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President Muhammadu Buhari

Buhari condoles South Africa over fatal floods; Osinbajo assures on 2nd Niger Bridge

President Muhammadu Buhari

By Ismaila Chafe/ Chijioke Okoronkwo

President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with the government and people of South Africa over the loss of lives resulting from torrential downpours and mudslides.

Buhari in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu in Abuja on Saturday, said he was “profoundly touched by the unfortunate incident.

This is as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Saturday, gave assurance that the President Buhari administration will bring the Second Niger Bridge project to fruition.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Saturday in Abuja, said the vice president fielded questions from newsmen shortly after an inspection of the progress of work at the Asaba end of the Second Niger Bridge project on Friday.

President Buhari in the statement by Malam Shehu said: “I am saddened by the loss of lives and destruction caused by the natural disaster. Such disasters destroy within hours everything the people have laboured for, forcing many to start from the scratch.

”This is particularly difficult for developing countries battling with poverty,’’ he said.

The president expressed sympathy to families affected by the disaster, praying that God would comfort and strengthen them in their hour of need.

“Our prayers and sympathies are with the people of South Africa as they struggle to overcome the devastating impact of these floods,’’ the president added.

According to Akande’s statement, Osinbajo said that the Niger bridge is not only important for the economy of the South East, but for Nigeria’s economy in general.

The vice president said that strategic infrastructure projects such as the bridge was critical to the administration’s economic agenda, as it would improve socio-economic opportunities and benefit all Nigerians.

Osinbajo expressed optimism that the project would be delivered on schedule as President Buhari was personally committed to completing it.

”The Second Niger Bridge is so important for the economy of the South East and for the Nigerian economy, and of course, it is not just the bridge, there are the access roads, which are also very important.

“It is obvious so much progress has been made here; it is an important project that the President is committed to completing.

” In the past 18 months or so, a lot work has been done and I came to see for myself.

“As you can see, the foundation goes all the way down, and this is just the Asaba end of the bridge. There is also the Anambra end of the bridge, so it is a lot of work.

“There is a huge number of people who are also benefiting in various ways as the project progresses.”

Osinbajo said that the commitment of the Buhari administration to complete strategic infrastructure projects that would improve the nation’s economy, necessitated the creation of the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).

The PIDF is an initiative of Buhari administration which is to be invested specifically in critical road and power projects across the country.

According to him, there are some critical infrastructure that are considered very strategic to Nigeria’s economic plan and which, through PIDF, will hopefully be completed.

He said that one of the reasons why projects were hardly ever completed was because there was not enough money going into the projects, adding that Buhari had decided that there must be a fund for all of the projects, hence the PIDF.

Osinbajo said projects being executed under the PIDF included the Kano-Abuja expressway, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the Mambila hydro project, among others.

“The good thing is that the President has set aside the funds, the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, which is a fund dedicated to certain strategic projects, including the Second Niger Bridge.”

Earlier before embarking on the tour of the Second Niger Bridge project, the vice president paid a courtesy call on the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, at his palace in Onitsha. Osinbajo assured the monarch of the Federal Government’s commitment to be fair and just in the execution of projects across the country.

He said that there were other initiatives being implemented by the Federal Government in Anambra State in partnership with the state government.

“Anambra State was the very first state to accept what we call the HomeGrown School Feeding Programme, which is a Federal Government programme.  Anambra State was the very first state to accept and implement it the way we wanted it to be implemented,” he said.

While in Anambra State, Osinbajo also visited the Eke-Awka market in Awka, and the Ochanja market in Onitsha, to monitor ongoing disbursement of the TraderMoni to over three thousand petty traders at the markets

So far, over 30,000 persons have been enumerated in Anambra State while about 27,000 loans have been disbursed and over 18,000 cashed out.

No fewer than 2 million petty traders nationwide are currently benefiting from the microcredit scheme.

The Buhari administration’s N10,000 TraderMoni loans is a part of its National Social Intervention Programmes (N-SIP).

It is designed to assist petty traders across the country expand their trade through the provision of collateral and interest-free loans from N10,000.

The loans are repayable over a period of six months, after which the traders get an improved loan of N15,000.

The traders get additional sums up to a N100,000 along the way as they repay the loans.



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