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LEKKI DEEP SEAPORT BEGINS OPERATIONS IN 2023, INVESTOR ASSURES LAGOS GOVT

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•Sanwo-Olu, Cabinet Members on Two-Day Working Tour of Lagos Free Trade Zones

Commercial operations at the Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) will begin in the first quarter of 2023, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Friday, got the assurance from Tolaram Group – the frontline investor handling the project.

The Governor and members of the State’s cabinet are currently on a two-day working tour of the three free trade zones established in Ibeju Lekki area of Lagos.

The port, which is being constructed by China Habour Engineering firm, is occupying 90 hectares in the entire 830 hectares of land carved out for the Lagos Free Zone, created in 2012 to enhance economic position of Lagos as manufacturing and logistics hub in West Africa.

The first phase of the seaport project, which is being financed by $629 million facility from China Development Bank (CDB), is at 48 per cent completion.

After going through the project master plan, Sanwo-Olu said his administration remained committed to delivering project, stressing that the deep seaport and other investments happening in the corridor had the potential to increase the State’s GDP in multiple folds.

He said: “Given the report I got and what I have seen here, I can say that Lagos Free Zone has made tremendous improvement. We have seen the level of partnership Tolaram Group is bringing in terms of international investment and local brands on this corridor.

“I commend all stakeholders that are with us on this journey we have found ourselves. With the level of work we have seen, I’m truly excited. It is more gratifying that, we are taking up this assignment with all energies required and we all can see what we can achieve when we work together.

“Since we signed a loan agreement less than 18 months ago, we have demonstrated strong capability in bringing the project to reality. This is the first quarter of 2021 and we have seen the project in about 48 per cent completion. The investors have given us the commitment on first quarter of 2023 completion date. We will fulfill all our parts to make sure this date becomes reality.”

Sanwo-Olu, who noted that he had been part of the conversation for the development of the free zones as a Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in 2006, said his administration had recorded significant progress in bringing the projects to reality.

The Governor said the priority accorded to the construction of complementary infrastructure projects along the corridor was a demonstration of his Government’s fulfillment of its pledge to Lagos residents. He promised the State would work with the timeline to ensure all projects mapped out in the zones are deliver.

Sanwo-Olu said the size of the deep seaport will allow 18,000 TEU capacity vessels, which are four times bigger than the ones berthing at Apapa seaports, thereby scaling down the cost of container transportation from any part of the world.

He said: “The interesting part is that, our youths and young women will be the beneficiaries of this project. The project managers have engaged large number of our citizens in the construction parts of the work; all personnel are not expatriates. All the technical work and technology deployed have local component to it.

“For us a Government, this is the strongest point we have made with the project. I am fully convinced that the delivery of this project will transform commercial architecture of West Africa and bring about quick turnaround time in maritime sector.”

When it is completed, the deep seaport is expected to generate more than 170,000 direct and indirect job opportunities for Lagos residents, and serve as alternative in an effort to decongest the Federal Government-owned seaports in Apapa.

Chief Executive Officer of Lagos Free Zone, Mr. Dinesh Rathi, said Tolaram Group, a Singaporean coy, initiated a $2 billion investment in the Lagos Free Zone, out of which the investor committed $950 million to developing manufacturing hub in the zone.

When the deep seaport is completed, Rathi said the maritime project was expected to generate more than 170,000 direct and indirect job opportunities for Lagos residents, and would serve as alternative in an effort to decongest the Federal Government-owned seaports in Apapa.

Chairman of Lagos Free Zone Development Company, Mr. Biodun Dabiri, hailed the State Government for its commitment towards changing face of commerce in Africa, stressing that all statutory permits, licences and endorsement for the Lekki port project were already secured.

“There is strong guarantee that the port will be delivered before time, going by the inflow of capital investment and technical services,” Dabiri said.

The Governor and his entourage also visited Africa’s second largest manufacturing plant of Kellogg Tolaram, manufacturer of cornflakes, which is built in Lagos Free Zone. The Governor toured the processing unit of the firm and inspected the production chain.

Also joining the Government’s team in the tour are the Chief Executive Officer of Lekki Freeport LFZ, Mr Du Ruogang, and Head of Marketing for LFZ, Ms. Chinju Udora, among others.

