Man Loses 10 Years Marriage Over Joblessness

A 42-year old jobless man, Mr Ibrahim Oseni, on Tuesday lost his 10 -year old marriage over his failure to get a work as an Igando Customary Court in Lagos granted his  estranged wife’s request to dissolve the union.

Delivering judgment, the President of the court, Mr Akin Akinniyi, said the petitioner was adamant in spite of  mediation from the court and family intervention.

“Since the petitioner insisted on divorce after several interventions, the court has no choice than to dissolve the union, in spite of the fact that the husband still claims he loves his wife.

“The court pronounces the marriage between Mrs Awawu Oseni and Mr Ibrahim Oseni dissolved today; both parties henceforth cease to be husband and wife.

“Both are free to go their separate ways without any hindrances and molestation,” Akinniyi said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the petitioner had earlier told the court that her husband, Ibrahim, with whom she had a child in the marriage, was lazy and not useful to the family.

“My husband has refused to work. He sleeps at home from morning till night, snoring.

“When he wanted to marry me, he claimed that he had accommodation problem and he pleaded to move in with me for him to get another apartment.

“I accepted but he has refused to search for an accommodation ever since.

“My mother has been the one paying our house rent and feeding us since the inception of our marriage.

“And, I dare not fail to give him food to eat. He would beat the hell out of me,” the estranged wife said.

Awawu said that Ibrahim had also been accusing her of infidelity repeatedly.

“Whenever I go out, my husband always accuses me of going to see another man. He would beat me and asked me to tell him the name of the man I went to see.

“He embarrasses me in public by beating and calling me a dog, bastard and prostitute.

“All the scars on my body were due to his constant beatings,” she said.

The 30-year-old mother pleaded with court to divorce the union forthwith, saying that she was no longer interested.

“Please, save me from the cruel hands of Ibrahim. He may beat me to death one day if I continue with the marriage,” Awawu said.

However, Ibrahim said that Awawu was having extra- marital affairs.

“I always have the feeling that my wife is seeing another man and whenever she returns and I ask her to tell me the man she visited and she refuses, I beat her,” he said.

Ibrahim said that he was paying their house rent and was also caring for their only child.

The respondent also denied the allegation of being lazy.

“Although I stay in the house from morning but I leave with my motorcycle to work in the evening,” he explained.

He begged the court not to grant his wife’s wish for the dissolution of marriage, saying that he was still in love with her.(NAN)


Barca’s Dembele Suffers Another Hamstring Injury

Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele appluads the fans as he is substituted off. REUTERS/Albert Gea

Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele has suffered another hamstring injury and will be out of action for between three and four weeks, the La Liga leaders said on Monday.

The French winger, signed last year from Borussia Dortmund for a fee which could rise to 147 million euros, suffered a hamstring tear in September that kept him out until January.

Dembele featured in four games after returning, starting one, before suffering a new problem in the 4-2 win over Real Sociedad on Sunday.

“Tests have confirmed that the player has suffered a hamstring injury of the semitendinosus muscle that does not affect the area operated on earlier in the season,” Barcelona said in a statement.

Dembele will miss King’s Cup and La Liga matches, but should return before the Champions League last-16 clash against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Feb. 20.

Captain Andres Iniesta, who was on the bench against Real Sociedad, also has a problem in his right calf and is a doubt for the King’s Cup match at Espanyol on Wednesday. (Reuters/NAN)

Paracetamol Abuse Damages Liver, Kidney Says PSN Chairman

Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has warned against indiscriminate or misuse of Paracetamol, saying such practice damages the liver and kidney.

Mr Jelili Kilani, PSN Chairman, FCT Chapter, who disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday emphasised that Paracetamol, an analgesic, was not suppose to be misused.

Kilani defined drug misuse as the use of drug for purposes for which it was not intended or using a drug in excessive quantities.

He further described drug abuse as an ill-wind which its effect might not manifest immediately but later in life.

The chairman, however, decried the usual practice of taking about three or more tablet of Paracetamol at once to fast track healing processes.

“By engaging in such practice, you are damaging your internal organs like the liver and kidney, which if care is not taken, such damages cannot be remedy.’’

Kilani, therefore, urged the general public to desist from misuse of Paracetamol in order to avert inflicting injury to their system.

“Misuse of drug is when somebody is tired and decides to take three or more tablet of Paracetamol simply because he wanted a quicker or higher effect.

