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Sanwo-Olu rides red line from Ikeja to Iju ahead of commissioning

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Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Saturday, took a test run of the Red Line train, inspecting the tracks and the rail corridors for another time ahead of the of next Thursday formal commissioning of Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) infrastructure.

The 37-kilometre rail line, built by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), will be inaugurated by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, along with its stations and other ancillary facilities. The Red Line traverses seven stations from Agbado, a boundary town in Ogun State, to Oyingbo in Lagos Central.

Sanwo-Olu took journalists on a train ride from the Ikeja Mega Station of the Red Line in a last-minute effort to make the infrastructure ready for opening.

Joining the Governor on the ride was the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, and members of the State cabinet.

The Red Line train, which left the garage track for the first time since it was delivered, departed from Ikeja Mega Station at exactly 2:23pm, moving steadily towards Agbado Station.

Six minutes later, the passengers arrived at Agege Station. The journey proceeded to Iju Station, arriving at 2:38pm — 15 minutes after leaving Ikeja.

While on board, Sanwo-Olu and his deputy moved along the coaches in a bid to ascertain the conditions the train’s cars — a set of Talgo wagons built in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the United States.

Some of the comfort facilities inspected by the Governor included the train’s cooling system, handrails, cushioned seats and in-built safety features of the wagons.

After the inspection, Sanwo-Olu said the train line was ready for commissioning, but added that there would be continuous enforcement to clear the train path of unapproved activities.

He said: “We just completed another inspection of the Red Rail Line facility and corridor; now we are back in Ikeja Mega Station. We all have just used the train to Iju and back. I’m sure our media men can fully report what we all witnessed in the course of the short journey. This rail infrastructure is ready for inauguration, but we still have a few cleaning to do.

“The challenge we have is the pedestrian interference on the rail track and unapproved activities seen along the corridor. We will continue with the enforcement we started against illegal use of the rail corridor. We are in talks with NRC (Nigeria Railway Corporation) to reinforce the train route with physical barriers to limit pedestrian interference.”

The Governor urged the State’s residents to adhere to the rules of using the rail line, noting that infrastructure was not built for commercial activities.

The train operation, Sanwo-Olu said, would be regular and trips would be made in every 15 minutes. He said it was necessary to eliminate incidents that could result in fatality along the track.

“We have reduced human interference on the track considerably over the last two months, but enforcement continues. The stations are ready, the trains are ready and I believe Lagosians are ready to welcome this new infrastructure built for their use and benefit,” Sanwo-Olu said.

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Nigerians, economy will be liberated — Tinubu

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…Says no more payments of ransom to kidnappers

…As economic policies beginning to yield positive results

…’We must root out the scourge of kidnapping’

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has declared emphatically that there will be no more payments of ransom to either kidnappers “nor toward those policies which have trapped our people economically,” assuring that Nigerians and their economy will be liberated.

Tinubu stated these far reaching positions in an opinion reacting to the abduction of 276 Chibok school girls in the North east ten years ago by Boko Haram. The title of the write up is: Ten years since Chibok – Nigeria will no longer pay the price.

The President further declared that the scourge of kidnappings must be routed once and for all.

“As president, I have been clear that ransoms stop. Resolution through payment only perpetuates the wider problem. This extortion racket must be squeezed out of existence. Meanwhile, the costs for perpetrators must be raised: They will receive not a dime, and instead security services’ counter action.”

According to Tinubu when in March, 137 school children were again tragically taken from a school in Kaduna, northwestern Nigeria, ten years after Chibok the shadow of Chibok loomed large again, because everybody wondered why such an atrocity should still happen.

“This time, unlike Chibok, the girls and boys were brought back a fortnight later, the security and intelligence agencies deployed immediately to rescue them. Nevertheless, legitimate concerns over kidnappings persist in Africa’s most populous country. Success in Kaduna has brought families relief and praise for the military, yet the government bears no illusions.”

According to him, Boko Haram or any other criminal gang engaged in kidnapping don’t operate on the basis of any ideology, instead kidnapping has become an illegal industry rewarded with ransoms where perpetrators collect huge ransoms to further perpetuate their evil, adding that within days of the Kaduna attack for instance, the abductors were demanding 1 billion naira ($600,000).

“But compressing the kidnap for ransom market only addresses the pull factors. If we are to avoid funneling the same people into other crimes that cause normal Nigerians to feel insecure, we must address the push factors.”

The President identified the pull factors which must be addressed to discourage the continuation of the criminal elements as poverty, inequality, and a paucity of opportunity, because without addressing the issues criminal gangs can find easy recruits among those without either a job, or the prospect of one.

