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Lionel Messi ‘mulling over fresh start at Manchester City’ as Argentine ace’s Barcelona contract standoff continues


Lionel Messi is reportedly pondering a fresh start with Manchester City as his contract standoff with Barcelona continues.

Messi has been in negotiations with Nou Camp chiefs for 18 months over a new deal, but is yet to put pen to paper on fresh terms with his current contract set to expire at the end of the season.

The Argentine ace shone for his country during the international break, netting a hat-trick in Ecuador to send Jorge Sampaoli’s side to the World Cup.

He confided with international teammates while away from Spain and is torn between staying put in Catalonia or linking back up with Pep Guardiola at the Etihad, according to The Sun.

Messi was the hero as Argentina booked their place at the World Cup

Messi is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal in Barcelona

Messi’s contract situation means he could sign for City in January and join the club in July ahead of next season, and officials from the Etihad have met with the player’s representatives on several occasions.

A deal for Messi to make the switch would allegedly involve a £40million signing-on fee and wages of £500,000-a-week over the course of a five-year contract.

The political landscape in Barcelona is far from certain with violent scenes at the recent unofficial referendum for an independent Catalonia causing the Spanish giants’ match against Las Palmas to be played behind closed doors.

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While Guardiola and City’s hierarchy expect Messi to pen fresh terms with Barca and see out his career as a one-club man, they believe they are in pole position should he opt for a fresh challenge.

City striker and Messi’s pal Sergio Aguero said: “Money isn’t a problem here.

“I would love to have Leo on my team but it also seems quite complicated. Messi is like Ronaldo — they are players who are symbols of their clubs and it’s difficult for them to leave.”

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Uneducated Girl Population is Impoverishing Africa


Quality education is crucial for realising the SDGs

According to a report released by ONE this week, African countries are losing billions of dollars for not addressing the gender gap in education, writes Solomon Elusoji

In his seminal book on why some countries are poor and others rich, the Wealth and Poverty of Nations, renowned historian David Landes wrote that the economic implications of gender discrimination are too huge for nations who want to thrive. “To deny women is to deprive a country of labour and talent,” he said.

Landes argued that the best clue to a nation’s growth and development potential is the status and role of women. The more opportunities they get, the higher the chance for economic success. “To be sure, any society will have its achievers no matter what, if only because it has its own division of tasks and spoils,” Landes, who was a Professor of Economics and History before his death in 2013, said. “But it cannot compete with other societies that ask performance from the full pool of talent.”

On Wednesday, which was International Day of the Girl, ONE, an global campaigning and advocacy organisation of more than eight million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa, launched a report titled: ‘The Toughest Places for a Girl to Get an Education’. Out of the 10 countries that topped the list, nine were from Africa, with Afghanistan completing the list.

“To improve girls’ education globally, we need to pay special attention to Africa,” the report said. “No African countries are among the best performing 25 per cent of all countries ranked, and only four African countries (seven per cent) are in the best-performing 50 per cent of ranked countries. Overall, African countries had a median score of 52, compared with the Americas at 79, Asia also at 79 and Europe at 87.”

The report highlights the paradox that has puzzled economic forecasters about 21st Century Africa. On one hand, with a growing young demography and the embrace of entrepreneurship, there is a rising optimism that the continent is about to rise from the backwater of economic history. But educational systems across Africa, especially as it relates to the girl-child, as highlighted by the ONE report, has no spine to support progress.

While most policymakers on the continent agree that educating girls is important, there is little on the continent that reflects such belief. In South Sudan, the country which tops ONE’s notorious index, 73 per cent of girls don’t go to primary school and its government spends just 2.6 per cent of its total budget on education. In Burkina Faso, just one per cent of girls complete secondary school. And, in Ethiopia, two in every five girls marry before their 18th birthday, and nearly one in five marries before they clock 15.

“We are having an education crisis on the African continent,” ONE’s Nigeria Country Director, Serah Makka, told THISDAY. “These numbers say that there is a state of emergency which, if we do not address, will kill all of us. My worry is that we have not found a way to get everybody’s attention to treat this as a dangerous epidemic that it is. This is why ONE has compiled this report, to throw more light on the problem’s severity.”