“As good as Paracetamol is, if not properly taken, it damages the liver and kidney; the only drug that is harmless to the body is water.

“I advise the public to desist from self medication.

“If anyone is experiencing feverish condition or body pains after taking Paracetamol once and the symptoms persist, they should consult medical doctors rather than taking the drug continuously,” he said. (NAN)

Cattle Colony For Kogi, Bello’s Advantage ~ By Kogi Rebel

Governor Yahaya Bello is in the news again. For some lips, he has made another “infantile” decision. To some hearts, he has opened Kogi State to the murderous carnage of the Fulani herdsmen that have left hundreds of deaths in their wake in the state of Benue, Plateau, Adamawa and Taraba states. We are still dealing with the psychological fear driven into the soul of Nigeria by Nigeria.

In socially volatile country like Nigeria, such fears are palpable. At least, politicians of business interests benefit from crisis. State crisis. National crisis. Social crisis. I can understand why the people of the Confluence are skeptical. One thing I need to explain to the Confluence fear is also that; amidst the controversies trailing the young Govenor, he has a stomach for big, surgery-inclined, painful but yielding decision-making-competence.

How many of us who’s tongues, thoughts and keypads understand ranching or cattle colony before reacting?
How many have also studied the consequences of this decision without political coloration put into it?

Let us jettison political-marriage to interpretations of issues for a while.

Come with me,

Since the creation of Nigeria, vaginaling into the times before urbanisation, Fulani cattle rearers were known to other Nigerians by the ajala-movement of their cattle amongst cities, amongst villages, between states, within Nigeria.

The Nigerian Government dating back to 1965 had outlined grazing routes. These routes were largely forested areas with no human life. These Fulanis are largely people of the wild. They cared for the lives of their cattle than the dangers of scathering wild forests of deadly snakes, wild animals, independent growing grasses and whatnot. Their social life were nomad. With temporary settlements in towns of favourable pasture for their cattle, they organised themselves into tents. Their pregnant wives give birth in unreliable places. Mostly, vulnerable to wild infections, tropical diseases while their children are defactored from receiving medical immunisation. They have remained displaced in Nigeria, maintaining their culture and economic muscle of cattle rearing which produces beef and milk for the Nigerian protein stomach.

Urbanisation took swift. The Fulanis remained largely unplanned for. They weren’t incorporated into the modern life by the Government. The ancient grazing routes had been taken over by city arrangement of new houses for settlement and farming ranches for subsistence.

The Federal disconnect or human planning and integration laid a ground for the fertility of clashes in interests of the Fulanis to roam their cattle along grazing routes without interference with a new urban city of people and farms of contemporary growth.

This above has been the problem. The deadly part of this problem is that the owners of some of these cattle have capitalised on this loophole, arming the herders with weapons to fight for territorial integrity. However, the physical density of this war is subject to the response from the center.

In the case of Kogi state, Governor Yahaya Bello has made a controversial decision, yet circumspect from the security and economic angle.

If we are to be careful, rather than wail, we would need to find solutions. Quick ones. It wouldn’t matter the political narrative it is given on social or traditional media. People would continue to die if state Governments do nothing about and for their own people.

What is a Ranching?

Ranching is an individually sponsored settlement of grazing reserve on huge hectares of land, meant for a specific purpose. People can ranch for milk production. Others can ranch for beef production. It would mean that a large area of land or lands are purchased for caring for cattle.

What is Cattle Colony?

A cattle colony is a segregated facility that houses ranches. Here, many hectares of lands are bought by the Government, whereby the chosen colony would require government buying the pieces of land in that area from the owners, paying them compensation and creating use for the land. The Land Use Act empowers the government for taking any land they want, hence, compensation would be paid. That is how Governments get some lands to build roads if it belongs to others.

In the case of a Colony. It restricts ALL herders to a particular location. They’ll be no scattered movement. They’ll be no fear about who’s going to anybody’s farm. If a herder is caught outside the proposed colony which is to be monitored by Government and private investors ranching in the colony, then the case of foreigners invading farm lands would be clear.

The Security Angle for Bello

If Kogi State is to maintain her security state, being the most vulnerable state in Nigeria because of her border relationship with about ten states in Nigeria, proactive security measures should be handy. If the Fulani herdsmen are pushed out of neighbouring states which Kogi borders, it is no rocket science that they’ll pass through Kogi before retreating to anywhere they intend to settle. We are landlocked and social locked. What then can we do?

