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LASG vows to transform Kantagua ICT market amid contract termination controversy

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By Sodiq Adelakun

The Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on e-GIS and Urban Development, Dr. Olajide Babatunde has reiterated the State Government’s dedication to revamping the Kantagua ICT market into a world-class trading hub.

This commitment was reaffirmed during an inspection of the expansive land designated for relocating the Ikeja Computer Village as part of the state’s urban regeneration initiative.

During the inspection, Dr. Babatunde expressed astonishment at the persistent occupation and unauthorised fee collection amounting to millions of naira from traders and shop owners at the Kantagua market.

He revealed that the contract with the market’s project consultant, Bridgeway Global Project Limited, was terminated over two years ago due to the contractor’s failure to meet agreed-upon terms.

Dr. Babatunde emphasised that it is illegal for him or his representatives to solicit fees or payments under any guise for the market development following the termination of the contract.

He further disclosed that the Urban Development Department within the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, under the leadership of Mrs. Bola Bello, has assumed control of the project until further notice.

Additionally, he directed that all project-related activities must adhere strictly to the guidelines and regulations set forth by the Lagos State Building Control Agency.

Speaking on the fate of subscribers who had paid Bridgeway Global Project Limited for the allocation of shops in the market, Babatunde said, “All of you that had paid any money to the project consultant after his contract was terminated, I can assure that Bridgeway Global Project Limited will be made to refund all fees collected illegally to the subscribers after the conduct of proper identification and verification by the State Government to determine the real occupants and how much they paid.”

“From this moment, nobody should pay any kobo to them again as they no longer represent the State Government on this project.

“Director of Urban Development in the Ministry, Mrs. Bola Bello and her team will be the ones to represent the State Government on this market project till further notice and if you have anything to do on this market project, please liaise with her,” he stated.

Dr. Babatunde also directed that eight staff of Bridgeway Global Project Limited found in the market gate collecting tolls and fees be arrested and prosecuted in a court of law.

Addressing a gathering of subscribers and vendors at the Kantagua ICT market, the General Manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), Arc. Gbolahan Oki, issued a stern warning against environmental violations and the obstruction of roads leading to the market.

Arc. Oki emphasised the importance of adhering to environmental regulations and maintaining clear access routes to ensure the safety and efficiency of operations within the market. Furthermore, he cautioned against making any payments until further notice, stressing the need for clarity and proper procedures in the market’s development process.

In addition to these warnings, Arc. Oki revealed plans to dismantle illegally constructed buildings and structures within certain areas of the market.

Chairman of the State House of Assembly Committee on Physical Planning and Urban Development, Hon. Ogunkelu Sylvester, accompanied by fellow committee members, also addressed the gathering. Their presence followed a directive from the Speaker of the State House of Assembly in response to a petition from the Market Association leaders.

Hon. Sylvester assured the attendees that their findings from the fact-finding mission would be promptly relayed to the Speaker for further action. This collaborative approach underscores the government’s responsiveness to the concerns raised by stakeholders and its commitment to transparent decision-making processes in urban development initiatives across Lagos State.

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Emirate crisis: FG will be held responsible for violence in Kano – Atiku

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Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has said that the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government would be held responsible if violence breaks out in Kano State over the emirate crisis.

Atiku said Tinubu’s government was inviting anarchy to Kano State by providing security for the deposed Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado-Bayero.

On Friday, Governor Abba Yusuf had deposed Bayero while reinstating Lamido Sanusi as the 15th Emir of Kano.

Posting on X, Atiku cautioned the federal government against destabilising Kano State.

According to Atiku: “The action of the Federal Government in deploying soldiers in Kano in the tussle over the throne of the ancient city is an upset to the peace and security of the state, and also in breach of the 1999 Constitution as Amended.

“The foregoing circumstances happened within the confines of the law and in compliance with the powers conferred on the governor as provided by Section 5(2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended; and also in consultation with the kingmakers of Kano, reappointed Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (also known as Muhammadu Sanusi II) as the 16th Emir of Kano State and accordingly handed him a letter of appointment.

“It is surprising that in the early hours of today, exactly at about 5:30 am the former Emir of Kano, His Majesty Aminu Ado Bayero, backed by Federal might made their way into the Nasarawa Palace of the Kano Emirate while the reappointed Emir, Muhammadu Sanusi II was at the Gidan Dabo, which is the main residence of the Emir of Kano.

