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Why new 7.2% VAT rate will kill businesses – Experts

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Zainab Ahmed
Zainab Ahmed

By Anayo Ezugwu

REACTIONS have continued to trail the proposed increase in Value Added Tax, VAT, from five percent to 7.2 percent by the federal government. Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, said the Federal Executive Council, FEC, has approved the new VAT rate. But she explained that the VAT Act has to be amended first by the National Assembly before the increase comes into effect.

Ahmed argued that the increment will enable states to generate more revenue in order to meet the obligations of paying the new minimum wage. “This is important because the federal government only retains 15 percent of the VAT, 85 percent is actually for the states and local governments and the states need additional revenue to be able to meet the obligations of the minimum wage.

“This process involves extensive consultation that needs to be made across the country at various levels and also it will involve the review of the VAT Act. So, it is not going to be implemented immediately until the Act is reviewed,” she said.

But financial and economic experts have faulted the move by the government. They believed that the timing was wrong, considering the current economic challenges in the country. Taiwo Oyedele, head, tax and corporate advisory services, PricewaterhouseCoopers, PwC Nigeria, said the new VAT rate would shrink the Gross Domestic Product, GDP growth and disposable income of Nigerians.

Oyedele said more people were likely to evade tax payment as businesses would become less competitive. He said at the current rate of five percent, the country’s VAT collection of N1.1 trillion in 2018 amounted to 0.9 percent of the GDP compared to about 3.8 percent for Commonwealth and ECOWAS countries. He alluded to the fact that the government would earn additional N440 billion annually from the 2.2 percent increase in VAT rate. But for Nigerian businesses, he said, this means 40 percent increase in VAT cost.

Oyedele noted that because VAT on capital expenditure was not allowed as a credit in Nigeria, the cost of real investments would go up. “Additional VAT revenue will help reduce budget deficits, reduce government debt and fund social services, especially at sub-national level,” he said.

To avoid the negative impact of VAT, Oyedele argued that VAT should be paid according to individuals’ ability as not everyone could afford a 7.2 percent VAT rate. He suggested other palliative measures, saying “exempt or zero rate for essential consumptions like foods, education and primary healthcare. The exemption should not be limited to only unprocessed food items. In other words, a VAT increase should not affect the price of bread.

“Create a VAT registration threshold to eliminate VAT compliance burden for small businesses. Allow businesses to account for VAT on cash basis rather than on invoice, which creates a cash-flow problem. Lead by example; ensure that government and all MDAs fully comply by remitting VAT collected from their contractors. Ensure transparent reporting and efficient utilisation of the revenue for public services and infrastructure,” he said.

Like Oyedele, Adori Ochai, economic analyst, said the new VAT rate will be a dangerous move for small and medium enterprises, SMEs, in the country. He said the SMEs will have to pay more out of the little revenue they are making in form of taxes. “My challenge with the government is how do you increase taxes when infrastructures are not there? So why don’t you fix the infrastructure first before increasing the taxes.

“But it is a two way thing. If the government is sure that if the people bear the burden of the tax increase, the revenue will be invested in infrastructure fine. But when issues of electricity is still a major challenge in a country, why are you increasing tax, thereby making the people to bear more burden. Nigeria is a country where individuals generate their power, build roads, houses, provide water supply and also pay more tax. It will definitely kill a lot of SMEs.

“For the consumers, there is going to be inflation because producers knowing that tax has been increased by two 2.2 percent, will definitely increase prices at 2.2 percent. This means that a product that sells for N50 will now be increased by 2.2 percent across board. The producers will mostly not like to bear the burden alone, so they will pass it on to the consumers. In that case, the federal government has succeeded in reducing disposable income of households. And by the time this is done, it discourages savings thereby making the people poorer,” he said.

Going forward, Ochai said the government should focus on providing the infrastructure that would enable Nigerians to operate. “Let me not generate my power, water and provide security. Reduce all these cost for me, and then I can pay higher tax. Do the right things first by providing infrastructure then you can increase tax,” he said.

Likewise, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, joined other Nigerians in urging the government to suspend the proposed VAT increase.  Speaking in Lagos on Thursday, September 12, Timothy Olawale, director general, NECA, said the gains of the new minimum wage would be neutralised by the proposed increase in VAT.

Olawale said the increment would further reduce the purchasing power of the citizens, lead to increase in prices of goods and services, increase inflation rate, and further contraction of the economy. According to him, the recently released data of the country’s GDP growth indicated a contraction in the fourth quarter of 2018 (2.38 percent), first quarter of 2019 (2.10 percent) and second quarter of 2019 (1.94 percent).

“Also, International Monetary Fund has recently revised downward its global economic growth forecast to 3.2 percent due to sluggish global economy. Therefore, this suggests that at such period of time, economies should be formulating fiscal measures/policies to stimulate their economies,” he said.

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 17:17 GMT |

Gemalto SafeNet Data Protection on Demand service rolled out across fintech payment chain

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THALES today announced that Treezor, the leading banking-as-a-service platform in France, has deployed Gemalto SafeNet Data Protection on Demand solution to provide security across its entire payment chain, from tier one banks and neo-banks to crowdfunding organizations.

As an electronic money issuer, Treezor is bound by a variety of data privacy regulations and requirements, including requirements from the French Regulator (ACPR), the Mastercard network and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Treezor is required to implement strong data security controls to protect personal financial information and other sensitive data. After evaluating several providers, Treezor selected SafeNet Data Protection On Demand (DPoD) due to its ability to provide a cost-effective and easy-to-use cloud HSM service as a highly secure root of trust for cryptographic operations.

“Innovation is the lifeblood of how we operate, but it should never come at the expense of security or vice versa,” said Eric Lassus, CEO of Treezor. “Part of our ethos is to work extremely closely with our clients to understand their needs, which led to the creation of our payment platform using standard APIs. As a result, we need a solution that meets our security, management and commercial needs.”

Treezor, recently acquired by Societe Generale, was familiar with the security advantages of HSMs, but wanted to minimize investments and on-going overheads, so it began investigating cloud-based offerings.

Taking advantage of the 30-day free evaluation offered by Thales for its cloud-based HSM solution, Treezor was impressed by the ease of use and the speed it was able to deploy its test environment. During the evaluation phase of SafeNet Data Protection On Demand, the ‘point-and-click’ ease of use convinced Treezor that SafeNet Cloud HSM On Demand service provided the best solution in terms of cost, security and ease of implementation.

With SafeNet Data Protection On Demand, Treezor benefits from:

Rapid deployment and easy integration – Cloud HSM services were up and running and integrated into their systems in minutes

Service Level Availability – Unlike other Cloud HSM services on the market, SafeNet Data Protection On Demand comes with a 99.95% SLA

Predictable costs – Pricing is provided in a predictable way with all costs like redundancy and back-up services inclusive, meaning no hidden charges for high availability

Treezor’s strategy has led to a dramatic growth in two years, from issuing 100,000 cards and €400,000 of transactions in 2017 to over 500,000 cards and €5 billion in 2018.

With the scalability of SafeNet Cloud HSM On Demand, alongside its separation of duties, Treezor can offer each customer their own dedicated HSM service, bringing them safety in the knowledge that their financial and other sensitive data is segregated and protected.

