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NSE moves 301.56m shares worth N4.99bn

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NSE
NSE

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Friday moved 310.56 million shares worth N4.99 billion in 2,825 deals. News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that this was against 147.09 million shares valued at N2.89 billion traded in 2,347 deals on Thursday.

Guaranty Trust Bank dominated trading activities with 75.22 million shares worth N1.98 billion.

It was trailed by Flour Mills with an account of 69.07 million shares valued at N1.04 billion, while Fidelity Bank sold 25.49 million shares worth N42.77 million.

United Bank for Africa accounted for 20.57 million shares valued at N119.06 million.

However, the crucial market indicators recorded marginal loss, dropping by 0.03 per cent.

Specifically, the All-Share Index which opened at 26,456.29 dipped 7.67 points or 0.03 per cent to close at 26,448.62.

Similarly, the market capitlaisation lost three billion to close at N12.875 trillion compared with N12.878 trillion.

PZ recorded the highest loss, dropping by 60k to N5.55 per share.

Vitafoam trailed with a loss of 38k to close at N3.52, while Guaranty Trust Bank was down by 35k to close at N26.30 per share.

UACN lost 30k to close at N6.40, while Zenith Bank declined by 25k to close at N17.45 per share.

Conversely, MTN led the gainers’ table, gaining N1 to close at N130 per share.

Custodian and Allied Investment followed with a gain of 55k to close at N6.20, while Oando garnered 9k to close at 3.50 per share.

Consolidated Hallmark Insurance appreciated by 3k to close at 33k, while AIICO added 2k to close at 66k per share. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 19:09 GMT |

Kogi Dep. Gov. Achuba impeached

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Simon Achuba
Simon Achuba

The Deputy Governor of Kogi, Mr Simon Achuba, has been impeached. Achuba was impeached by members of the Kogi State House of Assembly on Friday in Lokoja, the state capital.

He was impeached by the House of Assembly shortly after it received report of a judicial panel of enquiry set up by the Kogi State Chief Judge Justice Nasir Ajanah.

House Leader, Hassan Bello Abdulahi, representing Ajaokuta state constituency, said Achuba was impeached following consideration of the report of the John Bayeshea-led committee.

Abdulahi said that the report was accepted with lawmakers unanimously agreeing to impeach Achuba and “he therefore stands impeached.”

The committee, which was inaugurated on Aug. 26, probed allegations of gross misconduct leveled against the Deputy Governor.

Achuba had accused Gov. Yahaya Bello of withholding his salaries and allowances since 2017, but the government dismissed the allegation as untrue during hearing by the committee. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 19:05 GMT |

APC in Edo suspends Secretary

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APC
APC

The Edo chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) has suspended its Secretary, Mr Lawrence Okah.

Okah’s suspension was contained in a letter signed by Mr Anselm Ojezua, the state Chairman of the party and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin on Friday.

According to Ojezua, the secretary was suspended, following complaints by members of the party in Oredo Local Government Area where the secretary was a leader.

He also explained that the suspension was not a punitive measure, but purely an administrative one to allow investigation to be carried out into the complaints.

“He was just suspended to allow the committee set up to look at the complaints against him.

“We have not expelled him and the suspension is not punitive. It is just a normal administrative procedure,” he said.

When contacted, Okah confirmed the suspension, but said that the state chairman, going by the party’s constitution, had no power to suspend him.

Leaders and members of the APC in Ward 7 Oredo have been locked in fierce supremacy battle over the control of the party structure.

The state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, belongs to the ward. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 18:59 GMT |

Minimum Wage: Nigerians should brace up for more taxes

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NLC
NLC

The apparent gain from the resolution of the crisis over the new minimum wage is the fact that the nation has been saved from another nationwide strike that would have further crippled the struggling economy. For the workers, it is yet another season of high inflation rate, more taxes and high food prices that will soon lead to another cycle of agitations for salary review

By Anayo Ezugwu

TO avert a nationwide industrial action in the country, the federal government and the organised labour have reached an agreement on the consequential adjustments of the implementation of the new minimum wage. Both parties agreed that the new wage was a national law and must be obeyed by all tiers of government.

The federal government and labour in a communiqué issued at the end of the negotiations and signed by all the parties after the marathon meeting which began on Tuesday, October 15, agreed that workers on the COMESS wage structure Grade level 7 will get 23 percent, salary grade level 8 gets 20 percent, salary grade level 9 gets 19 percent, salary grade level 10-14 gets 16 percent while salary grade level 15-17 gets 14 percent.

For those on the second category of wages structure, CONHES, CONRRISE, CONTISS etc, Level 7 gets 22.2 percent, Level 8-14 gets 16 percent, Level 15-17 gets 10.5 percent. Confirming the agreement, Chris Ngige, minister of labour and employment, said the essence of that law was for the president to lift the vulnerable working force both in the private and public service.

“This is a national law and it must be obeyed by all; state government, local government and all persons concerned that employ more than 25 persons in their organisation. We have decided to fast tract discussions. We are fast tracking it because we need to put an end to the issue of minimum wage till the next five years, when it will arise again.

Ngige
Ngige

“We need to finalise this today, the suspense is too much for the people. Even your constituency- workers, if we don’t conclude today, they will be thinking otherwise. They will start thinking that you have been compromised, even the government side, if we don’t conclude today, they will start saying you people are influencing us.

“This negotiation should be, in the spirit of give and take, in the spirit of one nation, end this thing. If we decide to empty the purse so that the nation will go broke, it will affect all of us. If we do give and take, look at government purse and know that this purse has been badly depleted, make some concession, it will be in the interest of Nigeria,” he said.

On his part, Ayuba Wabba, president, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, said the organised labour would continue to be open minded and would keep up with the principles of collective bargaining. “We on this side of the table are ready to ensure that we bring the entire process to a conclusion.

“In the normal practice of Collective Bargaining, you look at issues from both sides, you look at the situation with workers, vis a viz their pockets and what will make the workers happy and very productive. If wishes were horses, we would have wished that this entire negotiation was concluded yesterday.”

Disagreement over how the new minimum wage law signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in April would be implemented had lingered for months, with the organised labour threatening to go on strike. The disagreement had centred on the consequential adjustments in salaries that must be implemented across board in line with the new minimum wage law.

Labour was demanding a 29 percent salary increase for officers on salary level 07 to 14, and 24 percent adjustment for officers on salary grade level 15 to 17. But the federal government offered 11 percent salary increase for officers on grade level 07 to 14, and 6.5 percent adjustment for workers on grade level 15 to 17.

Now that the federal government and labour have reached an agreement on the new wage, it is pertinent to note that the workers and indeed all Nigerians would now have to face the enormous taxes ahead. Since the signing of the new minimum wage law in April, the government has kept proposing one form of taxation or the other and the list is gradually becoming endless.

From January 1, 2020, civil servants and Nigerians in general are expected to pay new electricity tariff to be decided by the government. The Value Added Tax, VAT, has been jerked up from five percent to 7.5 percent, while the Senate is considering a communication services tax that will lead to additional charges on calls, SMS, data and cable TV services. The bill has already passed first reading in the Senate.

The federal government may likely generate about N261 billion a year from the proposed Communications Service Tax when it is passed into law. The bill, which is sponsored by Senator Ali Ndume from Borno South, aims to charge nine percent on communication services and pay-per-view TV services.

Wabba
Wabba

Ndume, while defending the bill, said it was a way of getting more from the rich to use same for the development of the country. He stated that the bill, which had passed the first reading in the Senate, would impose levies on electronic communication services like voice calls, SMS, data usage – both from telecommunication services providers and internet service providers and pay-per-view TV services.

Likewise, Babatunde Fashola minister of works and housing recently hinted that tollgates could soon return to some federal roads across the country. And the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, is proposing that Nigerians would pay to renew their National Identity Card. NIMC said the renewal of the National Identity Card will cost N3,000 payable through remita as well as N5,000 for card replacement.

But that is not all. The federal government is considering introducing excise duties on carbonated drinks. Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, said the idea was one of other areas, besides the proposed increase in VAT, that the government was looking at to broaden its revenue base.

In this case, the minister is proposing that Nigerians would have to pay excise duty that would be decided by the government for drinking carbonated drinks such as Coca Cola, Sprite, Fanta, Pepesi, 7Up, Big Cola among others.

As Nigerians celebrate with the workers on their new minimum wage consequential adjustments victory, analysts are of the opinion that the new sources of revenue generation being proposed by the federal government will certainly drain the already overtaxed Nigerians. They are also worried that with all the proposed means of taxing Nigerians, the new minimum wage may not have any positive impact on the workers.

The federal government has also alluded to the fact that the new wage would increase the government’s wage bill by N500 billion. Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, revealed that the federal government’s personnel cost rose by 18.5 percent to N1.85 trillion as the minimum wage was increased from N7,500 to N18,000 in 2011, thus accounting for 52 percent of government’s retained revenue.

By 2016 personnel spending had gulped about 59 percent of federal government’s N3.2 trillion revenue and is now projected to enlarge to N2.29 trillion in 2019. While the federal government is faced with this stern burden of incorporating the new wage bill into its already strained finances, states face a more severe test given the recurring struggles to pay salaries.