“In this wise, the former Emir could not have made his way into the Nasarawa Palace without the support of the Federal Government having done so with the support of the army and other security personnel in his company. The deployment of soldiers in extra constitutional matters such as this undermines the integrity of the Nigerian military.

“We need to remind the Tinubu administration that Kano State is known for peace and harmony spanning thousands of years and any attempt to destablise the peace of the Land of Commerce shall be resisted. Recall that Muhammadu Sanusi II was dethroned on 9th March, 2020: dethroned, Kano forged on in peace without any fracas.

“We wish to state unequivocally that if for any reason, law and order breaks down in Kano State, particularly Kano Municipal, the Federal Government should be held responsible as the act of providing security cover to the former Emir, Aminu Ado Bayero to come back to Kano is an invitation to anarchy.”

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Justice’ll prevail – Deposed Kano Emir Bayero breaks silence

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The deposed Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado-Bayero, has said justice will prevail over the issue surrounding the emirates in the state.

Bayero urged relevant authorities to ensure justice because nobody is above the law.

Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State had dethroned Bayero as the 15th Emir of the state.

Speaking on Saturday, the deposed Emir urged residents to maintain law and order. He spoke at the mini-palace where he has since returned to after his dethronement.

According to Ado-Bayero: “I call on the people to remain law-abiding while awaiting the outcome of the legal process in this tussle.

“We call on the authority to do justice in this matter. Kano is a very influential state in Nigeria. Whatever affects Kano affects Nigeria. May peace reign in Kano. We pray for Allah to bless Kano with responsible and just leaders.

“Justice is the way to go on every issue. There will be justice. Nobody is above the law. We will accept whatever the law says. I appreciate all the people who have shown concern. As I said, justice will take its course. We will keep on praying for peace in Kano State. May Allah the Almighty protect us.”

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Nigerian airports most expensive globally – NAHCO

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Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc has set an N100 billion revenue target within the next five years.

The projection was made known by the Group chairman of the company, Dr Seinde Fadeni, at the sideline of its Annual General Meeting held in Lagos on Saturday.

In achieving this, the company noted that it had concluded plans to diversify its investment portfolio to create new jobs and contribute significantly to resolving the country’s foreign exchange crisis.

NAHCO which was established in 1979, provides aviation cargo, aircraft handling, passenger facilitation, crew transportation, refuelling and aviation training services from its base at Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

According to Fadeni, the company is convinced that the food export holds significant potential for foreign exchange earnings because of its impact on the livelihoods and prosperity of Nigerians.

He said though the company is navigating safely around the myriad of challenges confronting the air transport space, he urged the government to look at ways to improve airport infrastructure and reduce the financial burden for airlines and passengers to keep pace with the future growth plan.

He said ” NAHCO believes that the government at the centre should work towards reducing the financial burden for airlines and passengers by reviewing applicable taxes. This way, more payees would be brought into the tax net. Not too long ago, the International Air Transport Association declared that Nigerian airports charge foreign airlines about 27 levies.

“This makes Nigerian airports the most expensive in the world, discouraging airlines from flying into the country. This is not the kind of laurel Nigeria should be proud of. It is a disincentive to investment for both active and prospective investors. The government should address this situation. Government should also heed the industry’s calls for the harmonisation of the regulatory environment, particularly at the ports in a way that aligns with global best practices. The nation’s Ease of Doing Business mantra should be in practice and not in theory only.”

He further said that though multiple cost-related challenges characterised 2023, the increased cost of handling an aircraft cannot be easily passed on to the airline by ground handling companies because any proposed rate hike would require the approval of the industry regulator – Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

He said, “The very act of getting new rates approved has its challenges as well. It is therefore not uncommon to see ticket prices rising geometrically while ground handling rates charged by service providers to airlines remain solidly stagnant.

“Our push towards birthing a global integrated logistic giant is taking good shape with the coming into operations of new subsidiaries.”

Also speaking, its Group Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Indranil Gupta said the company intends to diversify investment into other sectors of the economy to grow.

“We will continue to leverage our strength and market insights to pursue organic and strategic growth initiatives to expand our market presence and revenue streams

“We plan to comprehensively refresh our fleet of ground support equipment to replace ageing equipment and increase the numbers in our fleet to meet the ever-increasing customer needs and expectations.

“We are already embracing digitalisation and innovation, investing in cutting-edge technologies and solutions to enhance our service offerings, operational efficiency and competitiveness. By harnessing the power of data analytics, automation and predictive maintenance, we aim to stay ahead of the industry trends and deliver superior value to our clients ”

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