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Lagos – To the Next Level

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By Act Now

 

The Nigerian economy has been rundown with massive unemployment, low oil prices, rising costs and an unstable Naira making headlines. Lagos as Nigeria’s commercial capital feels the pulse and the heat of a poorly managed national economy. Nationwide, it seemed the Federal Government abandoned its role to govern the nation. Our public space was filled with stories of public corruption. Confidence in the nation’s security was at an all-time low with our police force ill equipped to tackle crime. This was why the nation spoke in the presidential elections of March 28th 2015 to reject 16 years of failure of governance.

In contrast, Lagos has experienced superior governance. There has been a deliberate design and effort of the government to develop the State in spite of the challenge of a hostile Federal Government. Our security forces were equipped under an innovative security trust fund. Thousands of patrol vehicles and armoured personnel carriers enhanced the few that the Federal Government provided, keeping us safe from kidnappers, robbers and terrorists. The light rail from Okokomaiko to Marina will be ready in June, taking many cars off the roads. Lagos has five independent power plants (IPPs) that provide off-grid, uninterrupted electricity to public hospitals, buildings, waterworks, and streetlights. With good foresight, it has surveyed the energy needs of the various communities in Lagos. The environment has been improved with parks that used to harbour criminals, now providing relaxation to residents. Lagos has made great progress. The ambition of Lagos to provide social and infrastructural services to Lagosians has only been reduced by a hostile PDP-led Federal Government.

For the first time, Lagos has the opportunity to cooperate with a progressive government at the centre. General Buhari of the All Progressives Congress has outlined a party manifesto that indicates many benefits for Lagos. Flanked by Lagos’ own former Attorney-General, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Lagos has a unique opportunity to move to the next level of progress. For instance, the federal plan of the APC for electricity takes after the Lagos off-grid IPP model for its public facilities. With the energy needs survey already done by the Lagos Government, implementation of the APC’s off-grid community-based IPPs will almost be like plug and play. Imagine Alaba International, Ladipo, Tejuosho and Balogun Markets with their own power plants. This reality is very close and touchable. The APC federal government also wants to set up industrial and technology parks with free electricity, free Internet and business grants. Where better to initiate such a scheme other than Lagos? One can see Computer Village in the mix. A social safety net for the poor is also top on the agenda of the APC- free meals in public primary schools, conditional cash transfers of N5,000 each to the poorest. This is the next level that Lagos deserves.

But our progress in Lagos could suffer a setback if the wrong policies or party take hold. An assault on, or incursion into, Lagos by the party that has failed Nigerians will undermine the collective growth of Lagos. Those forces that pinched the peoples’ resources for 16 years and their right to a decent living are knocking on the door of Lagos. Nearly all the states that they ruled, from North to South, and from East to West, retain the memory of the failure of governance. Ask Edo, Oyo, Osun and Ogun States what failed governance under the PDP entailed and the cleanup operation required by the progressive governments. Can Lagos afford a cleanup operation in the next four years? Is Lagos not too big and too dear to us to fail?

That is the context for the April 11 election, and as glaring as it is, the choice is just as clear.

The APC government has shown a firm commitment to using government to help foster growth. Federally, the APC has formed sensible governance policies in its manifesto that are not dedicated to protecting the powerful, but will work to bring relief to the majority of Nigerians and Lagosians who are powerless. The APC government in Lagos has impressive achievements despite the implacable wall of hostility erected by a PDP-led Federal Government so intent on crippling Lagos that they risked crashing Nigeria’s commercial progress and held Lagos’ revenues and development hostage. Mr. Ambode has worked at the top of the accounting function of the APC Government that managed Lagos’ economic survival in the face of PDP’s antagonistic might.

Jimi Agbaje, the PDP candidate, has gotten this far with a guile that allows him to say whatever he thinks an audience wants to hear. But he has tied himself to the exploitative and vicious forces that control the PDP and embraced their electoral methods, including an unleashing of ethnic militia on Lagosians on March 16th 2015. Voters may still be confused about Mr. Agbaje’s true identity, but they know the Peoples Democratic Party, and an Agbaje administration would reflect its agenda. Mr. Agbaje’s choice of Musiliu Obanikoro, Bode George and Adeseye Ogunlewe as his political benefactors says volumes about that.

