Okays $3bn for PH-Maiduguri rail rehabilitation, reconstruction
By Adedayo Akinwale
Citing the need not to compromise national security, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the sum of N653,886,584 to procure and deploy hybrid spectrum monitoring system to track down illegal frequencies in the South-east.
FEC has also approved the award of contracts for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri eastern narrow gauge railway at the cost of $3,020,279,549, and additional N4.78 billion for Abeokuta-Ibadan road.
The FEC gave the approvals yesterday during the 18th virtual meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The decision of FEC was a sequel to the discovery of illegal spectrum frequencies in the South-east, which the federal government said would compromise the security and safety in the country.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He explained that the investigation carried out in the five geo-political zones, including North-east, North-west, North-central, South-west and South-south, revealed that out of the 320 frequencies discovered 106 were illegal.
Pantami stated: “The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, sought the approval of the council for deploying hybrid spectrum monitoring system, most importantly to focus on the south-eastern zone of the country.
“From January to August 2020, within the period of eight months, we discovered 320 frequencies being used all over the country and of this 320,106 were illegal. This is very worrisome because the usage of this illegal spectrum or frequencies will compromise our security and safety in the country.”
The minister explained that it was because of the agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari on promoting security that the initiative of monitoring the usage of frequencies and uncover the legal and the illegal ones was berthed.
Pantami added that for the legal ones, the monitoring would ensure that they renew their licenses annually, while for the illegal ones, necessary actions are being taken according to the gravity of the offence.
He added, “We discovered that our monitoring did not cover South-east part of the country. It covered five zones – North-east, North-west, North-central, South-west and South-south; however, South-east has not been covered.
“It is because of this that we presented our memo, seeking for council’s approval of N653,886,584 to procure and deploy hybrid spectrum monitoring system that will cover the southern part of the country, most importantly the South-east. “So, the council approved for the deployment and this project will go a long way in promoting safety and security and secondly, identify the usage of illegal spectrum and thirdly, enhance revenue for the federal government and fourthly, in the long run it will create many jobs for the citizens.”
The Minister stressed that based on the advice of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, operators of the illegal frequencies would be prosecuted.
Pantami described the use of illegal frequencies in the country which has become very rampant as worrisome.
Speaking on what the law says about the illegal frequencies and what will be the punishment, Pantami said, “Like I said it will go a long way in promoting safety and security. In the National Frequencies Management Council of which I am the chair, it has been established by law under NCA 2003 Section 31, security institutions are presented in that council in addition to other institutions that deploy spectrum like ministries of transportation and aviation (they use frequency in the aircraft), Office of the National Security Adviser, and Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC), as a regulator of broadcasting are also a member of the council.
“It is in the council that each sector that feels that the council will add value to its activities, they will come up with measures on how to use the council to promote what they need. So, it is because of this that we deploy this and security institutions are represented and whatever we do is in agreement with the law.
“So, if there is any question with regards to security, it is important to reach out to the security institutions. For your information, they have never requested anything from us that will promote security through intelligence that we have not provided. But I am not in the position to answer the question on security particularly outside the mandate given to me.”
“Those we have investigated so far, there is a process. When we discover the usage of illegal frequency, a letter will be written to that institution to draw their attention to it. When they admit, if it is a government institution, there is a process of investigation, there is also a process if it is a private one. Sometimes, it will take up to litigation and we are in the process right now.
“I had a meeting with the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice on how to facilitate the process, so we are in the process of doing that.”
FEC Approves $3bn for PH-Maiduguri Rail Rehabilitation, Reconstruction
Meanwhile, FEC has also approved the award of contracts for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri eastern narrow gauge railway at the cost of $3,020,279,549.
The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed this yesterday, while briefing State House journalists at the end of the virtual FEC meeting.
He said: “The railway line will be at the cost of $3,020,279,549. The industrial park, which is under Public-Private Partnership (PPP) at no cost to the federal government, will cost $241,154,389.31. They’ve also approved the construction of a new deep seaport in Bonny, under PPP and the construction of a railway industrial park in Port Harcourt. The Bonny deep seaport will cost $461,924,369, at no cost to the federal government.
“The Port Harcourt to Maiduguri narrow gauge railway will have new branch lines: from Port Harcourt to Bonny and from Port Harcourt to Owerri are new lines. There’s another connecting to narrow gauge to standard gauge at Kafanchan. There is a branch line from Gombe or before Maiduguri to Damaturu and Gashua. That’s what has been approved.”
Also briefing journalists, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the memo for the completion of the rehabilitation of 72 kilometres Abeokuta-Ibadan road submitted by the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, was approved.
According to him, “It was a memo asking for augmentation by N788 million to bring the project cost to N4.78 billion plus six months extension of time for construction. So, we hope that by 2021, this road will be completed. You need to note also that this was a contract that was awarded in 2010 but due to the paucity of funds and other constraints, we have to take it over.”
Mohammed said further that the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, also presented a memo seeking approval for the rehabilitation of the various screening machines nationwide at the cost of N654 million.
He said this was a new protocol sanctioned by IATA and other Aviation authorities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mohammed said the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, also presented a memo on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari seeking council’s approval for the purchase of 21 operational vehicles for the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
He added that the contract has been awarded to Messrs Pan Nigeria Limited in the total sum of N292,615 million, adding that the purpose of the memo was to enhance the operational capability and capacity of the corps.
The minister noted that these vehicles are being sourced from local assembly plants, Peugeot Nigeria Limited in Kaduna.
Mohammed also stressed that the memo submitted by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCT), Malam Muhammed Bello, for the award of contract for the final design of engineering infrastructure and production of tendered documents for Kabusa District phase three Abuja was approved for the sum of N183,709,480,50.00 to Messrs Techno Engineering and Consult Limited.
The Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, said the council has approved the full business skills compliance certificate issued by Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), for the design, finance, upgrade, operate, and transfer of the Nigeria Correctional Service Shoe, Garment, and Leather Processing Factory located in Aba, Abia State as well as Janguza, Kano State under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
He said: “This full business skills certificate and the investment that will come therefrom amount to N5 billion, N100 million (N5,100,000,000). Invariably, when the partnership comes into effect, the benefit is enormous. About 1,330 people will have direct employment, while about 3,000 people will have indirect employment.”
Also speaking, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo, said FEC approved contract for the procurement and installation of automotive electronic equipment, for the automatic mechatronic center facilities in six geo-political zones of the country and the FCT.
Adebayo stressed that the three pilot workshop automotive service shops for the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) at the cost for maintenance of vehicles. N1.8 billion has also been approved.