The increased burden may leave the governments with no choice than to increase borrowing to settle personnel costs, causing a devastating swing on the country’s high debt profile. As the government strategises on how to meet its obligations, experts have advised them to increase productivity in order to finance the new wage.

Ahmed Zainab
Ahmed Zainab

Johnson Chukwu, managing director, Cowry Asset Management Limited, said unless government increases productivity, they will struggle to pay the new minimum wage. “Both the federal government and the states will struggle to pay the new minimum wage giving that most of them are finding it difficult to pay salary regularly and meet their wage bills.

“So any increase in the current wage bills could impose additional higher burden on the government. So with this minimum wage, we will see more unpaid arrears of salaries lead to workers dissatisfaction and possibly industrial actions. It is not enough to pass the bill, but the government must make provisions on the payments,” he said.

Also, Chukwu believes that the new minimum wage will also lead to increase in currency in circulations. He said that if the new wage would lead to increase in demand and consumption that would spur the economy. “On the positive side, the new minimum wage will inject more liquidity into the hands of consumers, which will lead to increase in aggregate demand and consumption. It is also expected to spur higher level of economic activities.”

On his part, Osaze Omoragbon, an economist, is concerned that many states will find it difficult to pay the wage. He also alluded to the fact that new wage will definitely lead to inflation, noting that the wage will increase the cost of living in the country and possibly push more people into poverty.

“The problem is that if you pay minimum wage today, many states would not be able to pay the wage. And for those like the federal government that can pay, you will see that cost of living will increase because the market women will tell you that they have increased your salary. Likewise the landlords and transporters will do the same and at the end of the day, we are back to square one.

“Although your money has increased nominally, but the effect of it has not improved. It might increase inflation and of course the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, will come down on us with stiffer measures to control it. So at the end of the day we are back to square one,” he said.

Uche Uwaleke, professor of Finance and Capital Market, said the planned hike in the VAT to fund the new minimum wage would end up being counterproductive, raising concern that it would lead to higher cost of goods in the country. He said in 2011, when the minimum wage was increased from N7,500 to N18,000, average inflation rate actually dropped from 13.7 percent the previous year  to 10.8 percent.

Uwaleke argued that “if a new minimum wage can only be implemented by increasing taxes, then it simply amounts to digging a hole to fill another one as the associated hike in the cost of goods and services will erode the purchasing power of any increase in wages.

“In theory, businesses are forced to raise prices when there is an increase in minimum wage, and this ultimately places cost-push inflationary pressures on the economy. Real business practices conform to this theory. A strategic attempt to absorb increasing labour costs tend to cause producers to transfer the cost of wage increase to product prices, which are eventually borne by consumers in form of higher prices.

“For instance, in 2003 when the government reviewed the wage upward, prices of goods and services rose, and inflation rate spiked from about 10.5 percent to as high as 24 percent. A similar wage increase in 2011 saw the inflation rate remaining at double digit for two years thereafter, according to data from the CBN.

“In the same manner, the 2019 wage increase has the potential of causing inflation rate to extensively exceed the CBN’s 12 percent projection and gradually eroding purchasing power and value of the new minimum wage in the long run. By then, the cycle of agitations for another wage raise may come into effect, yet again,” he said.

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 18:55 GMT |

Secondus condoles with victims of Onitsha market inferno

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Uche Secondus
Uche Secondus

The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Uche Secondus has commiserated with the victims of Wednesday’s fire outbreak in Ochanja Market, Onitsha, Anambra.

Secondus in a statement issued by his Media Aide, Mr Ike Abonyi on Friday in Abuja, described the fire incident that led to loss of lives and property as unfortunate.

He commiserated with the traders and the families of those who lost their beloved ones and properties in the inferno.

Secondus urged all relevant authorities within and outside the state to investigate the cause of the fire with a view to averting future occurrence.

He advised the nation’s fire service and relevant security and emergency agencies to review their strategies to pro-actively prevent wastages and needless loss of innocent lives from such disasters.

Secondus urged federal and Anambra state governments as well as cooperate organisations to assist the victims by donating relieve materials to the victims.(NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 18:45 GMT |

Minimum wage: NECA commends FG, Labour for embracing dialogue

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Timothy Olawale
Timothy Olawale

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has lauded the Federal Government and labour leaders for embracing dialogue in resolving issue of consequential adjustment of the new minimum wage.

The NECA Director-General, Mr Timothy Olawale, on Friday in Lagos, also lauded both parties for averting the industrial action.

The New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the government and the organised labour had on Oct. 17 reached an agreement over the new minimum wage.

Disagreement over how the new minimum wage law signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in April would be implemented had lingered for months with the organised labour threatening to go on strike.

The parties at end the joint meeting agreed on the following adjustment: GL 7, 23.2 per cent; GL 8, 20 per cent; GL 9, 19 per cent; GL 10 to14, 16 per cent, and GL 15 to17, 14 per cent.

Olawale said: “The fact that the government and organised labour embraced social dialogue in resolving issue of minimum wage consequential adjustment in the public sector, rather than embarking on strike is commendable.

”It is a veritable learning point for our industrial relations system and good precedent to build upon in future.”

He urged the government to abide by its contents, pointing to the fact that the new National Minimum Wage was signed into law in April 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The director-general said that implementation of the consequential adjustment would definitely improve the purchasing powers of Nigerian workers.

“Organised labour also needs to roll up their sleeves for improved productivity, as the nation needs all hands to be on deck to come out of the present economic challenges.

“The time is ripe to ensure and align reward system with productivity in the workplace, and this should be applicable in both the private and public sectors in the country, ” he said.

Olawale said that the national minimum wage mechanism was not for a general salary review, but a process to fix an amount below which no employer should pay its least paid workers.

“There are mechanisms in the private sector, which allow for salary review on periodic basis and this has stabilised the sector.

“The employers in the private sector should not pay below the N30,000 national minimum wage.

“I urge all parties in Industrial Relations process to maximise the provisions of the law, especially the conflict resolution machineries rather than industrial actions,” he said. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 18:45 GMT |

No part of Ogun ‘ll be marginalised in resource administration – Abiodun

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Dapo Abiodun
Dapo Abiodun

Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, on Friday, assured the citizens that no part of the state would be marginalised in the administration of the state’s resources.

The governor also pledged all-inclusive and participatory governance during his tenure.

He gave the assurance in Abeokuta at a town hall meeting held to take inputs from the people of Ogun Central Senatorial district, ahead of the preparation for the 2020 budget.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that similar meetings had earlier been held in Ijebu-Ode and Ilaro to seek the opinions of the people of Ogun East and Ogun West senatorial districts respectively, on the budget.

Abiodun said that his administration would be ingenious, creative and balanced in the administration of resources to achieve balanced growth and development of all parts of the state.

He described the approach adopted by his administration as “more inclusive’’.

The governor added that it was a departure from the usual past practice of gathering all the people of the state in just one senatorial district to seek their views.

Recalling the two previous town hall meetings, Abiodun said “the feedback from the people had proven to him that there was no better way of watering the seed of participatory democracy than through the civic engagement of the people”.

He also assured that his administration would not abandon any project inherited from the previous administration so far as such projects were relevant and would impact positively on the lives of the people of the state.

“We are fully committed to the ideals of the principles of democracy and good governance, through promotion of equal participation and creation of good environment to enhance the living standard of the people of Ogun,” he said.

Abiodun also gave assurance that his budget team would carefully consider the views of the people in the preparation of the budget.

He also seized the opportunity of the meeting to roll out his achievements so far in the areas of security, health, education, employment generation and housing, among others.

Representatives of the people of the district, who had earlier spoken in turn, stressed the need for improvement of road infrastructure as well as extension of dividends of democracy to their respective areas. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 18:42 GMT |

Buhari congratulates Sir Adebutu, family on chieftaincy conferment

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Sir Kensington Adebukunola Adebutu
Sir Kensington Adebukunola Adebutu

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Sir Kensington Adebukunola Adebutu on conferment of the title ‘‘Odole –Oodua’’, by His Imperial Majesty, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Arole Oodua – Ojaja II.

The president’s congratulatory message is contained in a statement by Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, in Abuja on Friday.

Buhari felicitated with family members, friends and business associates of Sir Adebutu for the title, which was held in the past by Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

He urged Adebutu to keep up the good work that heralded such a worthy recognition.

The President greeted wives of the businessman, Dame Caroline Oladunni Adebutu and Yeye Kofoworola Adebutu, who are also conferred with titles, “Yeyemode-Oodua’’ and “Yeyerewa-Oodua,’’ respectively.

He also commended Adebutu for setting up a “foundation that caters for the weak and vulnerable, and for his adventurous spirit of delving into unattractive ventures and turning them into areas of employment and profitable careers’’.

President Buhari wished Adebutu and his family more wisdom and good health to continue the good work. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 18:39 GMT |

Police arrest suspected serial killer in Osun

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Police
Police

The Osun Police Command has arrested one Teslim Raji, also known as Akerele, and his accomplice, Femi Bamidele for alleged serial killings, kidnappings and gun running, within the Ikire axis of the state.

