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Why no state in Nigeria can catch up with Lagos economically

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By Dr Gbenga Adeoye

I read a book in 2022 with a title success is not an accident.

Indeed, the author has a clear understanding of the impact of deliberate decisions.

One of the reasons I like one young man I am providing mentorship for is that his words of prayer reads every time as follows: “God will intentionally bless you sir.”

The word that attracted me most in this prayer is that word “intentionally.”

Lagos is a state that has been so deliberate and intentional in what they do. The development in Lagos is not an accident.

Recently, I got an SMS in Lagos stating that I have been penalized for driving with an expired vehicle license and the vehicle papers were actually renewed that same day after it was brought from a workshop where repairs and upgrades were carried out.

How do they get to know this was the first question I asked. Through traffic camera probably at Ikoyi was the answer from a brother who understands Auto database management.

Of course the only error was that the system has a time lag between the renewal of papers and the database to which camera pictures were synchronised.

They understand that they may not be right at all times and so there is a room for you to contest or object to the bill if you can prove the basis was wrong, and they will delete the fine.

Payment option was also there with the card. I objected because my papers were renewed that same day when the car were brought out of workshop.

What a wonderful state moving towards the US and UK in billing and traffic offence management.

Beyond this experience, there are two major factors and one of the factors had 13 other reasons why no other state in Nigeria can catch up with Lagos State.

Factors:

Lagos as the Capital of Nigeria in the past.Intentional and Deliberate Development Programmes.

Let us discuss the two factors.

The fact that Lagos was a former Capital of Nigeria is an advantage that will continue to work for the state.

That has made it the Commercial Capital of Nigeria to the extent that even when the Capital was moved to Abuja, Lagos remains a centre of Excellence.

Apapa Sea port and the Airport at Ikeja could be regarded as part of key projects that put Lagos at an advantage, which is as a result of being the Capital of Nigeria as at when most of such projects were developed.

Regardless of the Capital Advantage of Lagos, there are deliberate and intentional projects that set Lagos apart.

Since the time of Baba Jakande, Lagos has been so deliberate in their development programmes.

If we take it from 1999, here are the list of deliberate projects whether completed, ongoing or those about to start.

Join me as we take a look at those projects.

 Lekki Free Trade Zone.

Most manufacturing that aimed at solving our import dependence problems are at Lekki Free Trade Zone. No State in Nigeria can stand shoulder to shoulder with Lagos on this.

 Lekki Deep Sea Port.

One major asset that any nation requires for international business is the sea but the sea can only be useful if the port is well-developed.

Newly completed Lekki Deep Sea Port is a Lagos State idea and that is one key project that is unique in Africa.

Dangote Refinery 

If anyone is in doubt about the impact of Dangote Refinery in Nigeria, the person just needs to wait a little and see how Nigeria will stop the importation of finished petroleum products. In addition to that, Fuel Scarcity and  heavy demand for Forex to import fuel will end with Dangote Refinery.

Again, kudos to Lagos. Even though I am jealous of Lagos because I was expecting that project at Olokola in Ogun State but Lagos and Ogun are two states difficult to separate and as such we rejoice with Lagos in South West. It is our collective gain and glory.

Ikoyi Link Bridge & Lekki Epe Expressway.

These two projects are wonderful. Those who link Ikoyi from Admiralty way in Lekki Phase 1 understand better.

The kind of traffic people used to experience before that bridge was hell.

When the road from Victoria Island is fully completed to Epe, then driving around Lagos Island will be as easy as eating Pap and Bean Cake and everyone can testify that these projects are not cheap and in my view Toll fee when compared to the reliefs for Lagosians is not excessive. Nevertheless, today is not a day to discuss desirability or otherwise of a tollgate but one Yoruba proverb says “A good and sweet soup, it is money that cooks it.”

 Lekki Airport.

There is no doubt about the fact that the population of people in Lagos requires more than one Airport.

When the airport at Lekki is fully completed by Lagos State since there is a Federal Government approval to do the same, the economic impact is so huge that it will be difficult to project the positive impact now. No state in Nigeria can match that as well.

The new Blue Rail Line.

Very soon, moving around Lagos will become so easy as most cars will be off the road, once traffic is reduced, productivity will increase.

Rail transportation is one thing that sets London apart from any city in the world.

China is doing all that can be done to have rail lines and stations that beat the Western designs.

The Tax Collection System.