Nigeria, perhaps Africa’s most promising economic giant, is ranked 27th on the index, which collected and analysed data for 122 United Nations member countries. However, the country’s ‘kind’ ranking is masked by acute regional disparities. In the country’s North-east region, for example, “the violent extremist group Boko Haram (which translates as ‘western education is forbidden’) poses increased obstacles to girls completing their education. Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in Chibok in 2014. As of 2016, over 1,000 schools in the region had been damaged or destroyed and 1,500 schools had closed. This means that while Nigeria as a whole doesn’t make our list of toughest countries, at a regional level North-east Nigeria is a tougher place for a girl to get educated than other regions in the country. In Nigeria’s South-south geopolitical zone, five per cent of girls have never been to school, whereas this figure increases more than 10-fold (to 52 per cent) in the North-east,” the report said.

“The problem with Nigeria is that we have good policies but implementation is the problem,” Makka said. “You cannot leave over 50 per cent of girls in the North uneducated and think you are ready for the future. It does not make sense.”
One characteristic evident in every country in the index’s top 10 is conflict and poverty. But poor countries are not necessarily condemned to poor performance. Burundi has the world’s lowest national income per capital at $286 USD, but it outperforms 18 other wealthier countries. And, ironically, the benefits of educating the girl-child far outweigh the cost. “Our research shows a strong relationship between girls’ primary school completion rates and their literacy rates,” the ONE report said. “On a global level, addressing the gender gap in education could yield between $112 billion and $152 billion USD a year in developing countries.”

It is almost impossible to exaggerate the value of educating girls. When more girls are in school, a country’s adolescent fertility rates are likely to dip. This, of course, extends to the rise of more women who wait until adulthood to have children and are armed with much more sophisticated knowledge-tools to make better decisions for their health and future offspring.

However, ensuring all girls get the education they deserve will take a global effort – and will require increased financing and policy reforms, the ONE report said. The advocacy group is advocating for “Governments to work towards allocating 20 per cent of transparent national budgets to education. Only two of the 10 toughest countries for a girl to get an education meet this target proposed by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).”

Also, “donor governments should increase global education financing. This includes fully funding existing multilateral mechanisms such as the GPE and Education Cannot Wait, and establishing the proposed International Finance Facility for Education. GPE operates in all the 10 toughest countries and has a proven track record of success.”

Still national governments have a part to play as they are expected to “implement an education policy agenda that will break every barrier to girls’ education, invest in every teacher, monitor every outcome and connect every classroom.”
To create the index, ONE chose 11 factors that reflect girls’ access to and completion of school, the quality of education in a country, and the broader enabling environment.

The factors selected with available data are: rate of out-of-school girls of primary, lower secondary and upper secondary age; school completion rate for girls of primary, lower secondary and upper secondary age; mean years of schooling for women aged 25 and over; female literacy rate for population aged 15–24; percentage of primary school teachers trained; pupil– teacher ratio in primary schools; and spending on education as a percentage of total government expenditure.

Of 193 UN member states, ONE excluded countries that were missing four or more data points (out of 11) to allow for reliable comparison. This left them with a list of 122 countries. Data was primarily drawn from UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics (UIS.Stat) database.




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Anambra guber : Army free healthcare: Residents don’t trust military –Chidoka


By Chinelo Obogo

The governorship candidate of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Osita Chidoka, has said that the recent uproar in the state over the free vaccines offered by the military to school children was an indication that residents distrust the army.

Viola Okolie, the media director of Osita Chidoka Campaign Organization in a statement, said the campaign was concerned about the panic caused by the conflicting reports over a medical outreach organised by the military in some schools in the state.

There was pandemonium across the South-East and Delta State following rumours that some immunisation officers accompanied by persons in army uniforms invaded schools and were injecting children with unusual vaccines.

Following the unsubstantiated rumour, parents and guardians stormed schools to ‘rescue’ their wards thereby causing heavy traffic and commotion.

This came in the wake of the medical outreach embarked upon by troops as part of its package for the ongoing ‘Operation Python Dance’ codenamed Egwu Eke.

Chidoka said that even though his campaign has nothing against any genuine social responsibility service by the military, he was disturbed by the twist of events which shows the intensity of mistrust and lack of confidence in the military occasioned by undesirable effects of the Operation Python Dance II.

“This is not the first time the military will be undertaking such exercise, but the panic and rejection that confronted the latest exercise speaks volumes of the gap that now unfortunately exists between the military and the civilian population in the South-East due to the Operation Python Dance.

