Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke
• Approves bill on cyber-crime, prevention, detection and control
Muhammad Bello in Abujaâ€¨
In its bid to upgrade its ongoing interventions in the agricultural sector, the federal government yesterday rose from the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC), approving the collection of an interest free $200 million loan from the World Bank to accelerate the Fadama III project across the country.
The federal government also approved a draft bill seeking to detect, prevent and control cyber-crime in Nigeria, which was also submitted to it by the Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, who was also directed by the council to issue the legal opinion required to render the Fadama III loan effective.
Also discussed and approved by the council were a contract for an integrity check on the Third Mainland Bridge, approval for the establishment of a branch office of the African Export-Import in Abuja and the hosting of the Nigerian Economic Support Group (NESG), holding September 3 to 5.
The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, alongside his counterparts in the agriculture and finance ministries, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina and Dr. Yerima Ngama, respectively, disclosed these, while briefing State House correspondents, at the close of the meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan.
A post-council document showed that the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, brought a memo to the council, seeking approval to obtain an International Development Association (IDA) credit facility in the sum of USD $200 million, as additional financing for the Third National Fadama Development project.
“The Project Development Objective (PDO) for the additional financing is consistent with the on-going Fadama III project which is to increase the incomes for users of rural lands and water resources within the Fadama areas in a sustainable manner,” Ngama said.
He said the, “proposed additional financing will scale up the project’s achievements and strengthen the development effectiveness of the highly performing Fadama III by aligning it more closely with the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the present administration.”
Adesina, on his part, stressed that with 24 million hectares of Fadama land all over the country, the federal government felt it was important to optimise the use of these tracts of land, which predecessor Fadama II was evaluated by the World Bank and found to have improved the beneficiaries income substantially.
Other benefits of the Fadama project, the minister highlighted, were that it made the farmers to become strongly organised and also enabled them to float a micro-finance scheme that had been sustained.
The focus of the projects, from which 317,000 farmers were to benefit, include: increase in food self-sufficiency, crop distribution, such as rice in key states of Lagos, Niger, Anambra, Enugu and Kano Sorghum-Kano; Cassava in Kogi, and women empowerment.
Adesina said the National Economic Summit Group (NESG) assembly would focus on agriculture and showcase the achievements of the president under the agriculture transformation agenda. It was also expected to look at the petrochemical industry, power, water, roads, ICT, science and innovation, aviation, transport and environment sectors.
Similarly, the president noted that the minister would launch a programme called the Youth Empowerment in Agriculture (YEA), from which 700 youth were expected to benefit.
On his part, Maku said the contract for the comprehensive checks of the seabed of the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, put at N290 million and awarded to Messrs ICECON Nigeria Limited, was intended to check and make sure all sectors of the bridge were in good order.
However, he said if in the course of the job, which was expected to last for two months, any default was detected, the federal government would quickly intervene to rescue the situation.
A post council document indicated the scope of the work on the bridge area to “comprehensive underwater inspection, assessment of pilings, river bed bathymetric survey, profiling and echometric test on Third Mainland Bridge.
“The bridge is a vital artery on the Federal Highways network connecting Lagos Mainland to the island. Following reports of oscillation and excessive vibrations of the bridge under traffic load, investigations and tests were carried out by experts on the bridge in 2008 and the reports indicated that the bridge was structurally sound but required the replacement of damaged expansion joints and bearings,” noted the document.
It emphasised that: “the ministry decided that Advanced Integrity Assessment including echometric (sonic pulse) tests on piles was inevitable in order to authenticate the findings of the Nigerian Submarine Divers Limited (NSD).
“Cumulative efforts are being made to rehabilitate Lagos roads in order to make sure that as the artery nerve centre of the nation’s economy, it continues to work. Every effort is being made by the federal government to improve the infrastructure of Lagos. This is aside the works being done at the deep seaports there,” Maku explained.
On the bill seeking to regulate and criminalising cyber-crime, which has been approved for transmission to the National Assembly, Maku said: “The core objective of the Cybercrime Bill, 2013 was to prove an effective, unified and comprehensive legal, regulatory and institutional framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of cybercrimes in Nigeria, promote cyber security and ensure the protection of critical national information infrastructure.
“There is need for cooperation and international coalition to combat cybercrimes and that a lot is expected of Nigeria as a noteworthy regional power in Africa by the International community which expects her to acquaint herself commendably by joining forces with other members of the comity of nations in the fight against cybercrimes and in the promotion of cyber security,” he explained.
Noting that “cybercrimes are species of cross-border crimes perpetrated in time and space from any geographical spot in the world,” the minister indicated that the, “Bill is in conformity with existing Nigerian laws, the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime and reflects Nigeria's obligations under the soon-to-be finalised AU Convention on the subject matter.”
On the approval for the establishment of the Afrexim Bank branch in Abuja¸ Ngama, who said the location of the bank in Nigeria would accord it a diplomatic status, “Pursuant to a request made by Nigeria, a branch office of AFREXIMBANK was commissioned in Abuja, in February 2003, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding to that effect.”
“In view of the above, council approved the ratification of bank’s Branch Office Agreement as well as direct the Attorney-General of the Federation/Minister of Justice to issue the ratification instrument for the president’s assent,” he added.