Nation

Cambridge to return the legendary Benin Bronze Cockerel Oct 27

esus College, University of Cambridge, England yesterday announced that it would hand over a Benin bronze cockerel, Okukor, to a Nigerian delegation on October 27, in a gesture Nigerian officials said “offered hope for amicable resolutions” of the ongoing disputes over the ownership of its cultural properties.

The Okukor, described by the college as a “royal ancestral heirloom,” was taken from the Benin Kingdom during a punitive expedition in 1897, when thousands of bronzes were looted by British forces.

It will be the first stolen artefact to be returned and this is expected to spark a wave of repatriation ceremonies, as the cultural world continues to reckon with concerns over the ethics of plundered historical artefacts.

Jesus College, the first British institution to return one of the stolen bronzes, in what it described as “a historic moment”, said officials of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments will formally collect the Bronze in its College on October 27.

“Delegates from the Commission and Benin will visit the College for a ceremony to complete the handover process and celebrate the rightful return of the Bronze,” said the college.

Ms Sonita Alleyne, OBE, Master of Jesus College, said: “This is an historic moment. We look forward to welcoming representatives from Nigeria and Benin to the handover ceremony and to celebrating the return of this Bronze.
“This is the right thing to do out of respect for the unique heritage and history of this artefact.

“Since we took the decision to return the Bronze, following the College’s Legacy of Slavery Working Party’s (LSWP) extensive research, many organisations have followed in our footsteps. I would like to thank the LSWP for its diligent and careful investigation into the provenance of the Bronze, to the Fellows for their keen support for its restitution, and to our students who pioneered calls for this.”

In a message to the college, His Royal Majesty, Oba of Benin, Ewuare II expressed his delight at the return of the artefact which he described as important to the religious beliefs of the Benin people.

He said, “We are indeed very pleased and commend Jesus College for taking this lead in making restitution for the plunder that occurred in Benin in 1897.
“We truly hope that others will expedite the return of our artworks which in many cases are of religious importance to us. We wish to thank our President Buhari and our National Commission for Museums and Monuments for their renewed efforts in securing the release of our artefacts on our behalf.

“Finally, we wish to thank the student body of Cambridge University for bringing to light the historical significance of this revered piece of the Royal Court of Benin. It is worthy of note that our father attended Cambridge University but was then Prince Solomon Akenzua. He later ascended the throne of our forefathers as Omo N’Oba Erediauwa, Oba of Benin.”
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and the Director-General, NCMM, Professor Abba Isa Tijani, expressed gratitude to Jesus College for setting the pace in the return of the artefacts.

The minister said: “We thank Jesus College for being a trailblazer and we look forward to a similar return of our artefacts by other institutions that are in possession of them.”
Tijani added: “This return offers new hope for amicable resolution in cultural property ownership disputes. We hope that it will set a precedent for others around the world that are still doubtful of this new evolving approach whereby nations and institutions agree with source nations on return without rancor.

“On our part, the National Commission for Museums and Monuments is receiving this antiquity for the benefit of the Benin people and the people of Nigeria.”
The Okukor was removed from public display at the college following calls from students for it to be sent back in 2016.

In May 2019, Jesus College set up its Legacy of Slavery Working Party – comprising Fellows, staff and student representatives – to explore the historical, legal and moral status of the College’s ownership of the Bronze. They examined evidence showing that the statue was looted directly from the Court of Benin, as part of the punitive British expedition of 1897, and was given to the College in 1905 by the father of a student.

After Jesus College announced its decision to return the bronze in November 2019, a host of regional museums committed to or said they were also considering returning artefacts.

The UK retains hundreds of Benin bronzes – plaques and sculptures – dating to the 13th century, made by artisans from the Edo culture. They were distributed from private collections and in some cases donated by soldiers who took part in the 1897 looting. Historically, much of the focus has been on the British Museum, which holds 900 objects – the largest collection in the world.

The campaign to repatriate Benin bronzes gained momentum when Bernie Grant, one of Britain’s first black MPs, made vigorous appeals in the 1990s for their return. But it has been a contentious debate that has recently become embroiled in culture war clashes.
Earlier this year, the then culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, objected to “the removal of statues or other similar objects” and urged museums to “defend our culture and history from the noisy minority of activists constantly trying to do Britain down.”

