Federal Ministry of Works and Housing (FMWH) Federal Republic of Nigeria
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Minister Federal Ministry Of Works And Housing Mr Babatunde Fashola (San)
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Implementation Of Phase Two Of NNPC-Funded Tax Credit Scheme On 44 Road Projects Nationwide Gains Momentum

•      As Fashola Convenes Stakeholders’ Meeting, unveil roads  
•      Describes policy as a very defining legacy for President Buhari
•      NNPCL, FIRS other stakeholders pledge to sustain funding till completion
•      Contractors pledge timely delivery of quality road infrastructure
•      This Minister has set a record of achievements – NARTO President

With appreciable progress being made in the first Phase, the implementation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited and Federal Inland Revenue Service (NNPCL/FIRS) Second Phase for the rehabilitation and construction of 44 critical roads across the country under the Tax Credit Scheme initiative of the Federal Government gained momentum Tuesday as the Minister of Works and Housing convened a meeting of the Stakeholders and briefed the press while also unveiling the roads.

The Meeting came barely a fortnight after the approval of the Memorandum on the proposal by the NNPC and its subsidiaries, NNPC Exploration and Production (NEPL) and NNPC Gas Infrastructure Company Limited (NGIC) to undertake the rehabilitation of 44 roads spread across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

The selected roads, amounting to 4,554.19 kilometres, include those in the South-South zone which are the Completion of Benin-Warri Dual Carriageway, Edo/Delta States; East-West Road, (Section I) Warri-Kaiama in Delta/Bayelsa States; East-West Road (Section II –I) Port Harcourt-Ahoada in Rivers State; East-West Road (Section II-II) Ahoada-Kaiama in Rivers/Bayelsa States and East-West Road (Section III) Onne Junction-Eket in Akwa Ibom State.

Others are Dualization of East-West Road (Section IV) Eket-Oron also in Akwa Ibom; Upgrading of 15-kilometre Port Harcourt-Onne Junction (Section IIIA) in Rivers State; Construction of Eket Bypass (Dual Carriageway) in Akwa Ibom State; Dualization of Lokoja-Benin Road: Obajana Junction-Benin Section II Phase I: Okene-Auchi, Kogi/Edo States; Dualization of Lokoja-Benin Road: Obajana Junction-Benin Section III Phase I: Auchi-Ehor, Kogi/Edo States; Dualization of Lokoja-Benin Road: Obajana Junction-Benin Section IV Phase I: Ehor-Benin City; and Nembe-Brass Road in Bayelsa State. All the roads amount to a total of 1,308.3 kilometres.

The North East Zone has a total of 1,054 kilometres consisting of Rehabilitation of Yola-Mubi-Maiduguri Road in Adamawa/Borno States; Rehabilitation of Maiduguri - Monguno Road; Rehabilitation of Numan-Jalingo Road in Taraba/Adamawa States; Rehabilitation of Yola-Hong-Mubi Road in Adamawa State; Reconstruction of Bali-Serti-(Gashaka)-Gembu Road in Taraba State; and Rehabilitation of Yashi - Deguri - Yalo Road in Bauchi State.

North Central zone has 763.13 kilometres consisting of Rehabilitation of Minna-Zungeru-Tegina-Kontagora Road in Niger State, Section I: Minna-Tegina; Rehabilitation of Minna-Zungeru-Tegina-Kontagora Road in Niger State, Section II: Tegina-Kontagora; Shendam-Yelwa-Mato Junction-Taraba Border with Spurs in Plateau/Taraba States; Dualization of Suleija-Minna Road in Niger State: and Dualization of Lokoja-Benin Road: Obajana Junction-Benin Section I Phase I: Obajana-Okene, Kogi State.

Others include the Reconstruction of the existing Pavement and Completion of the additional Pavement on the Dualisation of Abuja - Lokoja Highway Section Ill: Abaji - Koton Karfe Road in Abuja/ Kogi State; Construction of the Jarmai-Bashar-Zuruk-Andame-Karim Lamido Road in Plateau and Taraba States; Reconstruction and Expansion of Mararaba - Keffi Road in Nasarawa State.

