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Buhari lauds Navy over Nigeria’s exit from sea piracy list

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Navy Hands Over 11 Crew Members, Trawler to Fishery Agency in Bayelsa

…As Nigeria woos foreign navies to secure Gulf of Guinea***

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday commended the Nigeria Navy for improving maritime security in the nation’s waters, prompting the delisting of Nigeria from countries affected by sea pirates.

Buhari, represented by the Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd.) expressed delight with the development while addressing participants at the International Maritime Conference held in Onne, Rivers.

Also read: 2022 Navy Games: CNS promises to equip sports complex in Lagos

The conference with the theme, “Optimising Collaboration for Maritime Security and Socio-Economic Development in Africa,” was organized by the Nigerian Navy to commemorate its 66th anniversary.

The newsmen report that the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) had on March 3 removed Nigeria from its sea piracy list.

The president said the country was able to exit the list through the collaborative efforts of the Nigerian Navy.

“We owe a strong reason to support the Nigerian Navy and I make bold to commend the navy for their giant strides in maritime security operations.

“This resulted in several arrests of economic saboteurs, perpetrators of illegal bunkering, smugglers, pipeline vandals, and other miscreants in the fight against illegality in the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain.

“The effort brought about the decline in piracy and ultimately the delisting of Nigerian from the IMB piracy list in March.

“The Nigerian Navy is the pertinent agency in the marine sector that has the responsibility in the constitution to check threats in the maritime domain,” he said.

Buhari also expressed delight that about 35 foreign navies had agreed to partner with Nigeria’s navy to further secure the Gulf of Guinea maritime space.

He noted the navies’ collaboration was important especially as a crime in the nation’s maritime space had taken an international dimension and threatened the aquatic ecosystem.

“These threats have become transnational and beyond the scope and capability of one nation to deal with.

“The situation, therefore, calls for international collaboration, and this conference, therefore, symbolises a strategic collaborative initiative between the Nigerian Navy and other international maritime stakeholders.

“The focus is to mitigate the increasing vulnerabilities in African waters, especially in the Gulf of Guinea.

“This region is very rich and endowed in living and non-living resources, and therefore the economic opportunities therein as well as strategic problems cannot be overemphasized,” he added.

Also speaking, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, said the inter-navy collaborative operation against criminals in the region was timely.

He said the negative impact of crimes in the region affected both littoral and land-locked countries.

“The current security threats in the Gulf of Guinea are of serious concern to us, as well as the larger African and global community.

“What is perhaps more disturbing is that most of the criminal activities are directed at the economic life of both littoral and landlocked countries.

“Typically, maritime threats within the region have become transnational and are evolving beyond the scope and combat capability of one nation,” Gambo noted.

In another development, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lt.-Gen. Lucky Iraboh, has called for more collaboration with foreign navies to effectively tackle maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.

Iraboh made the call while flagging off a two-day regional maritime exercise, codenamed ‘Exercise Edi-Diana’ at the Federal Ocean Terminal, Onne, in Rivers on Monday.

The newsmen report the multi-national exercise is organised bi-annually as part of the Nigeria Navy Week celebration.

Iraboh said no navy could independently police the entire ocean without the collaborative efforts of other navies.

“So, the only way that we can ensure efficient maritime security is through collaborative efforts rather than by individual states acting independently.

“’ Exercise Edi-Diana’ is unique and serves dual purposes of firstly, to celebrate the Nigeria Navy at 66 and secondly, to foster cooperation to enhance maritime security.

“The exercise scenario to be simulated in the next two days at sea includes anti-piracy, anti-illegal unreported, unregulated activities and fleet manoeuvre, amongst others,” he said.

The CDS said there was a need for foreign navies in Africa, European Union and the United States Coast Guard to work together to achieve a common goal.

“This is because the ocean is a key asset to the world, and as such, building forces together through collaboration will enable us to access its benefits as a comity of nations.

“I am optimistic that this exercise will further reinvigorate the operation readiness of participating navies, to ameliorate maritime crises within our collective maritime space,” he added.

The defence chief said the Federal Government had quite a plan to re-arm the navy through the acquisition of capital ships and other military hardware.

“There are a good number of assets that we are also expecting in the medium term aside from the ones that have been received in the last few months.

