Mr Audu Gaddo, Spokesman of the Association of Private Transport Companies of Nigeria (APTCON), has alleged an evil plot to frustrate road transport operators out of the proposed stimulus plan being contemplated by the Nigerian government.
Speaking Saturday at an interview granted select newsmen, Gaddo described as evil and conspiratorial a situation where senior government officials appear to be deliberately pursuing the interest of only one arm of the transport sector as the country groans under the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gaddo spoke against the backdrop of reports quoting Nigeria’s Finance Ministry as saying that the Buhari-led administration had concluded plans to effect a special stimulus package for the aviation industry.
Addressing a web conference on last Monday, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, had reportedly betrayed government intentions.
“Like you know, a lot of planes are parked and this is causing almost N21 billion (loss) on a monthly basis. We are looking at how to provide some form of bailout support to ensure that the industry doesn’t die,” he is quoted to have said.
But reacting Saturday, Gaddo said, among others, that the Minister’s utterance showed a very poor understanding of the economy and portends great danger for the country.
“We have noted with total displeasure government’s dangerous plans to surreptitiously bail out the aviation sector without any consideration for the road transport sector that contributes more to the GDP and employs a greater number of Nigerians.
“The thought is devious to say the least. Our sector is the one experiencing the worst distress with losses estimated at over N50 billion monthly. Indeed, our members are gearing up for some of the worst job losses Nigeria’s economy will ever know,” he said.
Gaddo added, “With APTCON members remaining law-abiding as the nation-wide lockdown lasts, revenue projections have fallen to zero while some unstructured operators are daily bribing their way through government barricades to sabotage the COVID-19 protocols.
“It is unacceptable that the government is sidelining road transporters while contemplating pouring more money into a sector that only a few years ago received over N150billion in government support, and squandered same with most of the airlines now in AMCON’s receivership.
“Indeed, if there are no plans to strangulate APTCON members, and other organised road transporters, why has the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, stayed suspiciously quiet while his colleague in the aviation ministry, Hadi Sirika, has been everywhere pursuing the interest of its stakeholders and even re-echoing the arguments of Prince Clem Agba.”
Accusing the Budget and Planning Minister of mischief, Gaddo wondered how a sector that guarantees the mobility of more than 95% of Nigerian masses, and noted for its contributions to the country’s tax net, could be so shabbily regarded or treated.
APTCON had, last week, described government’s plan to treat the aviation sector with favouritism as a total misplacement of priority. It also lamented the exclusion of road transporters from the various committees being set up to contain the global pandemic and safely return the economy on the path of growth.
While hoping that Agba was not speaking for the Finance Minster, Zainab Ahmed, it, once again, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the right thing was done as the nation perfects plans to implement a N2 trillion stimulus plan.
Aregbesola Insists On Digitalisation Of Security Agencies
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola said for the country to get things right with the security challenges in Nigeria, digitalization of intelligence gathering and monitoring is the best approach.
He emphasized that the world had gone past the manual process of operation as it is still being done in Nigeria presently.
Responding at the IT Audit Presentation on the Ministry of Interior and its Agencies to the Minister by Mr. Folusho Philips, Chairman of Philips Consult, Aregbesola pledged that he would make sure his Ministry put the necessary efforts and tools in place to ensure maximum capacity building for digitalization in the Ministry and the agencies under his watch.
He said “What distinguished the individual is how he can challenge and overcome situations”. He advised that Nigerian leaders should put in all their best to overcome the security challenges facing the country to distinguish the country to meet world digital standard.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Shuaib Belgore, mentioned that significant efforts have already commenced to fully digitalize operations in the Ministry.
He stated that the Electronic Data Management System which would ensure digitalization of file records and implementation of the Human Resource Module of the IPPIS are set to take off in the Ministry. He however emphasized the need for more funding to be appropriated to further strengthen the Ministry’s Information Technology backbone.
The presentation identified that the Ministry and its agencies are yet to update in the digital world’s standard and needed to braze up to the world acceptable practices in the quest to curb insecurity and bring peace to the Nation.
