buhari approved, he said: “The Central Line is one of the most important lines we have in Nigeria and I would be glad we partner. We can only get the approval when we see your feasibility studies.”
The minister, who acknowledged the previous partnership with the company when he was governor of River State, noted that the Central Line was part of the economic corridor in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Vice President of CRCC, Mr. Chen Xiao Xing, said his company was privileged to sign MoU with Nigerian for the completion of Ajaokuta to Abuja rail line project, extending from Aladja to Warri Port.
He added that the idea of working on rail system came on board during President Buhari’s visit to China sometime ago, as his company took the initiative to study the Nigerian railway network and found out that there was a missing link, especially between Ajaokuta and Abuja.
Xing further noted that for Nigerian economy to take off, it must reduce importation, adding that industrialisation was very important for economy and social development of Nigeria.
“That is why l proposed this project and l hope China and other countries will pay attention to this country. To this country, potential is here, opportunity is here. We brought this proposal to your economy corridor. Infrastructure like railway must be built because no railway, no money; no power, no industry,” he added.
He further noted that Nigeria and China were strategic partners determined to work for the socio-economic development of their countries, emphasising that the Central Line corridor was critical to the backbone of rapid industrialisation and transportation in Nigeria.
Agric: Israel to assist Nigeria in agriculture, technology
From Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Deputy Chief of Mission of the Israeli Embassy in Nigeria, Mr. Nadan Goren, has said that his country was ready to share its knowledge on technology and innovation with Nigeria.
The envoy also said that sustained progress in education, innovation and technology would lead to food security in Nigeria.
This is as the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, expressed the willingness of the Federal Government to strengthen trade and bilateral relations with the Israeli government through science and technology innovations to drive food security, improve health care and rapid industrialiSation.
Goren, who spoke when he visited the minister in his office, said: “Israel is good example of a country in which natural resources, two-thirdS of their land, is arid and officially desert. The only way we overcame these challenges was using technology, innovation and I think a country that has this experience can share this knowledge on technology and innovation with a country like Nigeria.”
The minister said that partnership with Israel, in pursuit of food security, would engender high yielding resistant seedling, pest control and mechanisation.
Agric: Donors seek govt’s commitment to Grow Africa initiative
From Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Federal Government has been urged to be more committed to the realisation of the objectives and targets of the New Alliance and Grow Africa partnerships in the country.
Development partners, civil society groups and the private sector at a workshop to review progress report on the New Alliance and Grow Africa agreements in Abuja agreed that more efforts were needed from government in accomplishing its tasks. But, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Shehu Ahmed, insisted that government was committed to implementing 13 policy actions to improve the environment for investment, explaining that the New Alliance was a collaborative approach geared towards developing the agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy.
Director, Planning and Policy Coordination, Mrs. Olubunmi Siyanbola, who represented the Permanent Secretary, said it was expected that the partnership would engender more private investment.
However, an overview of the partnerships in Nigeria scored government low, with 35 per cent achievement rate, having delivered on only nine of 26 tasks it was expected to have completed by the end of June.
A policy analyst at the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Manson Nwafor, who presented the report, stated that the development partners delivered 70 per cent, having provided US$294million of US$420million in aid within the period under review, while the private sector had 123 per cent with US$ 1.4billion investment, $300million more than the expected $1.1billion.
Niger Delta: N’Delta ministry, A’Ibom set aside N2bn for skills centre
From Fred Itua, Abuja
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, has disclosed that the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, has approved the release of N2 billion for the completion of the skill acquisition centre at Ibeno in Akwa Ibom State, being constructed by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
Usani disclosed that the said amount of money was for the community’s compensation from Exxon Mobil, revealing that the community had made a request for timely completion of the skill acquisition centre in the area.
He advised the people to communicate their decision on that fund to the Governor of Awa Ibom State, with the view to finalising the modalities for the disbursement of the fund for the timely completion of the project.
The minister appreciated the progress of work at the skill acquisition centre but, however, advised that the structural defects in the two buildings be corrected.
Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Prof. Claudius Omoleye Daramola, on his part, noted that there were structural defects in two of the buildings, which would be corrected before the continuation of work on the two structures.
At the ministry’s housing scheme at Ikot-Ekpene, Daramola said he was impressed with the progress of work, disclosing that on completion, the houses would be given to the less privileged in the society.