“While they were running from the military, many residents were trooping to similar interventions including that organized by the Chidoka Campaign, which recorded hundreds of medical interventions in Onitsha, the same Wednesday. Our medical team has been in the field for several weeks now and is still attending to people without any incident.

“Our take therefore, is that the Operation Python Dance has painfully eroded the faith and confidence the citizens hitherto had in the military as their pillar of protection. The professional misconduct of some unscrupulous uniformed men involved in the exercise have succeeded in instilling fear in civilians, while retarding their desired reliance on the military for such laudable interventions.

“Consequently, we urge the military high command not to gloss over this incident, but take urgent and practical steps to allay the fears of the people and rebuild public confidence in the noble institution of the military, especially in the South East.

“The first step towards this is for the military authorities to immediately end the Operation Python Dance II and withdraw soldiers from the streets. This is in addition to releasing the outcome of its investigation on reported rights violations in the Operation Python Dance II, while appropriate sanctions are meted out on erring officers,” the statement reads.


 

Residents suffering untold hardship  –Ezeemo, PPA candidate

From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha

 Candidate of the Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA), Mr Godwin Ezeemo, has said that many residents of the state are suffering untold hardship but are living in denial of the dire economic situation.

Ezeemo said this yesterday during a reception organized by the Umuchu community in Onitsha, insisting that the suffering is as a result of bad leadership, bad roads, epileptic power supply, dilapidated education and healthcare system and a high rate of unemployment.

“Leadership is the ability to translate vision into reality but this major quality is missing in the present administration, which is why I desire to change the status quo with your support. If you still have to go through bad roads as you go about your daily duties, you are suffering. If you cannot find standard and prompt healthcare when the need arises, you are suffering. If you are an employer of labour and you cannot find trained young people with the right attitude to work for you, you are suffering. If you still experience inadequate power supply and high cost of power, you are suffering.

“I urged everyone to shun the deceit called mega party or Igbo party because they do not exist in real world but in the lives of political jobbers and those who use political office to enrich themselves. Of all the candidates vying for governor, none has used his personal money to carry out projects for the state. I am the only one who has done that because of the love I have for my state,” Ezeemo said.

 


Group launches ‘operation don’t eat your future’ for electorate

From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

A non-partisan pro-democracy pressure group, Democracy Network, has launched an aggressive campaign to discourage the Anambra electorate from mortgaging their future with the paltry gift from the candidates for the November 18 governorship election.

The convener of the group, Chief Uche Nwogu, who made the appeal at a media parley in Abuja yesterday, told the voters that they would be the biggest losers by boycotting the election in compliance with the directives from the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Nwogu further added that the network has equally embarked on vigorous voter education to sensitize the electorate to vote according to their conscience, adding that boycotting the election would be detrimental to their wellbeing.

“On the issue of IPOB asking Anambra people to boycott the election, the fact is that whether you come out or not, a governor would still be elected on that day and he will be your governor. So, it will be in your interest to come out and participate.

“Voter apathy is one of the greatest challenges in Nigeria’s democracy. People shy away from participating in politics because they feel once a candidate is not anointed by the godfathers; it is difficult for such person to win.

“We are already collaborating with the Anambra Broadcasting Service ABS, the National Union of Road Transport Workers NURTW and other organisations in the state to help get the message across to the voters.

“A bag of rice might last for some weeks but bad governance lasts much longer. Money politics did not start today but what we are saying is that looking around, in some places, you can see the effects of bad governance and we are saying from henceforth, do not shortchange yourself.

“We want to mobilise them to come out massively to vote because whether they vote or not, government must continue. So, it is better for them to come out and be part of the process,” he stated.

 


I stand for unification  –Ohanugo, BNPP candidate

From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha

The candidate of the Better Nigeria Progressive Party (BNPP), Chief Ikem Ohanugo, has promised to unify indigenes and non-indigenes in the state if he wins the election.

He said this yesterday when he unveiled his running mate, Mr. Augustine Ogwatta,  to the Assembly of Concerned Non-Indigenes (ACNI) . He said the time had come when voters should consider what a candidate could offer rather than looking at his wealth or where his father comes from.

He advocated a change of attitude among voters, saying that the people should not clap for any governor who builds roads, because it was the tax payers money that is used to construct the roads and not personal funds. He promised that he will make Anambra the China of Africa and would attract investments that that would improve the economy.

