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China Commits To Refinancing, Completing Abuja, Kano, Portharcourt-Maiduguri Railways



 The People’s Republic of China has expressed commitment to refinancing and completing the Abuja-Kano and Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway projects.

This is contained in a statement issued by Mr Stanley Nkwocha, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Communications, Office of the Vice-President.

The statement, released on Wednesday in Abuja, quoted the President of China, Xi Jinping, making the pledge while responding to requests made by President Bola Tinubu during a bilateral meeting with the Chinese leader in Beijing.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Tinubu was represented by Vice-President Kashim Shettima at the Belt and Road Initiative Forum (BRI) held in China.

NAN recalled that since the launch of the projects, China has yet to release funds for the two major railway projects in Nigeria largely due to cutbacks and commitments.

China had agreed to provide 85 percent financing for the construction of the Abuja-Kano and Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri railway projects.

*Vice-President Kashim Shettima (Left), representing Bola Tinubu at the Belt and Road Initiative Forum (BRI) held in China, presided over by the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping

Nigeria, with the duty of paying the balance of 15 percent paid its part of the funding from inception of the project through appropriations.

The Chinese President who was visibly elated to receive the Nigerian delegation led by Shettima at the Peoples Building in China, pledged increased investments in Nigeria’s power generation and digital economy.

He called for the protection of Chinese nationals working in Nigeria, saying he would, in turn, ensure that the Nigeria-China bilateral relation was stronger than before.

Jinping also promised that China would enhance political support and build cooperation in all fields.

He appreciated Nigeria’s support of the China Policy and pledged to further deepen practical cooperation.

The Chinese leader threw his weight behind the Renewed Hope Manifesto of Tinubu and his 8-point economic agenda.

He added that China would support Nigeria’s exports, especially as they relate to peanuts and others, even as the China – Africa talent initiative remained key in its cooperation with Nigeria.

In the area of security, Jinping promised continued crackdown on terrorists, assuring that China was committed to peace in the Sahel region.

He added, “Like President Bola Tinubu stated recently at the last United Nations General Assembly, Africa does not need to run away.

”Africa holds the key to the World. We support Nigeria to play key roles in international relations and uphold allies’ commitments.

”Mr vice President, you spoke about upscaling and further upgrading of our strategic relationship, and I totally agree with you.

”Nigeria is developing with big potential. I totally agree with you. Our foreign Ambassadors can stay and work out this upgrading.”

Earlier, Shettima, who delivered the well  wishes of Tinubu described the rail projects as vital to the president and the people of Nigeria

He said the projects remained a legacy one that would further open up the nation’s economy, create jobs, and boost trade and investments across the country.

The vice-president said Tinubu remained committed to a stronger Nigeria – China tie, adding that it was ladened with respect, non-political interference, and mutual international cooperation.

He said, ” Our relationship commenced about 50 years ago, precisely in 1971 and it has been upgraded to a comprehensive partnership.

”But we crave your indulgence, Your Excellency, to further upgrade this relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership because of the importance we attach to our relationship with China.

”When we met in South Africa at the China Plus 1 summit, I was very honest and upright with you.

”Beyond the infrastructure support we are getting; why we love, cherish and respect China is that you treat us with respect and dignity. You don’t dictate to us who our friends are. We don’t forget our friends.

”China stood by us through thick and thin from the post-colonial struggles for independence in Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, the struggle for the emancipation of our people in Southern Africa; China stood shoulder to shoulder with the African continent, we thus appreciate your friendship.”

Jinping had before his audience with Shettima formally declared the forum, which had numerous Heads of State and top government officials open.

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Makinde Presents N434.2bn 2024 Budget Proposal For Oyo State



PDP’s Agboworin wins House of Representatives re-run election in Oyo

 Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State on Tuesday presented a budget of N434.2 billion for 2024 to the State House of Assembly for consideration and approval.

According to Makinde, the budget is made up of N222.3 billion for capital expenditure, and N211.8 billion for recurrent expenditure.

Presenting the budget tagged: “Budget of Economic Recovery”, the governor said the capital expenditure is 2.4 percent higher than the recurrent expenditure.

He added that the 2024 budget was estimating an increased Internally Generated Revenue of N72 billion with an average of N6 billion monthly.

Education gets the highest share of the budget with N90.6 billion or 20.8 percent of the budget, followed by Infrastructure which gets N74.3 billion or 17.1 percent of the appropriation bill.

The health sector takes the third position with N40.9 billion, which is 9.4 percent and Agriculture has N15.8 billion, which is 3.6 percent of the total budget proposal.

PDP’s Agboworin wins House of Representatives re-run election in Oyo

*Governor Seyi Makinde

He promised that the 2024 budget would cover projects, policies, and actions “which when implemented will cushion the effect t of the hardship the people are facing as a result of fuel subsidy removal.”

Makinde further said that his administration would continue to use technology to block loopholes, saying his government has no plan to increase taxes.

