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FEATURES, Government

The Federal Government of Nigeria has declared Tuesday July 20 and Wednesday July 21, as Public Holidays to mark 2021 Eid-el-Kabir celebration.


A statement by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Dr  Shuaib Belgore, stated that the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government on Thursday in Abuja.


Aregbesola, however, congratulated all Muslim faithful and Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora on the occasion.


“I call on Muslims to continue to imbibe the spirit of love, peace, kindness and sacrifice, as exemplified by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him).


“And to also use the period to pray for peace, unity, prosperity and the stability of the country, considering the challenges of insecurity we face at the moment.


“These mainly are bandits in the North- West and North-Central, insurgents in the North- East, kidnappers, armed robbers, ethnic agitators and sundry criminals in other parts of the country.”


The Minister assured that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was committed to the security of lives and property of every Nigerian, empowering the citizens for successful living, the provisions of social investments programmes.


“As well as the security in the schools, especially with the spate of innocent school children being targets of kidnapping.”


Aregbesola, while wishing Muslim faithful a happy celebration, advised all Nigerians to take responsibility by reporting any suspicious individuals and criminal activities to law enforcement agencies, especially during the period.

He also enjoined on all Nigerians the observance of all COVID-19 protocols, particularly the non-pharmaceutical measures, wearing of facemasks, hand washing and social distancing designed to keep transmission of the disease at bay.


“We must all take responsibility for containment of the pandemic during this year’s festival,” he said.


The minister sympathises with the families of school children who had been kidnapped or suffered one misfortune or another.


“Our hearts and prayers of comfort are with you,” Aregbesola said.



Nigeria’s Senate on Thursday passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 after clause by- clause consideration and adoption of recommendations of report of the Joint Committee on INEC at plenary on Thursday.


It amended clause 52(3) of the bill to empower the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to determine suitability of network for electronic voting procedures with approval of National Assembly.


Clause 52(,3) of the bill had prescribed that INEC may adopt electronic voting and electronic processes where practicable.


The clause ,which had provided for INEC to determine electronic voting process where practicable was however, amended to empower NCC to determine suitability of network to conduct electronic election processes with approval of National Assembly.


The amendment was sought by Sen.Sabi Abdullahi(APC-Niger), while President of Senate, Ahmad Lawan passed the gravel in support of the amendment after a voice vote.


Sen.Bassey Akpan,(PDP Akwa-Ibom), however, called for an amendment to retain the initial recommendation of clause 52(3) on the bill that was amended.

Akpan’s call, however resulted into round of hearted verbal arguments amongst senators.

The approval of Sen. Sabi’s amendment proposal, however did not go down well with some senators, who were against the amendment to the clause.


This, resulted in rowdy session, as senators engaged in heated exchange of words.


Senate President Ahmad Lawan, then called for a close session, which lasted for almost 10 mins, given the reverberating exchange of words amongst senators.


Sen.Enyinaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia), after end of the closed clause called for division, having cited order 73, which allowed senators to contest the ruling of President of Senate.

Senators then took turn to vote “Yes or No” on the retention of the clause for electronic voting process as earlier recommended on the bill.


At the end of the voting process, Senators who voted for the amendment to the clause carried the day given the highest number.


The senators who voted for Sen. Sabi’s amendment were 52 while that of Sen Akpan were 28 while 28 senators were absent.


Earlier, while presenting the report, Chairman of the committee Sen.Kabiru Gaya (APC- Kano said the bill was designed to holistically address all issues affecting the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in the country.


He said National Assembly had made several attempts at amending the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010, but the bill was not assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.


He, however, said the National Assembly was poised to give Nigerians a new electoral act, thus forming a legislative agenda for the ninth Senate.


“Owing to the challenges experienced in the eight National Assembly as it relates to the Amendment of the Electoral Act, the ninth National Assembly decided to adopt all-encompassing approach in the 2021 Amendment process .”



He said the bill with 158 clauses seeks to regulate conduct of Federal, State and Area Council elections, to make provisions for restriction of qualification for elective offices to the relevant provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.


“The bill also provides for use of card readers and other technological devises in elections, political party primaries as it relates to a time line for the submission of list of candidates.


“It also provides for criteria for substitution of candidate, limit of campaign expenses among others.”


He also said that the bill also addresses the omission of names or candidates or logo of political parties in an election and its resultant consequences.


“There are also provisions on guidelines on replacement of lost or destroyed permanent voters card, dates for conducting primary elections shall not be earlier than 180 days before the date of election.”Gaya said.


Lawan after passage of the bill said:”We have gone through probably the most rigorous process we ever had.


“We had at a point had to go through a division, but that is democracy.


“No hard feelings and I’m sure that Nigerians will appreciate the debt of concern by all of us here.


“Those who voted for amendments and those who voted against, each one of us did so out of conviction for what we believe will be better for this country.


“In this case the Electoral Amendment Bill has now been passed by the Senate and we expect that the House of Representatives, our counterparts will do the same.


“I in any case we have even if it’s a single difference between our version and theirs, there will be a committee to harmonise, the conference committee.


“If however, there is no difference between what we have passed here and what they would have passed in the House, this Bill will now be sent to Mr President for his Presidential assent.


“But I want to assure all Nigerians that what the Senate did was to show serious concern and care about the divergent views of Nigerians on the election process in this country.


“All of us want to see an election process that is all inclusive, that is fair, that is equitable and just to everyone, whether someone is in the city or in the villages or in the hamlets.


“We pray that this bill will guide the 2023 general elections so well.


