Oluchi Chibuzor and Esther Ehoche
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has stated that work on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway project was in progress with commercial activities hopefully to begin from Agege to Ibadan by October.
The corporation stated that it was committed to completing the $8.3 billion contract for the construction of a standard gauge Lagos-Kano, awarded to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) by the Nigerian Government.
The Managing Director, NRC, Engr. Freeborn Okhiria, who disclosed this to journalists during a recent inspection tour of the project to ascertain its progress recently, said works were at different completion stages as expected.
“On the tracks, I think we are coming to the end of it; we have just gotten to the station. What is remaining is lines going to the dry port, and the second line is just about 6 kilometres away.
“What they need to do now is to balance and ensure continuous rebalancing and lifting to ensure that the track is strong enough.
“We have seen the various stages of where there are on the station, and by December, it would have been completed, but maybe to Apapa, where we still have some issues because the track has to be laid out before you talk about the station,” the corporation boss said.
He disclosed that there are 63 coaches of different standards; with over 200 wagons for the project with VIP coaches having only 24 seats, adding that these seats are the luxury ones.
“We also have a conference coach which will encourage people to hold conferences on rail,” he added.
Okhiria also added: “We have two sets of Diesel Multiple Units (DMU) and they are made up of 10 coaches. We are expecting 30 locomotives and they will all come in before the end of the year.”
Commenting on the allegation that the Lagos-Ibadan railway contract was inflated, the NRC boss said the contract couldn’t have been inflated because those who signed the contract were not those implementing it, saying, “so how could that have happened?”
In his remark on the progress made on the Lagos-Ibadan railway project, the NRC Board Chairman, Ibrahim Al- Hassan, who said the trip was to ascertain the assurance that things were actually going well as being reported in the media, added that commercial activities would hopefully commence from Agege to Ibadan by October this year.
Al-hassan, who led other board members on the inspection tour, said: “It is a very good opportunity for them (board members) to see first-hand experience on what is going on in the rail project so that when we talk about other segments, they will be able to understand what it is all about.”
IFC Agrees to Market Enyimba Economic City, Signs MoU
Emmanuel Ugwu, Umuahia
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has undertaken to market the Enyimba Economic City (EEC) project to global investors, following a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with the management of the EEC.
The involvement of IFC, was made known by the company secretary and legal adviser of Enyimba Economic City, Chibuzo Ekwekwuo.
He revealed this at Umuahia, while making a presentation on the project to a group of economic professionals of Igbo extraction under the umbrella of Nzuko Umunna, led by a former Managing Director of the defunct Diamond Bank Plc, Mr. Emeka Onwuka.
Ekwekwuo, said the agreement, which was signed recently, was the single biggest endorsement for the project and a clear indication that the Enyimba Economic City project has all it takes to rank amongst the top business deals on the African continent.
The International Finance Corporation is the Investment arm of the World Bank Group with over 60 years experience in unlocking private investment, creating markets and opportunities where they are needed most.
The organisation is reputed to have leveraged over $2.6 billion in capital to deliver more than $285 billion in business financing in developing countries hence it is expected that Enyimba Economic City would reap good dividends from its partnership with IFC.
The company secretary described the Enyimba Economic City as the single largest development project in Nigeria to be undertaken under the Public- Private Partnership (PPP) model, adding that it was 100 per cent private sector-driven with a clearly defined shareholding structure of 50 billion shares.
According to him, 50 per cent of the shares have already been subscribed, while the remaining 50 per cent would be publicly offered through an Initial public offer (IPO) within the first five years of the commencement of construction.
Ekwekwuo, also said the project would have first class infrastructure provided by leading global infrastructure development giants with all agreements to that effect signed.
He allayed fears on inadequate power supply to support an economic project of such huge magnitude, saying that “there will be uninterrupted power at the City to be generated independent of the National Grid through the construction of a dedicated power plant.”
Not only that, he further assured that the Enyimba Economic City has signed power supply agreement with Geometric Power with guaranteed financing of $135 million dollars already in place by the RUI Group, the Chinese textile giants.
The City, Ekwekwuo said, would have its own private sector driven administrative agency to ensure first class services to its stakeholders.
