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We signed MOU for preliminary processes for Railway Network – NDDC



The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has clarified that the recent agreement signed on Niger Delta  Railway project at the PPP Summit was a basic MOU to commence the preliminary processes of feasibility and viability of the rail project.

Director, Corporate AffairsIbitoye Abosede (PhD) said the zz appreciates the need to be seen to be accountable and transparent as it collaborates with its stakeholders in the arduous task of developing the Niger Delta region.

According to him ,”All we signed at the PPP Summit was a basic MOU to commence the preliminary processes of feasibility and viability of the rail project. It did not include any agreement on details”,he explained.

Dr Ibitoye said it is only after the preliminary studies, that the finance appraisals will be done and then the civil engineering procurements and the locomotive hardware will be considered.

He disclosed that at the Public Private Partnerships, PPP, Summit organised by NDDC  in Lagos on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, the Management signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, with a United States-based firm, Atlanta Global Resources Inc., AGRI to build a railway network that will connect the nine states of the Niger Delta region.

“This foundational process may have been misconstrued by some persons to mean that the NDDC has signed the Engineering, Procurement and Construction, EPC, contract.

We have been inundated with enquiries over what is ordinarily one of the preliminary steps necessary for the actualization of a partnership arrangement with the private sector”.

For those who may not know, he said  the Atlanta Global Resources Inc deals with financing for Industrial products, infrastructure projects, agriculture equipment, capital equipment financing etc. They came recommended by a reliable US financial institution, especially for the deployment of US-produced locomotives.

He said the  NDDC is aware that a partnership agreement of a massive project such as a railway network involves many international and national financial protocols. It has many ramifications at the highest level of government. It is also not unaware of the Federal Government contract of 2021 for rail line construction, however the proposed network covered by the MOU is on a different alignment.

“Obviously, many things will be involved and it comes in the mold of the NLNG train 7. Again, the ICRC and the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, as well as the Ministry of Transport will be part of the negotiations. In addition, EPC contractors and hundreds of other international consultants will be involved.

“We are also aware that there must be sovereign guarantees which can only be granted by the Federal Government, after which it will seek the approval of the National Assembly.

‘What we signed on April 25 is simply the opening phase that will determine how far we will go, but it definitely showcases how interested the international partners are in tapping into the Niger Delta region. They are swarming in droves. This indicates that we are looking at a bright and prosperous Niger Delta from the prism of the PPP,” he asserted.

“We expect that there will be challenges, especially at this initial stage, but that will not discourage us in any way. Understandably, going public to celebrate our little success is attracting bigger investors and interests. Out of ten, one or two might be successful to the benefit of the region,” he e added

He said the prospects of realizing the rail network are very good and we are confident that we will succeed ultimately.

The current Board and Management of the NDDC have resolved to do things differently so as to effectively drive sustainable development in the Niger Delta region. To give effect to this, we decided to use the PPP model to provide alternative sources of funding for key development projects and programmes.

We urge our stakeholders to give us the necessary support to ensure that we all succeed in this venture.

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FG breaks new ground, begins implementation of Expatriates Employment Levy on March 15, promises economic boost



Nigeria is set to begin implementation of the Expatriates Employment Levy, a move expected to not only generate revenue but also promote local employment opportunities and skill development.

The levy, scheduled to commence on Friday, March 15th, 2024, comes as part of the government’s effort to bolster the nation’s economy and empower its workforce.

President Bola Tinubu last Tuesday launched the EEL handbook in the Council Chamber of the State House in Abuja at a well-attended event that was graced by the Minister of Interior, Hon Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior, Senator Adams Oshiomhole, among other dignitaries.

Initiated by the Federal Government before involving technical partners, the government now mandates companies employing expatriates in Nigeria to pay a levy per expatriate employee per annum.

This levy aims to encourage local hiring practices and investment in domestic talent while also fostering skill transfer from expatriates to Nigerian employees.

The Ministry of Interior will oversee the initiative through its implementing agency-Nigeria Immigration Service [NIS].

In addition to the economic benefits, the levy is anticipated to address concerns surrounding the over-reliance on foreign expertise in various sectors.

By incentivizing the employment of local talent, the government aims to create a more sustainable and inclusive economy, reducing dependency on external sources for specialized skills.

The implementation of the Expatriates Employment Levy aligns with Nigeria’s broader economic agenda, which prioritizes indigenous capacity building and job creation.

It reflects a strategic shift towards fostering a conducive environment for local businesses to thrive and contribute to national development.

Furthermore, the levy is expected to provide a significant boost to government revenue streams, which can be allocated towards critical sectors such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure development.

