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Economy, Government

The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) said 158 projects from different sectors were incorporated into the Public Private Partnership (PPP) project pipeline in 2020.


This is according to the 2020 Annual Report and Accounts of the organisation.


According to the report which was obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja, the projects went through various stages of development, procurement and implementation.


It also said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) gave approvals for some vital projects, which were earlier granted the Full Business Case (FBC) Compliance Certificates by the commission to pave way for eventual contract signing and commercial close.


The projects included development of the Bonny Deep Seaport in Rivers, development of Ibom Deep Sea Port in Akwa Ibom and automated ticketing portal for the Nigerian Railway Corporation.


Others were upgrading, expansion and operation of the Nigerian Correctional Services shoe/garment/leather factories in Aba-Abia and Janguza-Kano State and renovation of the students’ hostel at Kaduna Polytechnic.


It also said that Outline Business Case (OBC) Compliance Certificates were granted for some key projects in the transport sector of the economy, adding that some of them had proceeded to the procurement stage while others would soon follow.


They were the development of the Truck Transit Parks in Obollo-Afor, Enugu State; Aviele and Benin Bye-Pass, Edo; Lokoja, Kogi; and Illela, Sokoto State.


Others were concession of the four International Airport Terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt and the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing Highway Development and Management Initiative (HDMI) for 12 selected routes.


The ICRC said that within the year under review, it began the process of regularising all PPP projects by whatever name they were called and brought them under the commission’s custody to enable their subjection to its regulatory oversight.


“An important reason for the regularisation is to ensure revenues accruing to the government go into a Special Concession Account (SCA) set up for this purpose.


“The approval for the implementation of the SCA was given through a circular issued by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning in June 2020.


“Already, N2.4 billion has accrued to the government as the concession fee for the development of the Gurara Dam II Project.”


The report, however, identified lack of dedicated funding to develop, promote and implement PPP projects as a setback which slowed the development of some projects.


It also said that strong political will and commitment were needed to strengthen the PPP framework and ensure the process was not undermined or truncated due to adverse interests.


The report also said there was lack of adequate enforcement powers over PPP contract agreements and disputes.


It added that there was a bill to address identified gaps in the existing law of the commission pending before the National Assembly.


“The proposed amendment seeks to rename the ICRC as PPP Regulatory Commission to accommodate other forms of PPP and expand its powers to impose appropriate sanctions to ensure compliance with provisions of the Act and regulations thereof.


“The urgent passage of the bill will help ICRC to establish its independence, improve its regulatory oversight and exercise adequate control over the process.”


While proposing to ensure accountability in PPP revenue in 2021 through the SCA, the commission said it would effectively monitor revenue accruing to the government from PPP projects and add more projects to the PPP pipeline.


It would also strengthen the capacity of PPP units of government agencies to structure transactions and monitor the progress of projects which were awarded or completed to ensure that contractual obligations were being met.


NAN recalls that ICRC was established to regulate PPP activities in Nigeria to address physical infrastructure deficit which hampered economic development.


Economy, Government

Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-olu has called for a better integration among the southwestern states and the nation in general to ensure performance standardization, transparency, accountability and economic development.


This call was made during the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Nigeria South-West Zonal Town Hall meeting, hosted by the Lagos State government for the validation of the Country Self-Assessment Report (CSAR) on the ongoing Second Peer Review involving the National Governing Council, APRM National Secretariat, States, and local governments held at the Oriental Hotel, Lekki-Epe Expressway.


The APRM evaluation process engages the public and private sectors including the critical sectors both virtually and physically to assess performance of member states in four thematic areas: Democracy and Political Governance; Economic Management and Governance; Corporate Governance and Socio-Economic Development.


Recalling the recent Southern Governors forum in Lagos, the Governor represented by the State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Sam Egube said the Forum on its platform continued interactions to harmonise views for national development and continued support for local government.


He said “We just recently hosted the Southern Governors and in the platform, Governors around continued that interaction that takes to harmonise our views for national development. We are certainly not against the local government, the idea is that Nigeria must get better and we need a framework that works perfectly for Nigeria and for Nigerians.


