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Federal Road Projects: FEC approves refunds of N148bn to Rivers, Ondo, three others

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the third virtual meeting of the FEC, held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Mohammed said the approval of the refund followed a memo presented by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.

He said: “You will recall that in 2016, 36 states of the federation sent a very huge bill to the federal government, asking for compensation for money that they have expended on federal roads.

“This prompted Mr. President to set up a committee to go and verify the claims of these 36 states, whether indeed these projects were actually constructed, were they completed, in line with the federal government standards.

“At the end of that exercise by an inter-ministerial committee, chaired by the minister of works and housing, but also had Ministers of Education, Transportation, Finance, Minister of State for Works, DG BPP and Permanent Secretary Cabinet Office as members.

“At the end of that exercise, the committee recommended that the federal government should refund N550,364,297.31 billion to 31 of the 36 states, after they were convinced that, yes indeed, the projects were completed and they were federal government roads.

“But the claims of five other states Cross River, Rivers, Ondo, Bayelsa, and Osun failed on the grounds that they did not do proper documentation and the committee felt they needed proper documentation.

“So, the committee went back with new terms of reference to ensure that the claims of the five states were in order, that is why the BPP is on the committee.

“So, at the end of the exercise, the committee now reported that the five states – Cross River with 20 roads and one bridge will get a refund of N18,394,737,608.85, Ondo with six roads to get a refund of N7,822,147,577.08, and Osun with two roads and one bridge to get a refund of N2,468,938,876.78.

“Others are Bayelsa with five roads and one bridge is to get a refund of N38,040,564,783.40 and Rivers with three roads and three flyovers bridges is to get a refund of N78,953,067,518.29.”

Mohammed said the committees confirmed the roads and the bridges, that not only were they completed, they were in substantial-good form, adding that some of the bridges and roads were built about 10 years ago.

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He, however, disclosed that “there is a caveat, as the federal government will pay the states but however, henceforth, if any state takes on federal government road, it will not be paid, they will not get any refund.

“Even if you want to pay from your own pocket, you will still need the permission of the federal government and it will be supervised by the federal ministry of works and housing.”

According to him, the modalities of refund are being worked out and payment will be made over a period of time.

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Mohammed said 31 states were earlier paid the sum of over N550 billion as a refund for the reconstruction of federal roads in their respective states.

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Alumni association set to redevelop Unilag Cricket Pitch for N75m

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Mr Kwesi Sagoe, a former President, Nigerian Cricket Federation, says the construction of a cricket pitch of international standards in the University of Lagos will further project the institution as one of Africa’s best.

Sagoe, also a former Chairman, African Cricket Association, made the assertion on Saturday at the Sod Turning ceremony for the redevelopment of the Cricket Pitch of the University of Lagos Sports Centre.

The project is to cost at least N75 million.

The ceremony which was put together by the University of Lagos Cricket Alumni Association was in honour of a retired lecturer in the university, Prof. Adebola Kukoyi, who turned 80, on Thursday.

The Newsmen reports that Kukoyi, a Professor of French, was an active member of the association during his days as a student and as a lecturer in the university.

He retired from the university in 2005.

Sagoe said that beyond honouring Kukoyi on his 80th birthday anniversary, the association felt there was the need to give back to the University of Lagos, which moulded them.

”The whole idea is to give back to cricket and make sure that in Unilag, it remains the sport of first choice and must not disappear from the extracurricular activities of the institution.

”That is very important, and we stand by it.

”The English Football Federation has a high-performance centre at one of the universities in the UK.

”This is the kind of relationship we want the University of Lagos to have with the Nigerian Cricket Federation, whereby this place can be a high-performance centre for Nigerian cricket as a whole,” Sagoe said.

He added that building a befitting cricket facility in honour of Kukoyi would be in appreciation to his immense contributions to the development of the sports in the institution.

”About seven weeks ago, when we put our heads together as a body of cricketers who played under his watch, for the upcoming birthday of Prof. Kukoyi who also imbibed some qualities in us, we felt the need to come up with what we are witnessing today.

”As at today, we have about 102 members, and we are still reaching out to others; the important thing about this is that all the members are happy that we got together to deliberate on how to celebrate Prof. Kukoyi.

”We thought deeply about the cricket facility here, that it will be good to renew it, and therefore we sought the consent of the university authorities to name it in his honour.

“We are very excited by the reception that we got from the vice-chancellor and his management team,” he said.

Mr Uyi Akpata, Vice President, Nigerian Cricket Federation and a member of the alumni association,   said at least N75 million would be needed to put in place a cricket pitch of international standards in the university.

