The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has again urged the National Assembly to stop probe into the Chinese loans. Amaechi, who spoke at the weekend during the inspection tour of the projects, said this could hinder the Federal Government from accessing a $5.3 billion loan request from China to kick-start the Ibadan-Kano part of the rail project.
He said the ministry was ready to commence the project but was still waiting for funding.
He said: “The National Assembly should stop this investigation of loan. They are not investigating corruption of construction. What we meant is that they should allow us to get the loan for Ibadan-Kano, which is about $5.3 billion, because if the Chinese government have the feeling that you don’t like the way they lend you money, they may withdraw their loan offers.”
He said that the construction companies had been asked to return to sites while adhering to the COVID-19 protocols as directed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The minister, who expressed displeasure with the delay in finishing the train stations, said that the Federal Government would not sit and fold its hands because of the pandemic, but would see to it that all projects are completed.
Meanwhile, Amaechi said he was hopeful the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail projects would be ready by January 2021.He said that the setback in meeting the completion deadline was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his remarks, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said there was no better way to tell Nigerians about what the government has done with the money borrowed than to embark on the trip for inspection with the media.
He said: “We have seen it all via this trip. The feedback from Nigerians is great and the journalists are here to get first-hand information. The stations are rolling stock; the construction company is at work, and the fact that this is a project that will outlive all of us here.
“When I was invited for this trip, I was very glad and I decided that instead of going to argue with naysayers, let the journalists, who are representatives of the people, come along.”
“You are the eyes and ears of the people. And I said please come and see what we are doing with the money that we borrowed. We didn’t borrow money for services, we did not borrow money for overhead expenditure, we borrowed money for capital projects, roads, bridges, power, and general infrastructure and this is the first time this administration is conducting series of inspections.”
Group Hails NPHCDA Over Arrival, Distribution And Administration Of Covid-19 Vaccines
The National Vanguard for Vaccine Administration and Advocacy (NVVAA) has commended the management of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) for the seamless arrival, distribution and administration of coronavirus vaccines across the nation.
The group, in a statement by its Secretary-General, Akor Oche, on Monday, said the agency has displayed a high sense of transparency and accountability so much so that Nigerians should expect the safety of the vaccines upon administration.
Following the arrival of the first batch of Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in the country, the NPHCDA began the massive roll out on Friday with President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo subsequently receiving their first jabs.
By setting up a website for Nigerians to register, the NVVAA noted that the health agency eradicated all forms of encumbrances that would have marred the successful rollout of the vaccines.
The National Vanguard for Vaccine Administration and Advocacy, however, called on members of the general public to extend their support to the NPHCDA by disregarding the narratives against the suitability of the vaccine for humans.
On its part, the group urged the NPHCDA not to relent in the task of ensuring that all Nigerians are vaccinated in the coming months.
Read the full statement below:
The National Vanguard for Vaccine Administration and Advocacy is issuing this press statement to commend the management of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) on the arrival and subsequent distribution and administration of the AstraZeneca COVID 19 Vaccine across the country.
It is indeed commendable that the NPHCDA put in motion mechanisms that ensure that all states of the federation receive their doses of the vaccine in a timely and orderly manner that remains a disconnect from the norm whereby exercises such as this are always marred by poor logistics arrangements.
The NPHCDA has by its actions in recent times displayed a high sense of transparency and accountability so much so that Nigerians should expect the safety of the vaccines upon administration.
It is thus the considered opinion of the National Vanguard for Vaccine Administration and Advocacy that meeting the various timelines from the arrival to the country and its subsequent rollout is indicative of the sustainable efforts of the NPHCDA towards ensuring that the vaccines are safe for humans, as well as ensuring that there is an equitable distribution across the country.
It is also commendable that the NPCHDA opened an online registration platform for Nigerians to register for vaccination. This is indeed an exemplary display of foresight by the management of the NPHCDA in the sense that it has successfully eradicated all forms of encumbrances that would have marred the successful rollout of the vaccines in Nigeria.
The National Vanguard for Vaccine Administration and Advocacy calls on members of the general public to extend their support to the NPHCDA by disregarding the narratives against the suitability of the vaccine for humans.
It also states that with the level of expertise displayed by the NPHCDA, Nigerians should be assured that there shall be equitable distribution of vaccines across the country and all Nigerians regardless of their status in the society shall be vaccinated in record time subject to availability.
Nigerians are also enjoined to continue to support the efforts of the government towards ensuring that all Nigerians are vaccinated in the race to put COVID 19 behind us as quickly as possible.
We also encourage the leadership of the NPHCDA not to relent in the task of ensuring that all Nigerians are vaccinated as the vaccines become available in large quantities in the coming months.