This injection of funds has the potential to drive socio-economic progress and enhance the quality of life for Nigerians across the country.

Companies operating in Nigeria are urged to ensure compliance with the Expatriates Employment Levy requirements.

The deadline for compliance is set for Monday, April 15th, 2024.

Failure to adhere to the levy regulations may result in penalties or legal repercussions, emphasizing the importance of timely and accurate compliance.

As Nigeria prepares to implement the Expatriates Employment Levy, stakeholders across various sectors express optimism about its potential to catalyze positive change in the nation’s economy.

With a focus on promoting local talent and fostering sustainable growth, the levy represents a significant step towards achieving long-term prosperity and self-reliance for Nigeria and its citizens.

In recent years, Nigeria has witnessed a growing influx of expatriates into its workforce, driven by globalization, foreign investment, and specialized skills requirements.

To regulate this trend and ensure equitable opportunities for its citizens, the Nigerian government has decided to fully implement the EEL.

The EEL serves as a mechanism to encourage the recruitment and development of local talent.

By imposing levies on companies employing expatriates, it incentivizes organizations to prioritize the training and employment of Nigerian citizens.

This emphasis on local workforce development not only reduces dependency on foreign labour but also contributes to skill enhancement, job creation, and empowerment within the Nigerian community.

Revenue generated through the EEL will bolster the government’s financial capacity to invest in critical sectors such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, and social welfare programmes.

These investments will stimulate economic growth, enhance productivity, and create a conducive environment for sustainable development.

Additionally, by channeling funds into local initiatives, the EEL fosters entrepreneurship, innovation, and small business development, thereby nurturing a robust and diversified economy.

The presence of expatriates in key sectors facilitates the transfer of specialized skills, knowledge, and best practices to the local workforce.

Through mentorship, training programmes, and collaborative projects, Nigerian professionals have the opportunity to gain invaluable insights and expertise, which can enhance their competencies and competitiveness in the global marketplace.

This knowledge exchange not only enriches the skill pool within the country but also contributes to the overall development of human capital.

With this influx even low-skill jobs are being denied to Nigerian citizens, including chefs, restaurant, floor managers, supermarket shop floor salesmen, basic sales functions, bricklaying, roadworks, etc

The EEL serves as a regulatory mechanism to oversee the influx of expatriates and ensure compliance with labour laws and immigration policies.

By requiring companies to obtain permits and pay levies for employing foreign nationals, the government can monitor the quality and quantity of expatriate workers entering the country.

This oversight helps prevent abuse, exploitation, and unfair competition in the labour market, while also safeguarding the rights and interests of Nigerian workers.

In sectors such as oil and gas, construction, and telecommunications, where foreign expertise is often required, the EEL encourages companies to prioritize the utilization of local goods, services, and resources through the implementation of local content policies.

By promoting the participation of Nigerian businesses and professionals in major projects and contracts, the EEL fosters economic inclusion, industrialization, and value addition within strategic sectors, thereby reducing dependency on imports and foreign expertise.

The Expatriates Employment Levy in Nigeria is not merely a fiscal measure but a strategic tool for promoting national development, empowering the local workforce, and fostering economic self-reliance.

By prioritizing the recruitment, training, and retention of Nigerian talent, while facilitating skill transfer, knowledge exchange, and regulatory oversight, the EEL contributes to the creation of a more inclusive, competitive, and resilient economy.

As Nigeria continues to navigate the complexities of globalization and economic transformation, the EEL remains a vital instrument for shaping a prosperous and sustainable future for all its citizens.

Recall that at the launch of the EEL handbook in Abuja, President Tinubu had said that
“I’ve been further assured that the project has the capacity of plugging loopholes and gaps that have bedevilled the country in dealing with security challenges, movement of foreigners in and out of the country.

“Interestingly, this scheme will wield the dual fold of revenue generation as well as addressing employment challenges as salary gaps attendant in the remuneration of expatriate workers as compared with their Nigerian counterparts.:

The President, who lauded the Minister of Interior, Hon Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, for the various progressive innovations he had introduced into the job, earning the government accolades from home and abroad, described the EEL scheme as another game changer.

He expressed excitement over the various positive advantages of the scheme, including better employment opportunities for Nigerians with foreign companies and bridging of the wage gap between Nigerian employees and expatriates in foreign companies operation in Nigeria.

President Tinubu however warned that the operators of the scheme should be careful not to turn it into another bureaucratic bottleneck, which is capable of frustrating potential investors.

“I declare my support for the Expatriate Employment Levy scheme and I will continue to encourage the operators, practitioners of immigration matters and expatriate quotas, but don’t use it as a bottleneck, don’t use it to frustrate potential investors.

