China showed off its military might in an elaborate parade marking the country’s 70th anniversary under Communist Party rule Tuesday.
Decked out in a gray suit in the style made famous by Party leader Mao Zedong, President Xi Jinping was joined by Premier Li Keqiang and other party officials as hundreds of troops marched throughout Tiananmen Square, where Mao declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.
In a speech carried live on national television, President Xi declared that “no force” can shake the foundation of China, nor stop the progress of the Chinese people.
Xi later climbed into a limousine and stood in the vehicle’s sunroof as it drove past rows of soldiers and military equipment, including truck-mounted missiles and armored personnel carriers.
A symbolic 70-gun salute then kicked off a parade showcasing China’s newest military capabilities, including a new intercontinental ballistic missile analysts say can carry multiple nuclear warheads over several thousand kilometers.
Organizers planned to release 70,000 doves at the end as a symbol of peace. (NAN)
After a four-year manhunt, fugitive former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Mr. AbdulRasheed Maina, has been arrested.
He was picked up by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) at a hotel in Abuja after he sneaked into the country from his Dubai, United Arab Emirates base, it was learnt last night.
Sources hinted that the DSS might hand him over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for trial over a questionable N2billion biometrics contract.
Explaining how he was arrested, they said the DSS acted on intelligence alert which led to Maina’s arrest.
The source said: “Following inter-agency collaboration, intelligence report indicated that Maina had sneaked into the country from Dubai.
“He was trailed to an Abuja hotel where he was arrested after operatives outwitted those who tried to ferry him away in a bullet-proof vehicle.
“He is currently being quizzed. He is likely to be handed over to the EFCC for trial. He has a pending case since 2015.”
Maina was on July 21, 2015 charged alongside Oronsaye, Osarenkhoe Afe and Fredrick Hamilton Global Services Limited before a Federal High Court on a 24-count charge bordering on procurement fraud and obtaining by false pretense.
Although some godfathers tried to smuggle him into the country and attempted to reinstate him to office, the process backfired.
The EFCC in 2017, declared Maina wanted, following his refusal to honour the commission’s invitations.
But in his bid to evade the long arm of the law, Maina, on September 5, 2018, in a suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/957/2918, asked the court to decide whether the Commission can lawfully exercise powers of declaring him wanted, either on its official website or any other media platform, or “harass him.”
Justice Folasade Giwa Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court restrained the anti- graft commission from declaring Maina wanted.
She also gave an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the EFCC and its affiliates or related bodies from further declaring Maina wanted in relation to the issue of the pension scam.
The EFCC said the judgment must not be allowed to stand and filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal.
Spokesman for DSS, Dr. Peter Afunaya, did not respond to a message sent to him by our correspondent. (The Nation)
Busola Dakolo, a celebrity photographer, says she sued Biodun Fatoyinbo, senior pastor at the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), for the emotional injuries she still suffers as a result of the alleged rape.
She said this in her response to Fatiyinbo’s notice of preliminary objection filed before a high court in the federal capital territory.
Dakolo had sued Fatoyinbo whom she accused him of having sexual relations with her on two occasions in 2002, when she was a teenager.
But in his preliminary objection, the pastor had asked the court to dismiss the suit on grounds that the prayers therein were could not be granted.
He had also argued that the suit was statute-barred as it was not filed within three years of the occurrence of the allegation he was accused of.
But in her response, a copy of which was obtained by TheMomentng, Dakolo said the case is predicated on a “continuing injury which is of a nature that is suffered from time to time continuously over a long period of time” and is therefore not statute-barred.
In the response filed on Friday, she said “the cause of action of the respondent is predicated on the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress, which is different from negligent infliction of emotional distress.”
“The respondent humbly posits that the fulcrum of this suit is not rooted on the allegation of rape as this is not a criminal court but on cumulative facts which has caused the respondent continuous emotional injuries,” it read.
“In response to the argument of the applicant contained particularly at paragraph 1:25-1.41 of the written address, we humbly submit that to consider and determine whether or not a claim discloses reasonable cause of action and terminating a suit if it does not and thus depriving the respondent of access to justice must be thoroughly thought-out and not reduced to a tea party, as the applicant’s objection seems to present.