The state Commissioner of Police, Mrs Abiodun Ige, while parading the suspects in Osogbo, said the main suspect, Raji, was arrested after series of complaints by residents.

She said Raji, who is being investigated for the crime, was arrested last year, charged to court and granted bail but later jumped bail.

She said after jumping bail, the suspect still went ahead to kill someone and that since then the police had been on his trail.

“His conspirator was arrested earlier when our officer went to his house and one of his boys tried to escape,” she said.

Ige said the command also raided a shrine in Osogbo allegedly being used by fraudsters to defraud unsuspecting members of the public.

The commissioner said during the raid a suspected fraudster, Fatai Olanrewaju, was arrested.

She said the raid on the shrine followed a complaint from a woman that she was duped by the suspect.

“The woman said the suspect had been collecting money under the guise that he was helping her.

“You can imagine the number of people who would have fell victims of his activities and the money rituals that would have been done here,” she said

The police boss, however, said all the suspects would be charged to court after the conclusion of investigation. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 18:35 GMT |

Adulterated palm oil: EFCC arrests, hands over 26 suspects to NAFDAC

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Seized items
Seized items

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Gombe Zonal Office, has arrested 26 suspects for allegedly adulterating palm oil, and handed them over to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Mr Michael Wetkas, the Head of Operations in the zone, said while handing over the suspects to NAFDAC in Gombe on Friday, that the suspects were apprehended at Gombe Main Market.

Wetkas said the arrest was based on surveillance report, which according to him, prompted the commission to carry out an investigation in that regard.

He said that 32 shops were closed down while the suspects and the substance seized were being handed over to NAFDAC for further investigation in line with its mandate.

While urging the members of the public to always be at alert and report all fraudulent acts to concerned authorities, Wetkas warned those in the act to desist from it.

According to him, the EFCC will carry out more surveillance to check all fraudulent activities in the zone.

He said: “I am handing over 26 suspects for the alleged offence with the 32 shops sealed to NAFDAC who is in charge of food safety for further action.”

Receiving the suspects, Mr Laras Jatau, NAFDAC’s Assistant Chief Regulatory Officer, Gombe State Office, thanked the EFCC, adding that the agency’s collaboration with other security agencies had been yielding positive results.

Jatau expressed shock over the number of arrested suspects, adding “not long ago, we carried out sensitisation in the same market against adulterated palm oil, yet see what has happened.

“Those who go to the market to innocently purchase food to nourish their bodies will end up getting hazardous substance; this is a crime against humanity,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a team of EFCC and NAFDAC officials led journalists to Gombe Main Market where the suspects were caught.

Also, sellers and buyers were also sensitised by the EFCC on the need to report illegal activities that posed health risk to Nigerians to relevant authorities. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 18:35 GMT |

Kogi Poll: Igala Association declares support for Wada

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Musa Wada
Musa Wada

The Igala Cultural and Development Association (ICDA) has declared its support for Mr Musa Wada, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Nov. 16, Kogi governorship election.

ICDA made the declaration in a communiqué issued in Lokoja on Friday, at the end of a meeting between its executives and some stakeholders.

The communiqué was signed by acting President of the association, Mr Shaibu Mohammed and secretary, Mr Saba Alex-Amuda.

ICDA said its decision to support Wada was informed by what it called poor performance of incumbent Gov. Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

It said that the inability of the State Government to pay salaries and pensions regularly had done monumental damage to the people of the state.

“Civil servants salaries and pension of retirees have not been paid regularly nor in full in spite of unprecedented huge financial allocations, bailouts, Paris Club refunds and other loans obtained from financial institutions.

“These are different from funds generated by board of internal revenue that the state got and wasted in four years, ” the association said.

ICDA insisted that Nov. 16, election should be free and fair.

It therefore appealed to indigenes and well-meaning people to follow the resolution by voting for Wada on Nov. 16 in the overall interest of the state and the people. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 18:32 GMT |

Bulgaria manager resigns after racist taunts at England match

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Krasimir Balakov
Krasimir Balakov

Bulgaria’s Krasimir Balakov resigned as coach of the Bulgarian national football team on Friday, drawing the consequences from a racism scandal engulfing his squad.

“I said that if I’m the problem with Bulgarian football, I won’t think about it for a minute and submit my resignation,’’ state television quoted him as saying.

In the Euro 2020 qualifier against England on Monday, black English players were subjected to racist abuse, with fans making monkey noises and some giving Nazi salutes.

Bulgaria lost 6-0 to England and has no chance of participating in the 2020 finals.

Balakov had originally said he didn’t hear any chanting and had accused England of having more problems with racism than Bulgaria.

He later backtracked and apologised. The entire executive committee of the Bulgarian Football Federation (BFS) also resigned. The association is facing harsh sanctions from the European football union UEFA.

Police later arrested several of the alleged perpetrators. An 18-year-old Bulgarian remains in custody. (dpa/NAN)

 – Oct 18, 2019 @ 18:29 GMT |

Nwodo calls for urgent action to quench Ochanja, Onitsha market fire

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Nwodo
Nwodo

The President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, has called on relevant agencies to help quench the fire still burning at a section of Ochanja Market, Onitsha.

Nwodo, a former Information Minister, made the call when he led other chieftains of Ohaneze on a sympathy visit to the leadership of Ochanja Market Traders in Onitsha on Friday.

Said he: “I came here to condole with the leadership of Ochanja over the death of some traders after last Wednesday’s fire disaster and to sympathise with those whose shops were affected.

“But, seeing that the fire is still burning up till this 2.30pm that I am here is very sad and I am so much pained,” he said.

Nwodo who called on the state government and other relevant agencies to step up action towards quenching the fire said the situation might still lead to more disaster.

He appealed to the federal and state governments as well as corporate bodies and privileged Nigerians to come to the aid of the victims.

Nwodo equally advised the leadership of the market and the victims to patiently follow state government’s directives on the matter.

“What happened is very regrettable, it is a disaster and anybody could be caught in the web so those affected must take things calmly,” he said.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that flames of fire were still bellowing at No.54 Amobi street, Ochanja, housing the Angel Plaza, between 2.30pm and 3.30pm when Nwodo visited.

Mr Nelson Ojukwu, President Ochanja Market Onitsha Central Union, thanked Nwodo for visiting the market at the time they (traders and residents) were grieving. (NAN)

 – Oct 18, 2019 @ 18:25 GMT |

Bayelsa APC guber primaries: Court fixes Nov. 4 for hearing of Lokpobiri’s suit

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Heineken Lokpobiri
Heineken Lokpobiri

A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, on Friday, fixed Nov. 4 for commencement of hearing in a suit filed by Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri challenging the governorship primaries conducted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Sept. 4.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lokpobiri had approached the court, challenging the emergence of Mr David Lyon as the APC governorship candidate in the state.

He sought for an order of the court to abridge the mandatory period for respondents in the suit from 21 day to seven days, and for an accelerated hearing of the case.

Listed as respondents in the case are the APC, Lyon and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Lokpobiri had claimed that he won the Sept. 4 governorship primaries conducted by the APC, using the direct primary mode.

Counsel to Lokpobiri , Mr F. B. Olorogun, had in his argument on the motion on notice, urged the court to expedite the hearing, as the governorship election , which was central to the litigation, had been scheduled for Nov. 16.

However, Counsel to APC, Mr Sydney Ibanichuka, submitted that although the election had been fixed, the respondents were entitled to exhausting the 21-day time window allowed by the rules of the court to respond to the plaintiff’s claims.

Ruling on the motion, Justice Jane Inyang noted that although time was of essence in the substantive case, the principle of fair hearing demanded that the respondents be given reasonable time within her discretion to respond.

Inyang, therefore, abridged the 21-day time frame for the respondents to file response to 14 days and adjourned till Nov 4 for hearing.

“In view of all the circumstances and the time frame, I have, in the exercise of my discretionary powers to abridge the time required for parties to respond to motions and applications, which must be judiciously exercised, abridged the time to 14 days.

“I have also resolved that all pending motions will be consolidated and dealt with and that the substantive suit will be death with.

“So the next adjourned date is a day of reckoning,” Inyang said.

NAN reports that the aspirants, who participated in the Sept 4 APC governorship primaries in the state, included Lokpobiri, Aganaba Steven, Ebitimi Amgbare, Diseye Poweigha, David Lyon and Ongoebi Etebu.

NAN also reports that a former Cross River Resident Electoral Commissioner, Briyai Frankland, was disqualified. (NAN)

 – Oct 18, 2019 @ 18:20 GMT |

ExxonMobil expands low-emissions technology research with Universities in India

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Vijay Swarup
Vijay Swarup

By Anayo Ezugwu

TO further expand its extensive portfolio of research collaboration with India’s universities, ExxonMobil has signed agreements with the Indian Institute of Technology locations in Madras and Bombay. The five-year agreements will focus on progressing research in biofuels and bio-products.

The agreement will also target gas transport and conversion, climate and environment, and low-emissions technologies for the power and industrial sectors. The agreements will partner the institutes’ areas of expertise with ExxonMobil’s research.