Mr. Ambode may come across as running a temperate campaign with his reluctance to pound on Mr. Agbaje’s membership of the inglorious PDP (that has cost Nigeria so much) and Mr. Agbaje’s repeated political migration and infidelity. But we know he has a stomach to fight for the policies that will shape Lagos in the next four years and take her to the next level. He approaches the election clearly ready for the cooperative atmosphere of working with a progressive Federal Government.

We are confident that Lagos will attain the next level. For the first time, we will have a federal government that has the genuine interest of Lagos at heart. An alignment of ideology, policies, politics and interest between an APC Federal Government and Lagos State Government is the only option that takes us to the next level. While we congratulate Nigeria for its deliverance from failure, this certainly is not the time for Lagos to invite, accept, or tolerate PDP’s failure. Let us all join hands to take Lagos to the next level.

Act Now Nigeria

 

Act Now is an action group supporting the cause of the All Progressives Congress.

See more about them at www.actnow.ng or www.actnowng.com

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My friend who warned against investing in Nigeria now taunting me – Aliko Dangote

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The President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has disclosed that his friend who earlier warned him against investing in Nigeria is now taunting him for ignoring his advice.

Dangote disclosed this in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday just as reports quoted the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority as claiming that diesel from Dangote Refinery is of inferior quality.

“Four years ago, one of my very wealthy friends began to invest his money abroad. I disagreed with him and urged him to rethink his actions in the interest of his country.

“He blamed his action on policy inconsistencies and shenanigans of interest groups.

“That friend has been taunting me in the past few days, saying he warned me and that he has been proven right,” Dangote was quoted to have said.

He said he invested in the refinery to help solve a major issue in the country, wondering why some people were working against him.

He added, “As you probably know, I am 67 years old. In less than three years, I will be 70. I need very little to live the rest of my life. I can’t take the refinery or any other property or asset to my grave. Everything I do is in the interest of my country.’

“We have been facing a fuel crisis since the 70s. This refinery can help in resolving the problem but it does appear some people are uncomfortable that I am in the picture. So I am ready to let go, let the NNPC buy me out, run the refinery.

“This refinery can help in resolving the problem but it does appear some people are uncomfortable that I am in the picture. So I am ready to let go, let the NNPC buy me out, and run the refinery. At least the country will have high-quality products and create jobs.”

The 650,000 barrel-per-day refinery, which came to life last year after a decade of prolonged construction, cost $19 billion, more than double the initial estimate, promising to help wean Africa’s biggest oil producer off its reliance on fuel from overseas and save up 30 per cent of the total foreign exchange spent on importing goods.

On Sunday, the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, said it was expecting fresh reports to confirm the real sulphur content of the diesel produced by the Dangote refinery as the company debunked claims of inferior fuel production.

The NMDPRA spokesman, George Ene-Ita, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the agency had done its job and would not engage in a media fight with anybody over the claims made by the NMDPRA Chief Executive, Farouk Ahmed, that Dangote’s diesel has more sulphur content than imported one.

According to Ene-Ita, the authority has about 15 engineers and scientists embedded in the Dangote refinery, whose fresh report about the refinery’s sulphur content will be out on Monday (today).

Africa’s richest man had earlier narrated how a cabal was blocking his moves to import crude and how it has been difficult to get products, slowing down operations.

But last week, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority said the Nigerian government was yet to license the Dangote refinery to begin operations in the country.

The Chief Executive Officer, NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, disclosed this while speaking with journalists at the state House on Thursday, July 18.

According to Ahmed, the claims of ongoing efforts to scuttle the operations of Dangote refinery due to lack of supply of crude oil by International Oil Companies were not true, adding that the refinery was still at the pre-commissioning stage and has not been licensed yet.

Ahmed added that the diesel product of Dangote was below international standard, a claim which the businessman had refuted.