“The intention is to enhance the capacity of the Nigeria Navy, to efficiently deal with all crimes in Nigeria’s waters and beyond as well as prevent them from occurring,” he added.

Speaking, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, said that “Exercise Edi-Diana,” meaning “coming together” in Ibibio language, was organised to commemorate the Nigeria Navy’s 66th anniversary.

He said eight Nigeria navy warships, two helicopters and its Special Boat Service (Special Forces) would take part in the exercise in the Gulf of Guinea waters.

“The exercise is designed to improve regional cooperation through joint operation, intelligence sharing and harmonising legal frameworks.

“These are geared towards enhancing the collective capability of the Gulf of Guinea navies against maritime crimes.

“Others participating in the exercise include Cameroun, Ghana, Italy and Togo navies.

“The exercise presents an opportunity for the Nigeria navy to work together with other national and regional navies in the spirit of the Yaoundé Accord,” he added.

 

Economy

465 returned migrants to benefit from IOM intervention project in Edo

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465 returned migrants to benefit from IOM intervention project in Edo

No few than 465 returned migrants and community members are to benefit from International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Managing Migration through Development project MMDP 2.0 in Edo.

The two-year project would be funded by the Italian government to empower returned migrants to acquire skills and education.

The Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Laurent De Boeck who made this known during the inauguration of the project on Monday in Benin, said that the first phase of the MMDP 1.0 impacted about 500 youths in the state.

465 returned migrants to benefit from IOM intervention project in Edo
Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo

De Boeck noted that the project which would be carried out in collaboration with the Italian and Edo government was designed to help reintegrate returnees into society.

He explained that the project would provide need-based economic assistance to 225 returnees, vocational training to 150 beneficiaries, and rehabilitation of 90 victims of trafficking.

He said the project would contribute to the state government’s efforts to prevent human trafficking and protect vulnerable migrants and community members across the 18 local government areas of the state.

He noted that the choice of Edo for the implementation of the project was because the state accounted for the highest figure of over 30,000 returned migrants since 2017.

“It is an honour to welcome you all to the launch of the project MMDP 2.0 in Edo. The project was developed in collaboration with Edo government.

“This launch is to introduce the project to stakeholders that are involved in strengthening the socio-economic reintegration of returned migrants and providing livelihood support for local communities.

“Edo pioneered the establishment of a state Taskforce Against Human Trafficking in 2018 with a mission to combat human trafficking and irregular migration.

“This laid the foundation for MMDP 1.0 initiated by Edo government support by the European Union and world Bank which established shelter for returnees.

“This MMDP 2.0 will first all support the development of a migration management strategy for the state. The strategy is to define a coordinated approach for Migration Management,” he said.

According to him, the intervention will not only help returnees to better integrate into the society but will also create jobs by harnessing entrepreneurial drive of migrants and community youths.

De Boeck, however, appreciated Italian government for the generous financial support to the project.

The Ambassador of Italy to Nigeria, Stefano De Leo, said that the aim of the two-year project was to support Edo government to provide skills and education to returned migrants and to prevent human trafficking in the state.

“Partnerships and networks are increasingly important tools to tackle challenges in the long term.

“I am happy to inform you that the Governor of Veneto Region, Luca Zaia, has expressed his desire to explore opportunities of partnership with Edo State.

“I will discuss further with the governor and government representatives the best ways to move forward on this roadmap,” he added.

Also speaking, Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo said that the huge numbers of Edo youths travelling abroad to seek greener pastures was due to systemic collapse which his administration has addressed in the last six years.

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Rail Modernisation Master Plan: Nigeria needs Strong Implementation Committee for Dream Realisation- Opeifa 

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Rail Modernisation Master Plan: Nigeria needs Strong Implementation Committee for Dream Realisation- Opeifa 

A Transportation Expert has urged the Federal Government to urgently set up a strong Technical Committee to review the implementation and updating of ‘Nigeria 25 Years Rail Modernisation Master Plan’ and the ‘Nigerian Rail Transportation System’ so as reinvigorate both the document and vision driving government’s dream and make it achievable.

The expert, who is the Executive Director, Center for Sustainable Mobility and Access Development (CenSMAD), Dr. Kayode Opeifa stated this last week, at the 4th National Transport Summit of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration in Nigeria, while delivering a paper on ‘Safety and Security of Rail Transportation in Nigeria’.