“It is a decision to be reached seriously in the light of the law and the facts as put forward in the pleadings of the respondent and thus, such a decision must never be reached lightly.”
‘MY CASE NOT FRIVOLOUS’
Dakolo also dismissed Fatoyinbo’s argument that the suit is frivolous and also an abuse of court process. She said to determine if such is the case, “the processes to examine are the writ of summons as well as the statement of claim of the respondent and not the affidavit in support of the objection.”
“What the claimant has done is simple and straightforward, she has approached the court vide her originating processes to inform the court that she has suffered and continues to suffer emotional distress as a result of the actions and inaction of the applicant,” the response read.
“We therefore maintain strongly that the respondent has a reasonable cause of action and as such, this suit is not frivolous nor is it an abuse of court process.
“My Lord, we respectfully put forward a logical question and that is: what are the elements of a frivolous claim? My Lord, we humbly submit that a claim is frivolous and an abuse of court process when the same is not supported by any idea of law and when such a party has no reasonable cause of action.”
FORMER Super Eagles chief coach Samson Siasia has till October 10 to pay N36million ($100,000) before the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland can entertain his appeal against the Federation of International Football (FIFA) over allegation of match-fixing.
The 52-year-old will began the process of clearing his name at CAS on October 28 against a life ban imposed on him by the football governing body.
However, the former coach has been told by the panel that the case would be struck out if he fails to pay the said amount before the October 10 deadline.
A source told NationSport that the coach is now in dilemma on how to raise the cash.
“This is somebody who managed to raise an additional N1.7m to release his mother who was kidnapped over 10 weeks ago. Now he is looking for N36m. Who will come to his rescue,” the source added.
FIFA on August 16 through the adjudicatory chamber of their independent Ethics Committee found Siasia “guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics.”
Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, who is building one of the world’s biggest refineries in Lagos, in addition to investments in gas and petrochemical plants, said he expects total group revenue to grow to about $30 billion from $4 billion when the plants start operations in the next two years.
Thereafter, he plans to include investing about 60per cent of profit outside Africa, including the U.S. and the U.K.
“Sometimes in Africa you have issues of devaluation. We want to really preserve some of the family’s wealth,” he said.
He plans to expand cement capacity on the continent by 29per cent to 62 million tons, entrenching his flagship company’s position as the continent’s biggest producer of the construction material.
He plans to add six million tons in Nigeria next year, taking volume in Dangote Cement Plc’s home market to 35 million tons, he said in interview on Bloomberg Television.
The rest of the expansion is planned mainly in West Africa, including Niger and Cote d’Ivoire. The 62-year-old told shareholders in June the company plans to open plants in Nigeria that will allow it export clinker to grinding plants in Cameroon and West Africa.
Dangote Cement reported six per cent increase in profit for the six months through June to N119.5 billion ($331 million), even as revenue fell three per cent to N467.7 billion.
NITDA Flags off Training of 100 Artisans, Donates 300 Computers to Teachers and Students
The Federal Government of Nigeria, through her agency created for the regulation and development of information technology, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), today commissioned the North East ICT Hub in Gombe, Gombe State Capital. The centre, which houses over 250 computers and other ICT infrastructures, is to serve as training facility for ICT capacity development in the geo-political zone.
While commissioning the hub, the Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, FNCS, FBCS, FIIN stated that the wisdom behind the establishment of the centre is to promote the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari towards diversifying the nation’s economy.
He observed that the present government is obsessed to creating enabling environment for Nigerian youths to encourage them come up with crazy and innovative ideas that have tendencies of disrupting the existing technological innovations. “World over, we know that it’s almost impossible for government to create the required number of jobs for their graduate. So, inability of the government to provide jobs for all Nigerian youths is not a peculiar problem to Nigeria. However, the government will continue to create enabling environment to nurture entrepreneurs to be self reliant and become employers of labours,” he said.
The Minister remarked that Nigeria is blessed with youths who are naturally talented and gifted. What they need is the enabling environment for critical and analytical thinking with right mentorship that will guide them for proper implementation and translation of their ideas to marketable solutions. While admonishing the youths to be innovative, he noted that 90 percent of the first 20 richest people in the world carved niches for themselves in ICT circle. Adding that the youth need to challenge themselves to come up with disruptive innovations that can change the way we live.