 

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Nigerians Lambast Lawmaker For Gifting Daughter Lexus SUV Amid Hardship, For Graduating From Secondary School

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Some Nigerians have taken to social media to lampoon Yusuf Gagdi, the lawmaker representing Pankshin/ Kanke/Kanam Constituency of Plateau State for gifting her daughter, Aisha, a brand-new Lexus RX SUV for graduating from Lead British International School in Abuja.

Gagdi a member of the All Progressives Congress in the House of Representatives seems to have literally stirred the honest nest as social media users took him to the cleaners.

Gagdi’s daughter also reportedly did well in her Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, Daily Nigerian reports.

Pictures of the proud family and the luxury vehicle were posted on the newspaper’s Facebook page, showcasing the lavish celebration.

The extravagant gift, however, has sparked conversations about wealth inequality and spending habits among Nigerian politicians, especially amidst a struggling economy.

A Facebook user, Lawan Bala Muhammad wrote, “Just secondary school not university. That good representation”

Abubakar Alhaji Abubakar said Nigeria’s “democracy is in wheelchair”.

Abdul Muhammad said, “While his constituents are there without electricity, water, access road or job opportunities.”

“So she would be gifted a jet when she graduates from the university, mispriority of highest order!all the same,congrats to the young damsel,” King Sunday Ajayi wrote.

Adebanjo Joshua said, “SUV that worths more than #75M wasted on secondary school graduated daughter while his constituents are left unemployed and impoverished? God will punish you!”

Babadoko Kutigi wrote, “And they(politicians)keep on telling innocent and venerable Nigerians to be patient with government while add more millions to their reserves everyday by day.”

Ahmerd Muserh said, “How i wish! Such is happening amidst the uncertainty of twice meal for the masses. Nigeria is not a country, it’s a business organisation with heartless proprietors. Astagfirullah!”

Nura Isyaku Fagge wrote, “This is the same lawmaker pretending to pity our situation. He was once addressing the chamber nearly crying.. Mhm.”

Tpl Imrana Daura said, “He could have the money used in buying the car and settle school fees for the less privileged. At least he can for over 300 students in the Nigerian Federal University tuition fees system.”

Also, Ibrahim Magaji Alkasim said, “This car is worth 80-100 Million Naira. How long will it take a working class Nigerian to buy it?

“The politicians are nothing but bunch of looters, they milk the country dry and if you ask for 250k minimum wage they will say Nigeria doesn’t have that money to pay its workers. Always borrowing money from China, IMF and world Bank, they are the same people that will share the money as bogus allowances and mismanage the rest.”

“That is why as ordinary citizens it’s time for us to come back into our right senses and forget our differences, which they are using to divide us. Let us remember It’s us VS them!”

Musa Ibrahim Ahmed wrote, “And they’re still asking Nigerians to be patient. Someone who’s giving out a car worth 40m is asking someone who is struggling with 2 square meal to be patient.!!

“This life no balance at all..🙄 We must protests and bring an end to this inhumane treatment by the gov’t. Aluta continua.”

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Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui convicted in $1b fraud scheme

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A wealthy Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, a self-styled opponent of the authorities in Beijing, was found guilty of defrauding customers of more than $1 billion in a New York federal court on Tuesday, prosecutors said.

Guo presented himself as a fierce critic of the Chinese Communist Party and a fervent defender of democracy, while keeping links with US right-wing figure Steve Bannon, recently jailed in a separate case.

The FBI arrested Guo in March 2023 at his luxurious Manhattan apartment, in a building overlooking Central Park, accusing him of using his online fame to convince thousands of investors to fund his companies or projects.

They included GTV Media, and G/Clubs, which promised profitable investments or luxury services.

But instead of enriching his customers, their funds enabled him to live a life of lavish excess.

“Miles Guo, an exiled Chinese businessman and purported billionaire, brazenly operated several interrelated fraud schemes, all designed to fleece his loyal followers out of their hard-earned money so that Guo could spend his days in his 50,000 square foot mansion, driving his $1 million Lamborghini, or lounging on his $37 million yacht,” prosecutors said, referring to Guo by an alias.

A unanimous jury found Guo Wengui guilty of racketeering conspiracy and various securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering charges. He faces decades in prison.”

 

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