Aso Villa Reads for 31/08/2020

Every day, we bring you the best stories that the Media is reporting about the Government of Nigeria

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has approved the transfer of the National Identity Management Commission to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. Punch gathered that the approval for the transfer was based on the President’s consideration of the critical role of the NIMC towards the realisation of the objectives of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria. This was disclosed in a statement issued on Monday by the spokesperson to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Uwa Suleiman. The statement was entitled, “President Buhari approves the transfer of NIMC to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.” The communications ministry explained that the the transfer would ensure that synergy and effective ministry supervisory mechanism is put in place to coordinate, monitor and track the progress of Federal Government’s digital transformation initiatives. It said, “Furthermore, Mr. President’s directives for NIMC to be under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is an illustration of Mr. President’s vote of confidence on Dr. Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.” The statement stated that Pantami had within his first year in office resolved the communications sector’s decade-long dilemma of Right-of-Way charges. It said Pantami was also able to secure the President’s approval for the provision of security as well as designation of telecommunications infrastructure as critical national infrastructure, among others.

At last, after a year and six days the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria shut down flights operation at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport for safety concerns, the airport was on Sunday reopened for business. FAAN had on August 24, 2019 shut down flight operations in the airport after prominent Igbo sons and daughters lamented the deplorable state of the airport, describing it as a death trap. The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), subsequently approved N10bn special fund for the reconstruction/ rehabilitation work at the airport after the South-East Governors and Igbo leaders led a delegation to the presidency. Speaking during the official reopening on Sunday, the president who was represented by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said that the completion of work at the runway and the reopening of flights operation “was a promise kept.” Buhari said the Airport was so important to the aviation industry as well as to the people of the South-East because of its revenue base, adding that was why everything humanly possible was done to see that the Airport reopened on time. Sirika said that by approving the sum of N10bn for the rehabilitation of the airport, Buhari had shown how dedicated he was towards the infrastructural development of the South-East and the country at large. “With the airport reopening today, it is now open to local flights and on 5th September, International flights will resume as soon as we begin to allow them into the country,” the minister said. He added that he had also approved the sum of N1bn for the continuation of works at the International Terminal building as well as the Cargo terminal, in a bid to upgrade the airport to international standards. The minister commended the South-East governors for their support in ensuring that the repair works were carried out as quickly as possible and thanked the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, especially for removing the obstacles that would have hindered the progress of the project. Speaking at the occasion, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, said he never believed, “that what we are seeing today will happen.” Nwodo who was so delighted that the airport was reopened eventually thanked Buhari for approving money for the project. [Punch]

The Federal Government has resolved to inject over N600bn as stimulus response into Nigeria’s agricultural sector, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, has said. Nanono said the fund would target small scale farmers to ensure food security and sustainability. He disclosed this while on a tour of Dangote Fertiliser Plant and during a crucial meeting with other fertiliser companies in Lagos to galvanise their cooperation for the production of inputs. The minister’s comments were contained in a statement issued on Sunday in Abuja by the Director, Information, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Theodore Ogaziechi. Nanono explained that the N600bn stimulus response which targets farmers nationwide would take off with an initial 2.4 million farmers in the first instance. He further explained that to avoid the abuse of government funds and good intentions, the support would be in kind, as it would come in the form of inputs and not cash as was practiced in the past. According to Punch, the minister added that the forceful closure of all international borders, necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, had made it evident that Nigeria could conveniently and sustainably feed itself. Nanono pledged to support the farming communities in Lagos with rural roads, solar lighting and water boreholes so as to empower them to increase productivity. He promised to collaborate with the Lagos State Government in the fishing sector to tap the potential of the state’s marine endowments and reduce the importation of fish in Nigeria.

At last, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has paid $5,901,000 to 197 scholarship beneficiaries of 2019, while payment procedures for 94 beneficiaries of 2018 were ongoing. Director of Corporate Affairs, NDDC, Mr. Charles Odili, in response to Vanguard inquiry, on Monday, said among the 197 beneficiaries were 12 PHD — 2016 and 13 PHD — 2019, totaling 43, who got $30,000 each, amounting to $1,290,000. He said 154 MSC beneficiaries of 2019 were paid $30,000 each, amounting to $4, 420,000, bringing the grand total to $5,910,000. Odili said gave the description of 94 beneficiaries of 2018 still awaiting payment as 40 PHD and 54 MSC. Meanwhile, a group, Niger Delta Enterprise Initiative, NDEI, yesterday, applauded the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Expanded Interim Management Committee, EIMC, NDDC, for clearing $5.9 m bills for 197 scholarship students, including 12 PHDs, while processing 94 others.

The nation’s external reserves, last week, rose (though slightly) for the first time in 12 weeks, to $35.66 billion. Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, shows that the reserves rose to $35.66 billion on Thursday last week, from $35.59 billion previous week. This represents the first week-on-week, WoW, increase in the external reserves since June 4, 2020, when it recorded WoW increase of $64 million. The increase in reserves follows the four-week steady rise in the price of crude oil, which accounts for 90 percent of the nation’s dollar earnings. After falling steadily to less than $10 per barrel on April 21, 2020, from $71.98 per barrel on January 6, 2020, the price of Nigeria’s Bonny Light crude oil rose steadily to $44.3 on Monday, August 24, though it dropped to $42.93 last Friday. [Vanguard]

The Federal Government is constructing, repairing and rehabilitating a total of 40 major bridges across the country, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has said. Fashola, who stated this while inspecting the Loko-Oweto Bridge, said the work on the bridges were ongoing despite the limited revenue of the Federal Government. The minister said apart from the Loko-Oweto bridge project, work was ongoing on the Second Niger Bridge, the Ikom Bridge and 37 other bridges in Nigeria, which were being constructed, repaired or rehabilitated by his ministry. He named some of the other bridges to include the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, Murtala Mohammed Bridge in Koton Karfi and the Isaac Boro Bridge in Port Harcourt. Others include Chanchangi Bridge in Niger State and the Tambuwara Bridge in Kano. Fashola was quoted in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by the Director, Public Relations, Boade Akinola, as saying, “This government in spite of very limited resources and having to borrow is simply doing almost the near impossible in terms of infrastructure. “Mr President continues to give his support and commitment to infrastructure. His understanding of the purpose of infrastructure for growth and development is very clear.” On the construction of the Loko-Oweto Bridge across River Benue, the minister said the facility had offered shorter route for travelers, reduced travel hours to its barest minimum and facilitated redistribution of wealth in the local communities.[Punch]

The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami has said that in the last 11 months since he assumed the position, broadband penetration in the country has grown by 10 per cent, from an average growth of two per cent annually since year 2000. According to the minister, the federal government remains committed to digitalising the Nigerian economy, saying the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the need for the government to aggressively achieve a digital economy. Pantami, made this remark at the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria’s (CIBN), 2020 Graduates’ Induction/Prize Awards day, which held virtually over the weekend. The CIBN inducted 1,311 new members and awarded the best performing students in its different professional certification categories. Speaking on the feat recorded by his ministry, Pantami said: “In less than a year, when I came on board, the broadband penetration was a little higher than 30 per cent, from year 2000 to 2019. But, by the end of July this year, broadband penetration was over 42 per cent. We achieved almost 10 percent increase in less than a year. With all sense of humility and modesty, before we came on board, the penetration annually was averagely less than two per cent. But this year alone, the penetration is 10 per cent which is highly unprecedented.” He further said the growth of the digital economy was reliant on continuous innovation and entrepreneurship.[This Day]

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