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...Approves New Tourism Identity

The Federal Executive Council (FEC), has approved the establishment of three new federal universities in three states.

The new institutions will be sited in Gashua (Yobe); Birnin Kebbi (Kebbi) and Gusau (Zamfara), thus fulfilling government's pledge in 2012 to build a federal university in every state of the Federation.

Similarly, President Goodluck Jonathan who presided over the first meeting for the year, has given matching orders to all ministers to hasten the completion of all projects for commissioning later in the year.

Also FEC has approved a new tourism brand identity for Nigeria which was presented to the council by the Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Edem Duke.

Addressing journalists, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, alongside his counterparts in Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa'i, and Culture, Tourism and National Orientation said, with the establishment of a federal university in each state of the federation, the issue where only 10 per cent of school leavers get admission into higher institutions nationwide, will now be a thing of the past.

Speaking on the benefit of siting one federal university in each state of the federation, Rufa'i disclosed that about 1.3 million school leavers seek entrance to higher institutions every year in the country, yet not up to 200,000 spaces are available in existing institutions.

She added that eight out of the nine federal universities approved in 2012 have already taken off and done matriculation, except the one in Otuoke, Bayelsa state, which takes off fully next month after delay caused by the floods.

Rufa'i said skeletal services are to start as soon as possible in the new universities and that academic work should start by 2014/2015 academic year.

The establishment of the new universities complement efforts being made by the federal government towards tackling educational challenges at all tiers in the country, from almajiri schools to post primary institutions.

The Council also approve  a new tourism brand identity for Nigeria.

According to Duke,  the policy which seeks to give priority attention to exploiting Nigeria's tourism potentials, was favourably received by the President and other cabinet members.

The new policy he further said got the nod of the president; adding that the president also commended the contributions of the creative industry to national development, and opportunity for expression of bountiful youthful talents.

"Mr President gave us a marching order to work harder, faster and deliver results. He said we must all buckle up and make sure all our agencies deliver results. Last year was very good for the country, by the grace of God Nigerians will see greater results this year."

The policy includes evolution of retail destinations with the hospitality sector properly dove-tailing into tourism.

Duke also hinted that health tourism will be promoted also, adding that the council approved new campaign adverts to showcase Nigeria's tourism potentials.

Maku also disclosed that President Jonathan started the meeting by giving marching orders to work harder and faster in 2013 to deliver results.

He said while the President acknowledged the good work done in last one and half years, he however warned the ministers not to take anything for granted as there is need to consolidate on the foundation laid since last year.

"Mr President gave us a marching order to work harder, faster and deliver results. He said we must all buckle up and make sure all our agencies deliver results. Last year was very good for the country, by the grace of God Nigerians will see greater results this year.

"We should begin to commission some of the key power projects this year, going forward we are expecting greater activities. We are looking forward to greater synergies, we re looking forward to greater results this year. All is set for greater performance for government in the year 2013".

Maku also noted that the president acknowledged that a lot of work has been done in key sectors and hence warned against complacency, cautioning ministers not to take anything for granted.

The minister also listed some areas where the government had done well which include transport sector where petroleum products are now conveyed by rail from Lagos to Kano.

He also assured that other routes will commence operation this year, which according to him will lead to greater activities.

Maku further hinted that in the area of power, the objective is to begin commissioning of most power projects.

In the area of Agriculture, he said the president demanded for improved strategising.

"These are Mr. President's instruction and I can assure you that the ministers are ready for work," he said.

He added that the Ministers in turn re-committed themselves to consolidate on the results recorded since the beginning of the administration.

Maku also assured that once the budget is passed anytime this month, the government will have the opportunity of 12 months implementation cycle.

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