The North West Zone has a total of 980 Kilometres of roads being reconstructed consisting of Dualization of Zaria-Funtua-Gusau-Sokoto Road in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto States: Section I Zaria-Funtua-Gusau; Dualization of Zaria-Funtua-Gusau-Sokoto Road in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto States: Section II Gusau-Sokoto Road; Dualization of Zaria-Funtua-Gusau-Sokoto Road in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto States: Section II Gusau-Sokoto Road in Zamfara State; Dualization of Zaria-Funtua-Gusau-Sokoto Road in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto States: Section III Gusau-Sokoto Road in Zamfara and Sokoto States; Dualization and Construction of Kano-Kwanar Dauja-Hadejia Road in Kano/Jigawa States, Section I. Tsalle-Hadejia; Dualization and Construction of Kano-Kwanar Dauja-Hadejia Road in Kano/Jigawa States, Section II. Kano-Tsalle; and Rehabilitation of Kaduna-Pambeguwa-Jos Road in Kaduna/Plateau States.

South East has 297.52 kilometres of roads consisting of Rehabilitation of Aba - Owerri Road NNPC Depot Expressway, Abia State; Rehabilitation of Otuocha - Anam- Nzam- Innoma-Iheaka- Ibaji Section of Otuocha - Ibaji-Odulu-Ajegwu in Anambra State; Construction of Ihiala-Orlu-Umuduru Road (Ihiala-Amaifeke Section) and Completion of Spur in Isseke Town-Amafuo-Uli in Imo/Anambra States.

It also includes Rehabilitation of Old Enugu - Onitsha Road (Opi Junction - Ukehe Okpatu-Aboh Udi-Oji to Anambra Border) in Enugu State; Construction of Omor-Umulokpa Road in Anambra and Enugu States; Rehabilitation of Ozalla-Akpugo-Amagunze-Ihuokpara-Nkomoro-Isu-Onicha (Enugu-Onicha) with a Spur to Onunweke in Enugu State; and Rehabilitation of Old Enugu – Port Harcourt Road (Agbogugu-Abia Border Spur to Mmaku) in Enugu State.

The South-West has a total of 150.56 Km of roads consisting of Rehabilitation and Expansion of Lagos-Badagry Expressway (Agbara Junction-Nigeria/Benin Border) in Lagos State; Dualization of Akure-Ita Ogbolu-Iju-Ado Ekiti State Road, Section I: Akure - Ita Ogbolu - Iju - Ekiti State Border in Ondo State; and Dualization of Akure-Ita Ogbolu-Iju-Ado Ekiti State Road, Section II: Ita Ogbolu - Iju – Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State.

In his remarks at the Meeting and Press Briefing, Fashola described the public private sector agreement as a very defining legacy for President Muhammadu Buhari pointing out that the impact of the “very innovative investment policy” would help Nigeria to really do business both locally and internationally being a sound infrastructure-based investment policy on which business is done.

The Minister, who recalled that back in 2015 at the inception of the Buhari Administration, contractors were being owed two to three years’ payment arrears resulting in the shutdown of many project sites and laying off of construction workers by the companies, added that the Buhari administration arrested the situation by budgetary expansion from N18 billion for the whole of Nigeria’s road by the previous administration to N260 billion in 2016.

“You were being owed”, the Minister reminded the contractors at the Meeting. “Some of the complaints that I heard at the first meetings that I had with many of you when I was first appointed Minister were that you were paid only 10 percent advance payment two or three years ago. That was how bad the construction industry was when we started”, he said adding that some of the roads were contracted back to “the private sector” to go and raise fund to finance them.

Fashola, who also recalled that the roads contracted to the private sector, included the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge, among others, added, “But where was the private sector going to raise hundreds of billions of Naira to fund them”. He explained that the Buhari administration had to utilize more practical funding initiatives like SUKUK.

Recalling the controversies and criticisms that followed the borrowing option which the administration chose to fund the road and bridge projects, the Minister, who acknowledged the concern of the people over debt, however, added, that the debts “are buying roads, bridges, airports and seaports, assets that will last and sustain Nigeria’s development for the next 50 years”.

He pointed out that the administration also met debt when it took power adding, however, that the difference between it and its predecessor was that the debts it met on assumption of office in 2015 had no assets attached to them while the Buhari administration invested its debts on infrastructure assets. He said the choices at the time were either borrow or increase taxation noting that without any of the choices, the economy would collapse.