The Lagos Tax System is super. If you pay tax in any bank in Lagos, they will issue you the coloured  receipt instantly.

In some states of Nigeria, you may not get a receipt for one month.

In Lagos, there are some dedicated staff that call taxpayers and they are so pleasant on the phone while reminding tax payers to pay within a particular time. The system is really working in Lagos. Other states should go and learn from Lagos.

The BRT Lanes and Buses.

This is one project that is unique and it will compliment the metro rail. No state can match it.

Lagos Judicial System.

Lagos has Fast Track Courts, Small Claims Courts and a lot of uncommon innovations in the administration of Justice in Lagos State.

God bless Prof. Yemi Osinbajo for his role when he was Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. But in addition, kudos to those who came after him and continue to improve on those foundations. The system is different.

Lagos can also be regarded as the Capital of Commercial Legal Practice.

Most of the law firms that are of international standard are located in Lagos. Even Lagos Campus of Nigerian Law School is said to be the most tedious in Nigeria for students.

I can testify to that having passed through that Campus, but for me, I will say it is positively tedious.

Entertainment and Social Gatherings.

There is no state in Nigeria that has the kind of Social life like Lagos, we call it EKO FOR SHOW, may be because Ijebu and Egba people are plenty in Lagos, because when it comes to social gathering in Nigeria, you cannot beat the Egbas and the Ijebus. Infact, may be Egbas and Ijebus can say in Yoruba that” Awa laleko,” meaning we own Lagos. There is no need to prove this it is just a mere expression of demography or their percentage in Lagos Social gatherings.

Except Abeokuta Club, Lisabi day and some “Regbe regbe” associations and clubs in Ijebu Land with the Ojude Oba day; where in Nigeria can you find the kind of men at Ikoyi Club, Metropolitan Club, Polo Club, Yoruba Tennis Club, Boat Club and so on? No State has such.

Lagos is unique. Everyone wants to be in Lagos.

One interesting thing is that members of these clubs in Lagos are drawn from the entire country and not necessarily Lagosians by birth.

The network of these men and women is beyond normal.

Even young people for their NYSC, want to be in Lagos. Many still want to live in Lagos despite the traffic. There is something so special about that Lagos.

Churches and Church Leaders are more in Lagos.

Even though a lot of people argued that churches should have been factories, but God’s factor in history has been instrumental to the greatness of Israel and some other countries founded on the foundation of righteousness. America started like that till today, you still hear, God bless America.

RCCG model parishes in Lagos are unique places of worship, House on the Rock, Winners Chapel, CMS Church, Ikoyi Baptist, Methodist, Foursquare, MFM, Trinity Church in VI,  Deeper life, Citadel formerly Latter Rain, Apostolic Church, Covenant Christian Centre, Day Star Christian Centre, The Shepherds Flock among many others are wonderful places of worship.

The fact that Pastor Kumuyi and Pastor Adeboye (who are exceptionally holy men of God) are touching the soil of Lagos regularly is like Elisha & Elijah dwelling in a given land.

Ogun State shares in the unique blessings of having RCCG camp, MFM, Canaan Land and Deeper life Camp too but more importantly having the first Church in Nigeria; (The St. Peters Cathedral in our own Ake at Abeokuta) is not in vain.

Back to Lagos, the Church Community in Lagos is beyond human imagination. You need to just worship in these churches, and you will know that Lagos must be blessed.

Eko Atlantic City in VI.

US Embassy has laid the foundation of their embassy which has the office and residence of staff. The project is one unique one that attracted investors from all over the world. No such anywhere in Nigeria.

The giant of it all is the 4th Mainland Bridge which has a 4 year completion time. The kind of business impact along that bridge is beyond explanation and imagination.

The bridge will traverse Abraham Adesanya to Badore and then on the Lagoon to Ikorodu, and it will burst out on Lagos Ibadan Expressway  around Sparklight. This is more than a miracle, because it means that anyone going to Lekki from Abeokuta or Sagamu has no business to drive to Berger and Alapere nor Iyana Oworo, but just join the 4th Mainlamd Bridge from the express.

Channels Television will become CNN indeed, as access to Channels TV from Lekki will be so straight and direct to Isheri. It will also ease their reporting.

The impact on real estate for offices, residential, and cottage industries will be phenomenal.

Congratulations to Lagos State and Congratulations to South West and Nigeria.

