The Federal Government has announced that they are not in a hurry to resume nationwide train operations which were suspended as part of the measures by the government to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The uncertainty about the resumption of train services by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) can be attributed to the danger posed by the rising cases of the coronavirus disease.
This was disclosed in a tweet post by the Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, through his official Twitter handle on Saturday, June 20, 2020.
The Minister pointed out that all health and safety protocols must apply when train operations start and that no passenger will be allowed to enter any train unless he/she adheres to these rules.
Amaechi in his post stated, “We’re not in a hurry to start train operations because of the danger of COVID-19 spread. When we start, all health and safety protocols must apply. You will not enter a train if you don’t adhere to our rules. The train will not move if passengers do not comply.”
It can be recalled that the NRC suspended passenger train operations nationwide following the ban on interstate travel by the Federal Government on April 28 due to the spread of the coronavirus disease. They said that they cannot restart operations of Mass Transit Train Service (MTTS) until the interstate travel ban is lifted by the Federal Government. Some of the suspended passenger train services include the flagship Abuja-Kaduna train service, Lagos-Kano express train on the old narrow gauge, Lagos–Ogun passenger services, among others.
Meanwhile, ahead of the resumption of passenger train services nationwide, the NRC has started developing protocols and guidelines for safe operations.
In a related development, the Federal Government has received the final batch of the 60 passenger coaches that they had ordered last year, which just arrived in Lagos. This consists of 44 cab cars and 16 trailer cars.
The NRC had also reported that work has resumed for the construction of the 27km Blue Line of Lagos rail that will run from Marina to Okokomaiko. The project is expected to be operational by June 2022 as commuters will be able to move from Marina to Mile 2 by rail.
We're not in a hurry to start train operations because of the danger of covid19 spread. When we start, all health and safety protocols must apply. You will not enter a train if you don't adhere to our rules. The train will not move if passengers do not comply.
— Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (@ChibuikeAmeachi) June 20, 2020
Work has resumed for the construction of the 27km Blue Line of Lagos Rail that will run from Marina to Okokomaiko . By June 2022, commuters will be able to move from Marina to Mile 2 by rail/ Progress has also been made in the Lagos Lagoon bridge.
Better days lies ahead. pic.twitter.com/Y8pQR8K44i
— NIGERIAN RAILWAY CORPORATION (@Official_NRC) June 18, 2020
NCC creates digital economy department to harness technology in Nigeria
The commission announced that its Governing Board had approved the creation of the new department.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has approved the creation of a Digital Economy Department, which will be responsible for promoting the digital economic agenda of the federal government.
Among other things, this department will renew the commission’s strategy for delivering its programmes and policies, and give the necessary push to promote the national digital economy.
In a press release signed by the Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, and published by NCC on Tuesday evening, the commission announced that its Governing Board had approved the creation of the new department which would be structurally under the Office of the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NCC.
According to the Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, the decision to place the newly-created department under the Office of the EVC also underscores the “importance the Commission places on the need to successfully drive the overall national digital economy strategy of the government through ensuring its effective monitoring and supervision.”
All staff members of the Special Duties Department are to move to the newly-created Digital Economy Department. which will be headed by Engr. Babagana Digima, an Assistant Director in the Special Duties Department who will now serve as pioneer Head of the new department.
Danbatta noted that the department would be guided by the eight pillars of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) document, the Broadband Implementation Unit in the Commission.
The eight pillars contained include: Developmental Regulation; Digital Literacy and Skills; Solid Infrastructure; Service Infrastructure; Soft Infrastructure; Digital Services Development and Promotion; Digital Society and Emerging Technologies; and Indigenous Content Development and Adoption.
The NDEPS was unveiled in November 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari as a guide for the national digital economy which will lead to the Economy Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
Update: Buhari suspends EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu from office
The suspension follows the investigation of allegations of gross misconduct against him on Monday.
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the suspension of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, from office. The suspension follows the investigation of allegations of gross misconduct against him on Monday.
According to available information, Magu was suspended to allow for probe into allegations against him.
The EFCC boss appeared before a presidential probe panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami, who is investigating the allegations against him.
The latest development is coming a day after he was invited to face the Rtd Justice Ayo Salami led probe panel, to various allegations that had been levelled against him, which borders on misconduct and financial irregularities.
Meanwhile, the Presidency in reaction to the probe of Magu, declared that it shows that nobody under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is above scrutiny. A monitored report suggests that the investigation of the EFCC boss was to reinforce that this administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability, adding that the holder of such office must be above suspicion.
A monitored report states that the interrogation of Magu is to give him the opportunity to clear himself of the weighty allegations against him.
The Department of State Services (DSS), yesterday stated that contrary to claims in the media that the EFCC boss had been arrested, he was only invited by a presidential panel that was set up to review the activities of the EFCC.
According to the DSS, he was served the invitation to the panel, while on his way to the Force Headquarters, Abuja for a meeting, so he was neither arrested nor forced to honour the invitation.
The acting Chairman of EFCC appeared before the panel probing allegations of gross misconduct against him on Monday, July 6, 2020.
Reps to investigate alleged illegal withdrawal of $1.05 billion from NLNG account
Gbajabiamila mandated the House to conduct a thorough investigation on activities of the dividends account.
The House of Representatives has concluded plans to investigate the alleged illegal withdrawal of $1.05 billion from Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) account by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) without its knowledge and appropriation.
The decision by the lower chamber is on the heels of a unanimous adoption of a motion by the Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, during plenary session on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.
Going down memory lane, Elumelu recalled that the NLNG was incorporated as a limited liability company in 1989 with the aim of producing liquefied natural gas and natural gas liquids for export purposes which began in 1999.
He pointed out that the NLNG is jointly owned by the Federal Government, represented by the NNPC with a shareholding of 49% and Shell Gas with 25.6%, Total LNG Nigeria Ltd with 15% and ENI International with 10.4%.
The Minority leader said, “The dividends from the NLNG are supposed to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Funds Account of the Federal Government and to be shared among the three tiers of government.’’
Going further in his motion, Elumelu said, “The NNPC who represents the government of Nigeria on the board of the NLNG had unilaterally without the required consultations with states and the mandatory appropriation from the National Assembly illegally tampered with the funds at the NLNG dividends account to the tune of 1.05 billion dollars thereby violating the nation’s appropriation law.
“There was no transparency in this extra-budgetary spending as only the Group Managing Director and the corporation’s Chief Financial Officer had the knowledge of how the 1.05 billion dollars was spent.’’
‘’There are no records showing the audit and recovery of accrued funds from the NLNG by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation. Hence the need for a thorough investigation of the activities on the NLNG dividends account.”
In his ruling, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, mandated the House Committee on Public Account to conduct a thorough investigation on activities that had taken place on the dividends account.
Gbajabiamila mandated the committee to invite the management of the NNPC as well as that of the NLNG in the process and report back to the house in four weeks.