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PDP Reacts As FG Approves $1.9bn Rail Line To Niger Republic

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The Federal Government has on Wednesday approved $1,959,744,723.71 for the construction of a rail line that will link Nigeria to Niger Republic.

At the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting, the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi told reporters that the sum approved for the development of the proposed rail line linking Kano-Dutse-Katsina-Jibia and to Maradi in Niger Republic is inclusive of Value Added Tax.

The minister said apart from that, the council also approved the award of a contract worth N3.049 billion for the design, manufacture, supply, testing, and commissioning of one railway crane for the purposes of clearing rail tracks in situations of accidents.

Meanwhile, the decision by the federal government has attracted criticisms from the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party saying the project was a misplacement of priority in a country facing intractable problems of insecurity and harsh economic conditions arising from hikes in fuel price and electricity tariff.

According to PUNCH newspaper, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbindiyan in a telephone interview said “the problem of this regime is that it has never got its  priorities right and at the end of the day, Nigerians are the ones who suffer from these poor choices by these people.

Ologbindiyan said “let’s even look at it from the point of view of the economy. What is the economic benefit of this project to Nigeria. The Nigerian economy,  as it is today, is not in a state to contain this kind of wasteful spending.”

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COVID-19: Nigeria Records 1,398 New Infections

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With nine more COVID-19 deaths recorded on Wednesday, the country’s death rate from coronavirus has risen to thirteen hundred eighty-two across the country.

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control reported 1,398 new cases in 22 states and the Federal Capital Territory.  Lagos recorded the highest toll with 542 cases, followed by the FCT which posted one hundred thirty-one.

21 other states also recorded cases in single and double digits.

NCDC says 82,555 patients have been discharged across the country.

Health authorities attribute the rising death toll to late referral of COVID-19 patients to treatment centres.

Co-coordinator of the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, confirms one in every six persons tested for COVID-19 in Nigeria in the past two weeks had returned positive.

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FG Disburses Another N123.34bn Grants To States

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The federal government has disbursed a fresh N123bn performance-based grants to state governments.

Minister of finance, budget and national planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday.

Ahmed says the disbursement is a result of the achievements made by the states in the just concluded 2019 annual performance assessment.

The assessment was carried out by the office of the auditor-general of the federation as the independent verification agent and approved by the programme coordination unit of the finance ministry.

The finance minister says the indicators covered fiscal transparency, accountability, expenditure efficiency, revenue mobilization and debt sustainability.

States received grants in accordance with the number of results achieved.  Sokoto state received the highest amount, six and a half billion naira, while Kano got the lowest amount of one point seven billion naira.

Bayelsa, Imo, Rivers and Zamfara states got zero allocation because they did not meet the 2019 eligibility criteria which require states to publish online approved annual budgets and audited financial statements within a specific timeframe.

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FG Meets With Governors, Considers Extending Curfew Hours

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The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and the rising cases in the country are causing the federal government to review its curfew policy.

National coordinator of the presidential task force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, says the federal government is considering extending curfew hours as part of its response to the second wave of the pandemic.

An 8 pm to 6 am curfew, which was later relaxed to 12 midnight to 4 am, was declared in April and is still in force.

Aliyu said at a press conference on Monday that federal government was in talks with state governments on to review the curfew.

The PTF coordinator has asked vulnerable persons to stay at home, especially those who are older than sixty years or diabetics and those with other morbidities.

Aliyu said the decision for another lockdown is in the hands of, quote, “all of us the general public.”  He said as long as the general public abides by the protocols set up for the virus, there would be no need or another lockdown.

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