“Today everybody is talking about restructuring, which means something is wrong somewhere and we should start from the South-East. I was born and brought up here in Anambra and I have been paying my tax. Nobody tells me that I am from Imo state but the moment I asked why my tax should  be increased,  they tell me to go to my place; and I ask, if  citizenship is gotten by birth,  then am I not a citizen of Anambra?

“They call those who were born here non-indigenes which is a misnomer because by the constitution, they are indigenes by birth. Anybody who resides here for more than five years and participates in the affairs of the area should not be seen as a stranger anymore. That nomenclature is a thing they have introduced to subdue the voting power of those they call non-Anambrans .

Until people are treated equally, they will never see themselves as one,” Ohanugo said.


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Abia sign Everton – Punch Newspapers


Umuahia Premier League side Abia Warriors on Thursday said they  had  agreed a deal with  former  IfeanyiUbah Brazilian coach Rafael Everton to manage them next season.

In a statement,  spokesman for the outfit  Igwe Onuoha  said  Everton, who  helped  IfeanyUbah  win  the  Federation Cup  last year, had agreed to lead Abia Warriors.

Everton  dumped  the Federation Cup holders  after he was redeployed to the team’s academy.

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Trump nails Obamacare with decision to cut off billions in subsidies


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump moved to undermine Obamacare dramatically late on Thursday by cutting off subsidies to health insurance companies for low-income patients, sparking threats of legal action and concern of chaos in insurance markets.

The decision is the most dramatic action Trump has taken yet to weaken the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, which extended insurance to 20 million Americans.

The move drew swift condemnation from Democrats and threats from state attorneys general in New York and California to fight back with lawsuits.

Trump has been frustrated by Republicans’ failure to repeal and replace the law known as Obamacare, thwarting a promise he made during the 2016 campaign.

His decision is likely to please those among his political base who detest the Obamacare system, which many Republicans have attacked for years as an unneeded government intrusion in Americans’ healthcare.

In a nod to that same constituency, the president signed an executive order earlier on Thursday to make it easier for Americans to buy bare-bones health insurance plans.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi derided the subsidies cut-off in a joint statement, saying Trump would single-handedly push Americans’ healthcare premiums higher.

“It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America,” they said. “Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it.”

Insurers and proponents of Obamacare have implored Trump for months to commit to making the payments, which are worth billions of dollars. Several insurers have cited uncertainty over the payments in hiking premiums for 2018 or exiting insurance markets altogether.

Trump has made the payments, guaranteed to insurers under Obamacare to help lower out-of-pocket medical expenses for low-income consumers, each month since taking office in January. But he has repeatedly threatened to cut them off and disparaged them as a “bailout” for insurance companies.

With Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin standing behind him, U.S. President Donald Trump smiles while listening to remarks before signing an executive order making it easier for Americans to buy bare-bones health insurance plans and circumvent Obamacare rules at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The White House said late on Thursday that it could not lawfully pay the subsidies anymore.

A White House statement said that based on guidance from the Justice Department, “the Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare.”

“In light of this analysis, the Government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments,” it said.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a statement he was prepared to lead other attorneys general in a lawsuit.

“I will not allow President Trump to once again use New York families as political pawns in his dangerous, partisan campaign to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act at any cost,” he wrote.

“This summer, the courts granted our intervention to defend these vital subsidies and the quality, affordable health care they ensure for millions of families across the country. Our coalition of states stands ready to sue if President Trump cuts them off.”

Anthem Inc, one of the largest remaining Obamacare insurers, in August scaled back its offerings in Nevada and Georgia and blamed the moves in part on uncertainty over the payments.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina earlier this year raised premiums by more than 20 percent, but said it would have only raised premiums by about 9 percent if Trump agreed to fund the payments.

The payments are the subject of a lawsuit brought by House Republicans against the Obama administration that alleged they were unlawful because they needed to be appropriated by Congress. A judge for the federal district court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the Republicans, and the Obama administration appealed the ruling.

The Trump administration took over the lawsuit and had delayed deciding whether to continue the Obama administration’s appeal or terminate the subsidies, but in April Trump began threatening to stop the payments. That case became more complicated in August when a U.S. appeals court allowed 16 Democratic state attorneys general to defend the payments and have a say in the legal fight.

additional reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Michael Perry



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Heartbroken Lady Mourns Her Mum Who Died In 3rd Mainland Bridge Boat Mishap


Heartbroken Lady Mourns Her Mum Who Died In 3rd Mainland Bridge Boat MishapNigerian lady, Toyin Obaseki is mourning the death of her mum, a police officer who died on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 in the 3rd Mainland Bridge boat mishap.