These collaborations are recent additions to a series of partnerships ExxonMobil has established to progress innovative, lower-emissions research programmes with more than 80 universities, five energy centres and multiple private sector partners. The company has spent $10 billion since 2000 developing and deploying lower-emissions energy solutions.

Vijay Swarup, vice president, research and development at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, said these agreements would give the company a better understanding of how to progress and apply technologies in India. He said it will also enable them to develop breakthrough lower-emissions solutions that can make a difference globally.

Indian Institute of Technology, IIT Madras is a public engineering institute located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and has been ranked as India’s top engineering institute for the fourth consecutive year by India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development. IIT Bombay is a public engineering institute located in Powai, Mumbai and is widely recognized as a leader in engineering, education and research. The IIT system has 23 institutes, each of which is autonomous and linked through a common council, which oversees their administration.

Professor Ravindra Gettu, dean of industrial consultancy and sponsored research of IIT Madras, said IIT Madras is committed to providing sustainable solutions in the energy, chemicals and waste management sectors. “I am confident about our collaboration with ExxonMobil to achieve these goals,” he said.

On his part, Professor Milind Atrey, dean of research and development at IIT Bombay said IIT Bombay values its relationship with ExxonMobil and the cause associated with it. “We are sure that this relationship will be long lasting and yield fruitful results,” he said.

Recently, ExxonMobil conducted a joint study with IIT Bombay and the Council for Energy, Environment and Water, a leading India-based think-tank, focusing on the life cycle greenhouse gas, GHG, emissions associated with India’s power sector. The study looked at India’s projected electricity demand growth over the next 20 to 30 years and compared emissions associated with power generated by domestic coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG) imported from the United States. It found that, on average, life cycle GHG emissions from LNG imported into India are approximately 54 percent lower than those associated with India coal.

ExxonMobil, the largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, uses technology and innovation to help meet the world’s growing energy needs. ExxonMobil holds an industry-leading inventory of resources, is one of the largest refiners and marketers of petroleum products, and its chemical company is one of the largest in the world.

 – Oct 18, 2019 @ 17:49 GMT |

Total E&P supports 50,000 students in Nigeria

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Nicholas Terraz
Nicholas Terraz

By Anayo Ezugwu

AS part of its continuous support to education in Nigeria, more than 50,000 students have benefited from Total E&P Nigeria Limited. Vincent Nnadi, executive general manager, social corporate responsibility, CSR, and medical services, Total has identified several commitments as priorities for social welfare, with education ranking at the top of the list.

Speaking at a media interaction in Lagos while highlighting the company’s efforts in contribution to its host communities through CSR, Nnadi said the company was supporting numerous programmes relating to education. “The company is currently focused on education and capacity building through its CSR, adding that Total had also invested in the six geo-political zones of the country under its CSR initiatives.

Nnadi said the company had invested more than $40 million annually on CSR, while assuring that it would invest more when the economy is stable. He said the education scholarships cut across post primary, post-secondary which include 80 tertiary institutions recognised by the National Universities’ Commission, NUC, as well as post-graduate in local and foreign universities.

He also said the scheme in three categories included National Merit Scheme, Community Scheme and International Scholarship. Nnadi explained that the National Merit Scheme had over 4,000 beneficiaries and the Community Scheme with over 5, 000 beneficiaries, both annually.

According to him, the scheme which is regarded as ‘Catch them Young’ programme allows bright pupils to be identified in primary schools in rural communities and placed in the best secondary schools in Port Harcourt under the sponsorship. Others, Nnadi noted, were the NYSC Scheme where graduates in their national service were engaged and posted to secondary school in the host communities to teach science subjects.

Nnadi said the company also had a Teachers Programme where science teachers were paid incentive in the host communities to motivate them, while workshops and training programmes were also organised to improve their techniques. He stressed that Total had also undertaken the construction of lecture theatres, classrooms, hostel blocks, renovation of schools, amongst others.

According to him, the company has a strategic and reliable partner throughout the entire value chain in downstream, upstream and midstream sectors of the Nigerian economy. He said Total as the 4th largest and gas producing company with 3000 employees had over 10 billion dollars investment in the economy in the last five year.

Nnadi stated that in 2012, the company invested over $80 billion annually, but it went down due to the economic situation in the country. He said the company had also invested in renewable energy, adding that over 47 stations in Lagos were powered by solar while over 125 stations across the country were powered by solar.

The executive general manager added that Total also partnered with the Nigerian Breweries and Coca-Cola on solar power. “Over the next 20 years, electricity demand will increase faster than the demand for energy as a whole.

“In order to meet this growing need, tackle the challenges of climate change and comply with the International Energy Agency’s scenario; we have made it our ambition for low-carbon businesses to account for nearly 20 percent of our portfolio in 20 years.

“We are already actively participating in the development of renewable energies, especially solar. With operations spanning the manufacture of high-efficiency photo-voltaic panels, ground-based power plants, decentralized systems, storage solutions and marketing to end-customers, we are present across the entire value chain and fast-tracking the deployment of solar technology,” he said.

 – Oct 18, 2019 @ 17:45 GMT |

IMF warns Nigeria, others against rising China debt

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Tobias Adrian
Tobias Adrian

THE International Monetary Fund, IMF, has warned Nigeria and other African countries on the dangers of rising level of indebtedness to China. IMF said loans from non-Paris Club creditors would create some instability or some vulnerability.

It also said the present global financial conditions due to the trade dispute between the United States and China present opportunities for Nigeria and other low-income countries. Tobias Adrian, financial counsellor and director, monetary and capital market department, IMF, said investment flow to Nigeria and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa has been strong and is expected to reach record high this year.

Speaking during a media briefing on the Global Financial Stability Report, GFSR, at the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington DC, Adrian called on the federal government to ensure judicious use of its borrowed funds. “Global financial conditions are favourable to countries such as Nigeria, at the moment.

“Issuing bonds in hard currency and the domestic currency is possible because of favourable global financial conditions. And of course, what is key is what countries such as Nigeria are doing with those borrowed funds. Undertaking structural reforms to develop the economy is also key at this point in time,” he said.

Responding to a question on the elevated external debt levels in Nigeria and whether the federal government should shift to more of domestic borrowing, Adrian said: “Both domestic and external debt markets are important for economic growth and development and both markets should be well developed; but of course, any borrowing has to be managed in a responsible manner. There are both costs and benefits.

“So, borrowing can be helpful for economic growth and investment, but it can also be dangerous when negative shocks arise. So, we have done a lot of work in the IMF on debt sustainability and debt management and we have a host of recommendations of how to manage debt in a responsible manner,” he said.

On his part, Evan Papageorgiou, deputy division chief, monetary and capital markets department, IMF, stressed the need for the federal government to ensure prudent debt management. “Nigeria has a large exposure to non-resident holders of domestic debt, particularly with central bank bills and then as we understand in the central bank bills, there are lots of higher redemptions or those that have to deal with more rollovers in the coming quarters, and so managing those risks, particularly with respect to local currency and the behaviour of non-resident investors is very important,” he said.

Papageorgiou cautioned Nigeria and other African countries against their rising level of indebtedness to China. He said the non-Paris Club creditors, creates some instability or some vulnerabilities. “Not that the debt itself creates problems. We examined some issues that debt has to be used for productive purposes, but usually debt that is given under non-Paris Club or multilateral types of agreements, more broadly in a lot of low-income countries, particularly a lot of African countries, the issue of debt vulnerabilities is becoming more prescient.”

While also responding to a question at a separate media briefing on the IMF’s Fiscal Monitor, Cathy Pattillo, assistant director, fiscal affairs department, IMF, reiterated the need for a comprehensive reform package in Nigeria in order to increase non-oil revenue. This, according to her, would also provide the opportunity for more investments in infrastructure.

Pattillo, however, welcomed the move to enhance non-oil revenue in the country. “We welcome the growth and recovery plan and the new cabinet, which is implementing key reforms, including revenue mobilisation by raising the Value Added Tax, VAT, rate and the 2020 budget; reforms on various anti-corruption measures also reduce vulnerabilities and raise growth to higher per capita levels.

“So now is the opportunity to look at a comprehensive reform to sustainably increase non-oil revenue. The government has taken welcome steps with tax audits, e-filling, closing loopholes, combating corruption in tax offices, increased exercise taxes and it also launched its strategic growth initiatives that calls for this high-level committee. All these are very welcomed. And the article IV consultation earlier this year had our staff recommend further VAT reforms and broadening the tax base by removing CIT exemptions and customs duty waivers.

“For Nigeria, that is very important for a couple of reasons; one because right now, interest payments as a share of tax are very high. Around a third of overall federal government revenue is for interest payments, which is particularly high. Nigeria has one of the lowest tax to GDP in the world. It is not because Nigeria does not have big development problems.

“Nigeria has a large need for education and health spending. It has some very low indicators in that area and the demographic projections, Nigeria is projected to be the third most populous country in the world by 2050. So addressing those challenges is really important,” she said.