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Pyrates warns against extra-judicial killing, insecurity, harassment in S’East, S’South

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The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity), has warned security agencies against extra-judicial killing and harassment of innocent Nigerians in the course of fishing out those responsible for the killings of security personnel and attacks on security formations and those fuelling insecurity in the South- East and South-South.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday during deliberations of the Security Council meeting approved undisclosed new security measures for the two regions aftermath of multiple attacks on security formations.

The NAS Capoon, Mr Abiola Owoaje, in a statement titled ‘The Growing Tempest in East & South’   said it is important “that the security services do not engage in presumption group-blame, collective punishment, and extra-judicial killings in the course of investigating these crimes”.

Owoaje pointed out that such “unbridled illegalities and high-handedness will only go to further alienate local communities, and deepen the antipathy that already characterizes the relationship between them and law enforcement agencies.”

The association while strongly condemning the attacks and killing of security personnel condoled with families that lost loved ones and urged the government to do all within the confines of the law to get the perpetrators and make them face the fall wrath of the law.

According to him, NAS is disturbed that the insecurity in the two regions has further exacerbated the deteriorating security situation in the country.

Owoaje called on the government to move swiftly, and with unaccustomed competence and diligence, to arrest the current climate of insecurity across the two regions.

The statement read in part “This gradual slide into anarchy in the South-East and South-South regions has the potential to expand the number of ungoverned spaces in Nigeria, further, stretch our security apparatus, and engender devastating social and economic consequences for the country as a whole.

“We urge the security agencies in the two regions to resist the temptation of seeing themselves as a force of occupation out to subjugate the people and unleash terror among the teeming law-abiding citizens. They should approach their task with a sincerity of purpose, and rein in the criminal elements intent on foisting terror and bloodletting. Evidence abounds of previous overzealous interventions by security agencies that have aggravated insecurity in the two regions rather than contain the same. Unprofessional conduct and prejudice from those entrusted with such operations must not be tolerated.

“The government and security agencies have a constitutional duty to protect the lives and property of the peace-loving residents of the two regions from harm. No innocent Nigerian should be harassed, intimidated, or made to suffer under any guise of combing for suspected criminal elements in the South-East and South-South regions.”

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LASG Okays Science-Based Quiz Competition For Secondary Schools, Targets Inventors

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As part of efforts to develop manpower that can address future challenges in Nigeria, the Lagos State Lotteries Board (LSBL) has established a science-based educational quiz competition that would aid young inventors towards achieving their goals of producing technologies that could proffer solution to human needs across the country.

The science-based quiz competition, LSBL said, is Eko S.T.E.M Quiz, would prepare the students for science and technology and bridge the invention gap between Nigeria particularly in Lagos and other major cities globally.

According to the lotteries board, the EKO STEM competition was designed for the public and low-cost private secondary school students in Senior Secondary School (SSS) 2 to boost their passion for science and technology.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the lotteries board, Bashir Are, while addressing pressmen yesterday in Ikeja, added that the aim was to further sustain the ongoing development in the education sector embarked upon by the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to take education to next level in Lagos.

Are noted that the intervention was part of the board’s functions, saying, we are allowed by section 33 of Lagos State Lotteries Board (amended) law of 2008 to give some interventions in Education, infrastructure, environment, social, and health in the state.

He added that the intervention in education development would ensure that the state has a skilled workforce that could address its challenges in science and technology which had continued to alter previous workforce arrangements globally.

Earlier, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Lotteries, Olufunmilola Olotu, stressed that to prepare the students for the future, “it is important to proactively promote the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum”.

Olotu stated that quiz competition is a form of education, just as she described education as a process of acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.

Olotu explained that this competition would provide the ground for the state government to achieve its goal in technology, preparing the mind of the students for the future, adding, the contents could be re-used for teaching.

The senior special assistant explained that the competition was essential for the children and that it would not only educate but also entertain the students in the country particularly Lagos.

She argued that the EKO STEM quiz competition would afford the students an opportunity to choose their career path and understand importance of teamwork.

Olotu, who emphasized that the year-long competition would be broadcast on Television for viewers that would watch from home, hinted that the ultimate prize for winners is a Scholarship award to study anywhere globally and a visit to the Silicon Valley.