“Some 63 percent of Nigerians are multidimensionally poor. They are bearing the economic consequences of a failure by successive governments to get to grips with the Nigerian economy. Fiscal and monetary albatrosses have grounded the country’s flight, when surging demographics demand high economic growth to just maintain current standards of living,” Tinubu said.

He disclosed that it is in response to creating a conducive environment to stimulate economic growth for a surging population and check pervading poverty that his administration took some drastic steps by way of economic policies whose initial impact seem to have worsened the economic plight of citizens but now gradually yielding positive effect.

Just like with the kidnapping matter he also had to take some tough policy decisions on the economy as well to arrest the economic rot that lies at the heart of insecurity.

“A decades-old fuel subsidy was exhausting paltry public finances. By 2022, the cost had ballooned to $10 billion — more than the government’s combined spending on education, health care, and infrastructure in a budget of $40 billion. Currency controls that artificially propped up the naira deterred investment and led to shortages of foreign exchange. For decades we have been financially ransoming ourselves. When my government took office last May, we faced a pile of debt obligations.

“Just as with kidnappers, we had to be tough with the economy. Unsustainable market distortions had to be removed. As expected, floating the naira caused it to plunge. Given Nigeria is a net food importer, the average shopping basket has consequently risen in price. The removal of the fuel subsidy, in a country where many businesses and households rely on generators for power, has also had far reaching effects.

“These reforms have caused pain across Nigeria; they are still painful. Yet there is no better alternative: These and other difficult reforms are necessary to arrest the economic rot that lies at the heart of insecurity.

“Green shoots are now visible. In the first quarter of this year, foreign currency inflows have almost matched those for the whole of last year. A multi-billion forex backlog at the central bank has been cleared, giving foreign investors’ confidence to invest in Africa’s largest economy, safe in the knowledge they can repatriate earnings. The naira has begun to stabilise after its initial downward trend and has made huge gains against the dollar.

“Talk of macroeconomics might seem remote from the challenge of insecurity. But without the fundamentals in place, it is impossible for an enabling environment where the private sector thrives, jobs are created, and opportunity is spread across the country. It is how we ensure children can go to school without fear,” the President said.

Reiterating that no more ransom payments and no going back on major economic policies taken so far that have already started impacting positively on the economy.

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StanbicIBTC declares N2.20 dividend to shareholders

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StanbicIBTC Nigeria has declared to pay its shareholders a final dividend of N2.20 per ordinary share of 50k each, totaling N28.51 billion for the period ended Dec. 31, 2023.
Mr Chidi Okezie, Company Secretary, StanbicIBTC, announced this in a disclosure sent to the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. (NGX) on Thursday in Lagos.
Okezie said that the proposed dividend, to be paid in April 19, is subject to deduction of appropriate withholding tax and approval.
He said that shareholders whose names appear in the register
of members as at the close of business on April 19 would be paid their dividend.
According to him, this is in addition to the interim dividend of N1.50 paid in September 2023, thus bringing the 2023 total dividend to N3.70.
Okezie said, “The register of shareholders will be closed from April 22 to April 26.
“On May 17, dividends will be paid electronically to shareholders whose names appear on the register of members as at close of business.
“On April 19, shareholders who have completed the e-dividend registration and mandated the Registrar to pay their dividends directly into their bank accounts would be paid.
“E-dividend registration shareholders who are yet to complete the e-dividend registration are advised to download the Registrar’s E-dividend Mandate Activation Form.
“Shareholders with dividend warrants and share certificates that have remained unclaimed or are yet to be presented for payment or returned for validation are advised to complete the e-dividend registration or contact the Registrars,”Olezie said.
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NERC increases electric tariff

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By Matthew Denis

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has granted permission for electricity tariff hike for customers categorized under Band A classification.

During a press briefing in Abuja on Wednesday Musliu Oseni, NERC’s Vice Chairman, announced that customers will now pay N225 per kilowatt-hour, up from the current rate of N66.

According to Oseni, customers represents 15 percent of the 12 million electricity customers in the country.

He explained that the commission had also downgraded some customers on the Band A to Band B due to non-fulfilment of the required hours of electricity provided by the electricity distribution company.

“We currently have 800 feeders that are categorised as Band A, but it will now be reduced to under 500. This means that 17 percent now qualify as Band A feeders. These feeders only service 15 percent of total electricity customers connected to the feeders.”

According to him the commission has issued an order which is titled April supplementary order and the commission allows a 235 kilowatt per hour.”

He added that the review will not affect customers on the other Bands.

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