Speaking at the Shehu Musa Yar Adua Centre, Abuja on the theme: Transportation Safety, Opeifa noted that the Nigeria Railway Corporation is currently about 124 years old (1898 to 2022);  and stressed the need for very strong leadership, who would not only recognise the vision of Government, but also be dedicated enough to boldly pursue and midwife it as conceived.

He specifically pointed out that a bird’s eye view shows that the implementation of the milestone documents are seemingly lagging, especially, considering recent realities and opportunities facing the county; as well as considering the fact that even in 2022 we are still in phase! 

“Let me at this point call attention of the Honorable Minister of Transport to an urgent need to set up a strong Technical Committee to review the implementation of this fantastic and excellent document with a view to updating it as it seems the implementation of the milestones are lagging; and considering recent realities and opportunities facing the county, as well as considering the fact that in 2022 we are still in phase”, Opeifa stressed, emphasizing that the vision proposed in the document will materialize, only with “strong leadership, commitment, broad national support and participation.

Buttressing his view by the nation’s enviable antecedents, he called the attention of the Minister of Transportation, Muazu Jaji Sambo to the fact that Nigeria is a strong integral part of the world community, hence, adaptation and flexibility must be the watchword for the years ahead. 

“As of date, we have about 4,174+km consisting of about 3,505km of Narrow gauge; and about 800km of standard gauge”, the former Lagos State Commissioner of Transportation stated, mentioning the NRC Network, Abuja Light rail System,

Calabar Monorail system, Rivers Monorail system in Port Harcourt and the Upcoming Lagos rail Mass Transit system; in addition to 156.5 Km Double Standard Guage Lagos to Ibadan Rail line with extension by 6.5km, to Apapa Sea Port (2020).

“The Nigeria Rail Transportation System pioneered the rapid opening of the geographical area called Nigeria”, he stated, adding that the railway act of 1955 (as amended 2004) mandates the Corporation to develop National Rail Infrastructure and Operate Rail service on both the Narrow- and Standard-gauge rail lines. 

“Nigerians will want the best value for their money and will therefore demand a rail system that will move them quickly, safely, and comfortably in a way that is environmentally friendly” he indicated, itemizing other reasons, below: 

*Nigeria is grossly underdeveloped with respect to rail service, as a study of the comparative mobility indexes for African States and other countries establishes this fact. 

*Technological change will influence developments in the Transportation Sector. 

*Operational and demographic changes will encourage integrated and intermodal transportation. 

*Potential investors will invest under conditions that enable them make fair returns on their investment.

“In all, what makes the Railway transportation system is not just the Rail tracks and the Rolling stock but much more, including the governance structure, safety and security systems; Passenger and freight services administration; statutes and legal framework/environment; ticketing systems, Data and information management systems; signaling Systems, among others; and the associated policies guiding them.

He thereafter distinctly identified the difference between Rail Safety and environmental security.

He maintained that rail Safety basically entails all activities involved and affected by internal day-to-day operations, administration, deployment, maintenance and passenger/freight movement under the direct and full control of the Rail Authority management/Board. 

While Security on the other hand will relate to issues such as:

Railway environment community relations; Stealing/ Pilfering/ Burglary/Theft Personal attacks/ Harassment within coaches and around corridor/ coaches

Kidnapping /Terrorism, 

Smuggling, Riots/Public disturbance/War situations/

Immigration and other related issues.

“From the above, the Nigerian Railway system or should we say the Nigerian Rail Transportation system has not been as challenged in recent times by securities-related issues except, for as a result of recent twin train terrorist attacks with kidnappings, killings and ransom demands. 

“The security aspect is managed by the Specialist security agencies, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) handled by a special Police Command headed by a Commissioner of Police rank Railway Police Command and the Nigeria Securities and Civil Defense Corporation (NSCDC). 

He cautioned the media, not to unduly create unnecessary panic or fear in the minds of the public via poor media reportage. 

“I am aware this is an open event and as such our media personnel needs to exercise some restrain in view of the current effort at repositioning our Rail system under the present administration at National and some sub-national with huge local and foreign investment in Rail infrastructure.

“Rail Transportation still remains the safest mode among Land Transport Modes.