If any state wants development, they should attend a School in Lagos to learn strategic development and I have been recommended to Lagos Business School to start an Executive MBA Programme titled :

Lagos Strategic Development Model. (MBA-LSDM)

Jokingly, they should pay me Royalty of 10% on all fees paid by students for this course.

I recommend that all governors in Nigeria should send 5 directors & 5 commissioners from their key ministries as students for this comprehensive course for 90 days. If they pay N20 million per student, it will be worth the benefits and development gains.

Practical nexus between development, increase in IGR and those projects will show clearly why no state in Nigeria can catch up with Lagos.

Some will even say, Lagos can stand as a country, and they may not be wrong.

The Author, Dr. Gbenga Adeoye is a Lawyer and a Chartered Accountant.

He believes that national and economic development is a function of the quality of people in leadership.

He can be reached via e-mail on [email protected]

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Opinion

In the interest of justice

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By Bola Bolawole

One question which has always agitated my mind was answered last Monday, 15th April, 2024  by retired Justice Andrew Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye in a keynote address he delivered at the 2024 Law Week of the Nigerian Bar Association, Warri Branch, whose theme was “Emerging trends in legal practice and administration of justice: Challenges and prospects.” Justice Omolaye-Ajileye’s paper was titled “Tomorrow’s legal profession today: Today’s legal profession tomorrow”

I have always wondered if two sets of referees pursuing the same goal(s) can act in the same manner and still achieve the same result. The first is an official refereeing a football match and the second is a judge adjudicating in a matter between litigants. What is expected of both is impartiality, fairness, thoroughness, and even-handedness so that one side is not given undue advantage and unmerited edge over the other. So that, in the course of maintaining an even keel, the cause of justice can be served.

Now, a football referee that (repeatedly or in strategic moments) makes decisions that favour one team against another is said to have stepped into the field or ring. He is deemed to be biased and the cause of justice cannot in that way be served. But can a judge afford to maintain similar aloofness and neutrality in all instances and still serve the cause of justice?

In my 39 years in the journalism profession, I have seen cases lost not because the litigant did not have a good case but because of poor handling by counsel; sometimes deliberately so contrived for varying reasons. Uncountable number of cases get dismissed or get lost (and won) for lack of diligent prosecution; again, sometimes deliberately and in some others because of incompetence or carelessness of the prosecution or counsel.

In that instance, the innocent may suffer and the cause of justice may not have been served. Should a judge step into the ring in certain situations to avert the miscarriage of justice?  Oftentimes, we hear judges lambast counsel and bemoan the miscarriage of justice for lack of brilliance or diligent prosecution of cases. In that situation, can a judge step into the ring?

There was a time in this country when some of its brightest judges like Kayode Esho, Akinola Aguda, and Chukwudifu Oputa were not only described as philosopher-judges but also were well respected for what some have called their judicial activism. Yes, judges interpret the law but in interpreting laws, cerebral and conscious judges also make laws! Some even make statements.

Judges, when they are in their court, especially when reading their judgments, enjoy immunity, like the members of the Legislature when those ones, too, are in their hallowed chamber. Judges and the lawyers appearing before them are referred to as officers in the temple of justice, meaning that their primary obligation, even when lawyers represent opposing sides or views, is that justice is served, and not miscarried.

As such, even counsel not directly involved in a matter can chip in something as “amicus curiae,” that is, an impartial adviser to a court of law in a particular case or matter. This being so, are there instances that allow or, better still, is it incumbent on the judicial umpire to step into the ring to ensure that justice is not miscarried? Or should he or she simply maintain aloofness and rely only on the evidence brought before him or her to make a ruling?

Nowhere does this intrigue me more than in election matters and other cases that are as controversial or that have attracted a lot of public discourse and controversy. Judges, too, are members of the society. They read newspapers. They listen to the radio. They watch television. They may also be active on social media. They may or may not visit pubs and listen to gossip but they have friends and family members. Therefore, they must be aware, if I may so put it, of the merits and demerits of some of the cases coming before them before the arrival of such cases. Should they discountenance such information and only limit themselves to the evidence presented before them?

Omolaye-Ajileye provided what I consider to be an answer when he said, “I want to comment on a change of culture we can bring about in the way justice is administered. Administration of justice must shift from the orthodox adversarial approach to more collaboration between lawyers, parties and the court with the focus being an earnest effort to isolate the real issues in a dispute from a maze of ill-digested causes of action and defences.