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#ENDSARS: Osinbajo, Govs Beg Youths to Halt Commemorative Protests

The federal government and the 36 states have resolved to compensate victims of the #ENDSARS protests that rocked several states in October last year, as well as prosecute all persons indicted by the panels set up to investigate the protests.

They also urged youths planning to commemorate the one year anniversary of the protests with another round of protests, to shelve the idea and seek other lawful alternative to drive home their point.

These were some of the resolutions of the National Economic Council (NEC) yesterday at its monthly virtual meeting, attended by the state governors with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo presiding.

A communiqué issued at the end of the NEC meeting, signed by the Media Assistant to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, stated that upon the receipt of reports from judicial panels, regarding EndSARS protests, set up in 28 States across the country and in the FCT, the NEC resolved that payment of compensation to victims should proceed in each state, in collaboration with the federal government, establishing the modalities for the settlement of all monetary compensations awarded by the panels.

The NEC also unanimously resolved to ensure the prosecution of persons indicted by the panels.
“The Council specifically directed states “to immediately forward copies of final reports of the panels to their Attorneys-General for prompt arraignment and prosecution of all indicted persons.

“Where incidents in the reports relate to matters of discipline, in addition to prosecution, NEC urged the Nigeria Police Force to take disciplinary action on the affected officers in line with the provisions of the Police Act 2020,” states the communiqué.

NEC members also strongly advised those planning protests to mark the anniversary of the ENDSARS riots to reconsider the option in view of “current security situation across the country and the possibility of such protests being hijacked by armed hoodlums and other opportunistic criminals to cause mayhem at such protest events and venues.”

It adds: “Organisers of the planned protests should explore the various channels of communication with government at various levels to advance their positions and avert the breakdown of law and order that may result from such public protests.”

Other issues discussed at the NEC meeting included the presentation of the draft National Development Plan (2021-2025) memo from the federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, which is a successor plan to the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020.
Among other highlights, the presentation and memo were to acquaint Council with the need for linkage between Annual Budget and Plans.

The plan also targets an average of 5% GDP growth, the creation of 21 million jobs, and lifting 35 million people out of poverty within the duration of the Plan.

NEC also received a presentation from the Governor of Kebbi State on behalf of the Grazing Reserve Audit Committee: “The summary of the presentation was to brief NEC on the essence of the audit which is to document available land in order to aid the implementation of the 10-year National Livestock Transformation Plan approved by NEC in 2019. The presentation clarified that the audit committee is not mandated to recover grazing reserves.”

On COVID-19, NEC received a progress report from the Chairman of the Committee and Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, who informed the Council that the Federal Ministry of Health was establishing oxygen plants across the 36 States in the country, but currently, six states had been provided with oxygen cylinders so far.

Governor Okowa further said the federal government had paid for 40 million doses of COVID -19 vaccines coming in batches and that a considerable amount of the vaccines would come into the country between now and January 2022 while Nigeria is now classified among the 50 countries in the green zones.

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Nation

FG declares Tuesday public holiday to mark Eidul-Mawlid

The Federal Government has declared Tuesday, October 19, 2021, a public holiday to mark this year’s Eid-ul-Mawlid celebration in commemoration of the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who made this declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, congratulated all Muslim faithful both at home and in the diaspora for witnessing this year’s occasion.

He enjoined all Nigerians to “imbibe the spirit of love, patience and perseverance which are the virtues of the Holy Prophet Muhammad,” adding that doing so would guarantee peace and security in the country.

This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Dr. Shuaib Belgore on Friday.

According to the statement, “Ogbeni Aregbesola enjoined Nigerians, particularly Muslims, to refrain from violence, lawlessness and other acts of criminality. As the indisputable leader of our race, we must show responsible leadership in Africa.

“While calling for a stop to all divisive tendencies across the country, the Minister urges all Nigerians and the youth, in particular, to embrace the virtues of hard work and peaceful disposition to fellow humans, irrespective of faith, ideology, social class and ethnicity and cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari’s led-Administration in its effort to build a progressive and enviable nation that all citizens would be proud of.”

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One Year after EndSARS# , Group Appeals against Protest

A civil rights group, the Defend Lagos Coalition (DLC), has appealed against any plan to stage violent protests in commemoration of one year anniversary of EndSARS# protest because it would be counterproductive in the end.

The DLC insisted that if any such action to take place, it should to be done within the confines of the law.

