Press spotlights inauguration of $1.5bn Lekki deep seaport, others

The inauguration of the $1.5bn Lekki deep seaport and the Imota Rice Mill in Lagos by President Muhammadu Buhari is…

The inauguration of the $1.5bn Lekki deep seaport and the Imota Rice Mill in Lagos by President Muhammadu Buhari is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Tuesday.The Punch reports that President Muhammadu Buhari has unveiled the $1.5bn Lekki deep seaport, and the Imota Rice Mill in Ikorodu, Lagos.

The Lekki deep seaport has been described as one of the largest seaports in the country and one of the biggest in West Africa which its promoters have said would improve efficiency and serve as a major driver for economic growth in the region.

The President, during his visit to Lagos on Monday, was received by the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, and other members of the state executive council at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Ikeja.

After he inspected the guard of honour at the airport parade ground, Buhari visited the Lekki deep seaport and took a brief inspection trip around the project to inspect its facilities.

Speaking at the event, Sanwo-Olu noted that the size of vessels that would be coming to the Lekki Port could be up to four times the size of vessels that currently berth at both Tin Can and Apapa Ports.

He said, “The project is a total combination of efforts of the Federal Government, Lagos State, and the private sector and we are happy that this is happening in your time.”

The newspaper says that the Federal Government, on Monday, declared that Nigeria would definitely witness another round of flood in many states this year, but stated that early preparations had commenced to avoid some of the mistakes that were made in 2022.

It also revealed that 662 persons were killed by the devastating flood situation in 2022, adding that state governors would be informed early this year about disaster-prone areas.

The Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency, Mustapha Ahmed, disclosed this in Abuja at the executive seminar for NEMA employees and senior members of staff selected from State Emergency Management Agencies and critical disaster management stakeholders.

Speaking to journalists on the side-lines of the event, he said, “This is January and by tomorrow (Tuesday), NiMet (Nigeria Meteorological Agency) is releasing their seasonal climate prediction and after that I believe that in the next week or two, NIHSA (Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency) will release their own flood outlook.

And immediately after that we will gather stakeholders to critically analyse the reports and interpret it and attach it with the vulnerable areas mapping, and send it out to states.

“We are starting early because we have seen one or two mistakes that were done last year. So we have to work together and collaborate with all the states. We can’t work if NEMA is moving on one side, while the states are on the other side.”

Asked whether NEMA was interfacing with the Nigeria Governors Forum on how to manage floods in states, Ahmed said replied in the affirmative and stressed that there would be floods this year.

The Guardian reports that an estimated N65 million was, yesterday, lost as cargoes got trapped at the Lagos port following the Nigerian Ports Authority’s (NPA) total closure of the facility and restriction of access to port users over President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit.

The NPA began a strict access control into the PTML area of the Tin Can Island Port, since last weekend, due to the two-day working visit of the President to the MRS Petroleum Tank Farm.

The President is expected to visit the MRS Tank Farm close to PTML Terminal today (Tuesday) to commission a lubricant factory. NPA port security officials and men of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) were seen dispersing port users with security dogs, which created pandemonium at the Tin Can Island port.

Scores of freight forwarders, who had earlier gained access into the port, also confirmed that they were chased away with dogs by the police.

They lamented the huge losses the protocol surrounding the President’s visit had cost them and the nation, as one of the busiest ports in Africa.

Speaking with The Guardian on the situation, the National Public Relations Officer of Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN), Taiwo Fatomilola, lamented that huge losses are being incurred on the trapped cargoes at the port.

“They have paralysed the finance of the port for the past two days. The vehicles and trucks that have been loaded, that were supposed to leave the port since Saturday cannot leave.

“The port has been shut since the weekend. In Tin Can alone, we are losing about N30 million to demurrage, while PTML is about N35 million. That is about N65 million lost per day, money that would have been used as revenue. Imagine the amount that would have been lost for the days the ports will be shutdown.

“There is nobody making use of Tin Can Island Port and Grimaldi today as we speak, nobody can access these ports, everybody is stopped at the gate. After showing our identification cards, they came around with police and dogs to chase people away, meanwhile, it won’t be until Tuesday (today) that the President will visit here,” he lamented.

The newspaper says that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it is collaborating with Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Matters Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to check vote-buying.

INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers State, Johnson Alalibo Sinikiem, while describing vote-buying as a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the country’s system, said the electoral body had carried out sensitisation of the people, monitored and reported anyone involved in vote-buying during the elections.

He stated this, yesterday, in Port Harcourt during the opening of the 2023 Week of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

The theme of the week is: “Media Vigilance Ahead of Peaceful 2023 Election in Rivers State.” Represented by the Head, Voter Education and Publicity, Mark Usulo, Sinikiem said that with the new Electoral Act, anyone caught with a permanent voter card (PVC) that does not belong to him or her, risks a jail term.

He said security agencies, especially Nigeria Police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), have been briefed to watch out for people in possession of PVCs not theirs.

The REC also tasked the media to ensure accurate reportage of INEC activities before, during and after general elections, assuring them that the electoral body would ensure free, fair, credible and violent-free election.

Earlier, the Chapel expressed worry over increasing political violence in the state. The Chairman, Amaechi Okonkwo, said: “In the past few weeks, we all know what has been happening around politics and campaigns in Rivers State. Even before now, we are not unaware of information about violence or pockets of violence here and there relating to election and campaigns in Rivers State.

“Rewind to 2019 when we last held general elections here and you will understand the economic and social disruptions, the loss of lives and property and the nightmares of militarisation of the state, which are still very fresh in our hearts.

“This is the reason we insisted on joining the discussion to reinforce not just the discussion but demand for peaceful general elections in Rivers State.”

In his contribution, a veteran journalist, Dr. Jossy Nkwocha, called on the media and journalists to be patriotic in their reportage of elections.

Nkwocha, who is the Head, Corporate Communications, Indorama-Eleme Petrochemicals Limited, was the chairman of the event.

He said: “Be careful of fake news from various interest groups. Fake news is the biggest thing that threatens journalism and even the electoral process.

“Let us ensure we check sources of information before using such stories. Let’s maintain neutrality and give all political parties equal opportunities at all times.

“Let’s beware of materials that cause character assassination of political opponents. Let’s be careful with information that may trigger violence in the electoral process,” he said, among others.

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