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Buhari on Ajaokuta steel company : APC -led government rescued project from legal disputes with $400m

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government rescued the Ajaokuta Steel Complex from legal encumbrances with a whopping $400 million.

He also said the project, when finally concessioned, would provide over 500,000 estimated jobs and attract more than $1.6 billion annual income to the Nigerian economy.

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President Buhari who spoke Thursday during a one-day official visit to Okene, Kogi state, also said Governor Yahaya Bello had performed creditably in his two terms as governor

He said: “We are an administration that prides ourselves in the fulfillment of our electoral promises to the Nigerian people, at both national and sub-national levels.

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“This is why I am glad that we have an impressive array of legacy projects through your own state government as proof of our stewardship of Kogi State. The APC administration has indelible footprints in Kogi State. Among the many projects executed by the Federal Government are; the Itakpe to Okene bypass, the Obajana to Kabba concrete road built by Dangote Industries Limited under our ‘roads for taxes initiate’ (Executive Order 7) and the Itakpe to Warri railway service, among others. 

“I am very pleased to be here today to commission several projects executed by the administration of His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello.”

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President Buhari also spoke on the determination of his administration to position Kogi state as an industrial hub as well as a solid mineral power base, stressing that the project stands to benefit the people of the State immensely. 

He said the federal government had achieved the resolution of all legal entanglements that had bogged down the progress of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex.

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“No other single project holds the key to unlocking this vast potential as much as the Ajaokuta Steel Complex which we inherited as a long moribund complex strangulating under a tangle of local and international commercial disputes. 

“I am glad to report that as we begin to round off in office, we can genuinely say that our administration has rescued Ajaokuta from all legal disabilities and it is now ready for concessioning to a private investor with the right profiles to put it to work for Nigeria in general and Kogi State in particular. 

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“The process has cost this Federal Government over 400m US Dollars so far, but I consider it money well spent as we move closer to achieving our objective of transforming Kogi State into Nigeria’s iron and steel powerhouse.

“The benefits of getting Ajaokuta Steel Complex working again are numerous. It would provide over 500,000 estimated jobs and more than $1.6 billion in annual income to the Nigerian economy. Nigerians can rest assured that I remain committed to seeing this process to a logical conclusion before the end of my tenure in Office,” the president further said.

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He said Kogi state also stands to benefit in diverse ways when the 614 km (384 miles) AKK gas pipeline which traverses the State starts operations next year.

He commended Governor Bello “for rising up to the occasion in many sectors especially security. We are proud of him and I encourage the people of Kogi State to continue to support him and his team as they are working hard to ensure peace, security and development in the state.” 

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Projects commissioned

The projects commissioned by the president include the Reference Hospital Okene which boasts of the first ever hyperbaric treatment chamber in Nigeria and the fleet of ambulances attached to it; the new Ohinoyi’s Palace at Okene; the Ganaja Junction Flyover and interchange at Lokoja; the GYB Model Science Secondary School, Adankolo, Lokoja; the Muhammadu Buhari Square (Civic Centre) at Lokoja; and a fleet of high-tech security vehicles to combat crimes and criminalities. 

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Bello remarks 

Also speaking, Governor Bello thanked the president for showing leadership and for the various programmes and interventions which had positively impacted the state and its people, including the Itakpe-Warri Rail Line. 

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He informed the president that the projects inaugurated were in response to his commitment to serve, adding that since his swearing-in January 27, 2016, his administration constituted a multi-sectoral committee that went round the nooks and crannies of the state, identifying the needs of the people. 

“This document has been our guide,” he said.  

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While acknowledging the commitment of federal government towards the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, Governor Bello thanked the president for his unrelenting interest in the project. 

The governor also stated that his administration had a cordial relationship with the traditional institution in the state, saying the new Ohinoyi’s Palace being commissioned by the president was a testimony to this.

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Ohinoyi  

In his remarks, the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Dr Ibrahim Ado, represented by the Ohi of Okengwe, HRH Alhaji Mohammed Tijjani Anage, on behalf of the traditional rulers of the Central Senatorial zone of the state, thanked the President for his support to the Bello administration and for being the first sitting president of Nigeria to visit Kogi state on a working visit.

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Explosion ahead Buhari’s visit

And ahead of Buhari’s visit, an explosion rocked the ancient city of Okene.

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The explosion at the governor’s home town occurred a few hours before the expected historic visit of President Buhari to the state. Controversy however trailed the explosion which some persons attributed to a bomb blast, with others said it was a transformer blast.

However, three persons were reportedly killed in the incident which happened just a few meters from the Ohinoyi’s palace at Kuroko Street in Okene.