 – Oct 18, 2019 @ 17:45 GMT |

Fidelity Bank seeks better data sharing

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Fidelity Bank
Fidelity Bank

Gbolahan Joshua, executive director, operations and information, Fidelity Bank Plc, has advised data validation agencies and organisations to adopt appropriate policies that provide financial institutions with the required flexibility to utilise customer data. He gave the counsel during a panel session at the 10th anniversary celebration of Verve in Lagos recently, explained that this would assist banks in the country to drive new levels of customer engagements across digital channels and systems.

He harped on the need for data generating institutions in Nigeria to explore fresh ways to collaborate with one another. Alluding to the importance of data validation as a major driver in enhancing the Know Your Customer (KYC) policy, Joshua noted that harmonization of disparate databases will accelerate lending processes by Banks.

“Digital identity is very critical in digital banking operations. Industry collaboration must be embraced by both financial institutions and database generating institutions to simplify digital banking operations,” he said.

Whilst stating that the bank was not averse to data sharing, Joshua said that the lender had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Open Technology Foundation (OTF) for the adoption of a standard Application Programming Interface (API) for its operations as a financial institution.

Open Banking is a system that provides a user with a network of financial institutions’ data through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs). The Open Banking Nigeria Standard defines how financial data and services should be created, shared and accessed.

By relying on networks instead of centralisation, open banking helps customers to securely share their financial data with other financial institutions. The panel discussion was moderated by Chief Executive Officer, Verve International, Mike Ogbalu III.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Payment Processing, Interswitch, Akeem Lawal, Head, Consumer Distribution, Ecobank Nigeria, Stanley Jacob and Executive Director, Retail Bank, FCMB, Olu Akanmu also featured as panelist at the event.

Mike Ogbalu expressed gratitude to Fidelity Bank and all partners of verve that were present at the event whilst assuring them that endless possibilities awaits the digital space in banking.

The event, which offered a unique opportunity for all participants to network with the industry’s brightest, had in attendance, a number business leaders and industry experts, who gave valuable insights into the latest tech trends and shared experiences.

 – Oct 18, 2019 @ 17:39 GMT |

Wema Bank Partners Bank of Africa on Trade Facilitation

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Wema Bank
Wema Bank

Wema Bank Plc has signed a multi-country partnership agreement with the Bank of Africa Group, BOA, as it looks to facilitate bilateral trade services for its customers across Africa.

The partnership agreement was executed on Thursday (yesterday) by the MD/CEO of Wema Bank Plc, Ademola Adebise and CEO of BOA Group, Amine Bouabid, in the presence of the Head Brand and Marketing Communications, Wema Bank, Funmilayo Falola and BOA Group Chairman, Brahim Benjelloun Touimi, and other executives of both banks.

According to a statement, Adebise signed on behalf of Wema Bank, while Bouabid signed on behalf of all BOA subsidiary banks. Under the terms of the agreement, the two financial institutions are committed to deepening the relationship between them around the Pan-African trade ecosystem (trade facilitation, correspondent banking etc.).

“Over the years, Wema Bank has been passionate about supporting individuals and businesses in Nigeria. With the new partnership, it has expanded its frontier to include trans-African trade with a promise to deliver sustainable and value-adding support for business growth and profitability across the continent,” the statement added.

Speaking on the partnership agreement, Adebise was quoted as saying that “At Wema Bank, digital innovation is in our DNA and we are bringing that same creativity to our partnership with BOA.

This partnership will allow us to expand and redefine the galaxy of opportunities available to our individual and corporate customers as we lead them into the African continent off the back of the new African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

“With this partnership, our customers will now have seamless business transactions across countries with Bank of Africa’s presence. It is an absolute joy for us to be able to make doing business easier for our customers in partnership with the Bank of Africa.”

Adebise also added that both banks would further benefit from an opportunity to promote bilateral trade services which will include import and export services, bonds and guarantees, and structured finance collaborations, under the new partnership agreement.

On his part, Bouabid, said the agreement with Wema was in line with his group’s drive to always offer innovative, simple and useful solutions to customers. “I hope that the link we create between Wema Bank and BOA will facilitate and therefore increase economic exchanges with this great country that is Nigeria.

“I also see it as an example of collaboration between a Francophone Africa and an Anglophone Africa that must absolutely be encouraged and duplicated. Lastly, I would like to remind you that the Group I head is present in both French and English speaking Africa and that it plays its full role as an economic integrator.”

The BOA Group is a pan-African bank with presence in 18 African countries across the Anglophone and Francophone countries, eight of which are in West Africa.

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 17:37 GMT |

6 African artists nominated for E! People’s Choice Awards

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The six African artists nominated
The six African artists nominated

TOP six African artists, Wizkid (Nigeria), Cassper Nyovest (South Africa), Diamond Platnumz (Tanzania) and Yemi Alade (Nigeria) have been nominated in the African Influencer of the Year category at the E! People’s Choice Awards in California.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ‘E! People’s Choice Awards is a U.S award show that recognises people in entertainment, voted online by the general public and fans.

Other top names in the list are Nigerian musicians Davido, Tiwa Savage as well as South African TV personalities Bonang Matheba and Minnie Dlamini-Jones.

NAN also reports that this is the first time E! would be recognising the most iconic and influential people on the African continent via the African Influencer of the Year Award category on a global scale.

The E! People’s Choice Awards said that fans could start voting for their favourite artists online or via Twitter by sending a public tweet or retweet.

The organisers added that the fans should include one category hashtag, one corresponding nominee hashtag and #PCAs.

According to the them, hashtag for African Influencer of the Year is #AfricanInfluencer and the nominees’ hashtags are as follows:

Cassper Nyovest – #CassperNyovest
Davido – #Davido
DiamondPlatnumz – #DiamondPlatnumz
BonangMatheba – #BonangMatheba
Minnie Dlamini-Jones – #Minnie
Tiwa Savage – #TiwaSavage
Wizkid – #Wizkid
Yemi Alade – #YemiAlade

The 2019 edition of E! People’s Choice Awards ceremony would be held at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California on Nov. 10.

According to the organisers, voting commenced on Oct.17 and will end on Oct. 19 at 05:59 a.m CAT.

Fans could vote up to 25 times per day, adding that any vote cast throughout the voting window would count twice.(NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 17:32 GMT |

Analyst lauds President Buhari’s move to cut cost of governance

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Buhari
Buhari

A Public Affairs Analyst, Mr Carl Umegboro has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the willpower which he demonstrated by cutting down on costs of governance in the Executive arm of Government.

Umegboro, who gave the commendation in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). in Abuja on Friday, described the President’s actions as necessary and commendable.

NAN recalls that President Buhari on Wednesday in a statement signed by Mr Willie Bassey, Director Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation reduced the number and duration of foreign trips for ministers and other categories of government officials.

Bassey said the move was aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence, particularly, in the area of official travels.

Umegboro said that President Buhari by this remarkable action had shown that the “Next-Level” mantra was indeed on course and not rhetoric as a campaign slogan.

He also called on the President to consider the review of the electoral system to digitalised voting system, which he said was cost effective and with minimal flaws.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has demonstrated that the Next-level is a realistic blueprint, by first cutting down costs in the executive arm over travel scopes and expenditures of public officers.

“Mr President should as a matter of urgency make efforts towards extending it to other arms of government, particularly the legislature, as such leakages had continuously held the economy to ransom.

“Furthermore, Mr President should consider a reform in the nation’s electoral system on account of heavy budgets that are regularly presented for elections.”

Umegboro said that it was sad that the country was being categorised as a poor nation despite abundant human and natural resources within the society due to mismanagement.

He, however, said that Buhari’s election was a divine intervention towaard moving the nation forward.(NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 17:25 GMT |

IMB reports 30% piracy drop as Nigeria’s Deep Blue project kicks in

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Pottengal Mukundan
Pottengal Mukundan

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported a drop in piracy attacks in Nigeria’s teritorial waters in the third quarter of 2019.

Mr Isichei Osamgbi, Head, Corporate Communications, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), quoted IMB as saying in its latest report that piracy in Nigeria’s waters reduced from 41 attacks in 2018 to 29 in 2019, representing nearly 30 per cent year-on-year reduction.

“This is as the Deep Blue Project, a comprehensive maritime security architecture initiated by the NIMASA in collaboration with the military and other security agencies, comes into operation.

“The piracy reporting body also said there was a decrease in global piracy incidents during the first nine months of 2019, compared with the corresponding period in 2018,” the report said.

According to Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, a specialised division of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), 119 incidents have been reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Center in 2019, compared to 156 incidents for the same period in 2018.

He said that overall, the 2019 incidents included 95 vessels boarded, 10 vessels fired upon, 10 attempted attacks, and four vessels hijacked.

He said that from the report, the number of crew taken hostage through the first nine months had declined from 112 in 2018 to 49 in 2019.

He, however, said that piracy and armed robbery attacks remained a challenge in the Gulf of Guinea.

“The decline in piracy and armed robbery attacks on vessels came as the Deep Blue Project, Nigeria’s Integrated Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, began to yield results.

“The project is handled by an Israeli firm, Homeland Security International (HLSI).