“Working in the financial sector, trust is an extremely high parameter with which companies are judged by customers,” Lassus continued. “We chose Thales because of its stellar reputation in security, the ease-of-use of the whole solution and the high SLAs it guarantees.

It’s vital too that we’re able to give our customers a clear insight into costs and availability of our services. The transparency and reliability we’ve received with SafeNet Data Protection On Demand is ideal for our needs of offering services simply, secure and costs effectively across our entire payment chain, from traditional banks to the most innovative fintech companies.”

Todd Moore, vice president of encryption products for cloud protection and licensing activity at Thales said: “The financial industry is one of the most regulated in the world, so it can sometimes be tricky for some to find that balance between innovation and compliance. With SafeNet Data Protection on Demand, Treezor can offer innovative solutions across its payment platform, while ensuring a transparent and secure approach that satisfies both regulators and customers.”

-Sep 13, 2019 @17:05 GMT |

LASG poised to ensure full compliance with Greening Law – GM LASPARK

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THE General Manager, Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency, Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, has restated the resolution of the State Government to enforce total compliance with the Greening Law across the State.

Addressing the media while the Agency carried out enforcement operations at Ikeja, Oniru in Victoria Island, Lekki Phase 1 and Ikoyi environs, the General Manager declared that the pronounced disregard for greening requirements by private establishments and other property owners across the State is repressing government’s efforts to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.

“Our resolve to enforce the law against recalcitrant corporate institutions and property owners who have refused to comply with the State’s provision on beautification of setbacks is in line with government’s quest to improve the green covers in the State,” she added.

While bemoaning the flagrant defiance towards the law by property owners and commercial establishments, the General Manager restated that the Act that compelled them would fully be applied henceforth.

“According to Section 19 of the Law establishing LASPARK, all tenement owners and occupiers shall landscape and beautify the perimeter areas of their properties, the neglect, failure and refusal of which shall warrant the penalty of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N250, 000.00) or such sums as the State shall incur in doing same on behalf of the tenement, or six (6) months imprisonment or other non-custodial sentence,” she said.

She noted that owners of commercial property will be compelled to conform to the stated provision, as she called on owners of petrol stations not to contravene the status of approval granted by the Ministry of Physical Planning which stipulates that 20% of their property be reserved for greening.

“It is disturbing that owners of Petrol Stations particularly the new entrants have imbibed the act of concretising their entire surroundings, neglecting the provision of the law which specifically states that a certain percentage of their space must be reserved for greening,” she stated.

According to Adebiyi-Abiola, LASPARK is now poised to begin the prosecution of erring owners of these petrol stations and other commercial property according to the law, unless they show a desire to abide by the State’s provision and that the government through constant public education, enlightenment and advocacy has ensured that business enterprises and Lagosians appreciate the essence of greening.

She affirmed that LASPARK has served abatement notices to some defaulters across the State, urging them to promptly come forward to resolve issues with the Agency before it enforces a total crackdown on their property as the enforcement team continues monitoring any breach of the law Statewide.

“We have commenced total clampdown on defaulters of greening regulations across the State. Just last month, a building at Alexander in Ikoyi was sealed off for cutting down trees without the Agency’s permission. We urge those who have been served an abatement notice to come forward and engage the Agency for necessary action,” she said.

Speaking further, Adebiyi-Abiola affirmed that the enforcement is a continuous exercise geared towards achieving appreciable conformity and also constrain prospective property owners anywhere in the State to earmark appropriate portion for greening.

While advocating for private sector participation in the drive towards the attainment of green society, the general manager urged owners of residential apartments to comply with the directive to avoid enforcement action.

-Sep 13, 2019 @17:05 GMT |

Security: Army, DSS pledge to sustain synergy in Edo

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DSS
DSS

THE 4 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Benin, says it will sustain the existing synergy  it enjoys with other security agencies in the fight against crime in Edo.

The Brigade Commander, Brig.- Gen. Greg Omorogbe, made the pledge on Friday in Benin when Mr Sheikh Waziri, the new State Director of the Department of State Services (DSS) visited him.

Omorogbe said that the synergy among security agencies was non negotiable in view of the prevailing criminality and insecurity  in the country.

He also assured Waziri of the brigade’s continued support to all security agencies.

Waziri, who had earlier commended the Nigerian Army for its usual support to the DSS in Edo and the nation in general, solicited for its sustenance.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Waziri was also at the Edo Police Command on Thursday and had harped on the need for continuous collaboration between sister security  agencies in tackling crime in the state.

NAN reports that Waziri, who was received by the Edo Commissioner of Police, Mohammed DanMallam, said he was conscious of the fact that the police remained the head of security agencies in terms of internal security.

Waziri noted that it was this conscious fact that the State Command of the Service was prepared to key into in sustaining the existing relationship between both security agencies.

The DSS boss added that both security outfits  needed to translate the excellent relationship among the personnel at the top level to officers at the lower level cadre.

Waziri assured the commissioner that he would ensure that operatives in the command comported themselves well at all times while sharing intelligence with sister security agencies to combat crime.

The new DSS boss expressed optimism that both security outfits would jointly help address the challenges of crime in the state.

In his response, DanMallam assured Waziri of the command’s continued partnership with the DSS, saying both outfits were partners in progress in their avowed constitutional roles of ensuring safety of lives and property. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 17:15 GMT |

Tribunal: PDP expresses worry over delay in releasing judgment record

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Kola Ologbondiyan
Kola Ologbondiyan

THE People’s Democratic Party (PDP) says it is worried over what it described as undue delay in releasing the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) judgment record on the Feb. 23 election.

The party raised the alarm in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Friday in Abuja.

The election petition tribunal had on Wednesday dismissed the petition by PDP and Atiku Abubakar against the election and victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the poll.

The PDP had indicated its intention to head for the Supreme Court to seek redress.

Ologbondiyan demanded the immediate release of the record of the judgement as delivered by the tribunal “without any form of alterations.’’

He described the delay as a calculated attempt to frustrate the PDP and its Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to promptly file an appeal to upturn the judgement at the Supreme Court.

Ologbondiyan said that the Court of Appeal was aware that the PDP and its candidate had mandatory 14 days to appeal to the Supreme Court.

He said that in spite of this the court was delaying in releasing a judgment that was read for nine hours.

“Our party fears that this development is lending credence to suspicion in the public space that the judgement is being tampered with and altered, in the name of correcting errors, knowing that there is no way the verdicts can stand the scrutiny of the Supreme Court.’’

Ologbondiyan expressed hope that there was no link between the circumstances surrounding the delay and comments by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole.

“The PDP had always alerted Nigerians of the relentless efforts by the APC to manipulate processes.

“We are happy that our party and Nigerians in general, have the full video and audio recording of the judgement and we will not hesitate to expose any underhand act by anybody,’’ he said. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 17:09 GMT |

Lagos set to host 2019 World Robotic Olympiad qualifier

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World Robotic Olympiad
World Robotic Olympiad

THE organisers of the World Robotic Olympiad (WRO) on Friday said that the 2019 edition of the competition was now set to hold in Lagos at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, on Saturday.

The 2019 WRO Nigeria serves as the qualification stage to the upcoming WRO in Gyor, Hungary from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, the qualifiers may have about 22,000 participants according to the organisers.

The theme for the 2019 WRO is “Smart Cities”.

