The President Muhammadu Buhari government on Wednesday stirred what can be described as a hornet’s nest when its Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, revealed that plans were at the advanced stage to return toll gate on the federal highways, stressing that there was no law that stopped the government from having toll gate on federal roads.
Fashola, flanked by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, “There is no reason why we can’t toll, there was a policy of the government to abolish tolls or as it were, dismantle toll plaza but there is no law that prohibits tolling in Nigeria today.
“We expect to return toll plazas, We have concluded their designs of what they will look like, what materials they will be rebuilt with, what new considerations must go into them. What we are looking at now and trying to conclude is how the bank end runs.”
This disclosure, which was the high point of the press briefing at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting, came fifteen years after the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo scrapped toll gates across the country.
It also came at a time when President Buhari had declared that the federal government will not inflict additional hardship on citizens, rather it will keep seeking ways to ameliorate their sufferings and create a more enabling environment for everyone to thrive.
“I want to assure you that, as an administration, we have no intention of inflicting any additional hardship on Nigerians,’’ Buhari had told the new executive of Trade Union Congress led by its President, Quadri Olaleye, at the State House.
As is to be expected, this planned reintroduction of toll gates on the nation’s highways has started generating reactions from some Nigerians across board, including the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
PDP Blows Hot
The Peoples Democratic Party, in a statement issued Wednesday by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said “such insensitive idea, in the midst of excruciating economic hardship and high costs of living occasioned by the harsh policies of the Buhari administration, is completely ill-conceived and anti-people.”
The party insisted that the planned toll gates at best, “amounts to executive bullying which cannot be justified under any guise as it will lead to more increase in costs of goods and services across the country”.
It added, “Only recently, President Buhari approved the increase of Value Added Tax, VAT, from 5% to 7.2% despite outcry by Nigerians, who are also being made to pay exorbitant tariffs for electricity and other essential services.
“Since President Buhari came into office in 2015, his administration had continued to increase prices and impose all manner of levies on Nigerians which proceeds are being frittered by the cabal in the presidency leading to a bleeding economy and despondency among the citizenry.
“The PDP says that instead of putting more pressure on already impoverished Nigerians by introducing toll gates at this point in time, President Buhari should exert himself, seek ways of creating wealth out of the abundant resources at the disposal of his administration or make haste to surrender the reign of governance to more competent hands.
“Nigerians could recall that the PDP administration, in keeping with our determination to ensure the wellbeing and economic prosperity of our citizens, dismantled toll gates, cut tax profiles and applied our energies towards wealth creation.
“It is therefore certain that if our nation were under a PDP administration, as desired by Nigerians, competent hands would have been on the deck to proffer ways to create wealth for governance instead of turning our citizens into vassals who are overburdened by heavy taxes.”
Nigerians Vent Too
Since the story broke, Nigerians have taken to social media platforms available to them, particularly Opera News comment section and Twitter, to air their views regarding Fashola’s disclosure. These views are presented below:
BREAKING: FG to reintroduce toll gates scrapped by Obasanjo. #Nigeria
I can see Tinubu’s handwriting at Federal Level. That’s one of the danger of getting greedy people like him into power, all they see around is how to extort every citizen like #Lagos.https://t.co/rKU8HEV7L3
— AyeMojuba (@ayemojubar) October 2, 2019
Facts that Buhari & APC must note.
When toll gates were abolished certain amount of money or percent was incorporated into the pump price of PMS to make it easy for citizens.
Will this government consider this fact before erecting toll gates again?
— Olisa Lawrence (@lawrence_olisa) October 2, 2019
Nigerian Government Returns Toll Gates On Federal Highways..in just a month.. VAT increase.. CBN increase..FIRS increase.. without increasing of minimum wage.. what again do you need to confirm that this government is a scam?@ProfOsinbajo@renoomokri @NGRPresident
— ifediba Tobenna (@ifedibaTobenna2) October 2, 2019
” I agree with Buhari, all the roads must have toll gates. Thank God those of us in APC will show our membership card and we will not pay anything “.
— Buhari Olanrewaju Ahmed (@crownmed) October 2, 2019
President Muhamamdu Buhari on Monday arrived at the Sochi International Airport, Russia for a three-day inaugural Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum, which will focus on peace, security and development.
The President’s plane touched the tarmac at 11.25pm (local time) and he was received by the Mayor of the City of Sochi, Anatoliy Nikolayevich Pakhomov, and state officials.
The Economic Forum and Summit will hold on October 23 and 24, 2019 with four plenaries that will be attended by more than 30 African Heads of State and Government that have confirmed participation, including the Chairman of the African Union and President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The summit will be co-chaired by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who will present a keynote address at the opening on Wednesday, and the African Union Chairman.
President Buhari and the Russian President will meet at the Nigeria and Russian bilateral meeting on Wednesday.
The Nigerian leader will make a statement at the summit on Thursday.
Other participants at the summit that will showcase Russian interest and investment potential in Africa include businessmen, experts, investors, leaders of major sub-regional associations and organisations.
An African Business Forum, which will bring together African and Russian business leaders, will be held during the event to enhance Russian investments in Africa and promote African business interest in the host country.
About 250 Nigerian business interests will be participating in the forum.
“It is important that this meeting is taking place at this time,” says the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, addinf: “All the big nations are picking stronger interest in Africa. We now have US-Africa Summit, India-Africa Summit, China-Africa Summit and Japan-Africa Summit, so Russia has signified its interest on political, cultural and economic partnership.
“Nigeria has had an excellent relationship with Russia over the years. We will not forget how the country assisted us in keeping Nigeria as one during the civil war when some our traditional allies deserted us.
“They have also stood behind us in the fight against terrorism, Boko Haram and ISWA, and Russia has demonstrated its capacity in gas production, a resource which Nigeria has a huge potential of utilising.”
Shehu said the summit will look into issues of sustainable energy, mines and steel, infrastructure development in Africa, nuclear energy and trade and investment.
On security, the Senior Special Assistant said the meeting will come up with proposals for a new security architecture that will be heavily driven by new technology.
President Buhari is accompanied by Governor Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State and Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.
Others on the trip are: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo; Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite; and Minister of State, Petroleum, Timipre Sylva.
The Federal Government has assured that the payment of the new minimum wage would take immediate effect.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who gave the assurance while speaking with newsmen yesterday in Abuja, stated that the payment cuts across both the public and private sectors.
Ngige said the consequential adjustment agreed upon were as follows: “For COMESS wage structure grade level 7 gets 23%, level 8 gets 20%, level 9 gets 19%, levels 10 to 14 get 16% while levels 15 to 17 get 14%. “For those on the second category of wages structure, CONHES , CONRRISE, CONTISS etc, level 7 gets 22.2%, levels 8 to 14 get 16%, levels 15 to 17 get 10.5%.”
The Minister stated that the third category of the country’s “wage structure which includes the military and paramilitary was also factored in the agreement since they are not in the civil service, theirs would be communicated through the appropriate channels.”
DAILY POST had reported that the federal government and the labour unions finally sorted out the issues of consequential adjustment for other categories of workers after three days of meeting which ended early today.
Under the agreement reached, the core civil servants on grade level 7 are to get (23.2 per cent) adjustment; grade level 8 (20 per cent); grade level 9 (19 per cent); grade levels 10 to14 (16 per cent); and grade levels 15 to 17, (14 per cent).
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