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Road Projects: FG approves tolling of federal highways

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…To refund N9.6bn to Plateau, Borno

In order to ensure adequate maintenance of federal roads in the country,  Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved tolling of highways cancelled by the administration of former President Olusegunn Obasanjo. During the meeting,  a refund of N9.6 billion to Plateau and Borno State Governments was approved as fund spent  for road projects executed by the two states on behalf of the Federal Government.

This is even as FEC approved the procurement process for the take off of a central clearing house for the operations of toll plaza concessionaires, across nine federal highways in the country.

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, made this known when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the Council meeting presided by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa Abuja.

He said, “We presented two policy memoranda. The first was for a refund to two state governments for previous interventions on Federal Government roads, subject to the July 2016 cut-off after which refunds will no longer be eligible.

“The two states which had outstanding with respect to eligible roads are Plateau and Borno.”

The minister, in 2019, announced that the government had concluded designs for the return of toll plazas on federal roads. He had promised that the tolls will not start  until the roads are motorable and this will affect only federal dual carriage roads. The proceeds from the tolls would be used to maintain and construct roads

He said at the time that though the government dismantled toll plazas in the past, there was no law abolishing tolls.

How it works

According to the minister, a Willingness-To-Pay Survey was carried out to arrive at the recommended pricing framework and existing tolled roads were taken into consideration to arrive at the prices.

The Council slso approved the refund of N6, 601,769, 470, 99 in favour of Plateau State and the sum of N3, 084, 797, 113.34 for Borno State.”

The minister further revealed that the council approved a memorandum that informed it about the commencement of a procurement process for a Central Clearing House for the operations of Toll Plaza Concessionaires.

He said this was in line with the current administration’s decision to resuscitate tolling across the country.

“This approval will give room for a private sector operator to build a Central Clearing House at its own expense, operate it, recover and then ultimately transfer back to the government.

“What the Central Clearing House will do is to synchronise interoperability between different toll systems that may be used by different concessionaires when they commence their tolls.

“It will also provide on stop accounting system and a single payment recovery system where everybody is paid at the end of the operations.”

He said it would also provide visibility for government to see what was going on in the operations of each concessionaire.

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Tinubu to receive draft bill proposing regional govt system today

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…Afenifere chieftain unveils proposal for 8-region Nigeria, interim boundaries

…Coalition advocates new constitution in Nigeria’s Governance overhaul blueprint

…Union proposes retaining 36 States as provinces with reduced powers

By Sodiq Adelakun

President Bola Tinubu is set to receive a draft bill today that seeks to reintroduce a regional system of government in Nigeria.

The proposed legislation, titled ‘A Bill for an Act to substitute the annexure to Decree 24 of 1999 with New Governance Model for the Federal Republic of Nigeria,’ was authored by Akin Fapohunda, a chieftain of the Yoruba socio-cultural association, Afenifere.

The bill aims to establish a new governance model for Nigeria, which would involve a return to a regional system of government. If passed, the new laws would be cited as “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria New Governance Model for Nigeria Act 2024.”

Akin Fapohunda, the author of the draft bill proposing a return to a regional government system in Nigeria, has announced that the bill will be transmitted to President Bola Tinubu on Friday.

Recall that this comes despite the House of Representatives’ earlier disownment of the bill, with its spokesman, Akin Rotimi, and the Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Business, stating that it had not been listed for deliberation in the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution.

“I’m submitting my letter (draft bill) today but I will wait for seven days before releasing it to the public,” he said

Also, Akin Fapohunda, representing the Coalition of Indigenous Ethnic Nationalities, has unveiled a proposal to divide the country into eight distinct geo-political regions, complete with interim boundaries.

Speaking to journalists, Fapohunda outlined the envisioned regions, with the southern region encompassing Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, and Cross Rivers States, along with other ethnic communities.

The South Eastern region is slated to include Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States, while the Western region would comprise Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, and Ekiti States, with additional inclusion of Yoruba-speaking populations in neighbouring regions.

The Mid-Western Region would be composed of Edo and Delta States, potentially incorporating the Anioma people, while the Eastern Middle Belt Region would encompass several northern and central states.

The Western Middle Belt Region comprises Southern Kebbi, parts of Kwara and Niger States while the North Eastern Region will be made up of parts of Borno, Gombe, Bauchi, Jigawa, and Yobe States.

The North Western Region, according to the Afenifere chieftain, comprises Kaduna, parts of Kebbi, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara States.

Fapohunda said the coalition envisaged a two-tier government, federal and regions, adding that the latter would be at liberty to manage her affairs, “including the creation of sub-entities, based on the stipulations that are agreed upon and embedded in their respective constitutions.”

In its proposed governance stipulations, CIEN stated that “In the quest for re-configuration and downsizing, an option to consider might be to retain the present boundaries of the 36 States, as would have been adjusted, but to creatively downgrade the paraphernalia of political administration as follows:

“To introduce a new regional government framework with executive and legislative functions and bodies with the headship title of Premier.

“In the new dispensation, the present States (for example the six in the Western region) would be converted to provinces. Governance at this level shall be by Provincial Councils that integrate executive and legislative functions, with Chairman and Support Specialist Administrative Officers. The regions shall be at liberty to create provinces, subject to viability and self-sustainability.

“The present Local Government Areas are to be transformed into divisions, with divisional managers and specialist administrative officers; to operate as socio-economic development institutions. The new provinces shall also be at liberty to create divisions, subject to viability and self-sustainability.”

In the same vein, the Coalition of Indigenous Ethnic Nationalities has put forward a proposal for a new constitution, emphasising regional autonomy and decentralisation of federal power.