The 2019 WRO Nigeria was put together by Arc Lights Foundation Academy, a programme which has been on since 2014.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Arc Light Foundation are the exclusive partners of LEGO in Nigeria and LEGO Education in West Africa, and organisers of the World Robots Olympiad, an annual event that draws participants from across the world.

The organisation seeks to set up a framework aimed at developing and improving the art of robotic science in Nigeria and Africa at large.

The programme is set with knowledge-based scientific training on robotic science and focuses on refining, equipping and transforming schools, educators and parents.

The participants for the WRO Nigeria are drawn from across public and private schools in Lagos having gone through tutorials from their teachers.

The convener of the WRO Nigeria, Mrs Abisola Obasanya, said there had been a significant improvement in the knowledge of robotic science since its introduction to the school curriculum within five years.

“We are so excited about the progress of robotic science since its introduction to the curriculum in the last four years. It has been a remarkable improvement.

“The children have done well or to say, exceptionally well, this time around with the focus on more points derived during the competition and this has shown that the knowledge is fast gaining ground,” she said. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 17:05 GMT |

Street protest can’t change our leaders – CharlyBoy

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Charlyboy
Charlyboy

CHARLES Oputa, a.k.a “Charlyboy”,  convener of  ‘OurMumuDonDo Movement’, on Friday said street protest by Nigerians over national issues cannot change political leaders at all levels.

Charlyboy made this known in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

He said that successive Nigerian political leaders had remained insensitive to the plights of ordinary Nigerians over the years and were not moved by such protests to hold them accountable.

Charlyboy also known as ‘Areafada’, lamented that for almost six decades of Nigeria’s independence, its citizens were yet to experience ‘freedom from bad leadership’.

He said he was therefore boycotting street protests over national issues, and urged advocates of good governance and patriotic Nigerians to resort to engaging the leaders through  other non-violence avenues.

The 68-years-old activist, self acclaimed “President of frustrated Nigerians’, recounted how he spent most part of his years fighting for the rights of ordinary Nigerians.

He said that in some cases, he went to the streets to champion the fights for the rights of those he never knew.

“I have spent over 40 years of my life leading protest for a better society, and I can tell you that street protest will not change our leaders.

“My father always told me back then that whenever I see injustice, I should fight it because it may come to affect me someday too, and that is my motivation for fighting injustice over these years.

“On several occasions, I have been tortured by the Nigerian police and the military for standing up to authorities to ask questions.

“However, on some occasions, I have been regarded as their friends, depending on the sensibility of those in power.

“I am not a professional protester, so now I have decided to use other means to hold leaders accountable,’’ he said.

The former president of Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) said that he decided to use music as a tool to inspire ordinary Nigerians, especially youths toward holding leaders accountable.

He explained that he was leading an advocacy and enlightenment campaign ‘Na We Be Government” and decided to go back to music, his age-long passion to call citizens to participate in nation building.

“All over the word, the Arts, especially music have been used to inspire people and change narratives towards a better society.

“I did not go into music for money, but for the passion of it, and this time I am using it to awake the consciousness of all Nigerians toward building the country they desire.

“A lot of Nigerians have given up on their country because of bad leadership over the years, and do not believe they have a say in the affairs of their country.

“It is time they are reminded that power truly belongs to them and there is a social contract between them and elected political leaders.

“Citizens will do their part and political leaders should also fulfill their obligations as promised in their manifesto, and as required by the constitution,” he said.

NAN reports that Charlyboy is the second son of former Supreme Court justice Chukwudifu Oputa, who had set out to become a Catholic Priest, but left seminary school after a year.

An avid supporter of Okada riders in Nigeria, he is known to have championed many protests, especially when it affects the down-trodden in the society.

In the mid-nineties Charlyboy fought for the rights of military pensioners during the Abacha-led military administration by marching to the Ministry of Defence Headquarters in Abuja to demand payment of their pension arrears.

He had also spearheaded campaigns for Nigerian widows, and was founder of the “Save Nigeria from Nigeria’’ campaign, and he was arrested alongside other activists for civil disobedience during the fuel subsidy protest in 2012. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 17:05 GMT |

South Africa likely to miss 1.5% growth target – Minister

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Tito Mboweni
Tito Mboweni

SOUTH Africa’s economic growth is unlikely to reach the treasury’s target of 1.5 per cent in 2019 because conditions have changed and the country is facing increasing headwinds, Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, said on Friday.

Mboweni told a conference in Johannesburg that the assumptions underlying the forecasts had clearly changed…the actual deficit now was probably much higher.

He said that increasing calls for the treasury to bail out state firms was putting pressure on growth and spending.

“We must re-focus our economy on agriculture…but we also have to continue to support Eskom, because without electricity there is no growth,’’ Mboweni said.

This week rating agency Moody’s, the last of the top three credit firms to rate South Africa’s debt at the investment level, said it had lowered its growth forecast to 0.7 per cent from one per cent.

The central bank sees a gross domestic product at 0.6 per cent this year.

Both have cited slow economic reforms as the key drag on economic activity and massive bailouts to state-owned companies, including 59 billion rands ($4.05 billion) to power firm Eskom.

This has limited the government’s scope for stimulus and raised debt while the resultant uncertainty has kept investment subdued.  (Reuters/NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 16:59 GMT |

Kashamu faction quits PDP, joins APC

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Buruji Kashamu
Kashamu

NO fewer than 1,000 members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Ogun East Senatorial District, loyal to the Buruji Kashamu faction, on Friday, defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)

The defectors, who said that they took the decision in a show of solidarity with Gov. Dapo Abiodun, were received by Mr Tunji Egbetokun, the Senior Special Adviser on Political Matters to the governor, in Abeokuta.

Egbetokun, who stood in for the governor, said that the defectors had made the right choice by joining “the progressives”.

He assured them that the party would ensure fairness, equity and justice for all its members at all times, irrespective of when they joined the party.

“Our party is open to all, even members of other parties. You have come at the right time. In our party, we do not discriminate; rather, we give due recognition to all members, irrespective of how long they have been members or their social standing,” he said.

He promised that the Abiodun-led administration would not disappoint members by formulating and executing policies and programmes that would have positive impacts on the socio-economic wellbeing of the people.

Egbetokun urged party faithful to remain resolute and not engage in activities that would bring the name of the party into disrepute.

He charged the new members to ensure that more people joined the party, stressing that the administration would not stifle the opposition, as “competition becomes sweeter when there are opponents”.

Earlier, the Consultant to the Governor on Political Matters, Mr Biyi Adeleye, said the party was large enough to accommodate people from other parties, assuring that they would be mainstreamed rather than being discriminated against.

The state Secretary of the party, Mr Ayo Olubori, while appreciating the people for coming on board, applauded their strong desire to build the state with the governor.

He urged them to bring new members into the party and work towards its progress and that of the state.

Leader of the defectors, Chief Kolawole Akinyemi, said that they decided to join the progressives as a result of landmark achievements of the governor so far.

He attested to the governor’s sincerity of purpose, promising that they would join hands with him to move the state forward. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 16:55 GMT |

Awka residents decry high cost of foodstuff in spite of rain

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Market in Awka
Market in Awka

RESIDENTS of Awka on Friday decried high cost of foodstuff due to lack of access road for easy transportation of produce out of the hinterland.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka, in separate interviews with buyers and sellers of foodstuff on their experiences so far, gathered that there was need for access roads to ameliorate high cost being experienced.