Faced with the choices, the Minister said, the administration took the borrowing option and also utilized an expansionist fiscal budget from N18 billion to N260 billion, adding that it thereafter supported the SUKUK and also went to recover some of the monies taken away from this country which today, according to him, “are building Abuja-Kano Highway, Lagos-Ibadan and the nearly completed 2ndNiger Bridge”.

Giving a brief history of the NNPC/FIRS agreement, Fashola, who said that the NNPCL was investing its resources into infrastructure, explained the ideology of the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme as “a new model of partnership with the private sector companies whereby government is saying, “Give me my tax in advance and I will invest it in infrastructure”.

“That model is why all of you are here”, he told the audience consisting of funding agencies and government representatives as well as contractors and newsmen adding that the innovation “shows the clear difference between two different government policies and it shows how they affect your businesses”.

On the 44 roads, Fashola, who explained that many of them have been contracted but without funds to execute them, told the contractors, “This intervention, therefore, is to complete those roads and the NNPCL is providing the fund. And this is the crux; because it means that whether we are here, Buhari is here but is going in the next four months, there is sustainability in the completion of these roads. And they have assured me that when you work to specification, the money is there”.

Noting that there are 21 roads in Phase One of the Scheme covering 1,804.6 kilometres, Fashola explained that there are other interventions by other groups like the Dangote Group, the NLNG Group in Bodo-Bonny, the MTN Group in Enugu-Onitsha Highway and others adding that this represented a very defining moment for the construction industry and allied industries.

The Minister appealed to all the communities encroaching on the right-of-way along the road corridors to vacate the places adding that all the claims for compensation by people who have encroached on such right-of-way would not be honoured while they must quit the encroached places or risk forceful ejection.

“Our right-of-way is 45.75 metres from both sides of the centre line. Many of the people who have built petrol stations and shops are inside our right-of-way. We will not pay compensation to those who have trespassed into our land, so they must leave”, he said appealing, however, that where the government needs right-of-way outside its zone, State governments, Village and Traditional Heads should appeal to their people to allow passage.

Fashola added, “These roads are not taking away your lands rather they are bringing prosperity to you and we expect that in the process of nation building everyone must be ready to contribute something”.

Highlighting the benefits of the revitalized construction industry to the economy, the Minister declared, “We have increased the number of quarrying companies, sand quarrying has also increased from 247 to 302. Granite quarrying companies have also increased from 334 to 655 and those who are quarrying laterite have increased from 108 to 259”.

Describing quarrying as a driver of the construction industry, the Minister who said it is impossible to build roads without laterite and granite, added “And this translates to jobs as we build more quarries. I am sure members of NARTO and NURTW who are here can begin to calculate how many trucks trips and how much income that could bring. I was at their AGM recently and the least they could say is “Business is good”. This is the impact of a policy that is driving the economy”.

The Minister also cautioned the Contractors against variation in the contract noting that the agreement was very specific on the variation. He declared, “So if you are going to ask for variation please opt out and say you cannot carry on with the programme. That is one of the reasons we are signing the agreement; and that is from the investors’ side because they are not factoring in variation”.

He appealed to the financiers for timely payment of certificates for work done adding, “We need to improve the governance side of payment so that when receipts come, payments should not be delayed unnecessarily. Delayed payments increase the chances of variation. So, it is critical now that we also, with dispatch, sign the contracts when we are able, start the work so that we can process all the advance payments”.

He urged the legal department of the Ministry to hasten the preparation of the documents so the agreement could be signed soon adding, “We have just finished our EMBER Months programme so this meeting is very strategic and we should handle it properly. The NNPC and FIRS are ready to go. So, I call on our legal department to accelerate the completion of this agreement.

The Minister also warned the contractors, “Quality must not be compromised; they will have their own consultants. So, if their consultant queries the quality of your job, you don’t get paid. We don’t have the money; they have the money”.

Those who spoke at the event included the Group Managing Director of NNPCL represented by the Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Umar Ajiya, the Chairman of the FIRS, Mr. Mohammed Nami, who all pledged to ensure the success of the Scheme, representatives of the contractors and President of NARTO, President of the NURTW who all hailed the Buhari administration and the Minister for driving the economy positively through massive investment in infrastructure. According to the NARTO President, “This Minister has set a record of achievements”.