“There will be clear lines of implementation and effective acceleration of aims and objectives of this programme. Immigration matters and expatriate quotas, and relevant stakeholders, have to be effectively guided to make Nigeria the focus of the objective of this EEL. Therefore, it is my honour that the handbook of the Expatriate Employment Levy is hereby launched”, he said.

Earlier in his remarks, Minister of Interior, Tunji-Ojo, highlighted some of the features in the EEL scheme, built in to create employment opportunities and competitive advantages for Nigerian workers working in foreign companies in the country.

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Abiodun to receive Silverbird Man of the Year award on Sunday



Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, will on Sunday, 3 March, receive the 2023 Silverbird ‘Man of the Year’ award.

Prince Abiodun emerged the 2023 Silverbird Man of the Year award, beating four other nominees after a rigorous voting process.

A statement signed by Jacob Akinyemi-Johnson, Chief Creative Officer/Chairman Editorial Board of Silverbird Group, said Governor Abiodun won over 70 percent of the votes sent in by Nigerians.

He said: “We are once again congratulating you on your emergence as the Silverbird Man of the Year, 2023.

“We make bold to inform you that you secured over 70% of the votes sent in by the Nigerian people due to the fantastic job you are doing as the Governor of the Gateway State.

“As we earlier informed you in our congratulatory letter, the grand event for the official presentation of the awards comes up on March 3rd, 2024 at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos State at 6 pm.”

In an earlier letter in December 2023, the management of Silverbird said Prince Abiodun was nominated as one of the four to jostle for the award because he has contributed immensely to the advancement of the Nigerian society through his many laudable projects since he assumed office.

“We feel deeply honoured to write and felicitate with you for being nominated by the Editorial Board of the Silverbird Group owners of Silverbird Television and the Rhythm FM Network as one of the four distinguished individuals for the prestigious ‘2023 SILVERBIRD MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD’

“You were nominated because of the immense contributions you have made towards the advancement of the Nigerian society through laudable projects and schemes that you have embarked on and have subsequently impacted positively on the lives of Nigerians.

“Your exemplary disposition has also not gone unnoticed. The winner will be chosen by Nigerians who will vote by sms, WhatsApp, and online.

“The winner will be announced on the 1st of January 2024,” the letter had said.

It would be recalled that Prince Abiodun, on February 17, received the year 2023 Sun Newspapers ‘Governor of the Year’ award in Lagos.

He has also won the Forbes Best of Africa award in industrial revolution in 2023. He won the LEADERSHIP Governor of the Year Award 2022.

The governor was also conferred with the Vanguard’s Governor of the Year Award 2021, along with four others.

He won Governor of the Year Award at the Nigerian Agricultural Awards 2020.

He has also been honoured by the Federal Government with the Industrial Revolution Award, amongst others.

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GECF: Member countries should commit to sharing knowledge, technology – Ekpo



Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Gas), Rt. Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo has urged member countries of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) to commit to sharing knowledge, technology and best practices to accelerate the unlocking of new applications for natural gas in a manner that boosts economic growth without degrading the environment.

This is as the minister has lauded the inauguration of the GECF Gas Research Institute Headquarters in Algeria saying it would go a long way in the provision of the requisite funds for upstream and midstream gas development:

The minister stated this on Friday in an address at the Extraordinary Ministerial Meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Algiers, Algeria, where he proposed measures that could be adopted by member countries in achieving a green economy.

Ekpo said Nigeria, with one of the largest gas reserves in the world, has been at the forefront of harnessing this resource not just for national development, but also as a key contributor to the global energy mix.

He however informed the audience of Nigeria’s commitment to the exploitation of its natural gas resources in a manner that is both beneficial to its people and conducive to global efforts to create a more sustainable and cleaner energy landscape.

According to Ekpo, the path to achieving a green economy with natural gas was fraught with lots of challenges and for which GECF must be ready to confront.

He said: “Market volatility, geopolitical tensions, and the global imperative to decarbonize energy production and consumption necessitate not just national, but international solidarity and strategic collaboration among gas-exporting countries.”

To this end, Ekpo proposed the following for the consideration of member countries:strengthening collaboration among GECF members: innovation and technology sharing as well as engagement and advocacy.

“The future of gas lies in our ability to innovate. By embracing technology, we can reduce emissions, enhance efficiency, and unlock new applications for natural gas in the green economy. I urge all GECF members to commit to sharing knowledge, technology, and best practices to accelerate our progress towards these objectives,” Ekpo said.

“Let us reaffirm our commitment to not just our national interests, but to the collective well-being of our global community. The path ahead is complex, but through collaboration, innovation, and shared vision, we can navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities that lie before us,” he added.

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