Mr Innocent Nwobu, a farmer called on the state government to help farmers to be able to transport their produce to the mainland without paying much.

“It will be good for everybody when our roads leading to our farms are graded to a motorable condition.

“We pay much in conveying our produce to the market places which means that we have to add more money to our buyers thereby affecting the consumers.’’

Mrs Ngozi Nkpume, a trader said that bad roads were causing unnecessary increase in price of foodstuff.

“We need roads to be able to carry our purchased produce to our shops without paying so much on transportation.

“Ordinarily, this rainy period should have made foodstuff lower in its price but the reverse is the case because of bad roads,” she said.

Mr Nweke Nwobu, a retired civil servant called on the state government to do something urgently on the issue of bad roads from our agrarian communities.
“We have notable areas that produce foodstuff of different kinds in Anambra, nothing stops the state government from grading their roads so as to help us to buy these things cheaper than it is now,” he said.(NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 16:55 GMT |

Court remands 10 persons over alleged murder, conspiracy

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Prison
Prison

AN Osogbo Chief Magistrates’ Court, on Friday, remanded 10 persons charged with murder and conspiracy in Ilesa Prison.

The accused persons include Joseph Oluwatobi, 35; Onikoyi Fatai, 25; Ajiboye Fatai, 28; Adebayo Oluwole, 32; Ganiyu Yusuf, 25; Bolarinwa Opeyemi, 40; Mumuni Saheed, 21; Mohammed Mubarak, 28; Oladosu Toheeb, 22 and Alimi Sodiq, 22.

The Magistrate, Mr O. T. Badmus, ordered that the defendants be kept in prison due to the magnitude of the offence committed and adjourned the case till Oct. 25 for mention.

The Prosecutor, Insp. Olusegun Elisha, had told the court that the defendants committed the offence on Aug. 19 at about 6.00 pm., at Obelawo area, Osogbo.

“They killed Adedeji Makute by strangling him to death,” Elisha said.

He said that the offence contravened Sections 316, 319(1) and 324 of the Criminal Code, Cap 34, Vol. 11, Laws of Osun, 2002.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the pleas of the defendants were not taken by the court. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 16:52 GMT |

Heritage Bank supports entrepreneurs

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Ifie Sekibo
Ifie Sekibo

HERITAGE Bank Plc has once more thrown its support behind the organisers of ‘The Next Titan,’ so as to have a better and improved season six of the programme.  The programme focuses on ensuring that the entrepreneurial goals of the Nigerian youths are achieved and it has conducted its auditions in four of the six geopolitical zones of the country.

Speaking during the audition at the Sheba Event Centre in Lagos, Ifie Sekibo, managing director, Heritage Bank, noted that the bank has continued to demonstrate its commitment towards developing and positioning youths to become world-class citizens equipped and ready to be absorbed into an increasingly competitive workforce.

“One of the reasons why we chose, as an organisation, to support the entrepreneurial growth and welfare of the youths is to see young men and women play vital roles in the socio-economic development of the country and help curb the high level of unemployment,” a statement by the bank quoted Sekibo as saying.

Sekibo, who was represented by Ozena Utulu, head, brand management and sustainability, corporate communications, Heritage Bank, said the bank was positioned to lead the recovery of the economy through enhancing youth entrepreneurship development and engendering self-employment via its various initiatives and products.

According to him, the drive to support youths seeks to create, preserve and transfer wealth across generations. He explained that the entrepreneur schemes of the bank has always focused on dependable job-creating sectors, such as the agricultural value chain (fish farming, poultry, snail farming), cottage industry, mining, and solid minerals, creative industry (tourism, arts and crafts), and ICT.

Sekibo stated that the bank supported the initiative because of its belief in Nigerian youth, who make up about 80 percent of the country’s population.

He further explained that Heritage Bank was impressed with the nature in which talents were sought out, the rigorous selection process and the integrity with which the overall scheme was delivered.

Sekibo expressed satisfaction in the long term sustainability of the initiative, stating, “we will not support something that will not stand the test of time”.

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 16:45 GMT |

Unity Bank partners firm on blockchain solution for farmers

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Unity Bank
Unity Bank

UNITY Bank Plc is partnering Binkabi to provide a complete end-to-end solution for farmers and the entire agribusiness value chain. Usman Abdulqaqir, executive director, corporate planning and compliance, Unity Bank, said the partnership would play a vital role in agribusiness nationwide and offers great value to farmers and SMEs.

“There are problems within the agric sector and one of them is that we have limited bank lending to the sector. There is difficulty in accessing risk because there is no data and even when there is data, it is not reliable,” he said.

Abdulqaqir added that the platform would provide transparency, liquidity and a better risk assessment for farmers, thereby enhancing productivity and profitability. “We actually welcome the partnership with Binkabi because it is a platform for bringing all players in the sector into one pot. It will also bring liquidity into the market and naturally make things easier for the farmers. It also gives us value in doing a better risk assessment.”

He added that with the innovation, farmers can present their warehouse receipts to access funding which in turn would unlock the entire value chain. According to him, Unity Bank has always and remained focused in supporting the agricultural sector.

“By way of strategy, we look at the various value chains across the agric sector and what we are doing is to integrate all the various component into one single entity to have an integrated approach to funding the sector. We have a huge portfolio of primary production and today 40 percent of our loan portfolio is in one aspect of agriculture or another. We are also the leading bank in funding primary production.”

On her part, Manrui Tang, co-founder and chief operating officer, Binkabi, the firm will provide value to farmers and SMEs by offering quality storages for grains and farm produces that are classified as commodities. She said that the firm would also create a marketplace of connecting end-buyers and end-sellers of commodities and enable farmers and SMEs to access finance.

“We are a platform for issuing trading and financing commodities on blockchain. We connect with banks, warehouses, commodity exchanges, logistics companies and farmers, aggregators and all parties in the supply chain. We streamline the entire commodity end to end trading and financing process for the benefit of farmers and SMEs to make this entire lending and trading process to be automated, secured and profitable for them,” she said.

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 16:39 GMT |

CBN set to deepen digital transformation culture

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CBN
CBN

IN response to the ever-changing market conditions, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is ready to deepen its digital transformation culture. The financial services industry has witnessed several evolutions within the last two decades and would be subject to many more changes in the next few years, and the CBN has recognised the need to adapt an internal culture and operations to meet present-day reality.

The need to deepen its digital transformation culture was part of the discussion at the recently concluded Digital Transformation Session in Abuja. The central bank is consulting with Reliance InfoSystems Limited, Microsoft’s Tier1 Partner in West Africa to drive technology adoption internally and intensify its internal digital transformation culture.

The goal, according to CBN, is hinged on the four pillars of digital transformation, which is to empower employees of the CBN to emerging work and productivity. The initiative is expected to identify transformation opportunities that will support the CBN’s corporate objectives, engage customers leveraging digital tools and services, optimise operations, which include minimising running costs, improve service delivery and facilitate collaboration within teams, and transform its products.

Paul Ojeikere, deputy director, Enterprise Division (IT Architecture and Strategy Division), CBN, while speaking at the session, highlighted the need for enhancing productivity and collaboration, in order to improve how employees, communicate, collaborate on projects, and develop ideas.