1. Social inclusion:

kogi state has long been living with Fulanis. The state was carved out of Kwara State, which is a social model of cohabitation between the Yorubas and Fulanis. The current Senate President, Bukola Saraki is reputed to be a Fulani. His family controls Kwara politics. A part of Kwara was ceded in 1991, adjoined with the old Benue state which the Igalas came from. The Fulani history has always been there.
In some parts of villages of Kogi West senatorial districts, Fulanis have settled with a culture of intermarriages.

In many parts of Igala land, the local traditional rulers have made good hospitality for various Fulani communities who also contribute to the market economy. On popular Ajaojuta road, the Fulanis display Garden eggs for sale. There are meat markets around the state.

In reiteration of the Fulani leaders to the traditional council as an established Policy by Governor Bello, a social inclusion morality is being set up, whereby the collective problem of the communities would also be a responsibility of the Fulanis residing in those communities.

2. Biometric Capture of Fulanis:

This inclusion, aligning with that of the Cattle Colony would pave way for appropriate biometric information of all Fulanis living in the state. It would detail who is doing what, why and when. It would eliminate the plausible deniability enjoyed by the murderers who are never unknown.

Economic Angle for Bello

1.As pioneers of the Cattle Colony as part of the 16 states in Nigeria, out of tye 36 that have volunteered lands for the colony project, funded by the Federal Government, Kogi State would be benefitting. The compensation to be paid by those whose lands would be affected carries economic implications.

The opportunities a Cattle Colony provides for individuals who wish to enter into ranching animals is enormous. How many Kogi would like to buy cows for rearing? Opportunities.

2. Meat and Milk Market:

Milk factories, chain abattoiral stores, hides and skin markets are all subsets of this gain. The proper management of cattle and her end products in other parts of the world is due to ranching and settlement of Colonies. The chain effects of this on Kogi economy is gigantic. As a middle-centered-state, inward and outward mobilisation of people for exports of some of these commodities would be on the rise. If the economy of the state is to pick up, the argument for the dredging of the Niger should keep at north.

In conclusion, I would suggest that rather than tantrums and ethnic sentiments, Kogites should come up with suggestions on better alternatives. Should the Govenor fold his arms and watch things happening around escalate into Kogi?

Even if you think his decision isn’t the best, come up with alternative suggestions and how it should be done. Save name calling, it is a hallmark of dumb people.

In integrity, the Yahaya Bello’s Government maybe proposing a town hall meeting in this regard to listen to her people. I should follow it keenly and bring you information.

…Kogi is rising

Agric. To Generate 15% Of Kogi Income In 2018 – Gov. Bello

Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi on Monday said the state agricultural sector, through its Agricultural Revolution Programme (ARP), would generate about 15 per cent of the state internally generated income in 2018.

“Kogi is working hard to upstage its internally generated revenue from its exploits in agriculture to generate at least 15% of its income from the sector by the close of 2018,” Bello said.

Bello, who disclosed this in s state-wide broadcast to mark the New Year in Okene, said the state had made tremendous progress in agriculture as alternative income generation and employment for the teeming population.

He said the first harvest from the state experimental rice farm at Omi Dam was a huge success, against the backdrop that it was an initial effort.

“The first batch of Confluence Rice hit the market in December, 2017.

“This is a source of income we hope to nurture from domestic sales, and if there is a surplus, distribution to other parts of the country and even overseas export will be donr,” he said.

The governor said that the rice renaissance in the state was traceable to the Agricultural Revolution Programme (ARP) launched early in 2017 and on which the government had been working.

Bello said Cashew, cassava, sugarcane and sesame seeds were other crops the government was planning big time production.

“We have made advanced progress with possible investors to cultivate these on an industrial scale in 2018.

“By the end of year, we should be able to attribute at least 15 per cent of our income to earnings from the agricultural sector”, he said.

He added that the New Direction Blueprint of the government was programmed to start earning income for the state from direct investments in solid minerals.

“We have not neglected the potentials of this rich source of Internally Generated Revenue.

“Our state-owned solid minerals production company has been undergoing revitalisation to give it a corporate structure which is more responsive to the current realities.”

The governor stated that the company should be ready to handle transactions from early this year.

He noted that the government also created a programme for social welfare to touch many citizens at the grassroots level.

“While this may not have reached every person and every household, I am aware that it has reached every ward.

This direct distribution of foodstuff, particularly rice, has put food on tables which would have otherwise be empty, especially during festive seasons.” he said.