Addressing the press at the International Press Centre, Ogba, Ikeja, Lagos State, the leader of the DLC, Mr. Nelson Ekujumi, said the protesters should ensure that the protest did not lead to crisis, because the state could not afford to suffer again the losses it recorded during the protest staged last year.

“Lagos is the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, and nobody will allow anything that will destroy the state. We can’t tell them not to protest. They have right to protest. But you must protest within your right and respect other people’s right,” Ekujumi said.

The group, which went about with the banner “EndSARS never again” said a lot of things have been said about killings during last year’s EndSARS protest, but there is no evidence to substantiate that there was any massacre.

He said: “What happened on that day, (sic) a massacre never occur, we are waiting for the panel set up to tell us what happened.”

Ekujumi said the protest staged last year left a sad note in the history of Lagos State and set the state backward economically and socially because the protest was not well coordinated.

“We are veteran when it comes to protest. They have the right to protest, but we will not subscribe to a protest that will lead to anarchy and killing of people. They must do it in a peaceful way, it should be a peaceful protest,” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, a member of the group, Declan Ikharea, said: “We won’t subscribe to the fact that Nigerians should not protest. In a situation where protest is not coordinated, lack leadership, it leads to anarchy. The EndSARS protesters lost the trust of the protest, when the so called leaders lost control of those they were leading. I do not subscribe to any sort of anarchy, destruction; protest is our language to express grievances.”

The group also called on the Nigeria Police Force to recognise the fundamental rights of citizens and exhibit professionalism in its effort to protect the economic and human rights of Lagosians to move about without hindrance. It added that its commitment is to ensure peace reign in Lagos.

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Nation

Fayemi’s Transformation Strides in Water Sector Outstanding, Says Obaseki

The Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has commended his Ekiti State counterpart, Governor Kayode Fayemi, for his transformation agenda in the state, saying Ekiti is lucky to have a resourceful and innovative chief executive that can turn things around with lean resources.

Obaseki said this in Ado Ekiti on Thursday while commissioning a multi-million naira Water Corporation Headquarters built by the state government in partnership with the World Bank.

Fayemi, at the occasion, said the World Bank-assisted project was part of the projects executed under the $50 million grant to Ekiti by the World Bank.

Having an holistic appraisal of the projects executed by Fayemi, the Edo Governor said he was stunned by the quantum of projects executed in the water and other sectors despite the Covid-19 challenge and the lean allocation accruing to Ekiti internally and from the federation accounts.

The Edo governor said: “Ekiti is lucky, you don’t know how lucky you are to have the kind of governor God has given you. Ekiti is not a big state. You are not even rich, but you have the greatest resource any nation can have, which is human resource.

“Governor Fayemi is not only leading Ekiti people well, he is leading all the governors well as the Chairman of the Nigeria’s Governors’ forum.

“In my state in Edo, we were reviewing Covid-19 issues recently and we realised that Ekiti has the highest number of vaccinated persons in Nigeria and this gave us an insight into what is happening in the health sector in Ekiti.

“Coming here to see what you (Fayemi) are doing in the water sector, I am happy. Water is social services, it is an economic good that somebody would have to pay for. We have no choice, water is life, we have to give our people water. It has to be in a sustainable and affordable way.

“Nobody will give this kind of money, I mean $50 million without transparency. I listened to the achievements reeled out by your commissioner in the water sector. The biggest achievement I see is that of the people you trained in the water sector. Those you sent to Zambia Water Corporation for training .

“I congratulate the governor and the good people of the state at this auspicious time.”

Speaking further on the priority placed on water supply to Ekiti households, Fayemi warned that the agency would cut off debtors from the water source if they do not pay all the requisite bills.

Fayemi said: “I enjoin those who are already enjoying the pipe borne water to pay their bills. You know that this water has a meter in every home and if you fail to pay your bills, your water source will be cut off. So, make sure you pay,” Fayemi warned.

The governor said the state was able to access the $50 million World Bank’s fund upon the payment of a sum of N1 billion counterpart funding to ensure the transformation of the sector.

The governor revealed that the state has rehabilitated Ero, Egbe and Ureje dams to supply water to all the 16 local government areas being part of the ways to reform the sector.

“We have executed 18 projects across the state in the water sector. This is one of the most significant projects of this administration that we hold high because it has to do with our people.