“lt is our belief that in any educational system, academic competition is of utmost importance because it contributes to a child’s development and learning process. A healthy competition among academic institutions nurtures various values and opportunities, including but not limited to prestige, media exposure, monetary donations, and research grants,” she added.

Explaining modalities for the competition that is set to provide a platform for over 1,500 students to achieve their dream, the governor’s aide explained that preliminary examination would hold May 15th for both public and private schools across the 57 Local Government and Local Council Development Area (LCDA).

According to her, all results will be collated and input into the online system, and with the system cut-off mark, those that had better scores will proceed to the Computer-Based examination stage and other stages.

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SANWO-OLU DELIVERS 14 HOUSING SCHEMES IN TWO YEARS

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… 21 Schemes In The Works, Says Commissioner

By the end of 2023, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu would have delivered 35 housing schemes to close the huge deficit in the sector, Commissioner for Housing Mr. Moruf Akinderu-Fatai has said on Tuesday.

Of the schemes, 14 have been delivered within the first two years of the Sanwo-Olu administration, adding over 7,000 affordable housing units to the market.

Akinderu-Fatai spoke on the achievements of the Ministry of Housing during the ongoing inter-ministerial briefing to commemorate Governor Sanwo-Olu’s second year in office.

He said the Government was committed to reducing the housing deficit and providing affordable homes for the greater number of residents, stressing that the Sanwo-Olu administration would be delivering 21 housing schemes before the end of 2023.

The Commissioner was optimistic that the administration would realise its mass housing programmes, despite the prevailing economic situation in the country, adding that policies initiated had enhanced access for low- and high-income families.

He said: “The last two years have been eventful in the Ministry of Housing, as we have strengthened our efforts to realise the housing programmes of the current administration. We have completed and delivered various schemes across Lagos, including Lateef Jakande Gardens in Igando, Lagos State Affordable Public Housing Scheme in Idale Badagry, LagosHOMS Lekki Phase 2 and Babatunde Raji Fashola Estate, Courtland Villas, Igbokushu, among others.

“We have four housing schemes recently completed and are due for commissioning in the coming days. They are located in Odo Onosa Ayandelu, Agbowa, Magodo/Omole, Gbagada and Ibeshe. In all, a total of 14 schemes have been completed and these added over 7,000 affordable housing units to the market. We have other ongoing housing projects, totalling 21 schemes, which are being developed through budgetary allocation and joint ventures.”

Speaking on affordability and accessibility of the schemes, Akinderu-Fatai said the homes are for both low and high net worth individuals in highbrow and low-income settlements, including Igando, Igbokusu, Lekki, Badagry, Igbogbo, Odo-Onosa/Ayandelu, Agbowa, Sangotedo, Epe, Ilubirin, Epe and Egan-Igando.

On the strategies to tackle the housing deficit, Akinderu-Fatai hinted that the State Government was partnering multinational development partners for the construction of mass housing estates. He said henceforth, housing provision would be in the realm of thousands of homes to drastically reduce the burden.

The Commissioner praised Sanwo-Olu for his commitment and passion at ensuring that greater number of residents achieve their dream of becoming homeowners, adding that the State Government needed the support of all stakeholders towards providing decent and stable shelter for residents.

He said: “The task of bridging the housing gap in Lagos is demanding and we are extending our willingness to private sector participants to come in and invest in the housing sector to reduce the hardship faced by the people in their quest for decent shelter.”

Akinderu-Fatai said that the Lagos Mortgage Board had strengthened the “Rent-to-Own” policy, putting many residents on the homeownership ladder. He pointed out that the scheme targeted first-time homeowners, saying: “It has given a good opportunity to both to the low and middle-income citizens to become home owners.”

In the housing development projects, the Commissioner said the State Government had boosted the local economy by hundreds of local workers, artisans, suppliers and contractors for the scheme.

“There are intense construction activities on many housing schemes all over the State revitalising the housing delivery value chain. The fact that the construction sites are active means economic engagement for hundreds of workers, artisans, suppliers and contractors. This brings vibrancy that increases the economic resilience of our people,” Akinderu-Fatai said.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Housing, Mrs. Toke Awoyinka-Benson, said the Government made efforts to make Lagos an investor-friendly State, given its housing development laws, and establishment of the Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority (LASRERA).

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