The stressed that efforts would be intensified to grow the Food Direct Programme in 2018 and expand the scope to include other essential commodities like medicines.

Bello noted that the government owed the citizens and residents a sacred duty to provide good governance.

“It is therefore our unfailing duty in 2018 to do so by keeping pace with your yearnings and aspirations for Kogi state.

“There is hope in every new beginning, and every New Year’s Day is a new beginning, so today I celebrate hope with you.

“Hope for today, hope for the year and hope for the future beyond this year. Kogi is rising.” (NAN)

Kogi Loses High Court Judge

Justice Aromeh Benson Akogu, the Kabba Resident High Court Judge in Kogi handling the case of attempted assassination of Sen. Dino Melaye is dead.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that the judge died in Anyigba on Dec. 31, 2017 at about 11:40pm during a cross-over service to 2018.

According to a reliable source close to the family, Akogu who had vowed not to sleep before the cross-over to 2018, was neither sick nor show any symptoms of ill health.

His wife, Mrs Vicky Akogu, who confirmed the death, said the late judge and one-time Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the state, was hale and hearty before his sudden death.

She said that she watched her husband’s death like a movie and could hardly believe herself.

Commenting on the incident from Akogu family house in Idah, Chief Registrar of the State High Court, Yahaya Ademu, said the body had been deposited at the Grimmard Hospital Mortuary, Anyigba.

The late judge, in his late 50s, was until his death, handling the case of attempted assassination of Sen. Dino Melaye.

NAN reports that the Ijumu Local Government Administrator, Taofiq Isah and four others are being tried in the matter. (NAN)

Borno Govt. Reviews Curfew In Maiduguri

The Borno Government has reviewed the curfew in Maiduguri metropolis from 8:00PM to 6:00AM as against the existing 10:00PM to 6:00AM.

Dr Mohammed Bulama, the Commissioner, Home Affairs, Information and Culture, disclosed this in a statement on Monday in Maiduguri.

Bulama said that the curfew was temporary and would be between Jan. 2 to Jan. 6, to enhance security in the metropolis.

He disclosed that the curfew was imposed based on advice by the Theatre Command, Operation LAFIYA DOLE.

“The Borno State Government on the advice of the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, wishes to inform the general public that the existing curfew regime in the state has been temporarily rescheduled.

“The curfew as from Tuesday, January 2 to Friday, January 6, 2018, will commence from 8 pm in the night till 6 am in the morning.

“This review is done in the over riding interest of public safety and to ensure that the emerging peace in the state is further consolidated.

“While deeply regretting any inconvenience this adjustment of curfew timing may cause, the Borno State Government craves the understanding and full cooperation of the general public”. (NAN)

Full Speech Of Gov. Yahaya Bello On New Year Day Celebration

My good people of Kogi State, it gives me boundless pleasure to welcome all citizens and residents of Kogi State into the Year 2018. I cannot thank the Almighty God enough for the privilege of life from Him which has enabled us see this New Year. I am pleased to bring you this message today. Thanks be to God for keeping our dear State Kogi, and for preserving Nigeria our country.

Like someone once said, every 1st day of January is also the first blank page of a 365 page book in which we are all given the opportunity to write, one day at a time. We therefore pray for God’s guidance and help to write greatness into 2018 with our daily decisions and actions.

On January 1st last year, I declared to you in my New Year message that 2017 will be ‘a hallmark year for projects’ in Kogi State. I made that declaration fully aware that it is my job as Governor of Kogi State to improve our standard of living and the social infrastructure on which we rely. I am happy to say that 2017 was indeed a hallmark year for projects.

In spite of the generally harsh financial circumstances in the nation, we were able to commence new projects, continue old ones and even complete a good number of others across the 3 Senatorial Districts. I shall resist the temptation to start listing projects in this short message, but in a couple of weeks’ time we will be marking our 2nd Anniversary in government which will consist of a programme of introspection and stock taking. We will not only itemise our Projects then, but we will screen documentaries on them and publish a 2nd Anniversary Referral Compendium, complete with pictures of projects and other memorable milestones.

The biggest challenge facing this Administration still remains the paucity of funds to finance our development programmes. It is clear that no magic solution exists for the shortfalls in liquidity which has hit governments all over the world, Nigeria included. The only viable option before us is to increase our creativity in maximising existing sources of funds while developing new ones.