Dr Pantami added that the federal government, through NITDA, has completed the establishment of three ICT hubs in the country which are located in Ibadan, Katsina and Gombe for the South West, North West and North East geo-political zones respectively. He informed that works are at advance stages in eight other centres across the country. “This intervention is to help the states to solve the challenges of unemployment and to create a culture of self reliance among Nigerian Youths who will in turn become employers of labours,” he concluded.
Earlier in his remark, the NITDA Director General, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CIIE lauded the identification of ICT by President Buhari as one of the tools that can help in resuscitating the nation’s dwindling economy at the inception of his first term in office. He said; “NITDA, in line with the vision of President Buhari crafted seven strategic pillars to prepare Nigeria for ICT readiness for socio economic development”.
The DG re-emphasises the determination of NITDA to invest in our own people for them to be self reliant in term of job creation and to reduce the over reliance on government for job opportunities. “What we are about to commission today is to aid the capacity building and strategic pillar of the Agency, thereby creating opportunity for digital job creation and boosting of local content development in both hard and software, he informed.
While justifying the choice of Gombe state as the right location for the facility being the gateway state to other states in the North East, the DG advised the people of the zone to use the facility for the purpose of which it was established so as to change the narrative of unemployment in the zone in no distance future.
The Gombe State governor, His Excellency, Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya applauded NITDA for various interventions the state had benefitted from the Agency in the last two years. “We appreciate NITDA for what it has been able to do in our state in the last two years of the administration of former Director General and now the Minister of Communication Dr Isa Ali Pantami and his successor, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi. We have received various interventions, and numerous capacity building trainings and donations of ICT tools for the beneficiaries. What I can say is that for all other things you plan to do for the state towards the development of human capital through ICT, you will find in me a dependable ally”.
In the same vein, the Agency flagged off the training of 100 artisans in ICT capacity building. The training is to focus on mobile phone repairs. The trainees were selected from the state after scalling through a rigorous screening exercise.
The highlight of the event was the donation of 300 computers to teachers in the state to aid teaching and learning.
Viewers on DStv and GOtv will need to gear up for a thrilling week of football action, as we bring you the ‘Beautiful Game’ from the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A.
The pick of this weekend’s Premier League matches comes from St James Park and sees Newcastle United host Manchester United on Sunday evening. This clash is one between two teams struggling for form, identity and momentum this season, while their managers – Steve Bruce and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – seem to be under major pressure for their jobs.
Man United claimed a league ‘double’ over Newcastle last season (winning 3-2 at Old Trafford and 2-0 at St James Park) and will need to get halfway towards another such feat if they are to boost their hopes of moving up the table. However, Solskjaer’s team have failed to win any of their last seven away games in the Premier League, with their last three-pointer on the road arriving way back in February.
DStv subscribers from Premium to Family will have front row seats to all La Liga games, while on GOtv, Max is the home of the Spanish league and all the best games will be available on the package, while Plus customers can tune in twice a week for selected matches.
The pick of La Liga games this weekend comes from the Camp Nou on Sunday night and sees Barcelona host Sevilla. The reigning champions have made a faltering start to their title defence, with manager Ernesto Valverde coming under pressure to see the Blaugrana back to their imperious best.
However, they will face a tough test from Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla, who made a strong start to the campaign (though their status as potential title contenders was put in doubt by a defeat at the hands of Real Madrid a couple of rounds ago).
SuperSport viewers will hope for a repeat of the goal-laden meetings between the teams from last season: Barca won 4-2 both home and away in La Liga, while even their Copa del Rey clashes produced nine goals between them.
DStv Family customers have a boosted offering of Serie A and will see all the matches, while Access customers will be able to catch two games a week. GOtvMax and GOtv Plus customers will enjoy our coverage of the best action from Italy.
The undoubted top clash from Serie A this weekend is the fabled Derby d’Italia between Internazionale and Juventus at the San Siro in Milan, which will close the round out on Sunday night.
This match will have even more significance than usual, with the Nerazzurri emerging as genuine title hopefuls under new manager Antonio Conte, who would love nothing more than to win against his former employers to underline his side’s rise to ascendancy.