“The judge’s role must be transformed from the traditional umpire role to that of active case manager. By this, I mean we must introduce in our Rule of Court situations where judges must take an active part – together with learned counsel – in identifying at an early stage of the proceedings what is the real dispute between the parties and, working together with the parties, charting a course that will result in the adjudication of the dispute as speedily as possible and at minimum costs. That is now the system of judicial case management that is taking hold in many jurisdictions across the world. We must move with the world in this regard.

“The days of over-pleading, raising as many issues that you can muster in the hope that one might just stick, should be something of the past. Courts should decide only the real disputes between the parties. In that way, the court’s time is saved and judges can dispose of more cases. Litigation should be limited to what is truly in dispute between the parties and not to obfuscate and terrorize the other side”

That is the answer I have been searching for! If the main objective is to serve the cause of justice at minimal costs and in record time, this is the way to go. I have watched such a system in operation in other climes and it is fun to watch, is not elaborate, is not long-drawn, adversarial and costly as the system we operate here.

Besides, the new system advocated by Omolaye-Ajileye will remove tension, enmity and bitterness amongst litigants. Our people have a saying, based on the adversarial system of administration of justice that we operate at the moment, that people who drag each other to court do not return from there to still be friends. We must change that narrative because it poisons the good health of our society.

Justice Omolaye-Ajileye may not have known or meant it; but he, like the Kayode Eshos, Akinola Agudas and Chukwudifu Oputas before him, is also seen by many as a fearless but even-handed judicial activist and icon. The judgments he delivered while on the Bench of the Kogi State judiciary testify to that. When he was retiring on 15 February, 2023, the outcry was much, as leading members of the Bar and others made a case that he be promoted to the higher Bench, which he eminently deserved, so that the Judiciary might still retain his services for an additional five years at the least. His pioneering work on the emerging field of electronic evidence stands him out as a leading authority in that field.

In the paper he delivered at Warri, the retired judge advocated what he described as “paradigm shift” in the practice of law and the administration of justice in the country “in order to secure tomorrow’s legal profession today”. He said: “The advocacy here is that our conservatism should not make us resist change. We live in a changing world. It is a great momentous and exciting time. Change is happening around us in ways that we had not imagined just a few years ago. All aspects of human endeavour are changing. The legal sector – to be precise, the practice of law and the administration of justice – is not spared. We must be amenable to change. As lawyers and judges, we must constantly adapt and innovate or be prepared to be pushed aside and become irrelevant.”

He advocated that lawyers and judges must imbibe technology because “we are in the middle of a technological revolution of a great magnitude, scale, scope, and complexity…To maintain relevance and remain competitive in any industry, profession or endeavour, one needs to understand the impact of emerging technologies on the future. Indeed, we need to go beyond the acquisition of knowledge. We must be prepared to integrate modern innovations strategically in our work to increase efficiency and productivity and improve our paradigms.”

Chief Consultant, Forensic Electronic and Digital Law Consultancy, Omolaye-Ajileye is also a visiting professor at the National Open University of Nigeria. To corroborate what he said, I recall here a personal experience of how technology can make hitherto indispensable hands redundant and surplus to requirement: When I was editor of PUNCH newspapers, the advent of computers displaced compugraphic machines and cut-and-paste artists had to be sent for training to plan pages on computer. Ironically, one of our best cut-and-past artists, much sought-after by everyone, could not cope with the new technology and had to be sent away!

Those who have ears, let them hear what Omolaye-Ajileye is saying to the Bar and Bench!

Bolawole is a former Editor of PUNCH newspapers and public affairs analyst on radio and television.

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Opinion

Ten years since Chibok, Nigeria will no longer pay the price

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By Bola Tinubu, President of Nigeria

Ten years ago today, 276 girls were abducted in the night from their school in Chibok, northeastern Nigeria. The attack by Boko Haram pricked the conscience of the world. From London to Washington, protesters held placards reading #BringBackOurGirls—the hashtag the girls’ families had posted to pressure their idle government into action. It would take almost three weeks for then-Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan even to make a public announcement. Critical time had been lost.

When this March, 137 children were tragically taken from a school in Kaduna, northwestern Nigeria, the shadow of Chibok lay ever present. Why, Nigerians and the world asked, after the passage of a decade was such an atrocity still happening?

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: The scourge of kidnappings must be routed once and for all.

It begins with recognising the changing nature of the threat. Boko Haram translates to “Western Education is Forbidden” and reflects an ideological impetus as jihadi insurgents opposed to the very idea of a Nigerian state. Today, Boko Haram are splintered, and mass abductions are primarily the work of criminal gangs. There is no ideology here: kidnapping has become an illegal industry rewarded with ransoms. Within days of the Kaduna attack, the abductors were demanding 1 billion naira ($600,000).