Among the key novelties outlined in the proposal is the freedom granted to regions to create, merge, or reconfigure their sub-political units without external interference, fostering a tailored governance approach to suit local circumstances.

The coalition envisions a streamlined public administration, with regions aiming to reduce the cost of civil service to a fraction of generated revenue.

Central to the proposed constitutional framework is the establishment of a unicameral federal legislature, wherein members are elected directly by their respective regions to represent their interests in the national capital, Abuja.

Furthermore, the coalition advocates for a leaner federal government, proposing a maximum of nine ministries and ministers, drawing parallels with the streamlined cabinet of the United States.

The return to a parliamentary mode of government, with built-in statutory rotation of regional leadership, is also highlighted as a crucial element in ensuring equitable representation and governance across the country.

“Regions and sub-regional entities are to be reconfigured such as would reduce the cost of public and civil service administration to less than 20 to 30 percent of generated revenue.

“In drafting their Constitutions, the peoples of the respective regional territories will take a cue and also dismantle any arrangement or configuration that will favour the politicians and the political class; with a focus on freeing resources for true development.

“A uni-camera federal legislature comprising members that are elected at the discretion of the regions for which they would be representatives at Abuja.

“Decentralisation of federal power in favour of not more than 10 regions on which there is a general national consensus, rather than the presently unwieldy number of 36 States. These old States are inconsequential indeed in being a viable unit of a truly federal system of government.”

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Lagos GDP grew by 50% in five years under my administration — Sanwo-Olu

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By Sodiq Adelakun

The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said the Gross Domestic Product of Lagos, in the last five years under his administration, had risen by almost 50 percent, surpassing the size of the GDPs of over 40 African countries.

The responsible factors, the governor said, could be linked to the unending effort by his administration to improve the Ease of Doing Business and the decision to leverage the technology and entrepreneurial abilities of its population for economic activities.

Sanwo-Olu said Lagos had grown from being a state in deficit in the military era to becoming a hub for investment and technological advancements.

The governor stated this while delivering the closing speech at the ongoing 3rd AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF 2024) in Nassau on the theme: “Global Africa, Global Lagos: The Role of Sub-Nationals in Driving the Global African Agenda.”

“Lagos is an example of a unique African success story, shaped by an interesting mix of advantages and challenges. It is the smallest of Nigeria’s 36 States, yet is responsible for more than a third of Nigeria’s entire GDP.

“Lagos has grown to have a GDP that is greater than the GDPs of all but seven African countries. In the last five years, under my leadership, we have seen an almost 50 per cent increase in our GDP,” Sanwo-Olu was quoted as saying in a statement on Thursday by his spokesman, Gboyega Akosile.

“Lagos presents a significant context on how sub-national governments are vital in writing new stories of development and advancing the economic agenda of the continent. I am proud to say that we in Lagos State have indeed mastered the art and science of Public-Private Partnerships. Having pioneered this private sector-led development in Lagos, we are now exporting that template to other States across the country.

“Our growth stories speak to the importance of African solutions and African capacity for tackling African problems. As we work towards accomplishing our aspirations, it is clear that sub-sovereign entities, such as cities, states, provinces, regions, and municipalities, can be instrumental in translating African countries’ high-level goals into tangible outcomes. It is at this sub-national level that a lot of the most remarkable reforms and transformations are playing out,” He reiterated.

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Oyetola projects Ministry to achieve top 3 ranking on PEBEC

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By Seun Ibiyemi

In a pivotal address at the BusinessDay Maritime Conference 2024 held at the Oriental Hotel, Lagos, the Honourable Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, His Excellency, Adegboyega Oyetola, has outlined ambitious plans to elevate Nigeria’s maritime sector to global standards.

Emphasising the sector’s critical role in economic diversification and sustainable development, Minister Oyetola highlighted initiatives aimed at propelling Nigeria into the top ranks of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).

Under his leadership, the Ministry has prioritised strategic reforms to enhance operational efficiency and attract investments. This includes the implementation of the National Single Window initiative and a Port Community System to automate port processes.

These measures are geared towards improving Nigeria’s ease of doing business ranking and fostering a conducive environment for trade and investment.

Speaking on the Ministry’s achievements, Minister Oyetola reported significant progress in revenue generation, driven by innovative strategies to block revenue leakages and explore new sources within the Marine and Blue Economy sector.

He underscored ongoing efforts to upgrade infrastructure, including the development of inland dry ports and modernisation projects at key ports across the country.

Furthermore, the Minister highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in advancing port modernisation, dredging activities, and deploying cutting-edge maritime technologies.

He also announced plans for the development of additional deep-sea ports on a PPP basis, aiming to further bolster Nigeria’s maritime capabilities.

The Honourable Minister also extended his appreciation to BusinessDay Media Limited for hosting the prestigious Maritime Conference 2024.

The conference served as a pivotal platform for stakeholders to deliberate on critical issues affecting the maritime industry, including policy formulation, infrastructure development, and sustainable resource management.

Acknowledging the significant contributions of participants in shaping the discourse on Nigeria’s Marine and Blue Economy, Minister Oyetola underscored the importance of collaborative efforts in achieving excellence within the sector.

He expressed optimism that the insights gained from the conference would drive positive transformations and propel Nigeria towards greater economic prosperity through the harnessing of its vast maritime resources.

The Minister concluded by reaffirming his commitment to developing a dynamic national policy framework for the Marine and Blue Economy by the end of 2024.

He urged all stakeholders to continue working together towards realising the sector’s full potential, ensuring sustainable growth and inclusive development across coastal communities.

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