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Akpata, also the Chairman, Edo Cricket Association, added that the institution’s cricket alumni association was looking at positioning the institution as one of the best on the African continent, considering its recent ranking by Forbes as the third productive university in Africa.

”For the pitch which is the main one, it has to be completed within the next two months. We need to take advantage of the rainy season to do it so that planting can be done.

”To do the pitch itself with the underground watering system, irrigation, turf wickets and others, we are looking at a range of between N50 million to N70 million, but it could be less if we would be assisted with equipment by other public-spirited individuals.

”Ultimately, it is a process, and we are targeting to do a formal opening ceremony around November.

”What we are looking at now is beyond this. It is about how we are going to support the university going forward, support female cricketers and attract foreigners here to play cricket,” he said.

In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, reiterated that part of his vision on the assumption of office was to bring in friends and alumni to assist in building the institution.

”Here, we are talking about the project, programme and person.

”In the last one or two weeks, there have been lots of activities; this is one of such activities that our vision has attracted to the university.

”This project, the cricket pitch, will be of international standards, and I can assure you that by next year, we shall begin to see foreigners come into the university to play cricket.

” We thank God for the life of Prof. Kukoyi who had been part of the cricket family since his days as a student and even when he was here as a lecturer and when he retired.

”He contributed to the development of these ‘boys’, and because of this, they want to honour him this way, not to him as an individual, but through him to the institution.

“I think I have taken some lessons from this,” Ogundipe said.

Also in his remarks, Kukoyi said he was overwhelmed and humbled by the gesture.

”I am indeed overwhelmed and surprised at this whole idea.

“I know a vice-chancellor is a remarkable person, a man of substance, just like all others who are behind this.

“When they want to do something, they put in all their energy to it.

”With all these efforts, we are going to turn this place to an academy of sports,” he said.

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China rebukes Canada over criticism of Hong Kong security law

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China fired back at Canada on Saturday for criticizing Beijing’s national security law for Hong Kong, the second rebuke in a week that has added to strains on their bilateral ties.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that Canada was suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong due to the law and Canada’s Foreign Minister called the legislation “a significant step back” for liberty.

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China’s embassy in Ottawa said in a statement on its website that Canada had “grossly interfered” in Chinese affairs, adding that the new legislation would safeguard security in Hong Kong.

“Some western countries, including Canada, have been meddling in Hong Kong affairs under the pretext of human rights, which seriously violates international law and basic norms of international relations,’’ a spokesperson said in the statement.

China imposed the legislation this week in spite of protests by Hong Kongers and criticism from Western nations, which said the legislation was setting the financial hub on an authoritarian track.

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Hong Kong officials said on Saturday they were “very disappointed” in Canada’s suspension of the extradition treaty.

Officials in the offices of Canada’s prime minister and deputy prime minister could not immediately be reached for comment.

Relations between Beijing and Ottawa have been tense since 2018 when Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei Technologies Co, on a U.S. warrant.

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After Meng was detained, China arrested Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman on charges of espionage.

China also rebuked Canada a week ago over Ottawa’s criticism about the prosecution of the Canadians.

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Most former militants trained as divers jobless – expert

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Mr. Julius Ugwuala, Diving Inspector-elect, on Saturday said that most of the former militants trained as divers under the Federal Government Amnesty Programme had been jobless.

Ugwuala made the claim on an Instagram live program organized by Mrs. Ezinne Azunnah of the MaritimeTv.

The program had the theme, ”Code of Practice for Driving Operations in Nigeria”.

According to him, the situation is a security risk that needs to be addressed so that the ex-militants do not go back to their bad ways due to idleness.

“The Federal Government under the Amnesty initiative trained former militants, and some of them chose diving as a profession; they are back in the country and are qualified to work.

“Unfortunately, since they returned, they have not had the opportunity to work with the oil and gas sector.

“The security risk with them being jobless is that the training they had in diving will further enhance their former business if they decide to go back to it; so,” he said.

He suggested that the code of practice for diving should be implemented through the inauguration of a diving advisory board.

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He said that the absence of the code of practice had set the ex-militants back.

He urged the proper regulation of diving in Nigeria.

“Divers are not insured because we do not have the regulation that is working; this is part of the issues that the code of practice will address.

“For us to have an effective code of practice, we are looking at the most stringent one, to meet expectations or exceed international standards,” he said.

He suggested that to reduce accidents, no diving contractor should mobilize to the site without clearance from the advisory board, adding that inspectors should be deployed to check equipment to ascertain their suitability for operations.

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The advisory board will enforce the regulation, code of practice, and develop a policy for diving to thrive,” he said.

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