Nothing was paid. 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.

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: poverty, inequality, and a paucity of opportunity. 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 grip 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.

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 stabilize 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.

For any who may have doubted our direction, it should now be clear. There will be no more ransoms paid—not to kidnappers, nor toward those policies which have trapped our people economically. Nigerians, and their economy, will be liberated.

Bola Tinubu is President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

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Opinion

NIMASA in Blue Economy: Tinubu’s brainchild-ministry promoting Nigeria’s bilateral relations

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By Dr. Jimoh Olorede

Some deliberate initiatives taken by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, upon his election and assumption of office in May 2023, did not only show the President was innovative, decisive and proactive, but also showed he came prepared and ready for a serious business of governance. One of the products of Tinubu’s innovative ingenuity is the creation of the novel Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, which has been applauded by many national and international stakeholders.

This new Ministry, for a reason of its great economic potentials, is now a cynosure and centre of economic attraction to many countries of the world. The creation of the new ministry out of the preexisting Ministry of Transportation, seemed to have broadened and widened our economic perspectives and horizons in relation to increasing Nigeria’s economic growth through the sustainable use and maximization of its maritime vast resources, as against merely generating revenues from marine transport.

Recently, the newly appointed Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dayo Mobereola, received, in Lagos, the Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Juan Ignacio Sell, on an inspection of two additional Bulletproof Security Boats from Spain, purposely built for NIMASA by Aresa, a Spanish company. Sell, as reported by the press, said: “We got the message with the creation of Maritime and Blue Economy Ministry by the Federal Government of Nigeria, and knowing there are lots of things to harness from the sea, we also want to be partners in that process”, adding Spanish government has pledged to support Nigeria through NIMASA on maritime security. Similarly, earlier in November 2023, the Spanish Navy was also in the country for collaboration in personnel training and ship building in a bid to curbing maritime crimes.

The viability, uniqueness, and resource-potentials of the then-old-but-now-new agencies (at least, now being under a new ministry) like NIMASA, the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSP) among others, which hitherto were under the Ministry of Transportation, are now being appreciated for their revenue generation potentials, economic contributions to the growth of the nation and socio-utility, especially as causative of the administrative experience and fiscal expertise of the Minister, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, who is now steadily turning an eyesore of the inherited agencies as evident in the dilapidated infrastructure of the nation’s ports and others, into a cynosure of economic attraction to some countries of the world.

President Tinubu’s commendable innovative initiatives would not only boost the economic stamina of Africa’s most populous country, ensure security in the maritime sector, but also simultaneously increase and strengthen Nigeria’s bilateral ties with other countries. For instance, the President in March 2024 received the Special Envoy of the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, in Abuja, according to a Release by The State House, during which he reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to enhancing maritime security and safety in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Gulf of Guinea is central to maritime activities because is a great inlet of the Atlantic Ocean on the western African coast whose tributaries are the Volta and Niger rivers with offshore oil deposits and metal ore deposits as its natural resources (Britannica), and via which about 80 percent of the trade with Nigeria goes.

Also in February this year, the Nigerian Navy led by the Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Zakariyyah Muhammed met with the U.S. Navy in Naples, Italy, hosted by the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, Admiral Stuart Munsch, with a view to improving regional cooperation, information-sharing practices, and maritime interdiction expertise aimed at countering sea-based illicit activities.

More so, Nigerian and Indian Navies, in October 2023, strengthened bilateral ties between the two countries to ensure maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea aiming at maintaining its sea lanes as a conduit of international trade. The visit led by Indian Defence attache° to Nigeria, Col. Romi Singh Legha was said to have recorded positive results on collaborative training against piracy and other maritime criminalities in the region.

Suffice to add was the arrival in Nigeria of the Chinese team and vessels earlier in July 2023, with the Chinese Ambassador to the country, Mr. Chi Jian Chun saying the visit, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), “was to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries and enhance maritime security within West Africa.” The above narrative shows the rate at which President Tinubu’s ingenious brainchild-ministry is attracting partnership-attention, engendering Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), and promoting bilateral relations with other nations.

Dr. Olorede, Head, Department of Strategic Communication and Media Studies at The Federal Polytechnic Offa, Kwara State, writes via

[email protected]/08111841887.

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