I am therefore pleased with the progress we have made in Agriculture as an alternative source of income and employment. Our first harvest from the experimental farm at Omi Dam was hugely satisfying, considering that it is an initial effort. The first batch of Confluence Rice hit the market in December, 2017. This is a source of income we hope to nurture from domestic sales, and if there is a surplus, distribution to other parts of the country and even overseas export.

Our rice renaissance is traceable to the Agricultural Revolution Programme (ARP) which we launched with fanfare early in 2017 and have been working on since. Similarly, Cashew, cassava, sugarcane and benniseed are some other crops we have big plans for. We have made advanced progress with possible investors to cultivate these on an industrial scale in 2018. By the end of year, we should be able to attribute at least 15% of our income to earnings from the Agricultural sector.

Our New Direction Blueprint also documents programmes to start earning some serious money for Kogi State from direct investments in solid minerals. We have not neglected the potentials of this rich source of Internally Generated Revenue. Our state-owned solid minerals production company has been undergoing revitalisation to give it a corporate structure which is more responsive to the current realities. It should be ready to handle transactions from early this year.

Running concurrently with infrastructure development and IGR growth is a programme of social welfare packages which we created to reach as many of our people at the grassroots as possible. While this may not have reached every person and every household, I am aware that it has reached every ward. This direct distribution of foodstuff, particularly rice, has put food on tables which will otherwise be empty, especially during festive seasons. We will work to grow this Food Direct Programme in 2008 while expanding the scope to include other essential commodities like medicines.

I would like to reiterate that our Staff Screening and Verification Exercise has since ended. Cleared Civil Servants have been earning their rightful salaries for months now, albeit with some hiccups now and then due to evident reasons. In December, we made attempts to clear all backlogs within the limits of the available funds, while doing our best to avoid fresh arrears from building up.

This information on payment of salaries in relation to the Screening Exercise is important to dispel the persistent use of alleged non-payment by dishonest and discredited politicians to gain political capital under guise of fighting for Kogi State Civil Servants. It is also important to sound a warning to those Civil Servants who defame government with claims of long months of unpaid salaries in order to solicit money from gullible people, or evade their own contractual or domestic obligations.

As the Governor of Kogi State, I do not know of any circumstance under which any cleared Civil Servant, whether at State or Local Government level, can be owed even 3 months salaries after several months of being cleared, let alone 6, 10 or more months as some continue to claim. Our investigations show that those making these claims were caught in one offence or the other by the screening exercise and were dismissed or suspended from service without pay. In other cases, they were sanctioned for offences, granted pardon subject to regularisation. In all of these cases, due process is applicable. While we are making efforts to avoid collecting our full pound of flesh from those who robbed our state in the past through the Civil Service, we will no longer hesitate to make an example of those we catch compounding their criminal conduct with duplicity in this manner. Government will do her best to pay salaries as and at when due in 2018. With effect from January 2018, the use of electronic attendance devices otherwise known as clocking devices shall be used to compute and generate salaries.

We have continued to make tremendous progress in our unflinching commitment to a safe and secure Kogi State which will guarantee living and investments. Today, we experience tranquillity and a zero-case of kidnapping for over six weeks. This feat is made possible with your cooperation and support. Let’s do this again this year and in other sectors.

This year is significant to the New Direction Administration which I lead. On January 27, 2018 we will accomplish exactly 2 years in office and the dominant thought in our minds is both how far and how well we have executed our mandate. We are also consumed by the knowledge that there is always room for improvement. We owe the citizens and residents of Kogi State a sacred duty to provide good governance. It is therefore our unfailing duty in 2018 to do so by keeping pace with your yearnings and aspirations for Kogi State.

There is hope in every new beginning, and every New Year’s Day is a new beginning, so today I celebrate hope with you. Hope for today, hope for the year and hope for the future beyond this year. Kogi is rising.

Happy New Year Kogi State. May this year 2018 bring peace, prosperity and fulfilment to all of us.

God bless us all.


Executive Governor, Kogi State.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2018 New Year Address

I join my fellow citizens this morning to welcome and celebrate the New Year 2018. This year promises to be pivotal in our quest for CHANGE.

Unfortunately, I am saddened to acknowledge that for many this Christmas and New Year holidays have been anything but merry and happy. Instead of showing love, companionship and charity, some of our compatriots chose this period to inflict severe hardship on us all by creating unnecessary fuel scarcity across the country.