The Directors commended the Minister’s initiative and efforts to see that insecurity is a thing of the past in Nigeria.
Present during the presentation are the Permanent Secretary, Directors in the Ministry, representatives of the agencies and the delegation of Philips Consultant.
”Its Not Our Building” Senators Reject Ownership Of Leaky National Assembly Building
Senate President Ahmad Lawan has urged Nigerians to stop bashing the National Assembly management for the parliament’s leaky roof, even as it is being maintained that the building housing the National Assembly belong to the FCTA.
During Tuesday’s downpour, the roof of the White House, where the two chambers of the National Assembly are started leaking, resulting to the lobby being taken over by flood.
Many Nigerians and civic groups described the incident as a national embarrassment.
Reacting to the media reports on the incident, the Deputy Whip of the Senate, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, raised a point of order, saying the reports breached the privilege of the lawmakers.
He clarified that the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) was in charge of the maintenance of the complex and not the lawmakers against the belief of many Nigerians.
Abdullahi noted that the N37 billion earmarked for the renovation of the National Assembly complex in the 2020 budget was slashed to N9 billion in the revised one.
He said up till now, nothing has been done.
The Senate President said the roof leakage confirmed the position of the lawmakers that the building was due for renovation.
Lawan said: “The fact that there was a leakage to me is a clear testimony, confirmation and vindication of the position the national assembly took initially.
“Everyone knows that this place is overdue for rehabilitation. We went to see Mr President and he was gracious and he asked us to meet with FCTA, the owners of the building.
“Myself, the speaker, late chief of staff and minister of finance met to look for money for the rehabilitation of the national assembly.
“When the N37 billion was approved, it was not a National Assembly budget, it was an FCDA budget.
“If this place leaks, we are not holding our democracy with the respect it has. We expect the press to inform the people responsibly.
“This house is the house of Nigerians. It belongs to Nigerians and it deserves to be rehabilitated.”
Guest Flees As Hotel Uncovers Murdered Female Companion
The Kwara State Police Command has begun searching for a man who allegedly killed a lady in a hotel in Ilorin, the state capital, about three weeks ago.
The suspect, whom the police identified as Adegboye James of Okelowo Street, Ede, Osun State, was alleged to have murdered the lady whom he brought to the hotel on Adewole Housing Estate, Ilorin, on May 27, 2021.
The police, in a statement signed by the command’s Public Relations Officer, Ajayi Okasanmi, said the address given by the suspect was fake and could not be traced.
He called on members of the public whose daughter or female relation was missing since May 28, 2021, to check the Homicide Section of the State Criminal Investigation Department for possible identification of the corpse.
The statement read, “On May 28, 2021, around 7.30pm, we responded to a call from one Olalekan Anafi, the supervisor of Premium Diamond Hotel, in the Adewole area of Ilorin that on May 27, 2021, around 2pm, one Adegboye James, lodged at their hotel.
“The said Adegboye James went out and came back with a lady. The said Adegboye James later checked out of the hotel without the knowledge of any of the hotel staff.
“In the morning of the following day when nothing was heard from the room occupied by the said lodger, a spare key was used to open the room and the hotel was confronted by the dead body of the lady.
“Investigation into the incident is already at an advanced stage as ordered by the Commissioner of Police, Kwara State, CP Mohammed Bagega, to arrest the lodger whose name and address as reflected in the hotel’s logbook is fake.”
In another development, the Kwara State command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps said its operatives are searching for a motorist who allegedly cut off the hand of a seven-year-old Alimanjiri student, Usman Abubakar, of Malam Aliu Adamu School, Patigi, in the Patigi Local Government Area of the state.
A statement by the Public Relations Officer of the NSCDC, Babawale Afolabi, said the child was allegedly kidnapped together with his schoolmate by the unknown motorist, who promised to take them to where they would eat on Monday night.
Babawale said the suspect, who is now at large with the boy’s hand, later escaped into the bush.
He said the victim lost much blood and was treated at the Patigi General Hospital.
The PRO said the NSCDC had commenced investigation into the incident.
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