“I commend the World Bank, European Union and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for their partnership,” he said.

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Nation

Banks get deadline on dead customers’ BVN

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed banks and other financial institutions to report Bank Verification Number (BVN) of a dead customers to Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) within 24 hours of confirmation.

The directive is contained in the revised BVN guideline issued by the apex bank and signed by its Director, Payment System Management, Musa Jimoh.

“Report the BVNs of confirmed deceased customers to NIBSS for designation as “Deceased” on the BVN database within 24hrs of confirmation,” the circular said.

The banks are also expected to use the watch-list report submitted by participants and duly endorsed by the Managing Director/CEO of the Institution, with clearance from the Director, Risk Management Department of CBN to delist the BVN from the watch-list.

Jimoh said the CBN’s move aligned with the powers conferred on the regulator, under the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 (CBN Act), and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2020.

The revised regulatory framework for BVN operations also stated that violators would be sanctioned.

The framework enhances effectiveness of customer due diligence and Know Your Customer processes as part of the strategy for promoting a safe and efficient banking and payment system.

In a circular entitled: “Issuance of revised regulatory framework for Bank Verification Number operations and watch-list for the Nigerian banking industry”, and addressed to  deposit money banks, mobile money operators, super agents and payment service providers.

The circular listed watch-list stakeholders to include the CBN, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), banks, other financial institutions and bank customers.

Part of the circular stated that misuse of the BVN watch-listing process for victimisation; improper linking of accounts/wallets (except Tier 1); and other infraction(s), as may be determined by the CBN will attract sanctions.

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Nation

Don’t Create Barrier for Girl Child Education, Ekiti First Lady Tells Nigerians

The Wife of Ekiti State Governor, Mrs. Bisi Fayemi has called for the removal of barriers capable of limiting the education of the girl child and break away from stereotype traditions and customs.

This, she said became necessary for the emancipation of women, end the vicious circle of poverty and set women on the course of self fulfilment.

Fayemi stated this at a special colloquium marking the third anniversary of the Governor Kayode Fayemi’s administration in Ado Ekiti, tagged “Ekiti Women Let’s Talk about Gender Stereotyping: Challenging Women’s Roles at Home, at Work and in Our Society.”

Fayemi while charging women to continue to work in love and solidarity, assured that she would continue to support and advocate for continuous education of a girl child.

“Women need to be able to stand on their own whether they have husband or not, we must be able to take care of ourselves and our businesses.

“And that is why I am so passionate about the education of a girl child, keeping girls in school because the only way you can break the circle of generational poverty is to ensure that you educate girls.”

Keep them in school for as long as possible so that their lives can make ways for generation to come to reap the benefits.” the First Lady said.

Also, the Guest Speaker and Senior Pastor of Agape Ministry, Mrs. Funke Felix-Adejumo, spoke about issues that bothered on values, marriage ethics, financial independence, businesses and empowerment.

Felix-Adejumo charged women to embrace self-development, self-improvement and brace up for the challenges around and within their homes and communities.

She commended the Ekiti state government for not only providing leadership in the implementation of policies and programmes that tackle gender-based violence, but for also providing space that allows women to contribute their quota to the development of the state.

On his part, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Wale Fapohunda, said the Fayemi-led administration was committed to protecting the dignity and values of every women in the State, irrespective of ethnicity, political class or cultural background.

He added that the event further affirmed Fayemi’s administration’s commitment to sustain dialogues that guarantee women’s emancipation and participation in nation-building.

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Nation

Igboho critically ill, may have deteriorating internal organs –Lawyers

Yoruba nation activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, is critically ill and he has been rushed to hospital in Cotonou, Benin Republic, his lawyers said yesterday.

Igboho was arrested in Benin Republic about two months ago, when he attempted to travel to Germany, having escaped from Nigeria following  a bloody raid on his house at Soka, Ibadan, Oyo State, by the Department of State Services (DSS) in the early hours of Thursday July 1, 2021. He was remanded in prison custody in Cotonou pending the final determination of his case on how he entered the neighbouring country.

His two counsel  in Nigeria and Benin Republic, Chief Yomi Alliyu (SAN) and Prof Ibrahim Salami, confirmed the deterioration of his health and the need for urgent medical treatment abroad.