The Old Lady took four points off Inter in their league meetings last season, while the Milan club have beaten their hated rivals just once in the last 15 competitive meetings of the teams. If Inter can move the needle in the opposite direction, then we may have far more of a title race than was the case in the previous campaign.
Don’t miss the 2019/2020 football season on DStv and GOtv. Visit www.dstv.com and www.gotvafrica.com to subscribe or upgrade, and join in on the excitement. And while you’re on the move, you can stream matches on DStv Now.
Premier League fixtures, 5-6 October
Saturday 5 October
12:30pm: Brighton & Hove Albion v Tottenham Hotspur – LIVE on SuperSport 3
3:00pm: Burnley v Everton – LIVE on SuperSport 4
3:00pm: Liverpool v Leicester City – LIVE on SuperSport 3/SuperSport 10, s& Select 2
3:00pm: Norwich City v Aston Villa – LIVE on SuperSport 5
3:00pm: Watford v Sheffield United – LIVE on SuperSport 11
5:30pm: West Ham United v Crystal Palace – LIVE on SuperSport 3/SuperSport 10 & Select 2
Sunday 6 October
2:00pm: Arsenal v Bournemouth – LIVE on SuperSport 4
2:00pm: Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers – LIVE on SuperSport 3
2:00pm: Southampton v Chelsea – LIVE on SuperSport 5
4:30pm: Newcastle United v Manchester United – LIVE on SuperSport 3
La Liga fixtures, 4-6 October
Friday 4 October
8:00pm: Real Betis v Eibar – LIVE on SuperSport 7/SuperSport 10 & Select 2/Select 4
Saturday 5 October
12:00pm: Leganes v Levante – LIVE on SuperSport 7 & Select 4
3:00pm: Real Madrid v Granada – LIVE on SuperSport 7 & Select 4
5:30pm: Valencia v Deportivo Alaves – LIVE on SuperSport 7 & Select 4
8:00pm: Osasuna v Villarreal – LIVE on SuperSport 7 & Select 4
Sunday 6 October
11:00am: Mallorca v Espanyol – LIVE on SuperSport 7 & Select 4
1:00pm: Celta de Vigo v Athletic Bilbao – LIVE on SuperSport 7/SuperSport 10 Select 2/Select 4
3:00pm: Real Valladolid v Atletico Madrid – LIVE on SuperSport 7 & Select 4
5:30pm: Real Sociedad v Getafe – LIVE on SuperSport & Select 4
8:00pm: Barcelona v Sevilla – LIVE on SuperSport 7 & Select 4
Serie A fixtures, 4-6 October
Friday 4 October
7:45pm: Bescia v Sassuolo – LIVE on SuperSport 8 & Select 5
Saturday 5 October
2:00pm: SPAL v Parma – LIVE on SuperSport 8 & Select 5
5:00pm: Hellas Verona v Sampdoria – LIVE on SuperSport 8/SuperSport 10 & Select2/Select 5
7:45pm: Genoa v Milan – LIVE on SuperSport 8/SuperSport 10 & Select2/Select 5
Sunday 6 October
11:30am: Fiorentina v Udinese – LIVE on SuperSport 8 & Select 5
2:00pm: Atalanta v Lecce – delayed on SuperSport 8 & Select 5 at 22:45
2:00pm: Bologna v Lazio – delayed on SuperSport 8 & Select 5 at 00:45
2:00pm: Roma v Cagliari – LIVE on SuperSport 8 & Select 5
5:00pm: Torino v Napoli – LIVE on SuperSport 8/SuperSport 10 & Select2/Select 5
7:45pm: Internazionale v Juventus – LIVE on SuperSport 8 & Select 5
Pep Guardiola has dismissed the notion that Manchester City need to win the Champions League this season, saying he “won’t kill himself” if they fail.
Following a record-breaking Premier League title win in 2018 and an unprecedented domestic treble last term, the Champions League is the only prize to elude Guardiola in his time in Manchester so far.
However, the tactician suggested that there was no pressure on him to deliver the trophy immediately, but rather to build a long-term project.
“Yeah, definitely [winning the Champions League is the next step for City] but sometimes it cannot be possible,” Guardiola said in his pre-match press conference.
