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Our economic policies are making desired impact – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday in Lagos said his administration’s economic policies are making the desired impact, evidenced by steady growth in the economy in the last three years.

Speaking at a town hall meeting with the Business community in Lagos, President Buhari said he had kept his promise to boost the economy, through blocking leakages in government finances, increasing capital expenditure and inflows, and implementing the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), among others.

‘‘I firmly believe that our economic policies are beginning to make the desired impact. Economic growth has resumed and is continuing to improve.

‘‘Growth was higher in 2017 than in 2016, data even from external sources show that it will be higher in 2018 than in 2017. I am confident that as we stay the course, it will be better still at the end of 2019.

‘‘Inflation is coming down steadily, there is stability in the exchange rate and foreign exchange is readily available for genuine business. Foreign reserves are adequate and growing; capital inflows have increased and the trade balance is positive.

‘‘We are paying off debts that were not even publicly acknowledged before now, including those owed to States, the electricity sector, oil marketers, exporters, backlog of salaries of workers and pensioners, amongst others,’’ he said.

The president who met with representatives of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises shortly before attending the APC presidential campaign rally in Lagos, said he is a strong believer in the importance of investing in infrastructure to promote development.

‘‘I am happy that the results of the priority we have placed on this sector are beginning to show.

‘‘Our commitment is reflected in the resources that we are providing for infrastructure. In 2016 and 2017, capital expenditure was up to N2.7 trillion while over N800 billion has been released under the current budget.

‘‘This has been complemented by the inception of the $650 million Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund which will focus initially on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the Second Niger Bridge, the Abuja-Kano expressway and the Mambilla hydropower plant,’’ he said.

The president also highlighted completed and ongoing projects in the transport and aviation sector, expressing delight that the rail projects are generating excitement across the country because it would help local businesses to grow.

‘‘The Abuja-Kaduna railway is up and running. The Itakpe-Warri line is being test-run before going commercial. The completed portion of the Abuja light rail project is facilitating movement to the airport.

‘‘The Lagos-Ibadan railway is nearing completion with people already taking test rides on the completed portions. We are determined to work at the same pace on the Coastal Railway Line and the line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.

‘We completed the repairs to the runway in Abuja in record time, and just a few weeks ago, I commissioned the Baro Inland Port. All these achievements will help Nigerian businesses to grow,’’ he said.

On future plans to sustain the positive economic outlook, the President said the Federal Government would raise more revenue to boost the economic fundamentals and increase the level and quality of government services in support of the private sector.

‘‘I recently inaugurated a Technical Advisory Committee to identify new sources of revenue in this regard. This is also to ensure that Government at all levels have the resources to pay the new national wage, which we are indeed committed to paying.

‘‘Our economic fundamentals are strong and, in the next four years by the grace of God, we are determined to stay the course in terms of partnerships with the private sector; support to the real sector; helping small businesses, providing infrastructure and an enabling business environment,’’ he said.

The President told members of the private sector that his administration has also stimulated growth in the economy by adopting and implementing new strategies to deal with the security situation in the country and tackle rampant corruption.

‘‘When this Government came into office, our three priorities were to increase the level of security across the country, tackle rampant corruption and improve the economy. These three factors are interconnected.

‘‘Without peace and stability, there will never be economic growth and development.”

The administration’s view on improving the economy, the President said, focused on a bottom to top approach.

‘‘We focused on developing the rural economy which we hope will result in growth that is inclusive. Boko Haram and the militants in the Niger Delta started their aggressive operations during the years of high oil prices and GDP growth.

‘‘These young and misguided youths did not benefit from the various statistics and indicators of prosperity we were celebrating in the past decade. No wonder they were recruited to cause violence and mayhem in their localities.

‘‘These three priorities, if addressed, will completely transform Nigeria to a diversified, inclusive and competitive economy. But this is not an overnight transition. We are not only transforming systems and processes, but we are also changing hearts and minds.

‘‘We have recaptured and held lost territories. Yes, we still have pockets of insurgency, but our sovereign integrity is intact,’’ he said.

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Tribunal sack: Dino Melaye reacts, says no cause for alarm

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The Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial district, Dino Melaye, has reacted to the nullification of his victory in the March 22 election and ordering of a fresh election by the Kogi West National Assembly/State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Lokoja on Friday.

Melaye, in a statememt, said the judgment is a miscarriage of justice and therefore, no cause of alarm.

The PDP chieftain further said that his legal team was already studying the judgement, adding that he would appeal it.

He said he was confident that the Appeal Court would upturn the judgement of the lower tribunal.

According to him, the judgement was full of importation of information that was alien to the case.

Melaye said, “I, however, commend the courage and moral strength of the chairman of the tribunal for resisting evil and standing on the part of justice?”

“I have confidence in the Appeal Court to right the wrongs as contained in the pronouncements of the judgement.”

He added, “I also want to tell those jubilating that their jubilation will be short-lived while appealing to my teeming supporters to remain calm as their mandate is safe and secure and cannot be taken through any mischievous means.

“However, our legal team is already working on appealing the judgment and I assure all that justice will prevail.”

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BREAKING: Tribunal sacks Dino Melaye as Kogi west senator

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The Kogi State National Assembly/State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal has quashed the victory of Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West Senatorial district.

Melaye (PDP) was declared winner in the February election by INEC but Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC) approached the tribunal, challenging INEC declaration on three grounds of irregularities, over voting and non compliance with the electoral acts.

The three man panel led by Justice A. O. Chijioke in a unanimous judgment on Friday accepted Adeyemi’s ground and order for reelection into the senatorial axis.

…More details shortly

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Sylva assumes duty as minister of state for petroleum …As NNPC, others welcome him

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The newly appointed Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has assumed duties with a pledge to reposition and chart a way forward for the Nigerian petroleum sector.

A press release Wednesday by the NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, said Chief Sylva pledged to work with the experts at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the other departments and agencies under the Ministry to move the sector forward.

In a welcome ceremony for Chief Sylva at the NNPC Towers in Abuja, the new Minister of State for Petroleum Resources who was accompanied by his wife, Alanyingi Sylva, stated that with the calibre of workforce in the Ministry, he was sure that the nation’s oil and gas sector would move to the next level.

Chief Sylva, who is a former Governor of Bayelsa State brings on the job several years of cognate experience in the petroleum sector.

The new Minister of State contributed profoundly to the institution of the Amnesty programme in the Niger Delta region which, over time, has led to restoration of peace in the oil producing areas of Nigeria.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan, reassured Chief Sylva of the readiness of all members of staff in the Ministry to support him to succeed in the onerous task of transforming the Nigerian oil and gas sector for the good of all stakeholders.

On hand to welcome the Minister at the brief ceremony were the Group Managing director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari; Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Training Development Fund (PTDF), Dr. Bello Aliyu Gusau; and the Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), Alhaji Ahmed Bobboi, amongst others.

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