 “The issues around the conversation is the integration from the South West region; how are the learnings from Lagos being incorporated in the learnings in all other States, how is the exchange program going on between Lagos and other States and how is the Inter State Mechanisms working in the Nigerian Governors Forum, as well as other platforms that are in place to ensure that we have performance standardization, things around transparency, accountability nationally and how the institutions ensure these works continue to function.”


He added that Lagos has always been at the forefront in judicial interpretation as well as forcing laws that will make a modern government and ensuring collaborations with other States for economic cohesion.


 “Lagos is always at the forefront in looking for judicial interpretation as to the things that we do, forcing laws that will make us a modern State and ensuring that we collaborate with other States to ensure that there is oneness in this.


“The South West is a leading light and if you understand the history of the South West, you will know we have been in the frontline of challenging what our nation should look like and we have always been in support of One Nigeria and we have always been of the opinion that Nigeria must improve and we have seen Nigeria actually improve in terms of the various structure, it depends on how you look at it. We are making progress in different areas in terms of the framework, some States are stronger than others and if you see Lagos for instance, we are a leading light and you find that giving the amount of people coming into the State is an indication of that,” he said.


The National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer, AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria represented by Mrs. Jawaretu Olumoko said, there has been remarkable development in the southwest geo-political zone based on reports. She added that the second review process would help identify the strengths and weaknesses of each state to make recommendations to the government for implementation of the National Programme of Action (NPOA), which is used as a blueprint to strengthen best practices in Nigeria’s democracy, political and economic governance.


 “What I have observed so far is that the six states that form the southwest geo-political zone have been performing excellently based on the response from their representatives. What we are looking out for is that we want to know the strengths and weaknesses of each of the state because that is what will help us to put together our National Programme of Action and we will be able to make recommendations to the government so that there will be improvement, especially in their area of weaknesses.


 “There are a lot of benefits from this (town hall meeting), one which is most important is experience shared. We have six states in the southwest geo-political zone, now we are listening to each representative from each of the states and we are learning from each other; exchanging ideas,” she said.


In her remarks, Barr. Iyabo Fakunle-Okeinen, Ekiti State Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, who also is a member of the National Governing Council for the Second Peer Review thanked Governor Sanwo-Olu for his unwavering support since the inception of the exercise.


Economy, FEATURES, Government

With the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, there is need to drive more inclusive trade initiatives and expand intra-regional trade in the ECOWAS sub-region, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.


Prof. Osinbajo stated this Friday evening in Abuja at the inaugural gala night of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Trade Promotion Organizations (TPO) Network.

The President of ECOWAS TPO Network is the Executive Director/CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Segun Awolowo; and the Vice President is the CEO of Cote d’Ivoire Export Promotion Organisation, Mr. Guy M’Bengue.


According to the Vice President, the TPO Network, which was established with the support of the International Trade Centre (ITC), “is a farsighted and insightful initiative of the ECOWAS, trade promotion organizations in the ECOWAS community.”


He added that the Network “must present a trustworthy platform for cross learning and the sharing of knowledge and information assets.”


The Vice President said, “the vision of our Heads of State and Governments in resolving to establish this network (TPO) is to build a more robust and broader economic space for trade and investment. A major part of that effort is that the network serves as a platform for businesses and trade promotion agencies in our sub-region to share knowledge and business opportunities, and develop trade capacity in our sub-region.”


According to the ECOWAS, the TPO Network is a public-sector led entity and will work in partnership with the ECOWAS commission to drive inclusive trade development initiatives within West Africa and beyond.


Prof. Osinbajo further said the Network has world class human resource capacity to succeed in achieving its set objectives.


 “The combined experience of the TPOs that form the network is mind boggling. Second is our confidence in your resilience and commitment, which assures us that beyond the tunnel of those obvious challenges lies the bright light of a new era of trade prosperity for the people of the West Africa region and, indeed, the continent,” he said.