“Let me at this point say that the situation in Nigeria is not that bad as it is similar to the situation in many African and developing countries.

 “Since 2002 and especially 2010 and 2016, we have improved and things changed for the better. Also because of our current level of operations, we face fewer risks as rail safety indices are often measured in Km travelled, Passenger moved, hours worked or in operations among others. In all, we ought to be better than where we are.

“Safety culture is critical and should be Top Management driven. Rail transportation safety and security is also about the quality and commitment of Top management as Rail safety measures are often very expensive with a Low Benefit-Cost ratio as a result of strong Institution, Legal and Political pressures. 

“Safety is a central issue that challenges decision-making during the planning and implementation of the modern-day railway systems, especially with the advent of High Speed Rail (HSR) and as such appropriate systems should be in place to ensure safe performance during operations.

“According to Hale in 2000, integrated safety approach to all modes of Transport, not just rail is necessary to gain the trust of the public and government.

“If it is perceived unsafe as with the Abuja-Kaduna line in recent time due to the twin attack society will choose not to use it, hence a waste of the infrastructure assets”, he also explained.

Taking a harder look at Rail Security, Opeifa stated:

“Experience of March 2022 has provided some opportunities. Let it be established that Terrorist attacks on transportation assets are not new nor limited to Nigeria as the sector and rail inclusive meet all the requirements of terrorist soft targets. Examples abound worldwide. 

“In addition to the ongoing efforts by the National government, FMOT and the Nigerian Railway Corporation as efforts are in top gear to not just resume the Abuja- Kaduna Rail line services but provide sustainable, secured and safer rail transportation services along all Rail corridors.

“We need to establish a National minimum security checklist for Rail operations in Nigeria.

“We need to be Proactive to provide Security systems based on modern technology taking advantage of innovations and Artificial intelligence. 

“We need to declare not just a Rail Transportation security system but a Transportation wide system as we move towards achieving an intermodal transportation system”, he observed, positing that since an attack on one, implies injuries to others; there must therefore be a regular safety review committee of top-level stakeholders with the office of the National security adviser.

“Beyond regular safety audits, we need to carry out regular Security audits of all Rail Infrastructure assets and systems to assure the passenger/freight, government, investors and relevant stakeholders.

“We need to encourage sharing of information among modes and between security operatives.

“We need to deepen on lesson learnt from the last twin terrorist attacks on the AKTS rail line as findings is key to preventing the next one.

“While deploying technology, we need serious engagement with host communities along rail infrastructure installation as part of our intelligence gathering system for a more secured corridor.

“We need to support the ongoing efforts of the National government, the FMOT, and NRC at resuming the AKTS Rail services, after the deployment of the appropriate security systems.

“In conclusion, we must adopt a Holistic General System, where safety and security are approached as the minimum standard of operation of the Rail Transportation sector just as we have done with the Air transportation sector. 

“We need National coordination with safety compliance information available freely and willingly by all operators and stakeholders on a monthly basis not just on request”, Dr. Opeifa also advised further.

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Education

Alayande University Emerges as Gov. Makinde signs Bill Upgrading College of Education

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Alayande University Emerges as Gov. Makinde signs Bill Upgrading College of Education

Gov. Seyi Makinde has signed into law an executive bill to upgrade the State-owned College of Education in Oyo to university status.

The State House of Assembly had on Nov. 25, passed the bill that would make Emmanuel Alayande College of Education Oyo become Emmanuel Alayande University of Education, Oyo.

In his remarks, after he assented to the bill on Monday at the Executive Chamber of his office, Makinde described the progress made so far on the upgrading of the institution as a landmark achievement of his administration.

He stated that education remained one of the cardinal agendas of his administration “as contained in our Roadmap to Accelerated Development in 2023”.

He said other relevant processes for the actualisation of the College’s upgrading to university status would be completed in a few days time.

The governor commended the leadership of the State House of Assembly and all its members, irrespective of political party affiliation, for the timely and successful passage of the bill.

Earlier, the Speaker, Mr. Adebo Ogundoyin, said the state legislature prioritised whatever would bring development into the state.

Ogundoyin commended Gov. Makinde for the good works being done to Improve the lives of the people of Oyo State.

NAN reports that the institution would become the third university owned by the state if eventually approved by the National University Commission (NUC).

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