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Wait for your time, TSN tells Atiku, Obi

Meanwhile, the Tinubu/Shettima Network, an all-inclusive platform strategising for the victory of the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima in the 2023 general elections, has urged the candidates of other political parties to wait for their time.

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The group, at the inauguration of its national, zonal, state and local government  officials/commissioning of  national headquarters in Abuja, Thursday, boasted that, given the pedigree of their candidate, the coast was already clear for the ruling APC to retain the seat presently occupied by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Speaking at the ceremony, chairman of TSN, Engr. Dr Kailani Muhammad said: “Let’s look at the candidates vying for the presidential position one by one. The All Progressives Congress has fielded Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, while the party’s main opposition PDP has fielded Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

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“On the other hand, the Labour Party has Peter Obi as its flag bearer, while the NNPP has Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso as its candidate for the election.

“For the avoidance of doubt, all the contestants have their credibility and antecedents but none is comparable to Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

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“Tinubu is a man of vision. He’s charismatic. He has the wit and political network across the country. That’s why electing him to become the next President of the country would be good for all and will eventually open doors for greater things to happen in the country.

“Tinubu is a man of vision. He’s charismatic. He has the wit and political network across the country. That’s why electing him to become the next President of the country would be good for all and will eventually open doors for greater things to happen in the country.

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“When he was governor of Lagos State, Tinubu had a think tank through which he was able to develop a long-term vision for the state. He runs an all inclusive government that reflected a mini-Nigeria.

“He has turned around the state internal revenue to a more robust and result driven that has placed the state as a financially independent one among the 36 states of the federation. Lagos State had survived without recourse to the Federal Government monthly grant.”

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“The inauguration of the Tinubu/Shettima Network (TSN) National Officers and State Coordinators today, is a milestone in the Tinubu/Shettima ticket as it jumpstarts the implementation of our strategies and synergies towards achieving a significant paradigm shift from the clutches of political stagnation in the country to the dynamics of political re-invention in tandem with the 21st century global trend,” they added.

He informed the audience that “the TSN is a rebirth of the Voters Guard and Awareness, which through 2003, 2007, 2011 and eventually 2015 and 2019, ensured success for President Muhammadu Buhari with about 12 million votes.

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“We are happy that even though the journey was rough and tough the landscape loaded with landmines, yet we were able to weather the storm and our minimal effort and inputs yielded positive results at the end of it all.”

Muslim-Muslim ticket

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On the Muslim-Muslim ticket, Muhammad called on Nigerians to stop whipping up sentiments and embrace what he called a ‘winning formula’: “The Tinubu/ Shettima ticket should be a source of excitement to Nigerians rather than a source of worry. It will definitely add value to the country and enhance the country’s political fortunes.

“Tinubu is a Muslim who is married to a Christian pastor and they have been together for over 40 years. How can someone imagine that Tinubu will turn around all of a sudden to hurt Christians and their interests and then become anti-Christ.

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“Nigerians should understand that, the manifestation of this ticket has given us hope, such that very soon, in the near future, there is going to be a Christian –Christian ticket. Once we arrive at that stage, we can be assured that the time of religious distrust in Nigeria is gone forever and that those political jobseekers that feed on religious politics will become jobless.”

 LP’s Osuntokun

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In a related development, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has insisted that the recently appointed Director General of Labour Party (LP) presidential campaign  Akin Osuntokun  remains the senatorial candidate for Ekiti Central Senatorial Zone on the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) platform.

Osuntokun replaced Doyin Okupe as the Peter Obi and Datti Baba-Ahmed’s campaign following Okupe’s resignation after his conviction for breaching the Money Laundering Act by a Federal High Court Abuja.

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Osuntokun had in an interview with Channels Television Wednesday claimed he had abandoned his senatorial ambition under ZLP to take up the job of Obi’s chief campaigner.

But the electoral commission said neither Mr Osuntokun nor his party can withdraw his candidacy.

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INEC’s Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, told Premium Times that Osuntokun remains ZLP’s Ekiti Central Senatorial candidate.

Mr. Okoye said no individual or political party can at this point withdraw, submit or substitute the name of any candidate taking part in the 2023 general elections.

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For INEC to amend the names of candidates already submitted at this point, he said, it must be through the order of a court of law.

“The law is very clear,” he said in a telephone interview on Thursday. 

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“The period for substitution and the period for withdrawal in our (INEC) timetable and schedule of activities as well as in the electoral act, has elapsed.”

He added that the legality or otherwise of Osuntokun’s appointment as LP’s presidential campaign DG is not within INEC’s purview but the internal structure of the political parties.

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Both LP’s spokesperson, Yinusa Tanko, and ZLP’s party leader, Dan Nwanyanwu, did not respond to calls and text message requests for comment.

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