“It involves the training of field and technical operatives drawn from the various strata of the security services and NIMASA as well as acquisition of assets to combat maritime crime, such as fast intervention vessels, surveillance aircraft, and other facilities.

“It also involved the establishment of a command and control centre for data collection and information sharing to aid targeted enforcement,” Osamgbi said in a statement.

It added that the Deep Blue Project was aimed at building a formidable integrated surveillance and security architecture that would broadly combat maritime crime and criminalities in Nigeria’s waterways up to the Gulf of Guinea.

It said that the timing of the IMB report also coincided with the conclusion of the Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC 2019) hosted by Nigeria, and coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Transportation and NIMASA, under the theme, “Managing and Securing our Waters.”

It added that with the stated objective of, among others, defining the nature and scope of coordinated responses to maritime insecurity in relation to interventions, the conference enabled global maritime leaders to review the progress made in the fight against maritime crime while charting strategies for the future. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 17:25 GMT |

Microfinance Banks are safe, patronise them – NDIC urges depositors

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NDIC
NDIC

The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), has advised depositors to patronise the existing Microfinance Banks (MFBs) in the country, saying they are safe for operations.

The Managing Director of NDIC, Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim, represented by Dr Sunday Oluyemi, the Director, Communication and Public Affairs, said this while fielding questions from newsmen at a news conference to mark the corporation’s 30th anniversary.

Ibrahim said in Abuja on Friday, that the corporation had deployed examination strategies to ensure the mitigation of risks faced by micro finance banks across the country.

“Microfinance banks are very safe, you can patronise them and a number of them are big players.

“Some of them work out loans fast. We are concerned about the risks they are exposed to so, we have deployed an examination strategy to ensure that their risks are mitigated,’’ he said.

The managing director noted that the corporation in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was funding the establishment of National Association of MFBs Unified Information Technology (NAMBUIT).

He noted that the unified information technology would ensure that depositors used Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards and other technologies to access their accounts.

Ibrahim assured stakeholders in the banking sector of the corporation’s readiness to ensure stability in the system in line with its core values of honesty and professionalism. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 17:17 GMT |

Children, youths critical to achieving SDGs – Adefulire

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Princess Adejoke Adefulire
Princess Adejoke Adefulire

Princess Adejoke Adefulire, the Special Senior Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SSAP-SDGs), says children and youths are critical to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Adefulire said this in her remarks at the official launch of the World Largest Lessons Activation in Nigeria and SDGs Activation Summit in Abuja on Friday.

According to her, the 2030 Agenda is a call for UN Member States to address critical global challenges of our time, which border on environmental, economic and social issues.

“The SDGs aim to tackle the root causes of poverty and unite us together toward positive change for both people and planet.

“Ultimately, the SDGs are Nigeria’s opportunity to provide a common plan and agenda to tackle some of the pressing challenges facing our country such as poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, inequality, injustice, insecurity, climate change and conflicts.

“Nigerian children and youth have a critical role to play in achieving the 2030 agenda.

“The SDGs target 4.4 to substantially increase the number of youth and adults, who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.

“We must make the right choices to improve life in a sustainable way for our future generations, by creating opportunities for young children and youths to move out of poverty into decent work for inclusive growth,’’ Adefulire said.

The SSAP-SDGs, therefore, commended World Largest Lessons an NGO, Ministry of Education, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and other agencies and NGOs like the DEAN Initiative for their commitment to achieving the SDGs in Nigeria.

Mrs Allison Bellwood, Creator and Director, World Largest Lesson, (a global initiative established in 2015) organisers of the programme, said the initiative’s main focus was on educating children on the SDGs.

“Nigeria has an incredible youth population; the young people of Nigeria are a power house for participation. What we are aiming to do is really to mobilise that power house, in the direction of helping to achieve the SDGs.

“Mobilising young people who are currently able by age and are old enough to participate, and teach the SDGs to the younger peers.

“We have been talking to school children to literally say no to plastic bags and saying so to their parents, no more plastic bags, we can avoid plastic bottle if we work towards it.’’ Bellwood said.

She added that with the campaign going to the schools, where the future leaders are; these would be ingrained in them and better results as they would be caught young.

Speaking on the success of the programme, Mr Semiye Micheal, Director, DEAN initiative, said 500,000 students had been activated on the SDGs programme.

He added that the ultimate aim of the programme was to include the sustainable development education in the national school curriculum.

NAN reports that SDGs activation programme had commenced in 36 states and the FCT, 109 SDGs Clubs have been formed nationwide, and three IDP Camps had been formed in Borno State.

Also a deployment of 6,420 Peer Educators among other measures had commenced. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 17:15 GMT |

NCC, ALTON seek policies to propel industry growth

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Danbatta
Danbatta

THE Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, and the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, are seeking urgent attention to critical industry issues affecting telecommunications operations in the country. NCC and ALTON want government to address challenges facing the sector. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC, led a delegation from NCC and ALTON to Isa Pantami, minister of communications, to discuss sectoral challenges with the minister.

He said while the federal government, through the ministry and the NCC, was committed to deepening digital access, the RoW issue, among several others, remained the biggest challenge standing in the way of the accelerated telecoms infrastructure and by extension, broadband development.

“So ALTON is led to talk as a body about the challenges they are facing as operators in the industry. We also believe that achieving federal government’s target of 127,000 kilometers of fibre across the country, which is critical to our broadband and digital economy drive, depends on how these industry issues are addressed,” he said.

Danbatta further commended the minister for the way and manner he had hit the ground running upon assumption of office, adding that the Commission facilitated the meeting in order for the operators to ventilate their views to the minister on various challenges in the industry and as a sequel to the report the Commission already presented to the minister upon assumption of office.

On his part, Gbenga Adebayo, president, ALTON, listed and extensively discussed a number of issues confronting the operators, which include: the problem of denial and exorbitant cost of Right of Way (RoW) by state governments, vandalism of telecoms infrastructure, poor and lack of access to public electricity to run telecoms operations, multiple taxation and regulations, the need for Executive Order to protect telecoms infrastructure, and the need for a national digital policy, among others.

Adebayo solicited the minister’s interventions, requesting him to use his good offices to address the issues in view of the significance of telecoms as a central and pivotal infrastructure shaping the economy.

Adebayo, who submitted a document detailing issues requiring immediate attention, acknowledged the exceptional leadership of Danbatta, stressing that the current upbeat status of the industry is largely traceable to the good regulatory regime instituted by the leadership of the commission.

Responding to the issues raised, Pantami acknowledged that he was fully aware of 90 percent of the challenges confronting the operators through the NCC and that the ministry had started making efforts to address the issues through engaging the president and other relevant government agencies.

“The ministry is on the verge of developing a National Digital Economic Policy and Strategy, which will be ready shortly. He also stated that efforts were ongoing to address all the concerns raised by the operators,” he said.

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 17:12 GMT |

NIPOST assures Nigerians of digital service delivery

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NIPOST
NIPOST

THE Nigerian Postal Service, NIPOST, has restated its commitment to serve Nigerians better through its digital service deliveries. NIPOST gave the assurance during the celebration of World Post Week in Lagos, to commemorate its 50th anniversary as member of Universal Postal Union, UPU. The celebration was climaxed by award presentations to hard working and committed members of staff that have evolved with the vision of the newly digitalised NIPOST.

Speaking at the occasion of the celebration, Adebola Ayeni, Lagos Zonal Manager, NIPOST, said this year’s World Post Week was aimed at creating greater awareness among teeming customers and stakeholders on the importance of Postal Service worldwide.

“Historically, connecting people globally has long been regarded as a core social obligation of the post. The post has for long been a core social and economic infrastructure and has remained the trusted provider of secure communication, payment and delivery services between senders and receivers. This role has facilitated all aspects of commercial, educational, cultural and political development of many countries in Africa and beyond,” she said.

The World Post Day (WPD) celebration was initiated by the German Minister of Post, Heinch Von Stephen on the 9th Day of October, 1969 for all member countries of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), which Nigeria belongs to.

Explaining how NIPOST has evolved with its vision to digitally transform its services in order to enhance customer experience, Ayeni said: “NIPOST has developed markets to move the economy forward in line with the best practice worldwide. The MSME ‘businesses are taking advantage of NlPOST’s competitive rates to deliver goods to their customers all over the world. Our e-commerce and e-Logistics venture is gradually taking a centre place in business networking.

“The Address Verification Systems, AVS, is gaining ground, and so is the Digital Addressing System which our Postmaster General is passionate about. More importantly, NIPOST is supporting Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, by providing rural banking to the unbanked through partnership with Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in line with the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk-sharing System for Agricultural Lending, NlRSAL, at NIPOST counters across the country. The spread of Post Offices is an added advantage to her business of post cash and international financial service.”

According to Ayeni, NIPOST counters have been automated with the latest information and communications technology (ICT) faculties, making it easy for customers to receive and transfer their money to any part of the country at the shortest possible time, in line with the CBN’s initiative to drive agency banking.