He urged the House of Assembly to see to the speedy passage of the budget proposal for the state’s economic growth and benefit of the people of Oyo State.

Responding after the presentation, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr ‘Debo Ogundoyin (PDP Ibarapa East) assured the governor of speedy consideration of the Appropriation Bill.

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Troops Destroy 51 Illegal Refining Sites, Recover Stolen Crude Oil – DHQ



….Destroy 7 dugout pits, 25 boats, 47 storage tanks, five vehicles, one outboard engine, others

The Defence Headquarters says  troops of Operation Delta Safe have  destroyed 51 illegal oil refining sites and recovered stolen crude oil and refined products in the Niger Delta in the last one week.

The Director of Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Edward Buba, disclosed  in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

Buba said the troops also apprehended 58 perpetrators of oil theft and denied them of  estimated sum of N668.7 million

He said the troops destroyed seven dugout pits, 25 boats, 47 storage tanks, five vehicles, 141 cooking ovens, one pumping machine, one outboard engine, one tricycle, one speedboat and one tugboat.

According to him, troops recovered 267,700 litres of stolen crude oil, 567,700 litres of illegally refined AGO and 5,000 litres of DPK.

“Troops has maintained momentum against oil theft and arrested persons involved in oil theft in Bonny and Ikpoba Local Government Areas of Rivers and Edo States respectively.

“Troops also arrested suspected armed robbers and foiled illegal bunkering activities in Oshimili South and Ukwa West of Delta and Abia States respectively,” he said.

In the South East, Buba said  troops of Operation UDO KA arrested 15 suspected criminals and repelled attacks by IPOB/ESN criminals in Anambra, Abia and Imo States.

He said the troops conducted raids and rescued kidnapped hostages in Ishielu and Igbo Eze North Local Government Areas of Ebonyi and Enugu States respectively.

He said the troops neutralised three criminals, rescued five kidnapped hostages and recovered 14 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammo.

In the South West, Buba said  troops of Operation AWATSE foiled armed robbery attacks in Orelope and Olorunsogo Local Government Areas of Oyo State and arrested a gunrunner in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun.

According to him, troops rescued 15 kidnapped hostages and recovered two vehicles.

“All recovered items, arrested suspects and rescued hostages were handed over to the relevant authority for further action,” he added.

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NEPZA Boss Says Nation’s Free Trade Zones Not Really `Free’



The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says the country’s Free Trade Zones are business anchorages that have for decades been used to generate revenues for the Federal Government.

Dr Olufemi Ogunyemi, the Managing Director of NEPZA, said this in a statement by the authority’s
Head of Corporate Communications, Martins Odeh, on Monday in Abuja, stressing that the the widely held notion that the scheme is a `free meal ticket’ for investors and not a means for the government to generate revenue is incorrect.

Ogunyemi said this public statement was essential to clarify the misunderstanding by various individuals and entities, in and out of government, on the nature of the scheme.

He reiterated the authority’s commitment to enhancing public knowledge of the principal reason for the country’s adoption of the scheme by the NEPZA Act 63 of 1992.

“The Free Trade Zones are not hot spots for revenue generation. Instead, they exist to support socioeconomic development.

“These include but are not limited to industrialisation, infrastructure development, employment generation, skills acquisition, foreign exchange earnings, and Foreign Direct Investments(FDI) inflows,” Ogunyemi said.

The managing director said the NEPZA Act provided exemption from all federal, state, and local government taxes, rates, levies, and charges for FZE, of which duty and VAT were part.

“However, goods and services exported into Nigeria attract duty, which includes VAT and other charges.

“In addition, NEPZA collects over 20 types of revenues, ranging from 500,000 dollars-Declaration fees, 60,000 dollars for Operation License (OPL) Renewal Fees between three and five years.

“There is also the 100-300 dollar Examination and Documentation fees per transaction, which occurs daily.

“There are other periodic revenues derived from vehicle registration and visas, among others.

“The operations within the free trade zones are not free in the context of the word,” he said.

Ogunyemi said the global business space had contracted significantly, adding that to win a sizable space would require the ingenuity of the government to either expand or maintain the promised incentives.

“These incentives will encourage more multinational corporations and local investors to leverage on the scheme, which has a cumulative investment valued at 30 billion dollars.

“The scheme has caused an influx of FDIs; it has also brought advanced technologies, managerial expertise, and access to global markets.

“For instance, the 52 FTZs with 612 enterprises have and will continue to facilitate the creation of numerous direct and indirect jobs, currently estimated to be within the region of 170,000,” he said.

Ogunyemi said an adjustment in title and introduction of current global business practices would significantly advance the scheme, increasing forward and backward linkages.

“This is with a more significant market offered by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).

“We have commenced negotiations across the board to ensure that the NEPZA Act is amended to give room for adjusting the scheme’s title from `Free Trade Zones to Special Economic Zones respectively.

“This will open up the system for the benefit of all citizens,” he said.

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