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Nigerian press focuses on lawmakers call for upgrade of State House Clinic, others

The call by Senators for the upgrading of the State House Clinic to curb President Muhammadu Buhari and other top government officials from going abroad for medical treatment and the renewed debates over the decentralization of policing to ensure security of life and property dominate the headlines of Nigerian newspapers on Friday.ThisDay reports that the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs yesterday called for the upgrading of the State House Clinic to curb President Muhammadu Buhari and other top government officials from going abroad for medical treatment.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Danjuma La’ah, said the committee would approve N1.3 billion for the upgrade of the State House Clinic to prepare it to attend to the medical needs of Buhari and others.

According to him, upgrading the clinic will save the nation scarce resources being expended on the treatment of the president and other top officials in foreign hospitals.

La’ah spoke yesterday in Abuja when the Permanent Secretary of the State House, Abuja, Mr. Tijani Umar, appeared before the committee to defend the 2021 budget estimate of the seat of government.

La’ah said the N19.7 billion voted for the State House in the 2021 budget out of which N1.3 billion is for the upgrade of the State House Clinic, will be approved by the National Assembly.

The Guardian says that the echoes of the recent #EndSARS protests and agitation against police brutality have continued to reverberate in renewed debates over calls for the decentralization of policing and establishment of state policing approach to the provision of security of life and property.

The report added that majority of stakeholders, who spoke to The Guardian on the development stressed the need for the federal Government to expeditiously consider the calls for state police as a way of addressing the shortcomings of the central policing system, especially failures in crime prevention, human right abuses, lawlessness as well as declining welfare of police personnel.

However, contrary to the general belief that the EndSARS protests have underscored the imperatives of state policing, a retired Commissioner of Police and delegate to the 2014 National Conference, Mr. Samuel Adetuyi, noted that the clamour for state policing may be appealing at the moment, due to youth unrest under the auspices of #ENDSARS protest, but may not salvage the sordid working conditions of Nigeria police.

The former Police Commissioner, who is also a lawyer and frontline advocate for police reforms, said the new wave of campaign for state policing would rather worsen the welfare of police personnel beyond expectations if necessary steps are not taken.

He agreed that state police is a fundamental imperative and feature of a country operating a federal constitution, taking into account how administration, responsibility and control of the police will follow a structure defined between the federating units.

The Punch reports that the Nigerian Government on Wednesday said it was willing to resume oil exploration in the Lake Chad Basin.

The exercise was suspended by the government in July 2017 after suspected members of Boko Haram attacked a team of geological engineers from the University of Maiduguri who were engaged by Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation to carry out a survey of the the Lake Chad region in Borno State towards the commencement of oil exploration.

The Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, addressing the media after a close door meeting in Maiduguri with the military and chief executive officers in the oil sector, said the area was now peaceful enough to commence the oil exploration. Sylvia said that the relative peace in Borno state and the Lake Chad area informed the decision to move in for exploration and drilling activities in the region.

He said: “We are here to thank the Chief of Army Staff and the Nigerian Army for the great job they continue to perform in the North-East. “We believe that without their gallant activities here, we in Abuja would not be living safely.

The newspaper says that the Nigerian Government on Thursday signed a share sale and purchase agreement with Transcorp Power Consortium in relation to Afam Power Plc and Afam III Fast Power Ltd.

The agreement, which is expected to lead to the addition of 966MW to the national grid, was signed at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises, Alex Okoh, signed on behalf of the Federal Government while the Chairman of Transcorp Group, Tony Elumelu, signed for the firm.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is the chairman of the National Council on Privatisation, witnessed the ceremony. The NCP had approved the privatisation of the Afam Power Plant at its meeting held on August 22 and 23, 2017.

Transcorp Power Consortium emerged the preferred bidder with a combined offer of N105bn. At the brief ceremony, Osinbajo described the signing of the agreement as a milestone in the Federal Government’s continued effort to accelerate reforms in the power sector. He further described the acquisition of the two power plants as the first in the many new investments in the sector across value chain from generation to distribution.

The Sun reports that the House of Representatives Committee on Works, yesterday, grilled the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, over the slow pace of work at the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Highway.

The lawmakers expressed concerns that despite the huge sums of money so far collected by the contractors, Julius Berger Plc and Reynold Construction Company (RCC), not much work has been done on the projects.

They queried the minister for the alleged preference for Julius Berger in the execution of high-profile projects in the country.

Fashola appeared before the House Committee on Works for an appraisal of the 2020 budget performance and defence of the 2021 budget proposal.

A member of the committee, Ben Igbakpa, had queried the Minister on why the volume of work done on the three projects, which is funded through the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).

Igbakpa noted that despite the availability of funds for the second Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Abuja-Kano Expressway, which the government considered very critical, the projects are still behind schedule.

 However, Fashola explained that there are a lot of factors responsible for the slow pace of work on the three projects, as well as other ongoing projects across the country. According to him, delays on the projects are caused by variations in the original designs, and staff security among other factors.

Published on 10.02.2021

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