FG Commences Phase II of The NNPC Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme  … Intervention will ensure cash flow, steady projects completion - Fashola The Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola has stated that the Federal Executive Council has approved Phase II of the NNPC/ FIRS Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme. The Minister said that the introduction of the NNPC Tax Credit Scheme will ensure the sustainability of funding critical infrastructure in Nigeria Fashola stated this at a press briefing in Abuja where all the stakeholders, including NNPC, FIRS and contractors were in attendance. The Minister noted that contrary to inadequate funding of infrastructure experienced under the past governments, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, has identified alternative sources of funding that could guarantee sustainability from the beginning of the projects to its completion without hitches Accordingly, he explained that the tax credit scheme is a new model that encourages partnership with private companies where taxes are paid in advance to enable the government invest in notable projects that would be beneficial to its citizens like what is going on in the road sectors of the economy. The Minister also mentioned that the Federal Government which has focused on nine major axis of Nigeria, explained that the A1 – A4 axis of the country covers the Northern part of the country, while the A5 - A9 axis covers the East-West zone of the country. He explained that the successful completion of all the roads would lead to sustainable mobility for Nigerians. The roads like Akure – Ado –Ekiti and East-West which people have been complaining about would be adequately catered for with the approval of the second phase of the NNPC Tax Credit Scheme. On payment of compensation, Fashola noted that compensation would not be paid to anyone occupying the government’s right-of-way, saying that the federal government right of way was 5.75 meters on both sides and appealed to members of the communities occupying it to vacate. Earlier, in his introductory remarks, the Permanent Secretary, represented by the Director Overseeing the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Engineer Folunsho Esan, recalled that in line with the Executive Order 7 (2019) approved phase 1 of NNPC/FIRS Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme on the 27th of October 2021. He stated that with the completion of Phase 1, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has also approved phase II of the scheme to fund 44 critical road infrastructures to the tune of N1.96 trillion naira. Speaking further, Esan said that as it was done with phase I, phase II would be governed by a set of guidelines to be issued to each contractor, adding that there would be a funding intervention agreement to be implemented in addition to the standard condition of the contract governing the execution of the projects. He said: “The availability of this new funding window will ensure steady cash flow and a timely completion of projects.” He also stated that the NNPC intervention which began in October 2021 with phase I has now occupied the top of the log with a portfolio well in excess of N2.6 trillion. On the part of NNPC, the Group Managing Director who was represented by the Chief Financial Officer of the Corporation, Umar Aliya said that funding would not be an issue anymore as the Corporation is committed to fully funding phase II. He said: “We are committed to setting aside funds for phase II. Funding would not be a problem. What is important to us is that our consultant will need to validate the value for money and the quality of work. We will not compromise the quality and timely completion of work. “ The NNPC MD further assured of the availability of fund, saying that “there is no need for excuses. As for us on our part, we are committed and we implore the contractors to do quality work and do it on time so that the road projects can be open for use to Nigerians,” On his part, the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services, Mohammed Nami, he commended NNPC for the intervention as well as the contractors for the quality of the job done in phase I of the scheme and assured that the NNPC has the capacity to fund the phase II of the scheme. He explained that most of the roads captured by Executive Order 7 to be executed by NNPC were mostly road projects inherited by the administration of Muhammadu Buhari and they are being fixed by the present administration through the taxes paid by Nigerians “So, we are appealing to Nigerians to trust Executive order 007 so that government will continue to provide the physical infrastructure that our people need. “he said. The representative of the indigenous contractors, Isa Muhammed Gerawa, who spoke in the Hausa language, commended the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for giving equal opportunity to local contractors to execute such contracts. He described the Minister of Works and Housing , Babatunde Fashola as a hardworking and committed Nigerian under whom many dilapidated Nigerian roads have been fixed and a number of single carriageway now dualized. Gerawa also commended the present government for raising the budget of the Works Ministry from N18bn in 2015 to over N200bn, pointing out that it was a clear commitment of the administration’s desire to fix the nation’s road infrastructure for development.
