The $1.98bln railway project connecting Nigeria to neighbours, Niger Republic, kicked off on Tuesday after President Muhammadu Buhari performed its ground-breaking ceremony.
The rail line is expected to link northern Nigeria’s historic city of Kano to Dutse, the Jigawa State capital, and Jibia in Katsina before terminating in Maradi in the Niger Republic.
President Buhari performed a virtual groundbreaking ceremony.
A $1.98bln project was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by the President in September, 2020.
The project, believed to be crucial to rail development in Nigeria and in the West African sub-region, is being executed by Mota-Engil Group, a multinational engineering and construction company.
The project, with 15 stations along the corridor, is expected to be completed in the next three years and would boost socio-economic activities in Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states in Nigeria as well as Maradi in Niger Republic.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, tweeted on January 11 that the contractor agreed to build a university as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) while working on the project.
According to Amaechi, the rail line is favourable to Nigeria as it will help the country to compete favourably with other coastal countries in West Africa to service its landlocked neighbours in the movement of cargoes and will make the Lagos seaports more viable.
The minister also disclosed that the project would be linked with the Lagos – Kano railway lines to enhance and stimulate agricultural and manufacturing activities in the country.
Those at the venue of the event in Katsina were the governors of Katsina, Jigawa and Kano states as well as Gov. Zakari Umar of Maradi in Niger Republic.
Some ministers, including Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Information and Culture, and traditional rulers from Nigeria and Niger Republic also witnessed the event.
Zimbabwe Swears In Frederick Shava as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Frederick Shava, Zimbabwe’s former Minister of State for Political Affairs, who was implicated in the Willowgate scandal, has been sworn in as the country’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
The swearing-in held at the State House in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital on Tuesday.
Shava, who has held various portfolios in government since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, was appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in February, following the death of Sibusiso Moyo, who succumbed to COVID-19 related complications in January.
He previously served as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to China before he was appointed as permanent representative to the United Nations.
His appointment is one of several key cabinet appointments made last month by Mnangagwa, following the deaths of three cabinet ministers from COVID-19.
Last month, Tapiwa Mhona was sworn in as Transport Minister and Infrastructure Development, replacing late Biggie Matiza, while Nokhuthula Matsikenyeri was sworn in as Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Manicaland Province, replacing Ellen Gwaradzimba.
Shava’s appointment has been criticised in Zimbabwe over his implication and subsequent conviction, in the early 1980s, for corruptly buying vehicles from the state-owned Willowvale Motor Industries before reselling them at double the market value in a scandal named Willowgate.
He was sentenced to nine months in prison but was acquitted by the then-President, Robert Mugabe, after spending only one night in jail.
ECOWAS Parliament Backs Mali’s Transition to Democracy
The ECOWAS Parliament has pledged to support the people of Mali people as their country embarks on transition to democratic rule.
Speaker of the parliament Sidie Mohamed Tunis offered this assurance on behalf of the sub-regional congress when he led a parliamentary mission to Mali as part of activities of the sub-regional lawmakers to support the West African country.
The speaker also stressed that the legislative body recognised the National Transitional Council (CNT), the body set up at the beginning of December and entrusted with legislative power.
The parliamentary mission was mooted by the speaker during his opening speech at the January Virtual Ordinary Session of the parliament.
Specifically meant to support the transition process, the mission was in line with the relevant decisions of the Special Meeting on Mali, of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, held in September 2020 in Accra.
Speaking after a meeting with the First Deputy Speaker of the CNT, Mr Assarid Imbarkawane, Tunis said: “We are here to hold parliamentary discussions with the Speaker and the CNT all geared towards giving the support to the Malian people.
“As members of ECOWAS Parliament, we recognise the CNT and it is in the interest of the Malian people that we work with them, advise them, and give whatever support that they need.
“We had very frank discussions and we were able to give some advice on how we can continue to have peace and stability in Mali.
The speaker added that as part of the mission, members of the sub-regional parliament would hold further discussions with the CNT as well as lawmakers who had been posted to ECOWAS.
“Between now and the time for the elections, the ECOWAS Parliament will continue to engage them to ensure that we all go by the rules, to ensure inclusive dialogue that will bring all political players on board.
“So that at the end of the day when we have the elections, it would be acceptable to everybody,” he said.
Uganda’s Bobi Wine in Trouble over Armoured SUV
Ugandan Revenue Authority (URA) and the National Unity Party (NUP) presidential candidate in the January 14, 2021 election, Bobi Wine, are headed for a collision over an alleged bullet-proof Toyota Land Cruiser in his possession.
The URA, which is recalling the vehicle, says the details of the bullet-proof had been misrepresented and thus undervalued.
However, Bobi Wine, a former reggae artiste whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has refused to hand over the vehicle, saying the recall has no constitutional backing.
Quoting section 236 (d) of the EAC Customs Management Act, the 38-year-old said though the URA has the powers to examine goods, it does not have automatic powers to reexamine goods which were in its “custody (warehouse), were examined, assessed for tax, the tax fully paid and the goods released to the owner/taxpayer.”
The vehicle was originally imported and registered in Kenya last year and then re-imported to Uganda through the Busia border.
In a post on 21 February, Kyagulanyi said that the Toyota Land Cruiser had been donated to him by his friends and supporters in Uganda and abroad.
News Central reports that Bobi Wine lost the presidential to incumbent President, Yoweri Museveni. After the Constitutional Cout confirmed Museveni for a 6th term in office, Wine had challenged the results but withdrew the lawsuit citing judges bias.
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