Olayemi Popoola, managing director of Reliance InfoSystems, while thanking the CBN for the opportunity to collaborate on the initiative, said: “Even with the best practices templates, no external consultant can perfectly pinpoint and successfully drive DT opportunities within an organisation.”

He reiterated that it would take employees of the apex bank across all cadres of the organisation to deliberately turn the transformation wheels as they spot opportunities in the course of their daily routines and interactions.

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 16:35 GMT |

FG insists on practical skills for e-government processes

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Pantami
Pantami

THE federal government has stressed the need for all government officials to take the issue of e-government initiative from theoretical to practical approach. Isa Pantami, minister of communications, said this would ensure strategic implementation of all government online processes.

Speaking at a recent meeting with the Korea International Cooperation Agency, KOICA, Pantami explained that this would be in tandem with the agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. He said the federal government recognised the support, collaboration and trainings facilitated for many public servants in Nigeria by KOICA.

Pantami said government was ready to continue to partner and work with them to move the e-Government implementation to the next level. “We must sit down and take the issue of e-Government from theoretical to practical approach. I am glad we already have e-Government Master Plan in place, but I always challenge my colleagues that producing master plan, blue print or strategies is not enough until we do what we can to translate it into action.

“If a document is produced and documented in our place without implementation, the aims would have been defeated because the strategy is just theoretical, execution of that theory is where our expertise needs to be displayed,” he said.

Pantami said living in theoretical form would not solve the problem, while stressing the need for government officials to ensure that they put a strategy in place to implement the master plan religiously and ensure that the country reaps the expected result for its socio-economic development by creating digital jobs. “We want to ensure that all the agencies under the Ministry play significant roles in the area of E-Government implementation.”

The minister thanked the KOICA team for the provision of e-Government Training Centre at the Public Service Institute of Nigeria, PSIN, and assured them that government would ensure that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, do partake in the training.

Responding, Woochan Chang, country director, KOICA, pointed out that the team had been collaborating with the ministry to develop e-Government in Nigeria and that it has engaged with many other stakeholders such as the Open Government Partnership, OGP, Civil Society Organisation, CSO, and others for effective implement of the e-Government in Nigeria.

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 16:35 GMT |

Why Gov. Ayade suspended special adviser

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Ayade
Ayade

GOV. Ben Ayade of Cross River has suspended his Special Adviser on Budget, Mr Moses Onoh for mishandling of official communication.

The notice of Onoh’s suspension was disclosed in a statement issued on Friday to news men in Calabar by Mr Christian Ita, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the governor.

According to Ita, Onoh’s suspension which is a direct consequence of his mishandling of privilege official communication takes immediate effect.

He warned all political appointees that the governor would not condone any abuse of office of any kind, including the leaking of privilege official communication. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 16:18 GMT |

Ifako-Ijaiye residents appeal to Sanwo-Olu to rehabilitate deplorable roads

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Road
Road

SOME residents of Ijaiye-Ojokoro Local Council Development Area (LCDA) on Friday appealed to Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State to rehabilitate all the roads in deplorable conditions in the area.

The residents made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

According to them, all the major roads in  Ifako-Ijaiye area of the LCDA are in  deplorable states and need urgent government’s  intervention to ease  people and vehicular movements.

Alhaji Hamzat Azeez, the LCDA Community Development Committee (CDC) Chairman, said that nearly all the street roads in the wards are in deplorable conditions.

He said, “The affected streets are Coker, Sunmonu, Afuwape, Adebayo and Eniola  in Ward A, Shola Martins, Oladitun, Seyiola in Ward B, Ile Igbo, Arowolo, Irebanwa and Adetutu in Ward C.’’

The CDC chairman also said that the other deplorable roads in Wards D and E  include: Abanikanda, Bayo Makinde, Adetola, Ikereku, Jakande Power Line, Yusuf, Musbau, Ope Ewe, Almoroof and Ogo Oluwa roads. “These roads have become a nightmare to the residents and users,” he said.

They pleaded with the state governor to help them fix the roads for their benefits. Azeez said that all the streets were major roads that linked Ikereku and Yusuf Jakande Power Line communities, adding they were in dire need of government’s urgent attention.

Also, Mr Oladejo Akinloye, the LCDA’s `Babaloja’ General, said that major road projects in the area had been abandoned.

“I am appealing to the governor to complete many of the abandoned road projects, especially, that of Shola Martins Street. Some dilapidated infrastructure in the area also needs proper maintenance,” he said.

Similarly, Mr Babatunde Amoo, a teacher, said that the bad roads had affected many businesses and schools in the area.

“Students get to their schools late and return home late while some drivers have abandoned their buses due to high cost and regular maintenance.

“We are appealing to the state government to take proactive steps to tackle these road challenges in our area to ease vehicular movements and bring businesses to limelight in the area,’’ he said. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 16:18 GMT |

El-Rufai urges youths to prioritise peace building for societal development

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El-Rufai
El-Rufai

GOV. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state on Friday in Kaduna, urged youths to see peace building as a priority in the interest of societal  development

El-Rufail made the call in Kaduna at the inauguration of the new state executive council of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Kaduna Chapter.

The governor said that peace building would engender the social inclusion of youths in leadership positions.

El-Rufai, who noted that the state needed unity, peace and social inclusion, urged youths to play pivotal roles in such process.

“Young people, youths and women suffer most from conflict and lack of peace, they are also the tools used to promote insecurity and disrupt peace,” he said.

The governor disclosed that the state government had evolved several entrepreneurship programmes aimed at boosting self reliance, especially among youths.

He said the intention of the programmes was also to assist industrious youths to start their businesses.

“We are doing this because everyone cannot be employed by government, there is need for us to provide the platforms and opportunities to convert ideas into money-yielding businesses.”

El-Rufai, who said that Nigeria’s future was in the hands of youths, also urged them to acquire knowledge and skills capable of helping them to lead the country.

“If youths dedicate themselves to quality education and are not careless with their health and particularly do not get attracted to drugs, they will achieve every of their potential.

“Not all businesses you start will succeed, some may fail but you can restart over and over because failures are lessons.

“As a government, we will support you no matter how many times you try and fail because sometimes it is that one success out of 10 failures that may make you great.”

Nathan Bagudu, National Chairman, NYCN, said that the body was the authoritative mouthpiece of Nigerian youths.

He said the youth body was directly under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Youth & Sport Development.

Bagadu said Nigerian youths were ready to support government activities aimed at improving peoples’ living standard.

He urged the governor to support NYCN in its efforts to promote youth development across the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that El-rufai was decorated as a Grand Patron of body at the event. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 16:15 GMT |

Don’t buy land during rainy season, SEMA warns Ekiti residents

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Fayemi
Fayemi

THE General Manager of the Ekiti State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mr Olajide Borode, has warned Ekiti residents against buying lands during rainy season to avert flood disaster.

Borode gave this warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Ado-Ekiti.

He advised residents to avoid buying cheap lands, especially the ones on waterways which could lead to loss of lives and property in the future.

Mr Borode also cautioned against indiscriminate dumping of refuse to prevent outbreak of epidemic diseases.

He further called on residents to always bag their wastes properly so that refuse would not litter the streets.

