In what appears as a pre-commissioning event, the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, yesterday, led a team of senior government officials to inspect the progress of work on the Second Niger Bridge that is primed to link major cities in the South-East and South-South with the rest of the country.
The bridge, which was inherited from the previous administration in the country, appears to be a signature project, which the Buhari administration is anxiously waiting to deliver and make a major statement as a demonstration of its commitment and political will in delivering within a space of three years.
After being led on inspection of the ambitious project by the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the Chief of Staff to the President, revealed that the bridge has so far gulped over N400billion but that the administration was satisfied that the project would finally be delivered in October.
Gambari explained that out of the N400billion already spent, the previous administration committed N10billion into the project, adding that contrary to insinuations, the project being funded 100percent by the Nigerian government.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, announced that there would be power disruption around the bridge head for two weeks in April this year to enable the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to relocate and realign the transmission lines to pave the way for the completion of the ring roads connecting the bridge from all routes.
The minister also announced that with the completion of concrete work on the bridge, making it possible for a walk from the beginning to the end of the 1.6kilometres stretch, the minor alignments on the structure would be wrapped up before the end of April.
“Power will be shut down for two weeks to enable the generating and transmission companies as well as the Ministry of Power to work seamlessly on the project.
“We plead that those affected will cooperate as nobody will be shut out permanently.
“April is the completion date. Earlier, I said it will end in February or latest, end of first quarter.
“Before now, some people said there was no bridge, but now, we are walking on the bridge. This is real now. Plus or minus, when we cross the Ts and dot the Is, we will complete it as promised – 11kilometres and 12kilometres on both sides of the bridge”, Fashola said.
Reacting to whether there would be tollgate at the Second Niger Bridgehead, Fashola said that his priority was to complete the road before delving into the suitability or otherwise of the road for tolling.
The minister said that although there was a Federal Executive Council approval for the tolling of 12 highways in the country, the decision on tolling the 2nd Niger Bridge head was yet to be made by the Federal Government.
That notwithstanding, there are ongoing construction of facilities that have the semblance of toll gates at the bridgehead.
Explaining the project to the presidential entourage, which also included the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige; and the Managing Director of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Dr. Uche Orji;representatives of Anambra State Government and the Delta State Governments; the Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Limited, Lars Richter, disclosed that the level of work on the bridge, which they started in earnest in 2018, had reached 93percent.
The trio, who were at the Onitsha-Owerri Road Interchange of the link road to the bridge, also walked the entire 1.6km length of the bridge to the Asaba, Delta State end.
Ritchter, who conducted the dignitaries through work at the bridge, said work on the bridge will be completed on April 2.
He said that despite the difficult terrain where the bridge is situated, the company deployed a special technology to stabilise the ground for the construction work to progress in earnest and provide environmental safety for all the communities around the area.
The 2nd Niger Bridge, which was officially started in 2014 by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, however, gathered much steam in 2018 when the project was given adequate and sustained funding by the Buhari government.
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Flight delays and cancellations among domestic airlines have continued unabated as scarcity of aviation fuel bites harder and cost of purchase increases to N570 per litre.
The situation with airlines like Ibom Air was very dire, yesterday, as many of their aircraft couldn’t fly to most of their destinations due to fuel scarcity.
The airline admitted that the situation was bad and impacted its flight schedule, yesterday and may do the same, today.
“We have encountered a situation today where aviation fuel is scarce, and therefore, unavailable at almost all our flight destinations. This has significantly impacted our flight schedule today (Tuesday) and may do the same tomorrow (Wednesday). We sincerely apologize to all our passengers affected by the current situation.
“At this time, we have no indication when the issue will be resolved, however, we are working with our fellow airlines and fuel suppliers to find a solution. Our passengers and the public should please be informed. We will give an update once we have further information,” the airline said.
Last week, Dana Air apologised to its passengers for the flight disruptions that happened in March 1, where most of their flights were cancelled due to scarcity of fuel.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Sukhjinder Mann, said the disruptions were due to fuel scarcity, ramp congestion and bad weather, and promised to give complimentary tickets to passengers that were affected.
In a letter to passengers, he said: “I accept that our recent disruptions scarcity of fuel, ramp congestion and bad weather would have affected your plans and I understand how frustrating it would have been for you to contact our customer service representative to reschedule your flight or having to wait in some instances, but I would like to reassure you that all your feedback has not gone unnoticed regardless of how your sent them.
“On fuel scarcity, we are working with our partners to significantly mitigate the challenge and I am pleased to advise that we have made major inroads in this area with our key suppliers. We will continue to do our best to minimize any foreseeable challenges while hoping that the situation improves generally for all carriers as soon as possible.”
Late last month, Air Peace had through one their circulars informed passengers that some of their flights were delayed due to scarcity.
The airline said their Lagos to Port Harcourt flight for 14:30 on February 15 was delayed due to lack of fuel and the Port Harcourt to Abuja flight for 16:25 and Abuja to Lagos for 16:25 were also affected.
