The Federal Government (FG) has disclosed that some sections of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway would be closed for four months for reconstruction by Julius Berger Nigeria Plc. The road has been under construction since the administration of Goodluck Jonathan.
The FG had postponed the reconstruction of the road in the past, but the possibility of another postponement has been ruled out. The closure is expected to begin next month, from August 3 and end in November.
Completion of the reconstruction has continued to drag because of contract issues between President Jonathan’s administration and Bi-Courtney Consortium. Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and RCC Nigeria Ltd were later contracted by the former President. The 127.6 kilometres road is the busiest in Nigeria, with more than 250,000 vehicles plying the road daily.
The problem with the August closure is that many people who have plans to travel for the Sallah holiday and other religious activities through the road may be worried. Also, most of the Churches in Nigeria have their Headquarters or Camps located along the road, and revivals are often held during the closure period. So in order to avert heavy traffic in that route, many have urged the FG to postpone the closure.
Why the closure now? Speaking in an interview, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos State, Mr. Adedamola Kuti, said further delay or postponement would affect the delivery date of 2021.
He also noted that the plan of the government is to end the reconstruction of the partial section before Christmas when traffic is expected to be heavier on the road.
“What we are doing is to finish the project before Christmas when more people will be travelling. We are not closing the road totally. We are providing routes where people will follow and once everyone is patient, everything will go well.”
Also speaking on the reconstruction, Ogun Sector Commander of the FRSC, Clement Oladele, said, “The project is expected to be delivered by 2021 and any further postponement will affect the date.
“Our plan is to make sure we reduce the discomfort that motorists are expected to face. It is a huge challenge to them and to us as enforcement agents as well but we are setting up camp in the area. We are bringing in personnel from other parts of Ogun State and some from Lagos State to help with traffic control.”
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Alternative routes: Motorists have been urged to ply Lagos-Ota-Itori-Abeokuta and Ikorodu-Sagamu roads during the closure period as alternative routes.
It was also revealed that work is on-going under the Ogun River Bridge at the popular Kara Cattle Market in order to provide more alternatives for motorists during the four months period.
Oladele stated that the personnel would be on a 24-hour patrol during the period.
INEC to introduce election results viewing portal
INEC says the policy would be tested at the Nasarawa State Constituency Bye-Election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has announced the introduction of a dedicated public portal called the INEC Result Viewing (IreV), which would enable Nigerians to view real-time results in polling stations.
This was announced Thursday evening in a statement signed by Festus Okoye, INEC’s Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee.
— INEC Nigeria (@inecnigeria) August 6, 2020
“ The Commission is aware that result management has remained a major source of mistrust in our electoral process. INEC is determined to address any source of this concern through enhancing the level of transparency in the conduct of elections,” INEC said.
INEC also said that it is an important principle for votes during elections to be correctly counted. This new initiative is a major step towards achieving that goal. However, INEC said this does not constitute electronic collation of votes just yet. Instead, “the collation of election results shall remain as provided for by law, a manual process of completion.”
IreV would be tested during the Nasarawa State Constituency Bye-Election scheduled for August 8th, INEC said.
Concerned Nigerians are advised to visit inecresults.com, create an account, and fill in their details which will lead them to the portal to oversee the collation of votes.
Chinese Loans: Clauses are international standard terms – Amaechi
The probes into Nigeria’s use of foreign loans could negatively affect how foreign lenders perceive the country.
Nigeria’s Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, said the clauses contained in Nigeria’s Chinese loans for infrastructural development are standard international commitment clauses. In other words, such are regular, applicable clauses whenever a country goes into a trade agreement with another country.
The Minister revealed this while on Channels Television’s evening political talk show, Politics Today.
I have said that these are standard clauses in international commercial agreements. We have been keeping to our repayment plans and we will repay our loans. pic.twitter.com/XGnakdgQsq
— Chibuike.R. Amaechi (@ChibuikeAmaechi) August 5, 2020
Back story: The Nigerian Senate called a hearing last week, asking the Minister to explain the clauses on Chinese-funded infrastructure projects in Nigeria. Instead, the Minister argued that the probe into Nigeria’s use of foreign loans to finance infrastructure projects could negatively affect how foreign lenders perceive the country and also impact further financing for future projects.
Later during his recent Channels TV interview, the Minister said Nigeria is not Madagascar or Sri Lanka and has been keeping up with payment plans for the loan. “ No country has complained about Nigeria’s loan obligations,” Amaechi said.
Although he acknowledged Nigeria has debt over revenue problems, he made it clear that “that does not mean we have at any point in time refused to pay our loans.”
Amaechi then claimed that only a criminally-minded person would have issues with the loan terms. “Only those who don’t want to repay are worried about the clauses. If we repay our loans we won’t get arbitration,” he said.
The Minister also disclosed that the Ministry of Finance has repaid up to $98 million of the loans, adding, “those are standard international commitment clauses” and that no loan can be taken by the government without the approval of the National assembly.
NDDC reveals more lists of contracts awarded to federal legislators
The Commission said it released the list to expose committee chairmen in the National Assembly.
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) said there is another list of emergency contracts that were awarded to National Assembly members in 2017 and 2019. This list was not submitted to National Assembly following the recent probe of the NDDC.
This disclosure was made in a press statement by the NDDC earlier today which was signed by the commission’s Director for Corporate Affairs, Charles Odili. According to the statement, the initial list that was submitted by the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, was actually compiled by the former management of the commission in 2018, not the minister himself.
The statement by the NDDC went further to note that the Interim Management Committee of the Commission stands by the list which came from the files already in the possession of the forensic auditors.
“The Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Commission stands by the list, which came from files already in the possession of the forensic auditors. It is not an Akpabio list but the NDDC’s list. The list is part of the volume of 8,000 documents already handed over to the forensic auditors,” the statement said in parts.
In the meantime, the NDDC has urged prominent indigenes of the Niger Delta, whose names appeared on that list, not to panic, because the NDDC is aware that their names were used to secure contracts. The ongoing forensic audit would help to unearth those behind those contracts, the NDDC said in the statement.
Furthermore, the commission disclosed that it released the list to expose committee chairmen in the National Assembly who used fronts to collect contracts from the NDDC, some of which were never executed. Interestingly, the list did not include the unique case of 250 contracts that were signed for and collected in one day by one person, ostensibly for members of the National Assembly.
While assuring that the forensic audit exercise is on course, the NDDC noted that the commission had positioned 185 media support specialists to identify the sites of every project captured in its books for verification by the forensic auditors.
The NDDC then enjoined members of the public not to be distracted or swayed by a lot of misinformation and falsehood that are being orchestrated by mischief makers, even as more of such will be expected by those opposed to the IMC.
It can be recalled that Akpabio, while appearing before the members of the house of representatives ad-hoc committee probing the N40 billion corruption allegation against the IMC of NDDC, said that most of the contracts that are being awarded at the commission were given to members of the national assembly.
Not that likely, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, asked the minister to provide within 48 hours, the names of the legislators that benefitted from such contracts with full details or face legal action.
Senator Akpabio, in response to the ultimatum, sent an official letter to the Speaker, providing the names of the national assembly members that benefitted from such contracts.