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Policy blitz: Tinubu unveils 21 major initiatives after marathon FEC meeting

PIC 7 FEC MEETING .

The Federal Executive Council after a marathon meeting presided over by President Bola Tinubu on Tuesday rolled out 21 major policy initiatives.

The President’s Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Bayo Onanuga, in a post on his X handle, formerly Twitter,  listed the initiatives as a 48-hour visa policy, cancelling of airport toll payment exemption for very important persons and ban on sand dredging 10 kilometres from all federal bridges throughout the country among others.

The FEC meeting, which started on Monday was concluded on Tuesday in what experts have described as unprecedented in the history of the council.

After exhaustive deliberations, the council approved several policies and projects that would further boost the economy, facilitate investments and promote the ease of doing business in the country.

Briefing the State House correspondents on Tuesday after the FEC meeting at Aso Rock Villa Abuja on Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said the Federal Government was reviewing   its visa regime to enable persons who wish to invest in Nigeria to obtain a visa within 48 hours.

Idris stated that the visa policy was one of the several resolutions of FEC, adding that it was aimed at encouraging investors and tourists.

According to him, the visa policy review is necessary to foster ease of doing business on Nigerian soil.

Since assuming office in May 2023, the Bola Tinubu administration has actively pursued foreign investment opportunities through a series of strategic international engagements and high-level meetings aimed at boosting Nigeria’s economic profile.

Briefing journalists after the FEC meeting on Tuesday, the information minister said a tripartite committee had been created to review the visa issuance process.

Idris said, “Now, the Federal Executive Council has noted that our visa processes are becoming cumbersome and this is not encouraging investors to come in easily because, as the President has indicated, the ease of doing business is also tied to the ease of visa application.

“Therefore, the FEC has set up a committee to look at our visa processes to reduce the cumbersome nature of these visa processes, meaning that those investors or tourists who want to come into Nigeria will find it a lot easier to go into this country provided they follow all the laid down processes.

e-visa platform

“This includes the e-visa platform, which has already been discussed. The Federal Government is also mulling the idea of every visa application being processed within the next 48 hours.”

Nigeria’s e-visa process is part of a broader effort to streamline and modernise the country’s visa system, as outlined in the Nigeria Visa Policy (NVP) 2020.

The e-visa system allows visiting non-Nigerians to apply online. Applicants must complete an electronic application form, upload necessary documents, and pay the required fees.

Such e-visas available include the Short Visit Visa for business, which allows for a maximum stay of 90 days, and various investor visas that cater to different scales of investment from small to ultra-large enterprises.

However, the system has been plagued by inefficiencies, making the process cumbersome due to several factors. Applicants often face difficulties fulfilling documentation requirements and dealing with occasional technical hitches on the application portal.

More so, the need for detailed documentation, such as letters of invitation, evidence of sufficient funds, and investment proofs, adds to the complexity. The process also requires pre-approval via an electronic travel authorisation letter, which must be printed and presented upon arrival.

Though designed to ensure security and proper vetting, they have been time-consuming and challenging for users.

N10bn airport tolls

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said it will generate at least N10bn annually from airport access tolls.

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyamo, who disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents after the FEC meeting, also said the council approved a memorandum from the ministry scrapping toll exemptions for all very important persons and government officials using airports nationwide.

Tuesday’s decision would see President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima, who were earlier exempted, paying airport access toll and parking fees.

Keyamo said the government’s rationale was to stop the revenue haemorrhage, denying the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria the much-needed means to maintain the facilities and provide quality services to users.

He argued that the government lost over 82 per cent of the money it would have generated from e-tags sold to VIPs and government officials for easy airport access.

The memoranda initially recommended an exemption for the President and the vice president. However, Tinubu, who chairs the Council, overruled this, insisting that he and the VP, alongside their aides, must pay tolls.

“How much are we expecting? It runs into billions. We are looking at raising at least N10bn annually. This is a very big one for us (Federal Government). And we will market the e-tags so that VIPS will buy into it,” said Keyamo when asked about specifics.

He explained, “When we came to office, we met a tradition on the ground where at the end of the year, all manners of VIPs would approach us for what they call complimentary e-tags or complimentary stickers. They don’t pay airport access fees, parking, or essential services.

