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Border Closure: Obasanjo Issues Serious Warning To Benin

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Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has urged Nigeria’s west coast neighbour, Benin Republic, to change its ways for a harmonious bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Obasanjo made the remark during a news briefing on Tuesday in Addis Ababa on the margins of Policy Dialogue of African Business Associations on Implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreements.

The two-day policy dialogue was co-organized by the African Union (AU), African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Export – Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK).

Other co-organisers are The AfroChampion Initiative and the Coalition of Dialogue Africa (CoDA).

Obasanjo, who is the Chair of the CoDA Board of Directors, explained that Benin’s notoriety was not new, as Nigeria had for long been enduring the practice which undermined its economic well being.

“It happened when I was President of Nigeria. I called the then Benin President, Nicephore Dieudonne Soglo, to let us meet at any of our border posts over the issue.

“We eventually met at Badagry (in Nigeria), where we agreed that Nigerian Customs would be stationed in Benin.

“They (the Nigerian Customs) are still there. We don’t have issues with goods manufactured in Benin — they are welcome.

“But as long as Benin allow dumping of goods, there will always be problem with Nigeria,” Obasanjo said.

He noted that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was not created to allow one country to turn itself to a dumping ground.

On AfCFTA, Obasanjo said that the execution of the agreements was crucial to its success and sustainability.

“The intense support AfCFTA has received from various member states is a clear indication of its importance.

“CoDA is highly engaged to seeking success of AfCFTA and other multilateral agreements. CoDA work is informed and guided by the notion that no one has monopoly of ideas,” he said.

He urged for more actions, beyond words, adding that with fragmented 55 markets, Africa would remain small player in global market place.

In his welcome address, AU Commissioner, Department of Trade and Industry, Mr Albert Muranga, called for a change of attitude on the continent if the goals of AfCFTA was to be attained.

“A new mindset is necessary. One country should not be going west and the other going east. All of us should be going in one direction.

“For AfCFTA and our dreams of African integration to meet with success, it requires cooperation from all stakeholders,” he said.

Muranga also restated the fears as espoused by members of the organised private sector on the dangers ahead of AfCFTA, assuring that such fears also enjoy the attention of the framers of the AfCFTA initiaive.

According to him, such fears include stability, predictability, fairness, corruption and enabling environment.

Other participants included the Co-chair of the Executive Committee, AfroChampion Initiative, Dr Edem Adzogenu, and Chief Economist/Director, Research and International Cooperation, AFREXIMBANK, Dr Hippolyte Fofack.

Also present were the Director General of Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Amb. Ayo Olukanni, and AfDB Country Manager, Ethiopia, Dr Abdul Kamara, among others.

Inside Nigeria

Reps Uncover Abandoned Power Projects Worth Over N156bn

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The Federal House of Representatives, in its oversight function, has uncovered many power projects, put together at the cost of N156 billion, that are being abandoned or are yet to be completed by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

Two of such uncompleted projects include a 240 MVA sub-station in Walalambe Community of Nasarawa Local Government Area and a 330 KVA station in Rimin Zakara, Ungoggo Local Government Area.

Chairman, House Committee on Power, Magaji Da’u Aliyu, made the revelation when he led some committee members to visit two substations in Kano State at the weekend.

“We have over 156 billion uncompleted projects lying for over 10 years,” he said.

The lawmaker revealed that the projects were awarded about 10 to 16 years ago but had not reached the level of completion.

He however, assured the people that the committee would complete the projects in Kano in six months.

He explained that the House of Assembly member from the area wrote him and, knowing how the project will impact on the people in many ways, he said he would come and see the project.

“This project has a lot of values to the people of Kano and Nigerians. Employment and economic opportunities will speed up when this project is completed. It must be completed in the next six months.

“I will follow it to the later. I will talk to the Speaker of Federal House of Representatives and also involve the governors of Kano and Kaduna.

“The funding is not a problem. The contractor should come out with his work plan and submit to me tomorrow and send a copy to Abuja,” he said.

During the visit to the 240 MVA sub-station in Walalambe, Nassarawa Local Government Area, which had been uncompleted for 16 years, the committee chairman expressed displeasure at the state of the project.

He ordered TCN to complete the project within six months period, stating that the committee would facilitate full funding to achieve the completion within the stated period.

He said: “I have been mandated by the Speaker, House of Representatives, to come and supervise the level of the project and do the needful. So, since the materials of this project are on ground, I direct you to complete this project before or on February 1; that is six months. I will make sure the funds are available for the completion.”