The general manager urged them to report people found dumping refuse in unauthorised places to the relevant authorities for prompt action

He advised citizens affected during the last flood disaster in the state, especially those on the waterways to vacate the place till the rainy season recedes. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 16:09 GMT |

NDDC, IFAD vow to boost food security in Niger Delta

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NDDC
NDDC

THE Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has begun collaborating with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to boost food production in the Niger Delta, an official said.

Dr Akwagaga Enyia, the Acting Managing Director of NDDC said this on Friday during a meeting with IFAD officials at the commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.

Enyia said that current NDDC management was targeting food sufficiency and employment creation in the area.

“We believe that this partnership between IFAD and NDDC will enhance the productivity of farmers and women for alleviation of poverty from the region.

“NDDC is willing and prepared to partner with IFAD to improve food productivity, employment opportunity for women and youths,” she assured.

The managing director expressed optimism that such collaboration between NDDC and IFAD would create employment and reduce poverty in the region.

On her part, the Country Director of IFAD, Mrs Niddine Gnossa, said that IFAD recently decided to extend its programmes to the southern part of Nigeria having been working in the northern part for extended period of time.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that IFAD is a UN agency that works with governments across the world to support agricultural programmes.

“We understand that this programme will be important to farmers in the Niger Delta, and as such we are committed to having this programme start as soon as possible.

“IFAD is passionate to creating opportunities for the youths and farmers to enable them increase their livelihoods and income by working in the agriculture sector,” Gnossa said.

She commended NDDC for its willingness to work with IFAD to boost food security and create employment opportunities in the Niger Delta and country at large. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 16:07 GMT |

Nigerians criticise removal of World Wrestling from Gotv select 3

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Gotv
Gotv

A cross section of Nigerians on Friday took to social media to express concerns on the removal of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) by the digital satellite television providers Gotv.

The reactions came after Gotv made the announcement of moving WWE clash champion from Select 3 (channel 32) to Select 5 max.

The digital satellite television providers Gotv has announces the removal of the WWE clash champion to Select 5 of Gotv max.

Some Nigerians have storm Gotv Facebook page to react over the WWE move, below are their reactions:

@richardnnabugwu said, removing WWE from plus to max. This is not fair, and I pray very soon a new affordable cable TV will come and collect all your customers.

@floencekparobor said, ” So we will no longer be able to watch WWE on select sport 3 (channel 32) on Gotv . Am not happy about it at all”.

@Akinkuebisamuel said,” Why not select 3 again oooo”.

@oyegokeoluwabusayurme said,” So we can’t watch WWE on select 3.Your days are numbered.

@kashuwar said,” My reason to dump Gotv is getting clear now…wrestling is the only thing I enjoyed with your service and now with my N1900 I can’t watch it again? Oya na let’s see who will win this Battle “.

@mattertofad said, ” Time to swap my Gotv for other cable”.

Report that WWE was previously on Gotv plus in select 3 but now moved to Gotv max in select 5. It will air from Sept 19 to Sept 22 on select 5.

The providers urged subscribers to upgrade to Gotv max now to catch this action.(NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 16:05 GMT |

Murray hopes to be fit enough by next year to play Federer, Nadal

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Andy Murray
Andy Murray

FORMER world number one Andy Murray said he still needs four or five months to play top-level tennis, so that he can again take on old rivals Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal after career-saving hip surgery earlier this year.

The 32-year-old is regaining his fitness after a hip resurfacing procedure in January, and late last month recorded the first two victories of his singles comeback at the Rafa Nadal Open Challenger tournament in Mallorca before making a third-round exit.

Briton Murray, who has dropped to 415 in the world rankings, will next compete in Zhuhai, Beijing and Shanghai in the Asian swing of the ATP tour this year.

But the three-time major winner thinks that it will be 2020 before he is “maybe” able to face the challenge of playing Federer or Nadal.

“For years… I competed against them, although I haven’t won every time. I’ve lost more than I’ve won, but I always went out onto court feeling I could win,” Murray told Sky Sports.

“I don’t know if I’d enjoy going out on court against them knowing I’m going to lose or feeling like I had no chance.

That would probably be psychologically challenging… I need to be patient and not expect too much too soon.

“But maybe in four or five months, I can get there. In terms of how I’m hitting the ball in practice… the skill is still there. I physically need to get a little better and hopefully over time I get a little bit faster… I think I will.”

Murray is hopeful of being picked in Britain’s Davis Cup team for the Nov. 18-24 Finals in Madrid, adding he would be happy playing only doubles if necessary.

“If I’m selected I’ll play. I don’t want to play or be selected just because four years ago I played really well,” Murray, who guided Britain to the title in 2015, added.

“I’d like to help and be in the team and play singles, but if I was asked to play doubles I’d probably do that.” (Reuters/NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 15:59 GMT |

Alleged defilement: Court admits trader to N500,000 bail

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Court
Court

AN Upper Area Court, Jiwa on Friday, admitted a 39-year-old trader,  Okechukwu Okonkwo, charged with alleged defilement to bail in the sum of N500, 000.

The judge, Malam  Mohammed Marafa, also ordered the defendant to produce two  reasonable sureties who must reside within the court’s jurisdiction.

He  adjourned the matter until Sept.24 for hearing.

Okonkwo of Dei-dei, Abuja was arraigned on Aug. 28 over alleged defilement to which he pleaded not guilty.

At that sitting, following a bail application made by the defence counsel, Helen Ejike, the judge ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison on the said date and adjourned the matter to September 13 for ruling.

The prosecutor, Nkem Uchegbulam had told the court that one Dorcas Sunday reported the matter at Gwagwa Divisional Police Headquarters on Aug.21.

He said the defendant was allegedly caught by one Blessing Oti while he attempted to rape the complainant’s 9-year-old daughter on Aug.16.

The prosecutor said during the police investigation, the minor revealed that the defendant had unlawful sexual intercourse with her on three occasions, adding that the offence contravened the provisions of Section 283 of the Penal Code. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 15:59 GMT |

Tribunal Judgment: Buhari meets APC Governors at Aso Rock

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Buhari
Buhari

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Friday met with state governors elected under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the agenda of the meeting, which started at about 3 p.m., was unknown as at the time of filing this report.

NAN reports that the governors was led by the Chairman of the APC Progressives Governors, Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State.

NAN also observed that the governors, who were meeting the president for the first time since the Wednesday Presidential Election Petition Tribunal’s judgment which upheld the election of President Buhari, may use the opportunity to congratulate him.

Others attending the meeting include the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiohmole, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 15:59 GMT |

Jonathan’s absence delays decision on PDP’s running mate

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Goodluck Jonathan
Goodluck Jonathan

THE absence of former President Goodluck Jonathan has put on hold a proposed stakeholders’ meeting by the Bayelsa Governor, Seriake Dickson, to review the choice of running mate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the November 16 governorship election in the state.

There were outcries in the state chapter of the PDP following attempts by few party leaders to foist Senator Lawrence Ewrujakpor, who hails from Dickson’s Sagbama Local Government Area, on the party as a running mate to the governorship candidate, Senator Douye Diri.

But Dickson, who listened to stiff opposition against Ewrujakpor, called for a meeting of top and critical stakeholders of the party to review the controversial choice of Ewrujakpor within the timeframe given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for substitution of candidates.