“Sometimes you take a few years, sometimes you take longer. Barcelona is my club in my heart and won their first one in 1992. Of course I will try or live the next ten months thinking it will be a disaster if I don’t win the Champions League.
“I want to win it but if I don’t, it will not change my life, I am not going to kill myself.
“In my first press conference, it was the same question, you are here to win the Champions League. It is impossible to arrive and do it without the feeling that we want to do it. We tried the first season, we tried the second season when we were up for four competitions.”
City face Dinamo Zagreb in their second Champions League game of the campaign so far on Tuesday, having won 3-0 against Shakhtar Donetsk in their opening group-stage clash.
Guardiola’s European dreams have twice been ended by the away goals rule, with Monaco progressing after a 6-6 aggregate draw in his first season, while Tottenham benefitted from the rule in a pulsating 4-4 aggregate tie last term.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool got the best of them over two legs in 2017-18, however, winning both legs of the tie an eventually making the final.
October 1 of each year is an opportunity for us to reflect and thank God for his endless blessings on our country.
It is also a time for us, collectively, to remember the sacrifices made by our founders and great leaders past; by soldiers, by distinguished public servants; by traditional leaders, by our workers — sacrifices on which Nigeria has been built over the 59 years since Independence in 1960; and rededicate ourselves to attaining the goals which we have set for ourselves: a united, prosperous and purposeful nation in the face of 21st century opportunities and challenges.
In the past four years, the majority of Nigerians have committed to Change for the Better. Indeed, this Administration was re-elected by Nigerians on a mandate to deliver positive and enduring Change – through maintaining our National Security; restoring sustainable and inclusive Economic Growth and Development; and fighting Corruption against all internal and external threats.
This Change can only be delivered if we are united in purpose, as individuals and as a nation. We must all remain committed to achieving this positive and enduring Change. As I stated four years ago, “Change does not just happen… We must change our lawless habits, our attitude to public office and public trust… simply put, to bring about change, we must change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens.”
Good Governance and Economic Development cannot be sustained without an enabling environment of peace and security. In the last four years, we have combatted the terrorist scourge of Boko Haram. We owe a debt of gratitude to our gallant men and women in arms, through whose efforts we have been able to achieve the present results. We are also grateful to our neighbours and allies – within the region and across the world – who have supported us on this front.
The capacity of our armed forces to defend our territorial integrity continues to be enhanced by the acquisition of military hardware as well as continued improvements in the working conditions of our service men and women.
The Ministry of Police Affairs has been resuscitated to oversee the development and implementation of strategies to enhance internal security. My recent assent to the Nigerian Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act has created a legal framework to support our Police with increased fiscal resources to enhance their law enforcement capabilities.
These initiatives are being complemented by the ongoing recruitment of 10,000 constables into the Nigeria Police Force. This clearly demonstrates our commitment to arrest the incidence of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes across our nation.
We remain equally resolute in our efforts to combat militant attacks on our oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta and accelerate the Ogoni Clean-up to address long-standing environmental challenges in that region.
The recent redeployment of the Niger Delta Development Commission from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs underscores our commitment to enhance the living standards of our communities in the Niger Delta, through coordinated and appropriate programmes.
Our attention is increasingly being focused on cyber-crimes and the abuse of technology through hate speech and other divisive material being propagated on social media. Whilst we uphold the Constitutional rights of our people to freedom of expression and association, where the purported exercise of these rights infringes on the rights of other citizens or threatens to undermine our National Security, we will take firm and decisive action.
In this regard, I reiterate my call for all to exercise restraint, tolerance and mutual respect in airing their grievances and frustrations. Whilst the ongoing national discourse on various political and religious issues is healthy and welcome, we must not forget the lessons of our past – lessons that are most relevant on a day such as this.
The path of hatred and distrust only leads to hostility and destruction. I believe that the vast majority of Nigerians would rather tread the path of peace and prosperity, as we continue to uphold and cherish our unity.