Toyin took to her instagram page to share photos of her mother and wrote;

“Everyone keep asking what happened ….my queen was not sick!!!!!!!!!!!!My mom died on 10/10/2017 on her way to work as the boat she took capsized in 3rd mainland bridge 😢Mom can’t believe I will be typing rip😢💔you alone know how much I love you and always want to make you proud…..you are my everything God knows I Cherish and respect you 😢I told you I was scared of getting married you said to me not to be that as long has you alive you will always be there for me…now you left me 😠you are one nice soul that even everyone around you can testify😢 but death took you away frm us…You have been serving your father land for years even your colleagues know how hardworking and strong you are…no one to call me okomi☹️☹️ sighs!!!RIP My Queen 😩💔…MOM💔💔💔💔💔💔💔I’m grateful🙏🏼and I will always love you ife🌹”

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Fear, Frustration for Those Living Near California Fire Evacuation Zone



The fires in Northern California continue to threaten homes and businesses. At least 31 people are confirmed dead and hundreds are missing. For residents in the fire zone, the uncertainty is particularly difficult. Deana Mitchell talked to residents on the edge of the fire zone.



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FAA orders A380 engine inspections after Air France incident


SINGAPORE (Reuters) – U.S. aviation authorities have ordered visual inspections of fan hubs in engines used on some Airbus SE A380 jets after an engine came apart on an Air France flight last month, forcing it to make an emergency landing.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency airworthiness directive requiring owners and operators of Engine Alliance (EA) Model GP7200 series engines to visually inspect the engines and remove the fan hub if defects are found.

The EA engines are manufactured by a 50-50 joint venture between General Electric Co and United Technologies Corp’s Pratt & Whitney unit.

The FAA directive formalizes advice circulated by the engine company on Thursday. EA declined immediate comment.

GP7200 engines account for 60 percent of the global market share of engines that power Airbus A380 superjumbos currently in service, according to Corrine Png, the CEO of transport research firm Crucial Perspective.

In addition to Air France, the affected airlines include Emirates, the world’s largest A380 operator, as well as Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Korean Air Lines Co.

The FAA said the directive, an interim measure, was prompted by the failure of the fan hub on the affected engine on the Air France aircraft.

“An investigation to determine the cause of the failure is on-going and we may consider additional rulemaking if final action is identified,” it said in a statement.

Depending on the number of flight cycles, the inspections must be performed within the next two to eight weeks.

A380 aircraft powered by the rival Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC Trent 900 engine are not affected by the directive.

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Edwina Gibbs



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Man Utd news: Fellaini injury could see improvement with Herrera in


Injury to Man Utd star could actually improve Jose Mourinho’s side – Prem icons
Marouane Fellaini will miss this weekend’s match (Getty)

Manchester United may prove a better side without Marouane Fellaini, reckon Premier League legends Phil Neville and Danny Murphy.

The Belgian picked up a knee ligament injury while on international duty and will be unavailable for this weekend’s clash between United and Liverpool at Anfield.

AC Milan make statement about Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

The midfielder has played an integral role in Manchester United’s strong start to the season having featured in all six of their Premier League wins. The only game he didn’t feature in was Manchester United’s solitary draw.

Despite that, his enforced absence could prove a blessing in disguise according to former Manchester United player Neville.

‘[Eric] Bailly and [Phil] Jones, [Antonio] Valencia at right back, it looks like [Ashley] Young at left-back – that’s his [Jose Mourinho’s] settled back four. [Nemanja] Matic sat in front.

‘He knows his best XI at this point in time and he won’t change.

‘Fellaini is a big loss for him because it means he has to change the make-up in midfield but bringing [Ander] Herrera in might be even better.’

Injury to Man Utd star could actually improve Jose Mourinho’s side – Prem icons
Herrera has played a periphery role so far this season (Getty)

Herrera has found his opportunities severely limited this season despite being named Manchester United’s player of the year for 2016/17. So far he’s made just one start in the Premier League.

Former Liverpool player Murphy agrees Herrera could be an upgrade on Fellaini.

‘Fellaini has done well but Herrera I really like,’ he told Sky Sports. ‘He brings energy and tenacity. He’s a good footballer as well. He’s good at everything. I’m surprised he hasn’t started more. I’d rather go up against Fellaini than Herrera.’