Alliyu said reports available to him was that one of his Igboho’s organs might have been affected as a result of injury he sustained when he reportedly fell while attempting to escape from DSS officials who invaded his Ibadan residence. He said Igboho has applied to the Republic of Benin authorities to allow him seek better medical attention in  either France or Germany.

“I can’t tell if he has been returned to the prison from the hospital. But what I know is, he’s battling ill health and it seems his kidney and lungs are already being affected. Even though I cannot tell which part of his body the sickness has really affected, I know it has to do with his internal organs,” he said.

Igboho’s lead counsel in Benin Republic, Salami attributed the sickness to the injury sustained during the DSS raid.

“Sunday Igboho is not sick. However, he got injured during the DSS raid on his house on July 1, 2021. Since then, he has not been given adequate medical attention, his health has since deteriorated and that was why he asked that he should be taken overseas for medical check-up.”

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Nation

13-year-old girl,Amira Abdullahi leads call for legislation against underage marriage in Adamawa

Minors in Adamawa State have sought the protection of underage girls from early marriages through the enactment of child rights protection bill that will stop parents from giving them out for marriage until they complete secondary school.

This is just as the girls called for legislations for the prohibition of early marriage in the state.

The representative of the underage girls, Amira Abdullahi, a 13-year-old JSS 3 student at the Government Day Junior Secondary School, Luggere, in Yola North LGA, made the call at the assembly on the occasion of this year’s International Day of the Girl Child.

Amira pleaded with the assembly to give the ‘Child Protection Bill’ a speedy passage since it has scaled through first reading at the hallowed chamber, adding that an enactment of ‘Early Marriage Prohibition Bill’ will help to stop parents in the state from giving their underage daughters out for early marriage.

She further appealed to the assembly to ensure that girls are protected from cases of rape and other forms of gender-based violence and child abuse.

The students at the occasion also commended the assembly for passing the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) (VAPP), Law and other education-friendly laws that are capable of bettering education system and standards in the state.

Responding, the Speaker of the assembly, Rt. Hon. Aminu Iya-Abbas, congratulated the girls for marking the 2021 International Day of the Girl Child, and pledged the readiness of the assembly to pass the pending bills which have bearing on the girl child’s overall wellbeing.

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19 Months to Go, Buhari Urges Ministers to Pace Up on Goals

With just 19 months and two weeks to finishing his two terms of eight years tenure, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, directed ministers and permanent secretaries to redouble their efforts and work in synergy towards total delivery of his administration’s set target to improve the livelihood of all Nigerians.

The president, who gave the charge at Abuja, during his closing remarks at the end of a two-day Mid-term Ministerial performance review retreat, also instructed the ministers to, “ramp up implementation” of their mandates along the nine priority areas of his administration.

This is just as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke during one of the sessions at the retreat, lamented that cost of Nigeria’s trade was too high to attract foreign investors

Buhari, who further mandated the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha to convene quarterly meetings to enable them further review the administration’s priority areas, stressed the need for synergy between the fiscal and monetary authorities in the country to keep the economy on the trajectory of growth.

In the same shared spirit, the president directed the Head of Service, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan, to as a matter of urgency, invest in capacity strengthening of the Planning, Research and Statistics departments in all MDAs.

Buhari noted that intensive discussions at the retreat provided an opportunity to reflect on what this administration had done and the areas it needed to improve and refocus attention.

He said: “The retreat provided an opportunity for us to undertake an objective assessment of our stewardship in line with the contract we signed with the Nigerian people to deliver on our electoral promises. From the assessment report and discussions at this retreat, I am glad to note that progress has been made towards the achievement of our objectives.

“The independent performance assessment report presented on day one of the retreat, indicates that significant progress has been achieved in the delivery of the Ministerial Mandates. Distinguished participants, the discussions at the retreat have prompted the need for us to ramp up implementation on the deliverables.

“We must close the gaps in our implementation efforts to ensure that we attain set targets by 2023.”

It was against this backdrop that the president directed Mustapha to immediately begin the process of convening quarterly coordination meetings for each priority area based on the collaborative results framework.

He explained that the aim of the meetings was to ascertain status of implementation across the nine priority areas, identify bottlenecks, and proffer immediate solutions.

“All Ministers and Permanent Secretaries must be in attendance. These are not meetings to delegate,” he said.