NIPOST is collaborating with some banks like Keystone to further drive financial transaction services in rural and unbanked communities through the counters. We have a lot of small packages that are coming from the e-Commerce companies that cannot be delivered online and they are delivered through NIPOST, and with this, we are helping small scale industries to transmit their goods to their customers, Ayeni added.

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 17:05 GMT |

Ikeja Electric inaugurates franchise centres

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Ikeja Electric
Ikeja Electric

AS part of the strategy to extend its customer footprint and provide easy access to services, Ikeja Electric Plc has inaugurated its franchise centres at Olowora, Ikosi,  Arepo, Bariga, Ketu and Ogudu.  The Ikeja Electric Franchise project, a business strategy aims at facilitating engagements and customer experience for spot-on resolution of complaints, in partnership with its corporate partners, will take-off at six (6) locations within the Shomolu Business Unit network.

In addition, the project, which will further be extended across the company’s network coverage area, will also assist in creating employment for Nigerians. Explaining the advantages of the franchising strategy, Folake Soetan, chief operating officer, IE, said the commissioned franchises would increase the Ikeja Electric brand visibility and also cater for the increasing customer base across the Business Unit as well as serve as data gathering centres for its customers.

“Ikeja Electric will work closely with the franchisees to ensure the standards set by the company to provide excellent customer service and satisfaction is maintained by the franchisees,” she said.

Soetan noted that the strategy is a veritable model for creating employment opportunities in line with the company’s support for nation building, which ultimately translates to economic prosperity. “We are also passionately positioning the company in providing corporate support to fulfil the government’s aspiration towards creating employment opportunities and this we believe is in line with our social responsibilities as a corporate entity.”

Deployment of the franchise-connect touch points is phased, beginning with Shomolu Business Unit and to be replicated across the other Business Units. The centres are positioned to provide world class customer services accessible to Ikeja Electric customers and also generate employment opportunities.

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 16:59 GMT |

NUPENG trains 2,500 drivers to curb crashes

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Petroleum Tracks
Petroleum Tracks

IN the bid to reduce road accidents across the country, the Petroleum Tanker Drivers branch of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has commenced a training programme for 2,500 fuel tanker drivers. Salimon Oladiti, national chairman, PTD, said the objective was to reduce to the barest minimum accidents involving tankers on the roads.

Speaking at the commencement of the annual training programme in Lagos, Oladiti commended the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, and other traffic agencies for their support and collaboration at all times during the programme. Oladiti, who was represented by the Training Committee Chairman, Olujide Kilanko, said: “This has reduced the number of accidents involving tankers on Nigerian roads.

“Yet, more needs to be done; hence, we are carrying out continuous training of drivers. I want to use this medium to commend the Federal Government for developing the infrastructure in Nigeria. I also appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to fix the roads. Nigerian roads are in a deplorable condition and need urgent attention, especially now that the rainy season is gradually coming to an end.”

Tayo Aboyeji, chairman, Lagos Chapter of NUPENG, said the essence of the training was to reduce the number of accidents on the roads and educate the tanker drivers on safety tips. He said the training had, over the years, contributed to the reduction of road accidents of tankers on the road.

He said the state of many roads in the country was taking serious toll on their members, and was responsible for the occurrence of accidents. He, however, said that the union was managing the situation not to affect the distribution of products to the final destination despite the bad roads.

“As at today, there is no gridlock in Apapa, the committees set up by the  Federal Government, in collaboration with NUPENG, has done a great job in addressing the problem in that area.”

Aboyeji urged the government to provide sufficient parking space for fuel tankers.

Samuel Obayemi, assistant corps marshal, Zonal Commanding Officer, Lagos/Ogun, FRSC, said the agency was working on a database to capture all drivers loading from depots for effective monitoring. “We are urging them to start engaging their members in rigorous traffic training so as to meet minimum safety standards concerning their vehicles.

“It is very important to train and retrain them, to enable them to follow the rules and regulations and to meet the road standards concerning their vehicles. We are here to give them safety tips on what is expected from them. We are creating a database for both tankers and drivers that will capture them from the depots to their final destinations. Our personnel will also be deployed to depots; with the database, it will be difficult for any driver that is disqualified at one depot to go and load at another depot,” he said.

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 16:55 GMT |

NDIC pays off over 500,000 depositors of closed deposit, micro finance banks

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Umaru Ibrahim
Umaru Ibrahim

The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), says it has paid off no fewer than 526,414 depositors of closed Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and Micro Finance Banks (MFBs) since its inception 30 years ago.

The Managing Director of the corporation, Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim said this at a news conference to commemorate its 30th anniversary  in Abuja on Friday.

Umaru, represented by Dr Sunday Oluyemi, the corporation’s Director, Communication and Public Affairs, said the organisation had also paid more than N70.53 million to 869 depositors of closed Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs).

He said that a cumulative sum of N8.25 billion and N2.97 billion was paid to the DMB and MFB depositors as insured amounts.

The managing director disclosed that 53 deposit banks, 325 micro finance banks and 51 primary mortgage banks had been liquidated without disruption to the nation’s payment system.

Umaru said the corporation was currently providing deposit insurance cover to 27 deposit money banks, 918 micro finance banks 34 primary mortgage banks and two non-interest banks.

“The corporation is identified with ensuring that depositors of liquidated banks suffered little loss or pain.

“NDIC in collaboration with the CBN has adopted multiple resolution option to resolve failures in the system.

“To date, a cumulative amount of over N28.112 billion was recovered from debtors of failed deposit banks, N129.10 billion for MFBs and N300 million from liquidated primary mortgage banks,’’ he said.

Umaru noted that the corporation had introduced the Deposit Insurance System (DIS) courses in no fewer than 10 universities to foster awareness and enhance depositors and consumer protection.

He assured stakeholders in the banking system of the corporation’s readiness to ensure high standard stability in the system in line with its core values of honesty and professionalism.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that DMBs are resident depository corporations and quasi-corporations which have many liabilities in the form of deposits payable on demand, transferable by cheque.

A primary mortgage institution is usually a bank, either for commercial or savings and loans, while micro finance bank is any company licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to carry out business of providing micro finance services such as savings, loans, domestic funds transfer, and other financial services. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 16:45 GMT |

Anambra lawmakers decry low fund released to agriculture sector

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Anambra state House of Assembly
Anambra state House of Assembly

Anambra lawmakers on Friday lamented the low fund released from the 2019 budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector by state government.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Mr John Nwokoye (Awka North), made the observation at the ongoing 2020 proposed budget defense by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Nwokoye decried as low the N223 million released to the agriculture sector out of N2.6billion budgeted for it in 2019.

He said that N45million was released out of N200 million budgeted for Anambra rice project.

“Going by the records before the committee, low or no funds was released to most of the items budgeted for in 2019 for the agriculture ministry.

“The funds released from the allocation signalled a not too good future for the state as it cannot change the face of agriculture as expected.

“Agriculture is one of the legacy projects of this administration and it requires fund to fully revitalise the sector to play its role in the state’s economy.

Hon. Nonso’s Igwe (Ogbaru Constituency) also decried the deliberate delay in the release of allocated funds to the sector, saying it was affecting the proper implementation of policies.

According to him, it is grossly inadequate to release less than 15 per cent of the money allocated to the sector as it will hinder the development of agriculture in the state.

Mr Emmanuel Nwafor (Orumba South), advocated proper monitoring and tracking of the allocation to achieve the thrust of the present administration’s agricultural policy.

Responding, Mr Nnamdi Onukwuba, the Commissioner,  Ministry for Agriculture said the ministry had been relying on donor funds and grants to carry out projects and programmes in the ministry.

Onukwuba said they carried out significant programmes and built social infrastructure for farmers in selected areas with the grants.

He said that the ministry was still expecting funds to be released from the office of the Accountant General before the end of the financial year. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 16:25 GMT |

Kaduna State urges contractors to return to sites, assures payment

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El-Rufai
El-Rufai

Kaduna State Government says it has raised funds to settle all contract liabilities and urged contractors executing projects in the education sector to return to sites.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Murtala Dabo, made the appeal in Kaduna on Friday during a meeting with contractors and consultants.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that then meeting was organised by the Ministry of Education to address challenges affecting contract execution in the education sector.

Dabo apologised to the contractors for the delay in payment despite their sacrifice and patience, attributed the development to scarcity of funds and competing demands.

“But things have changed and I am telling you, with all sincerity, that your money is now available. All you need to do is generate certificates and we will pay you.

“We want to complete all ongoing projects in the sector so we are ready to pay you, but when we give you money, we expect to see you on site.

“The Commissioner for Education, Dr Shehu Makarfi, has been struggling to get money for you to return to site and complete your job. I am telling you that the money is now available,” he said.

Earlier, Makarfi said that the sector got a reasonable allocation in the 2020 budget for capital projects, but stressed that only performing contractors would be considered for payment.

For the payment of outstanding contract liabilities, the commissioner said that the contractors must sign a commitment letter before they would be paid.

Makarfi stressed that all contractors must write to indicate how far they had gone and the expected time of completion of the project before they would be paid.

He, however, expressed that though some of the contractors had been paid, they refused to return to sites, a development he described as ‘displeasing’ to the government.