MORE: David Beckham and Gary Neville were pranked by 7-year-olds from Liverpool

MORE: Michael Owen’s Premier League predictions, including Liverpool v Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal

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Bonny-Bodo Bridge: Buhari keeps promise, says Osinbajo – News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)


VP Osinbajo at the ground-breaking ceremony for Bonny-Bodo Bridge. Right is Works Minister Fashola

President Muhammadu Buhari has translated into reality a 40 year-old plan to link Bodo and Bonny in Rivers State,  with a bridge, at a time of scarce financial resources, said Vice President  Yemi Osinbajo at the ground breaking ceremony on Thursday. An excerpt of his speech…

I rejoice with the people of Rivers State on this significant day, marking the flag-off of the Bonny-Bodo Road/Bridges project, which will link the Island of Bonny to the Mainland of Bodo.

The idea behind the Bonny-Bodo Bridge is about 40 years old; but until now, it has remained merely an idea.

It is no secret that at one time in our very recent past, Nigeria earned in excess of $100 for every barrel of crude oil sold, yet significant projects like the Bonny-Bodo Bridge remained undone.

Today, we are earning probably 60% less than in the past five years, but we are spending the highest ever amount on capital projects so that projects like the Bonny-Bodo Bridge are being done.

The Buhari administration is proving that the clear advantage of good governance is that you can do more with less.

In his inaugural speech on May 29, 2015, President Buhari promised to invest heavily in the Niger Delta, and to ensure peace and prosperity. Today is, therefore, not only for the flag-off of an important road project, it is also for the commemoration of a promise kept.

The Bonny-Bodo bridge and road project is a Public Private Partnership arrangement, in which the Federal Government and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited (NLNG) will each bear 50 per cent of the N120.6 billion that it will cost to complete the bridge. It is only the latest in a series of similarly transformational infrastructure partnerships ongoing across the country.

Government’s gratitude goes to the NLNG for their enthusiasm and their cooperation, for putting their money towards this landmark project. I hope that other companies and corporations will emulate them in this regard.

This administration is a firm believer in the power and potential of the private sector to deliver the infrastructure that Nigeria urgently requires. It is clear that government cannot, on its own, plug Nigeria’s intimidating infrastructure deficit – nor should it even try to. The Federal Government welcomes the private sector to take the lead, proceeding with the assurance that we will be there every step of the way as enablers and catalysts.

It is the Federal Government’s firm belief that the greatest proof that democracy works ought to be found in the tangible improvements that citizens experience in their lives and communities.

This road, during construction, will create jobs directly for engineers, artisans, and labourers, and indirectly for food vendors and suppliers, transporters, quarry operators and so many others in the construction value chain.

Upon completion, the project will permanently transform the lives of tens of thousands of Nigerian citizens in and around Bonny Island. It will alleviate the hardship faced by commuters along the Bonny-Bodo axis; facilitate the operations of the NLNG, and bring significant benefit to the lives of farmers, traders, schoolchildren and travellers.

The Bonny-Bodo Bridge project is a dividend of the blossoming peace in the Niger Delta. For this, government’s gratitude goes to all the Stakeholders: Governors, Traditional Rulers, Community Leaders, Civil Society Groups, Women, Youths and all those who have accepted our hand of fellowship and demonstrated faith in our New Vision for the Niger Delta.

The first of November will make it one year since the meeting of Niger Delta elders under the aegis of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) with President Muhammadu Buhari, which set in motion a chain of events that delivered that new vision.

The new vision for the Niger Delta is a new way of thinking and of doing, aimed at ensuring that the people of the Delta benefit maximally from the wealth of their land. It is the embodiment of our commitment to achieving a clean break from the neglect and the failed promises that defined the past.

Since the beginning of the year, I have visited all the states of the Niger Delta and a number of the oil bearing communities, sharing the message of the new vision, and even more importantly, listening and engaging with citizens and communities.

Every part of Nigeria matters to us as a government. We will continue to demonstrate this in ways small and large,

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, and on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, I have the distinct honour and pleasure of flagging-off the Bonny-Bodo Bridge, as a symbol of change, of hope, of renewal, and of our commitment to investing in what truly matters the most – the welfare of our people.

Long live our democracy. Thank you and God bless the Niger Delta, and Nigeria.

 



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