NBC Trains 500 Cross River Youths
Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The Nigeria Bottling Company (NBC) Limited, has trained 500 youths in Cross River State on life, business and networking skills, under its programme “Youth Empowered Nigeria.”
The programme is aimed at addressing challenges of unemployment among the nation’s youths.
At the opening session of the training in Calabar recently, the Public Affairs and Communications Director of the NBC, Mr. Ekuma Eze, said “it is a programme that is developed to support the young people between the ages of 18 and 30 years to build life skills, business skills and long life networks to enable them transit to meaningful employment.”
Speaking to journalists at the sidelines of the event which was graced by the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, Ekuma said it was the plan of Coca Cola Hellenic to impact one million youths by 2025, across the 28 countries where it has operations, with 100,000 of such youths coming from Nigeria, which is one of its strongest operational bases.
“Nigeria, being a key market in the Hellenic Group is expected to reach the greatest number of youths by 2020. The program is expected to run through two different but complementary channels: Live training workshops and e-learning modules on the platform of the digital hub.
“The live training workshop comprises a one-day life workshop and three days Business skills workshop, all running at a stretch”, Eze said.
He said one of the key components of the programme was mentoring, that would involve the training of the youths by system associates and external resource persons who possess the knowledge, experience and passion for impacting young people with skills and positive values.
“The Business skills workshop is designed to prepare participants with essential skills for the business environment. “Here, participants are expected to acquire skills to approach a business context, acquire basically language and essential knowledge to run own business while, the Digital Hub provides opportunities for participants who are unable to attend the live workshops go through the same experience and training online.
This innovative offering provides the training curriculum through E-learning and networking opportunities,” Eze said.
He disclosed that the NBC has mainstreamed community Trust into its corporate strategy, which drives the business to invest time, expertise and resources in locally relevant initiatives to facilitate socio-economic development of communities.
Firm Bemoans Dwindling Economy
The Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Okwudili Ijezie and Co, Chief Okwudili Ijezie, has expressed dismay over the dwindling fortunes of the Nigerian economy.
According to him, the country’s over-reliance on oil revenue remains a challenge. He argued that nothing was being done to diversify the economy.
He described the economy’s growth as below expectation, adding that the government could set up businesses which the masses could key into with little investment, so as to boost the economy.
According to him, ” the citizenry cannot afford to relax in their comfort zone when the economy is burning. The economy of the country is coming down because we are tied to oil revenue, but a lot can be achieved by maximising revenue without injuring the masses.”
While briefing journalists, recently, in Lagos, on plans by his organisation to hold a seminar titled, ‘Strategies for Improving Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for states in Nigeria,’ that would highlight alternative strategies on ensuring transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of the system, Ijezie said it would equip government agencies and individuals with requisite knowledge on understanding IGR, legal and institutional framework for revenue collection
The two-day seminar which would hold between August 15th and 16th, in Lagos, he added, would also provide an opportunity for them to understand their rights and responsibilities, especially as regards withholding tax and value added tax, among others.
“As the dynamics of generating IGR continues to change in Nigeria, we recognise that many businesses, especially government agencies, in the country are not equipped with the requisite information and knowledge to discharge their responsibilities in this area appropriately. “It is based on this reality that we decided to organise a seminar on IGR, which will go a long way towards positioning the states and the country at large better for its citizen”, he said.
The seminar would have in attendance federal and state internal revenue services’ tax collectors, the Nigeria Customs Service revenue officers, federal and state ministry of finance staff, revenue allocation mobilisation and fiscal commission and assembly revenue committee at both state and federal levels.
The CEO said aside topical issues relating to the country’s IGR and laws, other fiscal policies that impact on the profitability and overall success of businesses would also be discussed at the seminar.
The Guest Speakers/facilitators expected at the programme include the Executive Chairman, Abia State Internal Revenue Service, Elder Udochukwu Ogbonna, former Executive Chairman, Rivers State Internal Revenue Services, Ms. Onene Osila Obele-Oshoko and Chief Mark Anthony Dike, retired Director, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as well as Past President, Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), among others.
The Executive Chairman, Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), Mr. Hamzat Ayodele, is expected to deliver the keynote speech.