Building Infrastructure Improves the Economy - Fashola Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola has said that the Federal Government has committed so much money into infrastructure to ensure that people reap the benefit of it, saying that without infrastructure businesses cannot grow. Fashola made the remarks at the 23rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) that was held in Abuja. The Minister said road building in the country has improved dredging, granite, laterite and quarry businesses and NARTO is one of the major beneficiaries for moving goods and services during construction works. Fashola advised NARTO to enforce weight regulation from loading point for the safety of our roads and also ensure that their members are professionally trained drivers. In the same vein, the Minister told NARTO to create certification for its members and drivers must be made to maintain speed limit, as well as bringing a stop to the culture of repairing trucks by the roadside, suggesting that workshops or trucks should be created in all states and NARTO divisions across the country. In his remarks, NARTO President, Yusuf Lawal thanked President Buhari for making NARTO part of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Road Task Team that will supervises critical roads being handled by NNPC. Yusuf further disclosed that NARTO has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that its members would observe high level of sincerity and responsibility during and after the conduct of 2023 election while moving election materials around. Mr. Yemi Adetunji who represented NNPC at the event said NARTO was involved in almost all activities of its organization and they are a key player in realizing its objective of contributing to the National economy. He said NNPC is to support government to rehabilitate the road in Nigeria and they would ensure the petrol products is available for people through NARTO. The Corps Marshal of Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) Corps Marshal Dauda Ali said “NARTO has been working with us for a long time and we will always advise them when it is necessary, we worked together to ensure a successful ember months period “ The Representative of Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Godwin Jarikre said “since 2020 we have been collaborating with NARTO for the benefit of Nigerians to ensure safe driving on the road and to ensure bad emission from their trucks are not affecting members of the public. We will advise that drivers look for tools to manage their trucks and NARTO should keep emphasizing on the training, education, medical fitness of drivers to ensure we have good transportation system in the country”.
FG Hands over 2 Kilometre Road to University of Jos. The Federal Government has commissioned and handed over the two-kilometre road rehabilitated by the Federal Ministry of works and Housing to the Management of the University of Jos, Plateau State. At the commissioning ceremony, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola who was represented by the Federal Controller of Works in Plateau State, Engineer Usman Abubakar Majin stated that the gap of the infrastructure need was steadily been bridged by the gradual process of repairs, renewal and construction on major highways and schools. The Minister pointed out that the quality of education is connected with the quality of Infrastructure in an institution of learning.  He said, "It is undebatable that quality of education will be impacted by the quality of infrastructure and the learning environment and those who doubt it should simply listen to some of the feedback from students in the schools where this type of intervention has taken place." Fashola further said," We have successfully intervened in 64 internal road projects in various Federal Tertiary Institutions and handed over a total of 46 as at March, 2022 and we now have another 18 ready to be handed over while we are currently attending to 19 roads in similar institutions across the Country making a total of 83." The Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Tanko Ishaya who was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration, Professor Joshua Amopitan, expressed profound gratitude to the Federal Government for the road rehabilitation, adding that it has brought a lot of relief to the students and staff of the Institution. He said, "The road was in a terrible shape before it was reconstructed, it will not only benefit the students because it leads to the hostel but also our staff and parents who normally come to the institution." The VC added that the vehicular hiccups normally experienced in the University had been drastically reduced due to the current good condition of the road. He further said that the forthcoming 22nd and 23rd convocation of the University will be merrier as a result of the road. The occasion was witnessed by the Registrar, Dr Rejoice Songdem, Director Physical Facilities, Halima Auta, the University Librarian, Dr. Thomas Adigun and other staff of the institution. It was a joyful moment within and around the University community in Jos, Plateau state.
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FUT Minna Gets FG's 1.25 km Road Intervention  