The National Vanguard for Vaccine Administration and Advocacy as a critical stakeholder in the country is pledging its continuous support to the NPHCDA in ensuring that the vaccination programme is successfully implemented across the country.
The NPHCDA has indeed displayed exemplary service to Nigeria and it behoves all mischief makers to desist from spreading negative information with regards to the safety of the COVID 19 vaccines been administered in Nigeria.
BREAKING: Fire Breaks Out In Aso Rock
A fire outbreak has been reported at the Presidential Villa in Aso Rock, Abuja, causing confusion among workers in President Muhammadu Buhari’s abode, SaharaReporters reports.
It was learnt that the fire started at 4 pm as the fire service officials tried desperately to put it out.
“The security men were chasing people not to capture the incident, but I tried my best to capture it. The fire is still on,” a source disclosed around 9 pm.
Although the cause of the fire is not yet known, fire service trucks have moved in and were seen in the villa.
More details soon….
We Won’t Allow Hijab In Kwara Mission Schools, CAN Insists
The Christian Association of Nigeria in Kwara State has insisted that it will not allow its pupils to wear hijab, despite the Kwara State Government’s directive that Muslim female pupils in Christian mission schools should wear hijab.
The state government, last week, said it had approved wearing of hijab by Muslim female pupils in Christian mission grant-aided schools in the state.
It also said the 10 Christian mission schools closed down in the wake of the hijab crisis would be reopened on Monday, March 8.
However, the state branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria said it would not agree to the use of hijab in schools established by Christian missions, alleging that they were surprised that the government was trying to make a decision on a matter that was still before the Supreme Court.
CAN said, “The body condemns the use of hijab in Christian missions grant-aided schools as this will cause discrimination in schools and allow terrorists to easily identify our children and wards.”
Two missions, Evangelical Church Winning All and the Kwara Baptist Conference, said they would not allow the wearing of hijab in their respective schools when the schools reopen on Monday.
The leadership of ECWA said it would not welcome the directive in all its schools in the state.
The Chairman, ECWA Ilorin District Church Council, Rev John Owoeye, who spoke at a press conference in Ilorin on Friday, said ECWA schools were established by Christian missionaries for purposes of reaching communities with the love of Christ and to meet educational needs of the indigenes irrespective of religious affiliations, among other reasons.
The ECWA church leaders, who demanded return of ECWA schools to them, said since 1974 when there was agreement on collaboration between the state government and the proprietor for the school to be grant-aided schools, “the policy has never been total takeover of our schools by the government.”
Owoeye, who said Christians are bona fide citizens of the state, added, “We have equal rights under the provisional constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
He argued that the government was aware that Christian Religious Knowledge teachers were not posted to Muslim grant-aided schools and that the gathering of Fellowship of Christian Students was not allowed in Muslim grant-aided schools.
“Similarly, we want the government to be informed that her decision and plan to provide hijab and enforce its use in our Christian mission grant-aided schools will not be tolerated as it is an infringement on our freedom of religion as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria,” he said.
Also, the President of Kwara Baptist Conference, Rev Victor Dada, in a separate press conference, said the mission would not allow the use of hijab in its 38 schools across the state, adding that the government was wrongly advised in taking the decision.
Dada argued that the state government took a wrong decision by its blanket approval of wearing of hijab for female pupils in mission schools.
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“The state government was wrongly advised to take that decision. The state even acted in contempt of court as the case is still pending before the Supreme Court.
“We want to warn the government that the step it wants to take by approving the use of hijab for all public schools and grant-aided schools in the state will lead to an avalanche of reactions, the end of which no one can predict.
“With this move, the state government is saying the Muslims’ purported rights are superior to those of the Christians.
“What we are saying is that no one, whether the Kwara State Government or even the Federal Government, can force hijab on our children or in our schools. We shall not hesitate to use all legitimate means to protect our heritage. We will defend our faith and protect our property.”
Meanwhile, Muslim stakeholders in the state have urged the state government to stand by the rule of law in taking a final decision on the hijab issue.
In a statement signed by its Chairman, Alhaji Is-haq AbdulKarim; and Secretary, Professor Ibrahim Abikan, the Muslim Stakeholders said the state branch of CAN, which engaged the state government in a legal battle over the issue of ownership of the grant-aided schools since 2013 lost its two cases in Ilorin High Court in 2016 and the Court of Appeal in 2019.
In a related development, Chairman, Kwara State branch of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Olu Adewara, said the union was not part of the hijab crisis currently going on in the state.
The NUT Chairman, Adewara, told reporters, “The hijab matter is basically an issue between the government, the Muslim parents and the owners of these schools, regardless that such schools are grant-aided by the government. The NUT is not involved because this is not a matter bordering on teachers’ rights.”
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