Accelerating sustainable and inclusive economy growth
This administration inherited a skewed economy, where the Oil Sector comprised only 8% of Gross Domestic Product but contributed 70% of government revenue and 90% foreign exchange earnings over the years. Past periods of relatively high economic growth were driven by our reliance on Oil Sector revenues to finance our demand for imported goods and services. Regrettably, previous governments abandoned the residual Investment-driven Non-Oil Sector, which constituted 40% of Gross Domestic Product and comprised agriculture, livestock, agro-processing, arts, entertainment, mining and manufacturing activities that provide millions of jobs for able-bodied Nigerians and utilize locally available raw materials and labour for production.
To address this imbalance, our commitment to achieving economic diversification has been at the heart of our economic strategies under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which I launched on the 5th of April, 2017.
This medium-term development plan charted the trajectory for our economy to exit from recession and return to the path of sustainable, diversified and inclusive growth for Nigerians. Pursuant to these reforms, the economy has recovered and we have had 9 successive quarters of growth since our exit from recession. The exchange rate in the last 3 years has remained stable, with robust reserves of US$42.5 billion, up from US$23 billion in October 2016.
Learning from the mistakes of the past, this Administration is committed to responsibly managing our oil wealth endowments. We will continue to prudently save our oil income and invest more in the non-oil job-creating sectors.
In this regard, we are significantly increasing investments in critical infrastructure. Last year, capital releases only commenced with the approval of the Budget in June 2018. However, as at 20th June this year, up to N1.74 trillion had been released for capital projects in the 2018 fiscal year.
Implementation of the 2019 Capital Budget, which was only approved in June 2019, will be accelerated to ensure that critical priority projects are completed or substantially addressed. The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning has been directed to release N600 billion for Capital Expenditure in the next 3 months.
To maximise impact, we shall continue to increasingly welcome and encourage private capital for infrastructural development through Public Private Partnerships. Through the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, which I initiated in January this year, we are giving incentives to private sector inflow of over N205 billion in 19 Nigerian roads and bridges of 794.4km across in 11 States of the Federation.
As we push to diversify the economy, we still remain focused on optimizing the revenues generated from the oil and gas sector. We will, working with the Legislature, soon pass the Petroleum Industry Bill and amendments to the Deep Offshore Act and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act into law, to ensure Government obtains a fair share of oil revenues, whilst encouraging private sector investment.
We will also continue our fight against illegal bunkering of crude oil and the smuggling of refined petroleum products across our borders, including the diligent prosecution and conviction of offenders found guilty of these acts. Whilst Nigeria remains committed to free and fair continental and international trade, we will not hesitate to take all necessary steps to tackle illegal smuggling, transshipment and other predatory trade practices that destroy jobs in our country.
We are resolute in reforming the power sector. In August this year, we launched the Presidential Power Initiative to modernize the National Grid in 3 phases: starting from 5 Gigawatts to 7 Gigawatts, then to 11 Gigawatts by 2023, and finally 25 Gigawatts afterwards. This programme, in partnership with the German Government and Siemens, will provide end-to-end electrification solutions that will resolve our transmission and distribution challenges.
The programme will also look to localize the development and assembly of smart meters as well as the operations and maintenance capabilities of transmission and distribution infrastructure.
I am pleased with the improved inter-agency collaboration between the Ministry of Power and the regulators in the banking and power sectors to ensure that electricity sales, billings and collections are automated and become cashless.
These initiatives are important to ensure that the technical and collection losses in the sector are substantially reduced. I remain confident that Nigerians will have affordable and uninterrupted electricity supply in the not too distant future.
Our efforts to improve the power sector will complement other infrastructure investments projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, which is investing in the Mambilla Power Plant project, as well as key economic road infrastructure such as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge and Abuja-Kano Expressway. The first set of these projects remain on track to be completed by 2022.
Our journey to food security and self-sufficiency is well underway. We have made remarkable progress in almost all segments of the agriculture value chain, from fertilizers to rice, to animal feed production. We shall sustain these policies to ensure additional investments are channeled, thereby creating more jobs in the sector. We must not go back to the days of importing food and thereby exporting jobs.
Our commitment to achieving macroeconomic stability and economic diversification, has been underscored by the merger of the Ministry of Finance with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
This combined Ministry has the important mandate to enhance the management of domestic and global fiscal risks; coordinate policies with the trade and monetary authorities; raise and deploy revenues to fund budgeted expenditure; and integrate annual budgets and medium-term fiscal strategies.
