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Nigeria hints on land borders’ reopening

President Muhammadu Buhari will soon receive the reports of the tripartite Presidential Committee set up to advise him on the reopening of the nation’s land borders. Briefing newsmen after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by the President yesterday at the Presidential Villa, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, told newsmen that the panel, which she chaired, was to assess the gains of the nation’s borders since August last year.

She said the President would, thereafter, take his decision to reopen the borders after the submission of the panel’s report. Nigeria, the largest economy and the most prosperous of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), last year August, closed its land borders on account of the proliferation of illegal importation of drugs, small arms and agricultural produce into Nigeria from neighbouring countries. Responding to question on when the borders would be reopened, Ahmed said: “Mr. President has set up a committee that I chair, alongside the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other ministers, including Interior, Customs, Immigration, the security services, to review and advise him on the issue of border closure.

“The committee has just completed its work and we’ll be submitting our report. I’ve signed my copy, I gave everybody to sign between Wednesday and Thursday so that we’ll submit the report to Mr. President,” she said.

The minister, who was silent on the day of submission and also date of the reopening had, at a recent roundtable discussion at the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES #26), given the assurance that the borders would be reopened soon. She had told the audience at the NES #26 that: “We have made an assessment. The president set up a committee and we have made an assessment and all the members of the committee agreed and are recommending to the president that it is time to reopen the borders.

“The objective has been met in the sense that we have been able, over these couple of months, to work together with our partners in a tripartite committee and do a joint border patrol together and reinforced the sanctity of the commitments that we made to each other. “So, each side has learnt its lesions.

Nigeria has been affecting our partners in terms of businesses that we have in Nigeria as well. So, we will be expecting that the borders will be reopened very soon. The date will be decided by Mr. President.” On plans to save the economy from recession, the minister said the administration hopes to use the Economic Sustainabili- ty Plan (ESP) to retrieve the economy from the current situation. She said the recession was anticipated and that government had designed the ESP to help fast-track exit from the anticipated economic woes.

On concerns over delays of the payment of salaries in some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), Ahmed said: “There’s no issue with federal workers’ salaries. We have paid salaries for November and we shall pay salaries for December.

So there’s no issue at all with federal workers’ salaries. “If you hear about any issue, it is for agencies whose budget funding on the GIFMIS (Government Integrated Financial Management and Information System) was exhausted and we are about to make an adjustment to them.

“When we were doing the 2020 Budget, we made estimates of the consequential adjustment that is required as a result of the minimum wage and we had sent the budget before a decision and approval was taken on the consequential adjustment. So, it is anticipated that some agencies might run short and we made a block provision in the service-wide vote of the budget.

“When we have such a situation, what we simply do is remove fund from the service-wide vote to the agency so that they pay their budget, so there’s no problem of payment of salaries at all.” Meanwhile, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, who also briefed, told newsmen that the Council approved the award of contracts for emergency procurement of first and second quarters 2020 soil erosion/ flood and pollution control accelerated intervention projects in favour of various contractors in the sum of N17,754,717,234.41, inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT, with various completion/ delivery periods as indicated below: *Gully erosion and control along Ndam/Agbor road, Nnobi and Alor towns in Idemili/South LGA, Phase two, Anambra State awarded to Telesis Limited at N495,878,764 to be completed in 18 months; *Erosion and flood menace beside Yem Kem House along Oye-Ifaki road, Oye LGA to Strabic Construction Ltd.

At N792,311,211.11 in nine months; *Somolu/Bariga LGA/ Akoka/Ilaje community, Akoka-Lagos flood and erosion control project, Lagos State (Partibon Services Ltd.) at N1.786,146,630.98 in 10 months; *Gully erosion control at Egbo-Ideh community, Ugheli South LGA, Delta State (Harris & Dome Nigeria Ltd.) at N1,328,306,924.00 in 24 months; *Gully erosion control and road improvement works in Darazo LGA, Bauchi State (Powerhill Construction Ltd.) at N3,897,577,627.79 in 24 months; *Gully erosion control works at Ladanal community, Nasarawa LGA, Kano State (U.Y.K. Nigeria Ltd.) at N1,337,681,584.69 in eight month; *Devastating effect of gully erosion in Gboko township, Benue State (Gaffar Worldwide Resources Ltd.) at N1.503,970.714.83 in 12 months; *Erosion and flood control works in Wase and Bashar towns, Wase LGA, Plateau State (Global Legend Integrated Concept Ltd.) at N1,687,162,328.95 in 14 months; *Gully erosion control and road improvement works along Plot 1398, off Kainji Crescent and Katampe Extension, FCT, Abuja (IMB Corporate Synergy Ltd.) at N555,569,610.76 in six months; *Soil erosion, River channelisation and slope protection within Maitama District (Phase II, FCT, Abuja (Masarki Nigeria Ltd.) at N1,887,495,486.63 in 12 months. Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, at the briefing, said that the sum of N31,890,85,000 was approved for three road projects in the country. The three road contracts awarded are: Gasamu- Hamshi-Gogoram road in Yobe State for N14.528 billion; the link road connecting Uneme-Tusamu-Odoga to Okpekpe in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State for N991.851 million, and Mamabu Donga Local Government Area road in Taraba South Local Government Area of Taraba State for N6.397 billion.

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