“The negative figure we get at the end of the day from the complimentary e-tags is -82 per cent. In other words, we end up selling only 18 per cent of e-tages. Imagine the loss! I told myself and my team, not under my watch. It is inconceivable that the VIPs don’t pay for services, but the poor pay.

“Our memo says with the exception of the President and the Vice President. But the President overruled me and said he and the Vice President would pay. He said everybody must pay.”

Enacted in 1995, the FAAN Act (Part IV) empowers the airport authority to levy and collect various charges from various categories of airport users to support the maintenance and development of airport infrastructure.

He added that a percentage rebate was being considered for service veterans.

The minister also vowed to ensure compliance, saying, “I will breathe down on the regulators. I must direct them to do what the law says diligently. I will ensure that they don’t water. down the regulatory measures.”

He said toll collection officers at the airport gates would no longer be bullied into granting access to uniform officers who refuse to pay. He assured them that more cameras would be “planted” in strategic positions to capture and expose any acts of harassment.

Regarding his alleged interference in the operations of airlines, especially as it concerns the closure of Dana Airlines, Keyamo noted that he would “continue to interfere to save lives until he leaves office.”

In a related development, the FEC approved a memorandum seeking N4.2bn for the maintenance and supply of aircraft recovery equipment.

Keyamo said the equipment would be used at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos and was designed to respond to occasions of aircraft breakdown on runways.

Apart from the initiative on the airports, the FEC also approved a N2tn   mortgage initiative and banned sand-dredging 10km from federal bridges.

The council also approved a N51bn transport terminal hub in Abuja. It added that $7m US property would become Nigeria’s tech hub.

FEC also approved a new revenue platform for gaming and lottery businesses as well as N546bn for roads in Lagos, Kwara, Edo, Kebbi and  Sokoto.

N72bn transmission lines

Meanwhile, the Federal Government also approved about N72bn for the construction of a new transmission line and emergency restoration systems for other transmission lines to enable quick repair of vandalised and damaged power infrastructure.

This came as the Federal Government also defended the Lagos-Ibadan Coastal Highway project, saying the project which would enhance growth and development followed due process.

Approved N72bn project includes the first is a 93-kilometer transmission line at Oji River/9th Mile for the 132 KV double circuit transmission line, costing $33.9m (N50.93bn) and N10.1m.

The second is for the supply and installation of 15 units of emergency restoration systems costing $14m (N21.04bn) for 330 KV and 132 KV transmission lines. The system will expedite the repair of damaged power infrastructure.

Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, revealed this to journalists at the State House as some of the approvals he secured at Tuesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting.

He explained that the emergency restoration system is a response to the impact of vandalism on power transmission assets, particularly in the Northeast, where there has been a blackout for the past weeks due to vandalism.

“We are aware of what is happening in the Northeast today in the last two to three weeks. There have been blackouts because of vandalisation activities. The Transmission Company of Nigeria has been trying to ensure that they fix these vandalised assets and we hope that before the end of the month, we should be able to return normalcy to the power situation in the Northeast.

“This emergency ratio restoration system will enable us to fix all the vandalised and damaged power infrastructure across the country.

“This was brought about by the impact of vandalisation across the country in terms of power transmission assets to ensure that the students enjoy 24/7 uninterrupted power supply,” Adelabu explained.

The power minister also noted that the new 93km transmission line will stabilise the national grid and expand its capacity, in line with the national grid expansion plan and the Presidential Power Initiative to increase its end-to-end capacity.

Monday’s approval also includes the procurement of 10 transformers and 10 reactors for the Transmission Company of Nigeria at a total cost of $4.8m (N7.2bn) and N102m, saying this will enhance the optimal performance of the national grid, reduce the risk of electric shock and equipment damage, and protect personnel from the effects of high voltage.

The Federal Government also appealed to Organised Labour not to derail the transformation plan for the power sector, saying to achieve the desired service the current sacrifice is required.

Adelabu also assured Labour that their demands made during their nationwide protest on Monday were being considered.

On Monday, leaders of the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria led their members in peaceful protest in different parts of the country, picketing the activities of agencies and institutions under the Power Ministry, demanding the reversal of the recent increase in electricity tariff.

However, reacting to the demands by the Labour unions, Adelabu noted that the federal government had noted their grievances, received their demands and would be engaging further with them, emphasising that President Bola Tinubu’s administration is a listening government.