With this, our revenue-generating and reporting agencies will come under much greater scrutiny, going forward, as the new performance management framework will reward exceptional revenue performance, while severe consequences will attend failures to achieve agreed revenue targets.
I recently constituted an Economic Advisory Council to advise me on inclusive and sustainable macroeconomic, fiscal and monetary policies. This independent body will work with relevant Cabinet members and the heads of key monetary, fiscal and trade agencies to ensure we remain on track as we strive for collective prosperity. However, we are also committed to ensure that the inconvenience associated with any painful policy adjustments, is moderated, such that the poor and the vulnerable, who are most at risk, do not bear the brunt.
Our ongoing N500 billion Special Intervention Programme continues to target these vulnerable groups, through the Home-grown School Feeding Programme, Government Economic Empowerment Programme, N-Power Job Creation Programme, loans for traders and artisans, Conditional Cash Transfers to the poorest families and social housing scheme.
To institutionalize these impactful programmes, we created the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development which shall consolidate and build on our achievements to date. To the beneficiaries of these programmes, I want to reassure you that our commitment to social inclusion will only increase.
Our population growth rate remains amongst the highest in the world, presenting both challenges as well as opportunities. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we provide adequate resources to meet the basic needs of our teeming youth.
Accordingly, we shall continue to invest in education, health, water and sanitation, as well as food security, to ensure that their basic needs are met, while providing them with every opportunity to live peaceful, prosperous and productive lives.
Fighting corruption and restoring good governance:
On fighting corruption, our institutional reforms to enforce the Treasury Single Account policy, introduce the Whistle-blowers’ Initiative, expand the coverage of the Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System as well as the Government Integrated Management Information System have saved billions of Naira over the last four years, and deterred the rampant theft and mismanagement of public funds that have plagued our public service.
The Ministry of Justice, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will continue to address this menace. We are determined to ensure that transparency and good governance are institutionalized in public service.
We must commit to installing a culture of Good Governance in all we do. This Administration has fought against corruption, by investigating and prosecuting those accused of embezzlement and the misuse of public resources. We have empowered teams of prosecutors, assembled detailed databases of evidence, traced the proceeds of crimes and accelerated the recovery of stolen funds.
Furthermore, we partnered with our friends abroad to combat tax evasion, smuggling, terrorism and illicit financial flows. In June 2018, I assented to the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, to provide a domestic legal framework for obtaining international assistance in criminal matters.
This measure has already strengthened our law enforcement agencies in obtaining evidence, investigating suspects and facilitating the recovery, forfeiture and confiscation of property implicated as proceeds of crime.
An example is the US$300 million recently identified as part of the Abacha money-laundering case, working closely with the Government of the United States of America. The Federal Ministry of Justice is working with the US Department of Justice to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding to expedite the repatriation of these funds.
The P&ID Arbitral Award has underscored the manner in which significant economic damage has been caused by the past activities of a few corrupt and unpatriotic Nigerians.
The policies that we are putting in place today are to ensure such criminal and unpatriotic acts do not go without consequences. Our renewed partnership with the 9th National Assembly will facilitate the swift passage of enabling laws that will institutionalize these anti-corruption efforts in our criminal justice system.
In this connection, I call upon our States to intensify their own efforts to instill greater fiscal transparency and accountability. And to ensure greater fiscal efficiency and optimum use of our very scarce resources.
The blight of Corruption is fighting back. Nevertheless, this is a battle that we shall see through and this is a war, which we shall win by the Grace of God.
I will also call upon all Nigerians, from every walk of life, to combat Corruption at every turn. By choosing to question and confront corrupt practices, by reporting unethical practices or through whistleblowing. Together, we can overcome corruption and will no longer be a country defined by corruption.
Fellow Nigerians, let me reiterate my call for unity across our dear nation.
Nigeria will emerge from our present challenges stronger and more resilient than ever – but only if all of us join hands to entrench Good Governance, foster Inclusive Economic Development, and defend and protect our Nation from all those who would wish us ill.
I thank you most sincerely and wish you a Happy Independence Anniversary.
May God bless you all, and may He continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.