The President also instructed the Office of the SGF to immediately commence engagement with stakeholders to agree and push forward a framework for the institutionalisation of the Central Delivery Coordinating Unit.

According to him, “All Ministers and Permanent Secretaries are to promote a robust performance culture across the Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) by setting up intra-ministerial delivery task teams.”

Directing the Head of Service to as a matter of urgency, invest in capacity strengthening of the Planning, Research and Statistics departments in all MDAs, Buhari added that the initiative should be done in collaboration with the Central Delivery Coordinating Unit.

While underscoring the need for synergy between the fiscal and monetary authorities, the President assured Nigerians that his administration would continue to implement fiscal measures to improve domestic revenues and mobilise external funding support to build a more resilient economy.

He pledged that issues around expanding access to quality education, affordable healthcare and productivity of Nigerians would be given priority attention within the period of this administration.

“We will sustain all on-going efforts in rebuilding our health system through targeted investment in the health sector, especially, our vaccination drive to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This administration remains committed to providing the education and training required for employment and entrepreneurship, particularly using technology to impact the relevant skills on our youths.

“Our Social Investment Programmes will be sustained in the coming years. We will continue to reach out to the poorest and most vulnerable households through the National Cash Transfer Programme and other initiatives of government.”

The president further directed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, to come up with a legislative framework for social protection that also guaranteed its funding stream.

Also, in view of the critical role of micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) in economic growth and development, he added that, efforts would be geared towards removing all bottlenecks that militate against access to government support schemes by MSMEs.

“Government will adopt a holistic approach to industrialisation that is aligned with Nigeria’s aspirations and requirements, working closely with key stakeholders in the private sector. We will continue to support SMEs in view of their multiplier effect on the economy,” he said.

On the National Single Window Project, the President also directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to ensure all relevant MDAs involved in the implementation of the projects complete all processes needed for effective take-off of the National Single Window platform by first quarter of 2022.

He spoke on the administration’s determination to build systems to fight corruption and improve governance, saying, “We will continue to address the issues that foster corruption and impair transparency in the management of public resources. Efforts will be geared towards improving coordination and synergy between anti-corruption agencies.”

On infrastructure, the president promised that the federal government would prioritise funding and ensure that all high-priority ongoing infrastructure projects were completed before the end of his administration.

He announced that the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund would continue to support the delivery of legacy infrastructure projects across the country.

According to Buhari, the nine priority areas set out by the administration included building a thriving and sustainable economy, enhancing social inclusion and poverty reduction, enlarging agricultural output for food security and export as well as attaining energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products.

Others were expanding transport and other infrastructure development, business growth, entrepreneurship and industrialisation; access to quality education, affordable healthcare and productivity of Nigerians.

The administration has also prioritised building a system to fight corruption, improve governance and create social cohesion as well as security for all.

Meanwhile, Okonjo-Iweala, a former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of Economy under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, spoke of the need to improve the nation’s security in order to attract foreign and domestic investments.

The WTO DG said the country must cut down not only its trade cost, but also infrastructure cost, linkage cost, regulatory cost, customs cost, and all costs associated with moving goods from the factory to the final consumer to complement investment facilitation.

She pointed out that Nigeria’s trade cost was equivalent of 306 per cent tariff, one and half times higher than the cost in high income countries.

According to her, congestion, capacity constraints and high costs at Nigerian ports do not encourage investment as they make it difficult to build supply chain operations in the country.

She said: “Improving security and lowering transaction cost for foreign investment, even for domestic investment, would be necessary. And Nigeria is part of a group of countries negotiating an agreement on investment facilitation at the WTO.

“Once this agreement is negotiated, ratified and is being implemented, it could be instrumental in attracting additional trade-oriented investment.

“To complement investment facilitation, Nigeria has to cut down on trade cost, infrastructure cost, linkage cost, regulatory cost, customs cost, basically, all costs associated with moving goods from tie factory or farm gate to the final consumer.

“Nigeria’s trade costs are too high. According to the World Bank-ESCAP trade costs for 2019, trade costs for African countries are on average equivalent of a 304% tariff and for Nigeria, it’s even slightly higher at 306 per cent.

“These numbers are one and half times higher than trade cost in high income countries. Such high costs are not conducive to forming regional value chain.

“Congestion, capacity constraints and high costs in our ports make life difficult for anyone seeking to build supply chain operations in Nigeria and hence, expand trade from there.”

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