The Intervention Initiative of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in the Internal Roads of Federal Tertiary Institutions Nationwide has reached the Federal University of Technology (FUT) Minna, as a 1.25-kilometer road in the institution got rehabilitated.

The rehabilitated road was handed over to the Management of the University by the Federal Controller of Works Niger State, Engr Moshood Adekunle Samotu on behalf of the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, Friday, January 27, 2023.

In his address, the Minister, Mr Raji Fashola stated that the intervention in the internal roads of tertiary institutions across the country by the federal government is a critical investment in education.

Fashola described the intervention as a critical support and an investment in education.

He explained the need to bridge the infrastructure gap in schools, saying that the government has successfully intervened in 64 internal Road projects in various Federal Tertiary Institutions.

" We have handed over a total of 46 as at March, 2022 and we now have another 18 ready to be handed over, while we are currently attending to 19 roads in similar institutions across the country making a total of 83 ".

Mr. Fashola pointed out that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has stepped up effort in leading the process of getting the work done, pointing that the intervention has contributed to the job creation initiative of the government and disclosed that 30 people had been employed during the road construction in FUT Minna.

In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor, FUT Minna, Professor Faruk Adamu Kuta described the road intervention as laudable and important to the University Community.

Professor Kuta appreciated the Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Raji Fashola for the road intervention in his school, praying that the University should also be considered as a beneficiary when similar intervention is conceived in future.   

In an interview, Dr. Auta Manaissa, Dean Students Affairs said that, the University was experiencing a helpless situation before the intervention and now the entire University community are happy as free access has been facilitated by the road rehabilitation

Testimonies from Students in the University, all pointed out that the rehabilitated 1.25km road had greatly impacted on their learning environment, as free and faster access has now been facilitated for staff and students in the course of carrying out their academic activities

The students that spoke include; Financial Secretary of the Students Union Government (SUG), Aminat Abdulraheem, a student of Agriculture and Bio- Resources; Attah Danladi Mustafa, Student Representative member; Zaccheus Philip Adinoyi, a 200-level student of Mechanic Engineering; and Abdulrahman Khidir Olayinka, a student of Animal Production Technology.

Generally, the students commended the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari for bringing this laudable project to the institution.

Accordingly, the students were of the view that the University needs more of such projects in its permanent site to further fast track its development.

The 1.25 kilometers newly rehabilitated internal road in FUT Minna connects the following buildings in the University; University Clinic; Sports Complex; School of Innovative Technology; Ultra-modern market; Students Hostels (block A-G & H); Hostels Mosque and the University Chapel.

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Religious And Tribal Tolerance: Panacea to Peaceful Co-Existence in Nigeria - The Rev. Euba Example, Being the Text of The First Reverend William Benjamin Euba Memorial Lecture 110th Founders Day Celebration

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to thank you all for the honour of inviting me to speak at this year's Founders Day celebration of the Eko Boys High School and in particular for inaugurating this Memorial lecture in honour of the visionary Reverend William Benjamin Euba now of very blessed memory, who founded this school.

I know that in 1955 when the Premier of the Western Region inaugurated the free primary education program across the western region, the prevailing condition was one of mass illiteracy.

While many of our people are now literate in numeracy and letters, and they can now operate a telephone, this literacy that we have come to take for granted, was unthinkable on any scale in the western region in 1955.  Large numbers of people simply could not put meaning to numbers and letters talk less of reading or writing.

One of the permanent businesses of that time, was that of a professional letter writer. Yes, in case you did not know or you have forgotten that was a business that once thrived in Nigeria and which happily by the vision and execution of Awolowo, is now history, because the monopoly of knowledge by a few has been democratised by the leadership provided by one man and his team.

But my intervention is not about Obafemi Awolowo but rather about William Euba.

But it is important to put matters in context by emphasising how difficult things were in 1955 when Awolowo intervened, which is just 68 years ago.

You can therefore imagine perhaps how much more difficult the Euba era was, back in January 1913 when he opened the doors of Eko Boys High School to the public to get Educated.

That was 110 years ago today and approximately 42 years before free education started; and interestingly, both events occurred in January.

On a lighter note, and for those who have recently been involved in the debate over who is the greatest of all time between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, I do not intend such a debate between Euba and Awolowo.

Rather, I seek to celebrate the farsightedness of their vision about the importance of education and knowledge to nation building, peaceful coexistence and information management for rational choices.

This school, founded by Reverend Euba, and the many more that have come after it have in my view been the glue that has bound our people together in more ways than we have either acknowledged or appreciated.

This is the background to my discussion of the topic of this lecture: Religious and Tribal Tolerance: Panacea to Peaceful Coexistence in Nigeria - The Reverend Euba Example.

The example of Rev. Euba remains iconic because he set up a school that opened its doors to people from all walks of life, in our diverse country.

The importance of this educational tolerance to peaceful coexistence is easy to miss, if we do not understand how strong identities are, and how even more strongly people cling to their tribal, ethnic, and religious identities.

