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SANWO-OLU: “MAKING LAGOS A SMART CITY NOT A RHETORIC”

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The plan to elevate Lagos to become a smart city is not a mere political rhetoric, but an agenda that is being supported by policies that will make the goal achievable, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has said.

The Governor said his administration’s commitment to reinvigorate the state’s economy and make it a smart city was reinforced by its growth potential and profile as one of the top investment destinations in Africa.

The smart city agenda, Sanwo-Olu said, is on course, stressing that his administration would achieve the goal in partnership with private sector as key driver of development.

The Governor spoke on Wednesday at the 13th Annual Business Law Conference organized by Business Law section of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), at the Eko Hotels and Suites on Victoria Island.

To achieve the aim, Sanwo-Olu said his government had identified key areas to drive growth, stating that investment in infrastructure remained prominent. 

He said: “As Africa’s most populous city, with a population larger than several countries on the continent, but confined to a space that is less than 4,000 square miles in size, Lagos is confronted by problems that exert great pressure on its infrastructure, especially our transport infrastructure and public utilities.

“Lagos urgently needs to mobilize huge investments into these critical sectors by delivering new roads and bridges, expanding air and sea ports’ capacity, exploiting the potential of our vast waterways. And, very importantly, Lagos needs to deliver an intra-city rail network. We must have a city-wide rail system that will move people and goods faster.” 

Steady electricity, Sanwo-Olu pointed out, remains critical to delivering a smart city with a flourishing economy. He observed that Lagos, like other states, still had a huge gap to fill in the area of power supply to businesses and homes.

The Governor said a sustained but strategic investment in key infrastructure would have direct positive impacts on workers’ productivity, commerce and economy.

He said: “Provision of infrastructure creates jobs for artisans, engineers and other workers who will deliver these projects, and also for the contractors who supply raw materials. And by expanding our transport and power supply capacities significantly, we will succeed in unleashing the economic productivity long-constrained by these bottlenecks.”

Sanwo-Olu said the effort required private sector partnership and investment to deliver on the objectives. He urged local and international investors to leverage the government’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy in facilitating collaboration, which, he promised, would be mutually beneficial.

While the Governor re-assured investors that his government would create “friendly atmosphere” for investment to thrive, he said the state had embarked on reforms in its business law to protect the interests of all parties when disputes arise in business.

He added: “By leading the way with these reforms, we are making the point that we understand the place of Lagos in the national economy, and we understand the connection between confidence in legal and regulatory systems on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a willingness by investors to invest.

“In terms of the business regulatory environment, we are fully aligned with the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business reform agenda. I am pleased to note here that Lagos was in 2018 adjudged by the World Bank as one of the most improved states in terms of the Ease of Doing Business.”

Sanwo-Olu praised members of the NBA’s Business Law section for choosing Lagos as its choice location to discuss the objectives of the business conference.

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OONI LAUDS AREGBESOLA @ 63, CALLS HIM AN EPITOME OF LOYALTY

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Arole Oduduwa & Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II has described the Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as a great icon of public service and epitome of loyalty that must always found worthy of celebrations.

Ooni Ogunwusi who doubles as the permanent chairman of Osun state council of Obas and Co-chairman of National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria(NCTRN) spoke in a press statement released by his Director of Media & Public Affairs, Comrade Moses Olafare congratulating Ogbeni Aregbesola on his 63rd birthday.

“Congratulations from The Arole Oodua Olofin Adimula, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi to the Minister of Interior, Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Ogbeni Adesoji Rauf Aregbesola on his 63rd Birthday Anniversary.

The statement reads; “Ogbeni Aregbesola as a comrade, you started with student’s right activism over four decades ago. As a proponent of democratic rule, you in the 90s participated in the several pro-June 12 struggles which led to the enthronement of civil rule in 1999.

“You have since 1999 lived for the people through your sterling public service performances, first as Commissioner For Works and Infrastructure in Lagos state from 1999 to 2006, followed by your emergence as Governor of the state Osun from 2010 to 2018 and your current position as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in charge of Interior through which you oversee very sensitive sections of Nigeria’s internal security like Immigration, Civil Defense, Fire service, Correctional service among other responsibilities.

