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AfCFTA: Stakeholders harp on overhauling Nigeria’s transport sector



Economists and key players in the transport sector have called for a comprehensive overhaul of Nigeria’s transport mechanism to maximise business opportunities inherent in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The stakeholders made the call during in a virtual “AfCFTA Strategy Workshop Series II on Transportation”organised by the Secretariat of the National Action Committee (NAC) on AfCFTA in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment.

Ministers, business leaders from both the public and private sectors, executives of industry associations, representatives of international development organisations were among stakeholders that spoke at the workshop.

Mr Francis Anatogu, the Secretary of the NAC said that the workshop was part of its programmes designed to chart Nigeria’s national strategy for the successful implementation of the AfCFTA agreement.

According to him, the workshop is to develop a national strategy for the transportation sector including road, shipping, aviation and rail segments for implementing the continental agreement when it becomes operational.

Mariam Katagun
Minister of State for Trade and Investment

Amb.Mariam Katagum, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment said that transportation was indispensable in maximising the potential of the AfCFTA and key to the competitiveness of the country.

According to her, there is need to extend the presence of transportation across Africa and have regional linkages to take advantage of logistics infrastructure that already exists.

Katagum said: “As we are all aware, transportation is key to the competitiveness of our businesses especially for trade in goods.

“For a country well-endowed in agricultural and natural resources, an efficient inter-modal transport infrastructure is a critical success requirement.

“The ability of our companies to attract international business depends on time and cost to deliver goods during transit.

“Maximising the opportunities for economic growth and job creation means that we must promote local content across every segment of the logistics value chain.

“Some obvious opportunities include patronising our locally manufactured automobiles and parts, increasing fleet ownership, especially in the maritime space and growing our local share of logistics and transit-related services.

“Considering the capital intensity of transport infrastructure, we must explore innovative approaches, to grow our logistics infrastructure and efficiently connect various modes of transport to take advantage of the trade opportunities offered by the AfCFTA.

Senator Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation said that an efficient transport system would facilitate the movement of goods and services, promote business opportunities, create tourism and generate employment.

According to him, Nigeria has developed a roadmap to enable the industry benefit from the agreement and contribute to growing the country’s gross domestic product appreciably.

“As part of the roadmap, the country will concession some airports, float a national carrier and designate some airports as free trade zones,” he said.

Babatunde Fashola, the Minister for Works and Housing, said four out of the nine trans-African highways connected to the country were either undergoing expansion or construction to enhance trade facilitation.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that following the signing of the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the constitution of a National Action Committee (NAC).

The mandate of the NAC is to coordinate relevant MDAs and stakeholder groups to implement the trade readiness interventions detailed in the AfCFTA Impact and Readiness Assessment Report including projects, policies and programmes.

The AfCFTA with its secretariat in Accra, Ghana is a free trade area created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union (AU) nations.

The free-trade area is reputed to be the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a continental market for goods and services with free movement of people and capital and pave the way for creating a Customs Union.

It is expected to grow intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation across the continent

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Protests Erupt in Jos Over Sexual Abuse of Underage Girls by Lebanese



Tension was high yesterday at the Abattoir community, Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State as residents, mostly women and young girls protested the alleged sexual molestation of about 14 young girls in the area by a Lebanese.

The alleged molestation, the protesters claim, has been ongoing for years without anything being done but when the man was eventually arrested and handed over to the Police, he was said to have been released from the Police station hence the protest.

It was gathered that the Lebanese was arrested and handed over to the Police on Thursday after the parents of two of the minors in the community reported that their children were sexually molested.

Apart from the two girls, 12 more girls also confessed that they were also at different times molested by the suspect whom they said did unprintable things to them.

The protesters called for justice to be served and appealed to Government, NGOs, and Civic Society Organizations to intervene so that the issue is not swept under the carpet like previous ones.

One of the protesters, Abigail Haruna said, “This thing has been going on for almost 20 years. I grew up in Abattoir here and I have been hearing about it. This time around, about 14 girls between the ages of 10 to 11 are involved. A Lebanese man in Abattoir here used to sexually molest the girls, one that is 11 is pregnant. This should not be allowed to fester.”

Another protester, Esther Emmanuel added, “Since when I was little, I heard about this man that he uses little girls to do blue film but we never took any action but thank God this case came up yesterday (Thursday). Parents of the girls went to the Police station to report.

“It is really annoying that this thing has been happening but we never did anything about it. None of these girls are up to 15 years. Two of the girls are pregnant, one has HIV, this is annoying. The problem is that when it happens, you will not hear anything again, the issue will just die off like that.

“The parents are left with their children, they will be asked to go and take care of their children and will even be blamed for refusing to talk to their children. If we go to their country, will they allow that? We want justice to be served. The man was arrested but now what we hear is that he has been released.”

But the State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Gabriel Uba when contacted said “The Police is aware of the situation and investigation is ongoing to ascertain the true state of the matter.

“Nobody is happy to hear such a devilish act, investigation is ongoing. Nobody released the man, if they don’t get vital information, they will do things out of ignorance. The matter has been transferred to the State CID, the man has not been released.”


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We can’t raise N160m, parents of abducted Greenfield university students, staff cry out



Photo source: Channels Television

Parents of the remaining 16 kidnapped students and three staff of Greenfield University, Kaduna on Friday gathered to pray for the safe release of their children.

This was even as they appealed to the Federal Government to urgently assist them in rescuing their children from the bandits.

According to them, the bandits are demanding N160 million cumulative ransom for them to release the remaining 16 students.

“We are worried about their safety. The innocent students had spent 24 days in the kidnappers’ den.

To this end, speaking on behalf of the parents, the Chairman of the parents’ forum, Marcus Zarmai, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to use his office to secure the release of the students before something sinister happens to them.

According to him, the kidnappers are demanding a sum of N10 million on each of the 16 students, making N160 million.

“Even after, we the parents have collectively paid them over N60 million ransom for the release of our children and they failed to release them.

Zarmai said, having exhausted all the money they have to pay as ransom, “We, the parents are appealing to the Federal Government to assist us to pay the ransom demanded or find any other way to ensure the safe return of our children.”

Recall, the man behind the abducted students had three weeks ago threatened to kill the 16 students if the ransom is not paid.

However, Sheikh Ahmed Gummi had come out to say they have reached out to the bandits and they have agreed not to kill the remaining students.

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Former Defence Chief Joshua Dogonyaro is Dead



General Dogonyaro died in Jos on Wednesday at the age of 80.

Dogonyaro, a retired lieutenant general, died at the age of 80 on Wednesday.

The first son of the deceased, Joseph Dogonyaro, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview in Pankshin, on Thursday.

“Daddy has been sick for some time until yesterday when he had a stroke and we rushed him to the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) for medical attention.

“Unfortunately, early this morning (Thursday), around 3.00 a.m. precisely, he breathed his last.

“His death comes as a rude shock to us as a family. We are going to miss his love and warmth as a grandfather, father, brother, uncle and supporter,” he said.

Joseph said the family was trying to cope with the shock of the general’s demise and would discuss the funeral arrangements soon.

He described his father as “a General who was so faithful and loyal to the nation, Nigeria.”

“He was a general who had no bias mind as a detribalised Nigerian. He served this nation faithful and identified with all Nigerians and Africa as a continent.

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