For those who want to delve into the matter of identity more deeply, I recommend, “IDENTITY: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment” by Francis Fukuyama.

But for the purpose of today, it is simply important to stress how strongly those identities magnify our suspicions about one another, inflame myths about others in our minds and expand fault lines that overshadows the common bonds of humanity that we all share.

It is the very early work and initiative of men like Reverend Euba and other missionaries of the time to open access to formal education for African and Nigerian children on a non-discriminatory basis that has helped in no small way to bridge those gaps that are being widened by manipulation of our ethnic and religious diversity.

As I have had cause to argue on occasion, if our creator has demonstrated the capacity to create diversity, certainly nothing could have prevented him from making us all the same other than his infinite wisdom that our diversity would better enrich us and make our planet a more exciting place.

Regrettably this is what a few people (and I insist that they are few) choose to weaponize and deny us of the richness and excitement that the creator intended for us.

Clearly, Reverend Euba saw through their chicanery many years before it matured. He chose education as his weapon to put those few people in their place.

A place of irrelevance and ignominy, supplanted by the training of a large army of young people who have the understanding of both religions, who accept the minor differences between them and who decide to embrace the fundamentals of a common good and a common humanity.

Those young people, by virtue of the opportunity they got to attend the same school, sit in the same classrooms, eat together and participate in sporting activities together have learned that we are not different from one another even if we speak different languages.

Afterall, as Bishop Desmond Tutu of blessed memory argues in his book "God is not a Christian," that the languages we speak and the faith we profess are not divine; on the contrary they are products of where we were born and to whom we were born.

Those accidental circumstances should not define our essence. They should not be points of discord or discontent. Rather they should serve as sources of strength and richness which in fact they are.

It is to the eternal credit of Reverend William Benjamin Euba and others like him that they saw these sources of strength and richness and exposed young men and women to them through education.

This has turned a generation of young men and women into a large army of adults who have overcome religious and ethnic differences to contribute to national good and development.

Permit me to illustrate this phenomenon, by telling you a story that is only one example of many uncountable stories, which keeps the very few peddlers of division in check in our country.

On the 16th day of December 2022, I was invited to the Church Missionary Society (CMS) Grammar School premises to open an e-learning centre at the school premises in Bariga area of Lagos.

The centre had 300 computers, high speed broadband internet, fully equipped IT lab, for students and many other facilities for librarians and teachers. It was not built by the Anglican mission nor was it built by a Christian.

It was built by a Muslim, Senator Olugbenga Bareehu Ashafa, a two-term senator and now the Managing Director of the Federal Housing Authority.

It was built in part because he was an old boy of that school. The Anglican mission did not shut him out about 50 years ago when he sought admission there, on the grounds that he was a Muslim.

On the contrary, they opened their doors to him, and interestingly while still a student, the school gave him a special permission to perform the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca as his parents wished and he returned to complete his education.

As I said, at the occasion, what is a Bareehu doing amongst Anglicans? Only the farsighted vision of missionaries and men like Reverend Euba could have found a place of comfort for a Bareehu amongst Anglicans, and for me a Raji in Eko Boys High School. Yes, I passed through this school for one year.

Ladies and gentlemen, Reverend Euba’s place in Nigeria’s quest for peaceful coexistence is legendary. We cannot thank him enough. May his kind, generous and visionary soul continue to rest in peace and may his example continue to inspire our nation.

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Hon. Minister of Works & Housing and Guest of Honour, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN (middle), Managing Director/CEO, FERMA, Engr. Nurudeen Rafinddadi (left) and National President of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Alhaji Yusuf Lawal Othman (right) during the 23rd Annual General Meeting / Conference of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) at the Sandralia Hotel, Solomon Lar Way, Jabi, Abuja, FCT on Tuesday, 24th January 2023.

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Photo News


Hon. Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN (right), Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Muhammad Nami (middle), and Representative of the Group Managing Director and Chief Finance Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mr Umar Ajiya (left) during the Press Briefing on the 44 Critical Roads Funded by the NNPC through the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Tax Credit Scheme (Phase II) at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Works and Housing Headquarters, Mabushi, Abuja on Tuesday, 31st January 2023.

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