“And we hope to have a better and more improved election process in 2023.”



President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, said that his administration would continue to accord priority to railway infrastructure development due to its economic importance.


Buhari made the remarks in Zawachiki, Kano State at the ground breaking ceremony of Kaduna-Kano rail line.


“I am delighted to preside over the ground breaking ceremony to mark the commencement of construction activities on the Kano-Kaduna segment of the modernisation project at the proposed site of the Kano railway station, which is adjacent to the Dala Inland Dry Port,” he said.


He said that commencement of the construction activities of the Kaduna-Kano rail line project represented the commitment of the administration in the revival of Nigerian Railway system.


 “The project is crucial to the establishment of the supply chain in railway transport within its corridor, Kano, Kaduna, Abuja, and it links major commercial cities in Kano and Kaduna to Abuja.


“After completion, it will link the Lagos-Ibadan railway project there Abuja-Minna-Ilorin-Oshogbo-Ibadan to Lagos on one end, and Maradi in Niger Republic on the other end.”


He revealed that the railway line would be linked to the Tin Can Island port, it was also expected that the inland dry ports on the routes would be activated.


Buhari said that would enable the ports to receive imports directly from international markets.


He commended the transportation minister, Rotimi Ameachi for his focus and resolve which represented the drive of the administration in railway infrastructure development.


In his remarks, Ameachi said that the project covers 203 kilometres double track standard gauge railway from Kano to Kaduna.


He said that it traversed Kaduna, Zaria and Kano cities, with three railway stations both for passengers and freight services at Rigachukun, Zaria and Kano with varying capacities and categories.


He said that the contract was awarded to China Civil Construction Engineering Company and was expected to be completed in 18 months.


Finance, Government

The Senate on Thursday approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for ongoing external loans to the tune of $8,325,526,537 (USD) and €490,000,000 (Euros) under the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan.


The approval followed the consideration of a report on the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan by the Committee on Local and Foreign Debt.


Chairman of the Committee, Senator Clifford Ordia, in his presentation, said the Committee noted with utmost importance, the genuine and very serious concerns of Nigerians about the level and sustainability/serviceability of the country’s borrowings in the last Decade.


According to the lawmaker, “our (Nigeria’s) debt service figures constitute a huge drain on our revenue to the extent that it account for over 30 percent of our expenditure in the annual budget.”


He explained that due to the shortfall in the country’s annual revenues in relation to the need for rapid infrastructural and human capital development, “we have had to pass deficit budget every year, requiring us to borrow to finance the deficit in our budget.”


Ordia noted that out of the total borrowing request of $36,837,281,256 contained in the re-forwarded request of Mr. President, a sum of $26,154,536,533 is for funds proposed to be borrowed from various financial institutions from the Peoples Republic of China.


He stressed that the proposed projects in the Ministries’ of Transportation, FCT, Aviation, Works & Housing, Agriculture and Water Resources and some Commissions such as National Universities Commission, North East Development Commission and the National Identity Management Commission are mostly ongoing projects and programmes in respect of which External Borrowed funds have been spent in the past, including loans.


 “These projects have a great multiplier effect on stimulating economic growth through infrastructure Development, Job creation and Poverty alleviation, stimulation of Commercial and Engineering activities and the consequent tax revenues payable to Government as a result of these productive activities” Ordia explained.


The funding agencies are: World Bank – $796,000,000; China Exim Bank – $2,901,026,509; Industrial Commercial Bank of China – $2,484,555,304; African Development Bank – $104,200,000; Africa Growing Together Fund – $20,000,000; French Development Agency – €240,000,000; European Investment Bank – €250,000,000; European ECA/KfW/IPEX/AFC – $1,959,744,724; and International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD) – $60,000,000.


Zenith Bank Plc has been named the Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria in the World Finance Banking Awards 2021. The award, which was announced in the July 2021 edition of the World Finance Magazine, was based on individual banks’ ability to adapt to a continually evolving technological environment while maintaining top-class customer relations and bolstering their financial footing amidst the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commenting on the award, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu said that: “This recognition reflects our resilience and ability to adapt to a very challenging macroeconomic environment exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as our commitment to creating value for our teeming customers through our best-in-class service and innovative products and solutions.” He expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the bank’s customers for making Zenith Bank their preferred financial Institution which has culminated in this award.

World Finance is a leading international magazine providing comprehensive coverage and analysis of the financial industry, international business and the global economy. The editorial combines award-winning reportage, covering a broad range of topics from banking and insurance to wealth management and infrastructure investment, with contributions from some of the world’s most well-respected economists and theorists as well as consultants in government think tanks and the World Economic Forum.

This award comes in the wake of several awards and recognitions received by the bank in recent times for its track record of excellent performance and commitment to global best practices. Zenith Bank was voted as Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020, Best Bank in Nigeria in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards 2020 and 2021, and Best Corporate Governance ‘Financial Services’ Africa 2020 and 2021 by the Ethical Boardroom. Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, and Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the “2021 Top 1000 World Banks” Ranking by The Banker Magazine.

The bank was also recognised as Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Retail Bank of the year at the 2020 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Awards, and Best Company in Promotion of Good Health and Well-Being as well as Best Company in Promotion of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment at the Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility (SERAS) Awards 2020.

Zenith Bank has continued to distinguish itself in the Nigerian financial services industry through superior service offering, unique customer experience and sound financial indices. The bank has remained a clear leader in the digital space with several firsts in the deployment of innovative products, solutions and an assortment of alternative channels that ensure convenience, speed and safety of transactions.