TCN’s Assistant General Manager (AGM) Kano Service, Muhammad Bello, said the completion of the project would be within the six months period. According to him, all the offshore and other materials are on ground but the funding is what has been delaying the project.

“Since the committee has assured to release of the funds, I assure you that we can finish this project even before the six months.”

He stated that the project had reached 30 percent level of completion as the first phase had been completed, assuring that what is left would be completed within the stated period.

Representative of the Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO), David Omoleye, lamented that the committee had visited the site twice but nothing was done.

“It is stories upon stories and promises upon promises. This is the third time House committee members are coming here over this project.

“This project is very important to KEDCO, because we will use the feeder to supply industrial areas in Kano. The project would boost power supply in Kano and generate revenue for KEDCO.

“We are ready for the project because we have already fixed our marines for the transmission since, but it is yet to be completed,” Omoleye, said.

It was gathered that an agreement has been reached for TCN to pay for all the houses on the land, while the state government is to pay for all the lands affected, for relocation, which costs over N3 billion.

The line from Kaduna to Kano is also critical and must be expanded to be dual circuits in order to supply customers better.

The visiting House Committee members on Power called on the governors of Kaduna and Kano to grant the right of way for the projects to be completed.

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Why We Increased Hate Speech Fine To N5 Million — Lai Mohammed

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The Federal Government says it increased the fine for hate speech from N500, 000 to N5 million in the amended National Broadcasting Code to deter people who are willingly violating the provision to destabilise the country.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed gave the explanation on Friday when he featured on a TVC live Programme, “This Morning”” monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

NAN recalls that the minister in 2019 announced the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for the increase of the fine which was later stipulated in the ammended Broadcasting Code.

“What motivated the amendment was that when the fine was N500,000 we saw the provision being violated at will because the amount was very easy to pay,” he said.

The minister explained that some desperate people, who know that their broadcast content contains hate speech, will insist that the broadcast stations should air it while they bear the cost of the fine.

The minister noted that those attacking the government over the increase, must remember that hate speech had destroyed many countries.

He recalled that Rwandan lost 800,000 lives to hate speech while Bosnia and Cambodia equally lost thousands of lives to the menace.

Mohammed said that Nigeria is not the only country to impose sanction on hate speech, adding that some nations have more stringent provisions.

“Chad has today slow down the speed of its internet service to slow down the growth of hate speech.

“Iceland has a provision in its penal code against hate speech and the punishment is up to five years in jail.

“The sanction in Norway is up to two years imprisonment while South Africa separated hate speech from the protection their citizens can get from the constitution,” he said.

The minister said that hate speech is not new but the social media and its wildfire capacity to spread information made it to be more problematic.

He, therefore, reiterated the resolve of the government to regulate the social media without stifling the freedom of speech.

NAN

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Inside Nigeria

Buhari Signs Amended Companies And Allied Bill Into Law

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President Muhmmadu Buhari, on Friday in Abuja, assented to the Companies and Allied Matters Bill, 2020, which was recently passed by the National Assembly.

President Buhari’s assent to the bill repealed and replaced the one hitherto in effect; Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990. The new law comes in 30 years after the previous one.

According to a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity Mr Femi Adesina, the new law is coming with several corporate legal innovations geared toward enhancing ease of doing business in the country.

Among the newly introduced innovations to the law, according to the statement are the following: “Filing fee reductions and other reforms to make it easier and cheaper for small and medium-sized enterprises to register and reform their businesses in Nigeria;

“Allowing corporate promoters of companies to establish private companies with a single member or shareholder, and creating limited liability partnerships and limited partnerships to give investors and business people alternative forms of carrying out their business in an efficient and flexible way;

“Innovating processes and procedures to ease the operations of companies, such as introducing Statements of Compliance; replacing ‘authorised share capital’ with minimum share capital to reduce costs of incorporating companies; and providing for electronic filing, electronic share transfers, e-meetings as well as remote general meetings for private companies in response to the disruptions to close contact physical meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic;

“Requiring the disclosure of persons with significant control of companies in a register of beneficial owners to enhance corporate accountability and transparency; and

“Enhancing the minority shareholder protection and engagement; introducing enhanced business rescue reforms for insolvent companies; and permitting the merger of Incorporated Trustees for associations that share similar aims and objectives,” the statement said.

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