The consequence was that not many could travel and the few who did had to pay exorbitant transport fares. This is unacceptable given that NNPC had taken measures to ensure availability at all depots. I am determined to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again.

Such unpatriotism will not divert the Administration from the course we have set ourselves. Our government’s watch word and policy thrust is CHANGE. We must change our way of doing things or we will stagnate and be left behind in the race to lift our people out of poverty and into prosperity.

My address to fellow Nigerians this morning is devoted mainly to informing you about the intense efforts this Administration is putting to address our country’s huge infrastructural deficit.

We are going to make significant in-roads in advancing road, rail and power projects across the country.

The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is one of the drivers of this Government’s commitment to renew and increase Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure in order to achieve global economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

With regards to Railways, we have set ourselves ambitious targets. Already in construction stage is the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway.

The line should reach Ibadan from Lagos by the end of 2019 and will carry two million passengers per year and five million tons of cargo will be transported every year giving a substantial boost to the country’s economy.

Construction of the Kano – Kaduna segment is expected to commence this year and reach Kaduna by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021 the two ends will be joined so that we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route.

The Abuja – Kaduna route will be boosted by additional rolling stock next Thursday and will be able to handle one million commuters annually.

At the same time I have approved and negotiations will be concluded in the first part of this year for the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line covering Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Makurdi, Lafia, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and Damaturu. The Abuja to Itakpe line will go through Baro and terminate in Warri with construction of a new seaport at Warri.

Negotiations are also advanced for the construction of other railway lines, firstly from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic passing through Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia to Maradi.

Secondly, Lagos to Calabar the “Coastal Rail” through Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo and Calabar. In the next few years, all these Nigerian cities will be linked by functional modern rail systems, giving enormous boost to the social and economic life of our people.

With respect to the Abuja Capital Light Rail, progress has reached 98% completion, as at 64% completion when we assumed office. Only test runs remain before start of operations.

This train service will stimulate economic activities in the Federal Capital and provide residents with an efficient and safe transportation system. Twelve railway sub-stations around the capital over a 45.2 kilometre route will serve as a catalyst and a pull factor to the economy of the area. The Light Rail System will reduce traffic congestion and carbon emission in line with the Administration’s policy on climate change.

Management of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) has been reconstituted and has been charged with a 12 week rapid intervention in road repairs to cover all the geo-political zones. Government is undertaking repairs and maintenance of 44 roads within the six geo-political zones.

Twenty five major highways will be funded under the N100b SUKUK facility. Each geo-political zone will benefit by an equal amount of N16.67b. The following major highways are to receive special attention:

a. Oyo – Ogbomosho,

b. Ofusu – Ore – Ajebandele – Shagamu,

c. Yenagoa Road Junction – Kolo Otuoke – Bayelsa Palm,

d. Enugu – Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Way,

e. Onitsha – Enugu Expressway,

f. Kaduna Eastern Bypass,

g. Dualization of Kano – Maiduguri Road,

h. Dualization of Abuja – Lokoja – Benin Road,

i. Dualization of Suleja – Minna Road.

In addition, Government has approved work to start on the re-construction of Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano road which is in a state of disrepair. Work will soon start and is expected to be completed in 2019.

More Nigerians across the country are experiencing improved power supply to their homes and businesses. However, power remains a concern to this government because too many people still do not have regular and reliable supply.

The Payment Assurance Guarantee Scheme which started in January 2016 has enabled the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader to raise so far N701 billion to assure Generation Companies of at least 80% payment for any power delivered to the national grid.

Consequently, generation has now reached 7,000MW. On December 8, 2017 the country achieved 5,155MW of power delivered to consumers, the highest level ever recorded.

Several moribund projects have been revived. Repairs of Afam Power Station added 110MW in 2017 and another 240MW will be added this year through a private investment partnership.

Katsina Power Project is now being tested and producing 10MW of power from wind for the first time in Nigeria. It should be fully operational this year.

The Zungeru 700MW Hydroelectric Power Project, stalled by court cases is due for completion in 2019. The transmission and other requirements to operate the 30MW Gurara Phase 1 Hydroelectric Plant, the 40MW Kashimbilla Hydroelectric Plant and the 215 MW Kaduna Gas/LPG/Diesel Power Plant will also be completed this year.

A landmark project, Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project is at last taking off. This project has been on the drawing Board for 40 years, but now the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the 3,050MW project has been agreed with a Chinese joint venture Company with a financing commitment from the government of China. Completion is targeted for 2023.