He said, “It’s the right of the Labour to protest peacefully and to come up with their demands, from the perspective they saw what we did. It is allowed, it is legitimate and it is understandable

“Let me make that clear. President Bola Tinubu’s administration is also a listening government. We have heard demands, we’re going to look at it, we’ll make further engagements and I believe we’re going to reach a peaceful resolution with the labour.

“My appeal again is that they should please not derail or distract our transformation plan for the industry. We have a documented reform roadmap to take us to our desired destination, where we’re going to have reliable, functional, cost-effective and affordable electricity in Nigeria. It cannot be achieved overnight because this is a decay of almost 60 years, which we are trying to correct.

“Nobody promised us or assured us that the road will be smooth. We knew it was going to be rough, but we must weather the storm, which is going to be temporary. It’s a lot of sacrifice from everybody; from the government’s side, from the people’s side, from the private sector side. So we must bear this sacrifice for us to have a permanent gain.”

Meanwhile, the FG has revealed plans to tap into local funds such as pension and life insurance to develop infrastructure in the country.

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Wale Edun, disclosed this while briefing correspondents saying that there are over N20tn of such funds available in the country.

He said the fund would go into infrastructure such as housing and providing long-term mortgages.

He explained, “Nigeria is resilient, Nigerians are resilient. The fact is that even before we start looking to foreign investors, we start looking to foreign funding, there are available in Nigeria, long-term funds to fund infrastructure projects, and it’s within the pension, life insurance and investment fund industry generally.

“There is upwards of N20tn available, and much of it is in short-term funding that doesn’t need to be. Pension money is long-term.

“People save over their lifetime for their pension. And so in conversation, in consultation, collaboration and cooperation with the private sector, we are now able to announce and with the full knowledge and support of all parties, that there will be an initiative to fund growth through investment in infrastructure, including housing, provision of mortgages, long term mortgages, 25-year mortgages at relatively low interest rates.

He noted that, initially, the government would stand back and provide some support, particularly in the era of high interest rates but will lessen its involvement as interest rates stabilise.

“On the supply side, construction of houses will be funded. On the demand side mortgages will be made available so that those constructing houses have an outlet and Nigerians who are saving so much by way of pension funds, have the bonus of access to affordable mortgages.

“That is the long and short of this initiative and you also as much as anybody else can understand and see what it means in the construction industry to do for the country.

“That is the plan, that is the target that is the hope. And in this particular case, you have the best and the brightest that Nigeria has to offer, putting their minds together and committing to achieving the goals,” he said.

Edun spoke against the backdrop of what he said in the context of President Bola Tinubu’s macroeconomic reforms, “which are necessary and could not  be delayed a moment longer.”

The Federal Executive Council presided over by President Bola Tinubu, on Tuesday approved N96,297,056,103bn for the development of bus terminals and other transportation facilities in the nation’s capital, Abuja.

The amount also covers the award of contract to Masssr Planet Project Limited for the construction of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, contract for the provision of Security operation and maintenance of back-up generator for the street lights along the Presidential routes and Villa Gate 8 in the Federal Capital City, as well as the upgrade roads in Kwali Area Council.

Minister of State for the FCT, Mrs Mariya Mahmood, also disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting.

She explained that all the due process for the procurement procedure has already been followed and the certificate of no-objection has been obtained for the contracts.

According to her, “The first approval is for the award of contract for the development of bus terminal and other transportation facilities in the Capital territory. Secondly, is approval for the award of contract for the construction of the Court of Appeal Abuja division.

“And number three is approval for the award of contracts for the provision of security operations and maintenance of backup generators for the streetlights along presidential routes and villa gate 8, the federal capital city.

“And lastly, the fourth one is for the upgrading of Koita-Igbu in Kwali Area Council. All the necessary due process for the procurement procedure has been followed. And a certificate of no objection has been obtained for all the awarded approved contracts.”

Breaking down the figures, the Minister said “ I do have costs and contractors. The first one for the first time was awarded at a cost of N51,025,172,424.90 and it was awarded in favour of Messrs Planet Project Limited.

“Then the second one is in favour of Visible Construction Limited at the cost of N37,259,513,881.14 and the upgrading of Kwali-Ibu is at N7.6 billion in favour of El Emad Nigeria Limited.  For the generator and also the security there are two things attached to that memo.

“The issue of security operation and maintenance of the backup generator and it’s at the cost of N412,352,800 million. It was awarded to Messiah Contract People Limited.”

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