Posted by From Madu Onuorah, Abuja on
FOR three hours yesterday, the National Council of State held its first meeting this year at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.....
FOR three hours yesterday, the National Council of State held its first meeting this year at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
When the council, an umbrella body of the nation's former heads of states, governors and former Chief Justices of Nigeria among others rose, it endorsed the Federal Government's plans for the take-off of the new railway development package with the Lagos-Kano rail line as priority.
The council meeting chaired by President Olusegun Obasanjo also endorsed plans by the Federal Government to institute a federal teachers scheme. Under it, government is expected to address the apparent decline in the quality of teachers in partnership with other stakeholders in the system.
The council also backed a programme for the restoration of the image and integrity of the country under the Heart of Africa programme of the Ministry of Information and National Orientation; the contributory pension scheme known as pension reforms and the new power plants to be sited around the country.
The meeting was attended by three former heads of state: Shehu Shagari, Abdulsalami Abubakar and Ernest Shonekan, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, 17 states governors and several deputy governors.
According to the Cross Rivers State governor, Donald Duke, who co-ordinated the press briefing after the meeting, the council approved the President's appointments to positions in the National Judicial Council and the National Population Commission.
On the railway projects, the Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi, explained that government would tap from a 2.5 billion U.S. dollar loan from the Chinese government to undertake the first phase of the railway programme, which will cover the Kano-Lagos route.
According to Makarfi, the rail line will be expected to run at not less than 150 kilometres per hour, adding that other parts of the country will be covered in four years.
Makarfi said discussions on the new power projects were fruitful, adding that award of contracts for the Mambilla power project would soon be awarded.
The power station is to be the largest in the country with a contribution of about 2000 megawatts of electricity to the national grid.
Others who joined in the briefing session were the Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Dr. Osita Ogbu, Minister of Education, Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili and her Information and National Orientation counterpart, Mr. Frank Nweke.
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