The commissioner said that all contractors who collected government money and refused to go back to site would be delisted.

He also said that the government had mandated all contractors to consult community leaders, when executing projects, as parts of efforts to strengthen community involvement in the execution of government projects for sustainability.

The major challenge affecting contract execution in the state, according to the contractors is lack of payment.

One of the contractors, Amaka Njinaka-Ogundipe of Etech, said she was given a contract without mobilisation but executed the project using her money, adding that the project was ready for hand over.

She, however, appealed to the state government to fulfill its side of the agreement by paying contractors as at when due. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 16:25 GMT |

AfDB opens public information centre in Nigeria

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Ebrima Faal
Ebrima Faal

The African Development Bank (AfDB) on Friday, inaugurated its public information centre in Abuja to provide structured access to the bank’s operations in Nigeria and across Africa.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the centre is named “Leopold Senghor Public Information Centre of the Nigeria Country Department, African Development Bank’’.

Inaugurating the centre, Mr Ebrima Faal, Director for the Nigeria Country Office, said that it would serve as a resourceful space for the productive research on African development matters.

He described the centre as a veritable repository of knowledge, characterised by its comprehensive collection of both physical and online information resources.

“The information centre provides structured access to the bank’s operations in Nigeria and across Africa by making available relevant information on the bank`s role in policy dialogue and the development sector in Africa,” he said.

The director explained that relying on response to user’s request, the information centre would select, acquire, store and retrieve information that are critical in providing the needed tools to transform Africa.

“The AfDB is stepping up development in Africa by focusing on five priorities that are crucial for accelerated economic transformation.

“They are the “High 5s’’: Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa,’’ Faal said.

He urged the public, especially academia, journalists, researchers, consultants, the Nigerian government as well as new employees of the bank to access the service via email ([email protected]), twitter handle @ AFDB_RDNG or call +234 (9) 7002095.

Faal assured that requests would be responded to within 24 hours.

“The bank opens its door for you to share and contribute to strengthening of Nigeria’s knowledge base centre of the African Development Bank’s,’’ Faal said.

He emphasised that the centre would play a critical role in increasing the visibility, credibility and accurate understanding of the bank’s operations.

Faal said that it would also stimulate public debate and broaden understanding of development issues.

The director said it would also increase the influence of the bank on development policy as well as enhance transparency and accountability in the development process. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 16:19 GMT |

Channels TV set to hold 2nd U-18 Athletics Classics in November

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Henry Amike
Henry Amike

The Technical Director of the Channels TV Track and Field Classics, Henry Amike, said on Friday in Lagos that all was set to hold the 2nd Channels U-18 Athletics Classics.

Amike, who disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the second edition would be an improvement on the first edition.

He said the event would hold from Nov. 13 to Nov. 14 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.

“The second edition of the Channels U-18 Athletics Classics is set to hold.

“Events to feature in the competition include 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m races.

“Also the 4X100 and 4X400 relay races, alongside long jump, high jump and shot put will be featured,” he said.

Amike told NAN that the aim of the organisation was to scout, discover and develop young talents that were still in the secondary school system.

He said that schools had shown interest in the competition and some had begun training for their representatives.

“The overall aim of the competition is to scout, discover and develop talents that abound in our secondary schools.

“About 49 secondary schools took part in last year’ inaugural championships which recorded some outstanding results.

“Over 60 schools have signified interest in being part of this year’ edition, as some schools have already started preparations for the Nov. 13 to Nov. 14 Classics.

“Invited secondary school students from both the private and public sectors across the six (6) districts of Lagos State are expected to attend.

“Athletes who are secondary school students and are below 18 years are expected to take part in the two-day-meet,” he said. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 16:15 GMT |

We are taking policing to the rural areas – Enugu CP

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Police
Police

The Commissioner of Police in Enugu State, Mr Ahmad Abdurrahman, says the state’s Command will take modern policing and security engagement to the rural areas.

Abdurrahman made this known on Friday during a community partnership and stakeholders’ engagement held at Ibagwa Nike community in Enugu East Local Government Area of the state.

He said that the Command would ensure that policing in the state was in line with the community-oriented policing tenets, which requires community partnership and stakeholders’ engagement.

“Community/stakeholders’ engagement is a veritable aspect of community-oriented policing geared towards reducing incidences of crime and criminality in our various communities; thus, making our areas safe and secured.

“With the community engagement, we will achieve model of policing of the community, by the community and for the community.

“What you have seen that I have started doing in the state’s communities is taking policing to the door-step of our communities in line with community-policing tenets and through support of stakeholders,’’ he said.

The commissioner said that the Command would organise programme of engagement for neighborhood watch groups, forest guards and traffic enforcement team among others.

“This will keep them to operate in line with the modern day policing realities and by that deepen relationship between police and its relevant stakeholders in the state,’’ he said.

Responding, Igwe Emmanuel Ugwu, Traditional Ruler of Ibagwa Nike community, expressed happiness on the current state of security in Enugu State.

“We are happy on the tremendous improvement in security since you assume duty as the police commissioner of the state,’’ Ugwu said.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the commissioner had visited stakeholders in the five Police Area Commands in the state.

The area commands are Nsukka, Udenu, Agbani, Enugu and Oji River Police Area Commands. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 16:12 GMT |

HIV/AIDS: FG working to take ownership of response — NACA

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NACA
NACA

Effiong Eno, Deputy Director, Head Policy and Advocacy, National Agency for the control of AIDS (NACA), says the Federal Government is working to take ownership of HIV response in the country.

Eno said this at an HIV Reporting Project Orientation for journalists, a workshop organised by the AIDS Health Care Foundation (AHF), an NGO on Friday in Abuja.

He said the government of President Muhammadu Buhari was very proactive and committed in ensuring that the country took leadership of the response in achieving an AIDS free country.

“The president made a policy statement at the United Nations General Assembly two weeks ago that his government was committed in putting 50,000 more people on treatment every year.

“In 2018, the National Executive Council also approved that 0.5 to one per cent of the federation account should be consolidated for HIV response in the country.

“We are working judiciously to ensure it becomes implemented at the state level, while at the federal level, the Federal Government has taken over responsibility for HIV treatment in Taraba and Abia states.

“This indeed is a huge investment and progress from what it used to be,’’ Eno said.

He explained that the government was still working with donor communities such as the United States government through the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Response (PEPFAR), Global Fund,  while seeking support from World Bank.

Eno in his presentation on the overview of National HIV and AIDS Policy 2009, said the policy was a guidance document that sets the environment for HIV and AIDS national response.

He said the policy was aimed at halting and reversing the HIV epidemic in Nigeria, and to provide a frame work for advancing the national multi-sectoral response to achieve an effective control.

Eno said the first case of HIV in Nigeria was in 1986, adding that the first policy was developed in 1997 to limit the spread of the virus.

He said that in 2001, a National Policy was enacted.

“Today, there is stability in the response environment, at a time we had 5.8 per cent prevalence rate but with the latest 2018 Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), the actual prevalence is 1.8 per cent.

“The Most at Risk Population (MARS), and other sub populations such as men having sex with men, people who inject drugs, female sex workers, trans-genders have begun to emerge hence the need for policy review.

“The policy,  however, has to create an enabling environment to accommodate everyone, because we have subscribed to the universal policy of `Leaving No One Behind’,’’ Eno added.

Dr Godwin Emmanuel, a Public Health Specialist, said lots of advancement had been made in HIV, especially in testing, saying  individuals could know their status themselves through using oral fluid test kit in a more confidential way.

Emmanuel said the oral fluid test kit had been in developed countries for more than 15 years but came into Nigeria in 2018 with the passage of self-testing policy by the Federal Ministry of Health.

He said the self-testing kit was a screening test but effective as the blood based test, saying a positive user need go to a hospital for further confirmation and commencement of treatment.

Jumai Danuk, Senior Programme Officer, Centre for Transparency and Advocacy, an NGO, said mental health issues in HIV and AIDS had often been neglected with more attention focused on treatment.

Danuk said persons getting new HIV diagnosis and those living with the condition often experience shock which could lead to anxiety and depression as well as difficulty to cope with the new status.

She acknowledged the need for a refocus from providing treatment but ensuring holistic approach to the management of HIV where individuals are better counselled with mental health programmes for young people.

Mr Steve Aborisade, Advocacy and Marketing Manager, AHF Nigeria said it was important to collaborate with the media in the HIV and AIDS intervention.

“The media needs to see this as their primary assignment. A new policy on HIV is being reviewed, dialogues have started and its important to conceptualise issues properly for communities most affected.

“The media is a vantage institution that can play a vital role in setting agenda around HIV and AIDS, especially in areas of domestic resource mobilisation, interpreting the policy and educating Nigerians,’’ Aborisade said.

Tobayas Dapang, a journalist with the Daily News Paper and a participant said the training had equipped him with more knowledge on how to report issues of HIV and AIDS.

Dapang noted that new challenges were emerging and confronting persons living with the condition, hence the need for a new focus and methodology in the reportage of HIV issues in the country. (NAN)

– Oct 18, 2019 @ 16:09 GMT |

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