It was, however, gathered that no date had been selected for the meeting because Dickson and other party leaders were waiting for the arrival of Jonathan, who was said to have gone outside the country for an engagement.

It was learn that Jonathan’s opinion would be sought on the issue, which was threatening the existence of the PDP and its chances at the forthcoming governorship poll.

A PDP stalwart, who spoke in confidence, said following widespread argument against conceding the running mate slot to Dickson’s West Senatorial District comprising Sagbama and Ekeremor, the position would be zoned to the East, Jonathan’s district comprising Nembe, Brass and Ogbia.

He said in view of the current political realities arising from the decision of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to give Nembe its running mate slot, most of the PDP leaders were making a strong case that the position should be given to Ogbia as a mark of honour to Jonathan and to counter the raging influence of APC at the East.

The PDP chieftain said if the meeting eventually holds, Jonathan and Dickson will be expected to nominate their preferred persons in Ogbia for the running mate position while the governorship candidate, Diri, will select from the nominees of the two leaders.

He said: “But the dilemma here is that Jonathan has a father figure in his Ogbia Local Government Area and would not want to be seen as favouring one son above the other. Jonathan will not dabble into that kind of politics of selection. He will simply ask the governor to choose anybody in his team as far as the person is from Ogbia.

“We know that most of the people from Ogbia angling for the position lack electoral value and have shown disloyalty to the governor. Most of them were involved in anti-party activities and could not deliver their wards in the last general elections. But they are the ones desperate to become running mates.

“There are, however, persons in the restoration team from Ogbia with the capacity to drive votes and command the respect of the younger ones. People especially youths from across the state like these ones, who have shown loyalty to restoration ideals. We expect the governor to pick a running from this pack”.

Another source close to Jonathan said the former President was still busy with his international assignment and might not be available for the meeting.

“But he has made his feelings on the matter known. He is of the view that he will support anybody from Ogbia the governor and the party consider for running mate to the candidate”, the source said.

A former Chairperson of Brass, Mrs. Hellen Bob, said in a statement that the stakeholders’ meeting was unnecessary since the governor had the knife and the yam.

She said: “For me there is no need calling stakeholders to hear governor’s briefing as usual because they may not be given opportunity to speak out their minds. Even if they do, their opinions will never count because of our past experiences.

“We all recalled how three aspirants emerged from him to speak for a Restoration political family and the entire PDP. Not even the party leadership could call a meeting to discuss the way forward but strongly supported the governor to ensure one of them won the PDP ticket while others were disgraced.

“He may be the last PDP governor if he doesn’t fix all these disheartening issues that have clouded our dear PDP. The governor is a very intelligent and experienced personality that knows what best to do at the right time.

“He need not any stakeholders meeting to fix the party back to the way it used to win general elections. Since 2015 that the model of choosing who bears the PDP flags in state House of Assembly, House of Reps and Senate seats changed to imposition of candidates due to favoritism, family and friends, we have lost more seats than ever.

“With all due respect my boss, the truth is bitter but I have to state it here clearly that this imposition of candidates is an unpopular and old school kind of party primary model that is why we lost those seats to the APC.

“Frankly speaking, even those who are close with you are only there to ensure there salaries read hence will never tell you the truth. Please take a good decision yourself as you have always done to fix all the collapsing walls of the party as no stakeholders have any role to play at this point”.

But some party stakeholders commended the decision of Dickson to review the party’s choice of running mate saying it was a step in the right direction.

Chairman of Bayelsa East Forum for Justice (BEFJ), Monday Eribo, said the governor by deciding to convene the meeting, had again proved that he was a leader that listened to genuine complaints.

He said for listening to the loud outcry against the intended running mate, Dickson endeared himself to the heart of loyal members of the party, who were ready to stand with him till the end of his tenure.

Eribo urged the leaders and stakeholders invited for the meeting to look at the issue of running mate dispassionately and ensure that it was zoned to the East.

Eribo, a former three-time Commissioner in the State Local Government Service Commission, appealed to the stakeholders to ensure the selection of a competent person from the East before the expiration of the INEC deadline.

He said: “What the candidate of the PDP for the November 16 governorship election, Senator Douye Diri needs is someone who enjoys the support of not only Ogbia people but people across the state and it must be someone who is very committed to the Restoration agenda.

“Picking someone from the East, particularly Ogbia will be a mark of honour and respect to former President Goodluck Jonathan and will balance the political equation in the state.

“We thank individuals and groups who came out to voice their concerns over the choice of Senator Lawrence Ehrudjakpor, saying history will never forget them, as they spoke up when it mattered most”. – The Nation

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 15:45 GMT |

Melaye rejects appointment as DG Kogi Guber Campaign Council

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Dino Melaye
Dino Melaye

SENATOR Dino Melaye has rejected his appointment as the Director-General of the Kogi State Governorship Campaign Council by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

Melaye made this known on Friday via his Twitter handle @dino-melaye.

The party’s National Publicity Secretary,  Kola Ologbondiyan had told newsmen that Melaye has been appointed the DG of Kogi State Governorship Campaign Council.

However, declining the offer, Melaye wrote: “Let me state categorically that I have turned down the position of the Director-General of the Kogi State Governorship Campaign Council. I wish PDP all the best. When truth is a casualty, there is chaos.” – The Nation

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 15:39 GMT |

Sunshine Queens coach satisfied in spite missing Super 4 ticket

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Wemimo Matthew
Wemimo Matthew

THE Sunshine Queens head coach, Wemimo Matthew, has expressed satisfaction with the performance of her team in spite of missing out in the prestigious 2019 Nigeria Women Premier League (NWPL) Super 4.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Owena Mermaids occupied the top position in their group for some hours with 11 points after an emphatic 2-0 win against newcomers, Kaduna Queens on  MatchDay 6.

She added that her side worked hard to deserve a place in the Super 4 but were edged out following a 2-2 draw played by Bayelsa Queens and Nasarawa Amazons in Yenagoa.

Reigning champions, Bayelsa queens retained the top spot in Group C with 11 points with superior goals to grab the Super 4 ticket.

Matthew said that the goalless draw her team played with  Nasarawa Amazons in the MatchDay 1 in Akure actually cost them the coveted Super 4 ticket.

“Unarguably, our group is the toughest, but I think with the quality of the bench and players we should deservedly top the group.

“Three of the teams in the group; Sunshine Queens, Bayelsa Queens and Nasarawa Amazons, played in the last season’s Super 4 Championship.

“Unfortunately, we could not achieve the mark at the end of the day and naturally I’m not happy.

She said that the team had done well having come out from the tough group on the same points with the eventual winners, Bayelsa Queens and losing the top on goals difference.

Matthew said that the team fought hard on all fronts, adding that their best was not good enough to hand the team the Super 4 ticket.

“I think we lost the battle for the Super 4 ticket in our first home match against Nasarawa Amazons which ended in a goalless draw.

“If we had picked the three points each in the first match and the third match, the whole scenario would have been totally different.

“Well, that is history now and nothing can be done to rewrite history as far as the two matches are concerned, we have learnt our lessons,” said the 2019 All Africa Games goal medal winning assistant coach.

Matthew added: “In the second stanza of the league, you can see we did not lose any match that shows how resolute we were to clinch the enviable ticket.