As I mentioned earlier, the Transmission Company of Nigeria can now distribute all the 7,000MW that can be generated. TCN and the Niger Delta Holding Company have added 1,950MVA of 330 down to 132KV transformer capacity of 10 transmission stations and 2,930MVA of 132 down to 33KV transformer capacity of 42 sub-stations including Ikot Ekpene, Aba, Alagbon, Ajah, Ejigbo, Funtua and Zaria.

This Administration is working with the privatised distribution Companies to overcome the continuing challenges of distribution.

These massive public works should spearhead the recovery and lead millions back to employment. You will recall that it was not until last year that we got out of the economic recession into which the country had fallen as a consequence of past unsustainable economic policies which projected short-term illusory growth.

The government is slowly stabilizing the economy.

It was in order to change the steady and steep decline that we adopted the more sustainable policies and programmes captured in the Economic Recovery Plan. Diversification efforts have resulted in improved output particularly in agriculture and solid minerals sectors. The relative exchange rate stability has improved manufacturing sector performance.

We have got to get used to discipline and direction in economic management. The days of business as usual are numbered.

Two years ago I appealed to people to go back to the land. I am highly gratified that agriculture has picked up, contributing to the government’s effort to re-structure the economy. Rice imports will stop this year. Local rice, fresher and more nutritious will be on our dishes from now on.

By the same token, I am today appealing to enterprising Nigerians with ideas and unemployed graduates and other able-bodied and literate men and women with ideas not to just sit and wait for employment from the government or the Organized Private Sector. Great nations are built by enterprising people who turn their hands to anything that circumstances dictate.

In respect of political developments, I have kept a close watch on the on-going debate about “Restructuring”. No human law or edifice is perfect. Whatever structure we develop must periodically be perfected according to changing circumstances and the country’s socio-economic developments. We Nigerians can be very impatient and want to improve our conditions faster than may be possible considering our resources and capabilities. When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered, my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than structure.

We tried the Parliamentary system: we jettisoned it. Now there are shrill cries for a return to the Parliamentary structure. In older democracies these systems took centuries to evolve so we cannot expect a copied system to fit neatly our purposes. We must give a long period of trial and improvement before the system we have adopted is anywhere near fit for purpose.

However, there is a strong case for a closer look at the cost of government and for the public services long used to extravagance, waste and corruption to change for the better. I assure you that government is ever receptive to ideas which will improve governance and contribute to the country’s peace and stability.

As the electioneering season approaches politicians must avoid exploiting ethnicity and religion by linking ethnicity with religion and religion with politics. Such must be avoided at all costs if we are to live in harmony.

In this respect the rest of Nigeria could learn from the South Western States who have successfully internalized religion, ethnicity and politics.

Political discourse should be conducted with civility, decorum and in a constitutional manner. We all have a collective responsibility to strengthen our democracy and entrench the rule of law. We should draw encouragement from the series of bye-elections conducted by INEC last year which were generally violence free and their outcomes adjudged to be free and fair.

Before I conclude my address I must reassure my fellow citizens that security of life and property is still top of our government’s agenda. We have since beaten Boko Haram. Isolated attacks still occur, but even the best-policed countries cannot prevent determined criminals from committing terrible acts of terror as we have seen during the past years in Europe, Asia, Middle East, elsewhere in Africa and in America.

Our government remains determined to protect all Nigerians in line with our election pledge and promises. On behalf of all Nigerians let me offer our thanks to the Armed forces, the Police, other para-military forces and traditional authorities who are working round the clock to ensure that you and I go about our normal business in reasonable safety.

Terrorism and urban crimes are world-wide phenomena and our security forces are continuously adapting their responses to changing threats.

With regard to rampant cases of kidnappings, we are taking immediate short-term measures to combat this new evil creeping into our societies. Tighter police methods and swift and severe punishment for those proved to be engaged in kidnapping are on the way.

With respect to Niger Delta, Government is still engaging responsible leadership of the Communities to help in identifying and addressing genuine grievances of the region. Our clean-up programme in collaboration with the United Nations is making satisfactory progress.

I am grateful to all the Governors and other Political & Community leaders of the Niger Delta States for their part in bringing relative peace to the areas.

Finally let me again express my heartfelt thanks to all Nigerians who prayed for me during my illness last year. I feel deeply humbled by your prayers and good wishes and I am more determined than ever to serve you to the best of my ability.

Good morning. And I wish everyone a Happy New Year. (NAN)