“RAUF, you are indeed a great descendant of Oduduwa and a Nigerian patriot with incorruptible Pan Africanism for which you are always worthy to be celebrated. You are an Omoluwabi per excellence, a down-to-earth grassroot politician with incredibly huge followership, a great promoter of our cultural values and heritage, an icon of people oriented public service and an epitome of loyalty.”

Ooni, the foremost African monarch and Yoruba’s Natural leader prayed for good heath and longevity for Aregbesola who is the immediate past of the state of Osun.

“My dear Ogbeni, may the Almighty Olodumare keep upholding your entire household as you gloriously clock 63 today.

“We also pray the rest of your journey on this earth shall be characterized by sound health, meaningful long life and immeasurable prosperity.

Igba odun odun kan

Afon a gbo ko to wo

Happy 63rd Birthday!!!” Ooni prayed.

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EID-EL FITRI: OONI CONGRATULATES MUSLIMS, SAYS THERE IS ALWAYS A REASON TO CELEBRATE

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The Arole Oduduwa & Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II has congratulated Muslims in Nigeria and across the world especially those of Yoruba origin as the holy month of Ramadan comes to an end with the annual Eid-el Fitri celebration.

In a statement by his Director of Media and Public Affairs, Comrade Moses Olafare, the Ooni who is the Co-Chairman, National Council of Traditional Rulers explained that there are reasons to celebrate and thank the Almighty Allah for His goodness and mercies in every situations.

“Celebration here is not the conventional merriment of social gathering as we all know that there is an order against that especially in this situation we are all face with globally. The Ooni says we should celebrate in our various homes with our families by remembering Allah and why we should not give up in our hope of a better tomorrow.

“God in His infinite mercy shall accept our fasting and prayers including those we said against the rampaging coronavirus and other enemies of humanity. We’ve been through a lot together and we can’t but be grateful to God for keeping us.

“Although it is regrettable to realize that we cannot gather like before especially for the annual congregational prayers but we must make the best out of what we have while we hope and pray to be part of the brighter future.” The Ooni said.

In the same vein, the Natural leader of the Oduduwa race worldwide urged Nigerians to keep supporting the government in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic by observing the laid down precautionary measures including maintenance of social distancing, personal hygiene, regular hand washing and others.

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African Guarantee Fund Announces Response to Economic Impact of COVID-19

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African Guarantee Fund  for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (AGF), has today announced its COVID-19 response aimed at reducing the uncertainties facing financial institutions in Africa as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. AGF’s COVID-19 response is built on the imperative need for commercial solutions over and above the regulatory efforts already provided by the various central banks and governments in the continent.

African Guarantee Fund’s response sets the platform for economic stabilization, followed by an economic revival through AGF’s newly developed COVID-19 Guarantee Facility that will, firstly, provide more comfort to financial institutions to restructure facilities that become non-performing because of COVID-19 and, secondly, provide commercial stimulus to the financial sector with the aim of mitigating the deterioration of SMEs’ perceived risk.

Commenting on the announcement, AGF CEO, Mr. Felix Bikpo said, “The consequences of COVID-19 pandemic will continue to have escalating negative effects on SMEs in Africa both on the supply and demand sides. Consequently, we must assume that there follows a deterioration of these SMEs’ creditworthiness. This is likely to increase the cost of credit for the financial sector which will surely increase their reluctance to finance the SME sector if there is no external stimulus. It is because of this that we must develop a commercial response in addition to the regulatory responses given by the different central banks and governments in the continent. Therefore, in line with our mandate we have launched the COVID-19 Guarantee Facility.”

AGF will also continue to use its technical assistance support to increase the capacity of financial institutions in their risk assessment of SMEs during the crisis period. This will allow analyzing the impact of the pandemic on the financial institutions, so as to forge the best possible responses to adapt effectively.

The African Guarantee Fund recently received a third time AA- Rating by Fitch, which was first assigned in November 2017, a first for a guarantee fund in Africa.

“This exceptional rating is a sign of confidence and trust in AGF’s operational excellence, particularly now that financial institutions are in need of cushioning to continue lending to SMEs, who hold the key to the economic recovery of their respective countries,” concluded AGF CEO, Mr. Felix Bikpo.

Since inception, AGF has boosted SME lending in Africa by issuing guarantees to financial institutions thereby unlocking loans worth USD 2.5 Billion.

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