Commending the ECOWAS and the TPO network for the success of the launch and its First Annual General Assembly, the Vice President noted that “there is the imminent task of enabling our region benefit maximally from the AfCFTA and other intra and extra regional export opportunities.”


Dignitaries present at the event include the wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo; Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Industry, Trade and Investment; Otunba Niyi Adebayo; his colleague Minister of State, Ambassador Mariam Katagum; Executive Director/CEO, NEPC, Segun Awolowo; the CEO of Cote d’Ivoire Export Promotion Organisation, Mr. Guy M’Bengue; the Vice President, ECOWAS Commission, Finda Koroma; among other senior government officials and development partners.


Economy, Energy

Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu has said that local production of solar cells will slash the price of solar panels by 60 per cent.


This is contained in a statement by Head, Press and Public Relations of the ministry, Ms Josephine Ademu, on Friday in Abuja.


Onu, during a virtual meeting with Mr Francesca Camera, Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), said that the production would also help transform Nigeria’s economy.


According to him, the production of indigenous solar cells will have a positive impact on many industries in the country.


He sought the assistance of IRENA on institutional capacity building for research in enhancing green hydrogen energy, adding that Nigeria has immense gas reserves.


He advised that renewable energy should be fully exploited as solar energy would enable rural communities to have access to sustainable electricity power.


The minister further said that activities of Nigeria as a member nation of the agency would help make renewable energy more available.


“We want to make our solar cells in Nigeria; more foreign investors should be encouraged to come into Nigeria, which has a huge market of 200 million people,” he said.


Onu noted that the country was committed to ensuring the protection and preservation of the planet for future generations.


He assured that Nigeria would participate and fulfill its obligations as a member state of IRENA.


Earlier, Camera commended the country’s commitment to the agency adding that IRENA would find ways to boost Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Nigeria.


He said that the agency would collaborate further with Nigeria in developing renewable energy and ways


Agriculture, Economy

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) says it is working on plan to export cashew nuts directly from the South-East, in line with the Federal Government’s policy on diversification.


The Executive Director of the council, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, made this known in Enugu during a workshop organised by the council for stakeholders in the cashew value chain that NEPC had developed what it called “Zero-Oil Plan”, an initiative for boosting foreign exchange earnings through the non-oil export sector.


Represented by the South-East Regional Coordinator of the council, Mr Arnold Jackson, he said the initiative had set a long term goal of earning 20 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product from non-oil exports.


“The initial target is to exceed US$30 billion in non-oil exports over the next 10 years, add extra US$150 billion to Nigeria’s foreign reserves and lift at least 20 million Nigerians out of poverty,” he said.


Awolowo said the council also had the ‘One-State One-Product’ programme, which was developed to ensure that each state focused on at least one product to develop for export.


He said that under the programme, Enugu State indicated cashew and palm oil as its main and alternate products.


The NEPC boss said that cashew remained an important agricultural commodity in the state.


“We, therefore, require the collaboration of the state government and other stakeholders to develop exportable products from cashew,” he said.


He said that cashew had the potential to significantly affect Nigeria’s foreign exchange.


According to him, the country is the second largest producer of the nut with an annual production of 350,000 metric tons.


“We have a long way to go to be able to meet local demands and export,” Awolowo said.


He called for the establishment of an aggregation centre in the zone, where cashew nuts could be graded and checked for quality assurance.


“The quality issues have to be resolved because what sells products is the quality assurance,” he said.


In a lecture, the National Auditor, Cashew Farmers Association of Nigeria, Mr Ferdinand Eze, said that Enugu state was producing  20,000 metric tons of cashew nuts per annum.


Eze said that the figure was a far cry from the capacity of the state, considering the huge cashew investment made in the area by former Premier of Old Eastern Region, late Dr Michael Okpara.


He said that most of the cashew trees were over 40 years and had become old, hence the need to plant new ones.


In a goodwill message, the Enugu State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Mathew Idu, said the state had comparative and competitive advantage in cashew production over other cash crops.


Idu, however, said that cashew farmers in the state had yet to reach their optimum potential in cashew production.


He gave assurance that the state government would assist the farmers and other stakeholders along the value chain.