The airline also revealed that the Lagos to Asaba flight of 14:25 of the same day was delayed because of aviation fuel and it affected the Abuja to Lagos flight of 16:25.
Also, the Lagos to Douala flight for 15:00 was also delayed due to scarcity and it affected their return leg of Doula to Lagos for 17:15.
An insider in one of the airlines said that there is suspicion in the industry that marketers were taking advantage of the fuel crisis in the country to hoard the product and increase the price.
“We are suspecting that many of the marketers are deliberately creating false scarcity in order to increase the price of aviation fuel to N570 and this has caused so much problems for airlines. It is unfortunate and the government doesn’t seem to know how to handle the situation.
“A lot of passengers won’t understand our predicament, they always like to blame the airlines but in this situation, tell me what the airlines can do? They are helpless. We are still battling with scarcity of forex, on top of that, we are now being faced with scarcity of fuel,” the insider said.
Authorities of the Rivers State University (RSU) have said that the three campuses of the institution located at Ahoada, Etche and Emohua would be ready by March 31, 2022.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof Nlerum Okogbule disclosed this at the university’s main campus while giving account of his stewardship within the last two years in office.
He said work on the three campuses was 95percent completed, adding that it would be commissioned by May, 2022.
Okogbule also listed other achievements to include the commencement and completion of the Centre for Continuing Education building, 80percent completion of Faculty of Basic Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Clinical Science and Pathology building.
The rest are ongoing construction of nursing building, Faculty of Humanities, Faculty of Social Sciences and Faculty of Education, which are all TETFUND projects within the main campus.
The vice chancellor also said Post Graduate Studies building was 50percent completed; erection of modern bus-stop completed, and now in use, demolition of security village in readiness for the building of staff quarters as well as securing approval for the construction of additional staff quarters.
Other achievements, according to him, are renovation and furnishing of space for Faculty of Engineering Conference Room, ensuring regular environmental sanitation in the campus, enhanced security at the campus, promotion of academic staff of various categories and the creation of two new faculties and establishment of the University Business School.
The vice chancellor said the institution also had successful accreditation for its medical college by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria leading to the commencement of clinical training as well as successful accreditation of other academic programmes by the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), among other achievements.
Okogbule said that within the period under review, the university also won both national and international awards, especially award which makes RSU the University of the Year, 2021.
He said his administration would continue to be inclusive where ideas, suggestions and inputs would be taking into consideration.
Speaking, Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), RSU chapter, Prof Emmanuel Ekwulo, and others, thanked the vice chancellor for giving the institution a pride of place in the scheme of things.
By: John Bibor
President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the House of Representatives, seeking amendment of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, read the President’s letter to the lawmakers during plenary in Abuja, yesterday.
Recall that Buhari, while signing the 2022 electoral amendment bill on February 25, 2022, complained that the provision constituted fundamental defect, saying it was in conflict with extant constitutional provisions.
According to the president, Section 84 (12) constitutes a disenfranchisement of serving political office holders from voting or being voted for at conventions or congresses of any political party.
This, he said, was for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election in cases where it holds earlier than 30 days to the National Election.
The section read: “No political appointee at any level shall be voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”
Buhari stated that the provision introduced qualification and disqualification criteria that ultra vires the Constitution by way of importing blanket restriction and disqualification.
This he said was basically for serving political office holders of which they were constitutionally accorded protection.
“It is imperative to note that the only constitutional expectation placed on serving political office holders that qualify by extension as public officers within the context of the constitution is resignation.
“Others he said were; withdrawal or retirement, at least, 30 days before the date of the election.
“Hence, it will be stretching things beyond the constitutional limit to import extraneous restriction into the Constitution on account of practical application of Section 84(12) of the bill”, Buhari said.
This, according to him, is where political parties’ conventions and congresses were to hold earlier than 30 days to the election.
However, Buhari is asking for the amendment of the bill to reflect the spirit of the Constitution.
Buhari requested that the Nationally Assembly considered immediate amendments that would bring the bill in tune with constitutionality by way of deleting Section 84(12) accordingly.
Meanwhile, the Federal High Court on March 7, stopped Buhari, Attorney General of the Federation and the National Assembly from tampering with the newly amended Electoral Act 2022.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling on an ex parte application by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), agreed that the Electoral Act had become a valid law and could not be tampered with without following due process.
Ekwo held that the proper place to challenge validity of any existing law was in a court of competent jurisdiction.
A member of the House of Reps, Herma Hembe, (APC-Benue), however, reminded the House on the ruling of the court.
Meanwhile, the Senate has insisted that it is going ahead to amend the Electoral Act 2022 as amended despite an interim order restraining the National Assembly from tampering with the Act pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The National Assembly is of the view that the Constitution conferred on it the right to make and amend laws and therefore, court orders cannot prevent it from carrying out this constitutional function.
This is coming as the Senate responded to the ruling of the Federal High Court restraining the National Assembly from amending the new Electoral Act 2022.
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2nd Niger Bridge For Commissioning Oct, 2022, Presidency Affirms …As Project Gulps N400bn – – The Tide