“I think we did our best. There is nothing to add or subtract. We can only look forward with the hope of doing far better in future.

“We will be taking a well-deserved rest from the campaign consoled by the fact that they ended the 2018/19 NWPL season on high.

“We have to prepare better for the upcoming season more so, as we ended the outgoing season on high while we will take a deserved break.

“The players will be free at the moment to consider their future and seek greener pastures elsewhere, the truth remains that not all the players will be retained for next season by Sunshine Queens.”

NAN reports that Bayelsa Queens, Adamawa Queens, Confluence Queens and Rivers Angels have picked the Super 4 tickets, while Osun Babes, Invincible Angels, Dream Stars Ladies and Kaduna Queens finished at the bottom of the abridged league season.

Out of the  four teams, two  will  survive to continue in the elite league, while the other two would drop to the lower division to join the last two teams in the Pro-League playoff. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 15:35 GMT |

World Bank lifts aid embargo, approves $450m loan for Tanzania

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World Bank
World Bank

THE World Bank says it has lifted aid embargo to Tanzania and approved a 450 million dollars loan to the East African country.

The bank said on Friday the low-interest loan covered a poverty- reduction programme that would help around five million Tanzanians.

The loan signals the release of the first tranche of1.7 billion dollars that were frozen last year because of concern over Tanzania policies.

The bank’s concerns included passing a law that made it illegal to question official statistics and expelling pregnant girls from public schools.

The government amended the statistics law in June to remove the threat of jail, but has yet to announce changes to the rules on teenage pregnancy.

The bank said in a statement it had been engaging with the government of Tanzania on a range of policy issues that led to a hold-up of financing since 2018.

“Approval of this project acknowledges efforts by the government of Tanzania to address the policy issues by amending the statistics law (2018) in line with international practice, as well as the government’s commitment to facilitate all girls to complete their education.”

The government has been working to unlock 1.7 billion dollars in funding from the bank that was frozen last year.

In July, Tanzania’s statistics agency said it may review its economic growth figure for 2018 after the World Bank came up with a significantly lower one. It has not released updated figures.

The World Bank is Tanzania’s biggest external lender. Foreign loans and grants are a key source of foreign exchange for East Africa’s third-largest economy.

“This new support will be critical to improve the lives of many more people in need and overall raise the country’s human capital index, which is still very low at 0.40,” said Bella Bird, the World Bank’s country director for Tanzania.

“We will continue to work with the government and engage with citizens and other stakeholders on the complex set of development issues facing the country and its people.”  (Reuters/NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 15:35 GMT |

COP 14 reaches major breakthroughs on land regradation

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L – R: Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary and India Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar addressing the closing session of COP 14 to the UNCCD on Friday in New Delhi, India
L – R: Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary and India Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar addressing the closing session of COP 14 to the UNCCD on Friday in New Delhi, India

THE global community have agreed to make Sustainable Development Goal, a target of achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030, a national target for action to save productive land.

In a closing statement at the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the country parties also agreed to address insecurity of land tenure, including gender inequality in land tenure.

At the session jointly presided over by UNCCD Executive Secretary, Ibrahim Thiaw and India Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, the country parties expressed support for new initiatives or coalitions to improve human health and well-being, the ecosystem, peace and security.

COP 14 also adopted a landmark decision to buttress global efforts to better mitigate and manage the risks of drought and build resilience.

“We have woken up to the fact that we will see more frequent and severe droughts, a phenomenon that will be exacerbated by climate change.

“To my mind, this is the COP where we put people at the heart of what we do,’’ Thiaw said.

The UNCCD scribe said that a global movement of restoration, anchored in nature-based solutions would deliver benefits for the three Rio Conventions and for many of the world’s most pressing issues.

He said that the private sector played an important role in land restoration and called for a framework for rewarding conservation, restoration and sustainable use of resources.

Also speaking at the closing, Javadekar restated his country’s commitment to achieving its land restoration target by 2030.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 10 days of over 200 meetings and 44 exhibitions were opened by India Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, in attendance.

About 9,000 delegates from 122 country parties, including UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina Muhammed, UNCCD Executive Secretary, Ibrahim Thiaw, ministers and heads of UN agencies attended the conference, whose theme is “Investing in Restoration to Unlock Opportunities”.

The international community had adopted the Convention to Combat Desertification in Paris on 17 June 1994 out of concern that “desertification and drought are problems of global dimension affecting all regions’’.

In 2015, the international community also agreed to pursue a global target to ensure all countries work towards keeping a healthy balance of productive land by accelerating the recovery of degrading land while avoiding and reducing land degradation.

Mrs Ibukun Odusote, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, led Nigeria delegation comprising officials from the ministry, Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), National Agency for Great Green Wall and The Ecological Fund. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 15:29 GMT |

Johnson to meet EU chief amid ‘wide gap’ on Brexit

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Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

BRITISH Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that he would on Monday discuss Brexit with the outgoing European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker.

This is following Ireland premier’s statement that the two sides remained far apart on a possible deal.

According to Downing Street, Johnson will discuss Brexit with Juncker over a “working lunch“ in Luxembourg where he will also meet Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel.

Johnson said on Thursday that he believed the two sides could still agree a last-minute deal to smoothen Britain’s withdrawal from the EU on Oct. 31.

He, however, said that his government would continue to plan for the possibility of leaving without a deal.

The Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, told Ireland’s National Broadcaster (RTE) that “the gap is very wide“between Brussels and London on a possible Brexit deal.

Asked whether he trusts Johnson, amid accusations by British opposition lawmakers that he was merely paying lip service to the Brexit talks, Varadkar said: “I believe when he says he wants a deal on Brexit.

“Johnson is acting in good faith and our teams are in contact and we are exploring what is possible.

“The gap is very wide, but we will fight for and work for no-deal until the last moment, but not at any cost.

“And at the same time, we are preparing the country for no-deal if we end up in that scenario.” (dpa/NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 15:27 GMT |

Political group in Kwara seeks split of Ifelodun LG

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Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq
Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq

AA Support Group, a political association in Kwara, has called for the creation of another council area from the present Ifelodun Local Government Area of the state.

The leader of the group, Chief Mohammed Lawal, made the request at a special prayer organised for Gov. Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq in Ilorin.

Lawal explained that the request was long overdue because Ifelodun Local Government Area had remained unbroken since the 1976 Local Government Reform.

“This has an adverse effect on the development of the area.

“The landmass, population and voting strength cannot be over emphasised,” he said.

Lawal urged the governor to accede to the request of the people by creating a new local government area or Local Council Development Area.

He also said that the prayer organised for the governor was to seek divine guidance for the administration to succeed.

The group, according to Lawal, is committed to promoting the activities, policies and programmes of the government through sensitisation at the grassroots.

“Among the objectives of the group is to mobilise grassroots support for the government by enlightening the people on its achievements.

“Another key objective is to identify where government attention is needed in the area of infrastructure and socio-economic development in Ifelodun Local Government Area and recommend solutions to the governor,” he said.

In his remarks, the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Kayode Alabi, who hails from the local council, pledged that the new administration would transform the state.

Alabi, who was represented by Mr Hassan Garba, a grassroots politician, applauded the members of the group for remembering the governor in their prayers, saying they would share in the prosperity ahead.

Leading the group in prayers, Pastor Edward Malomo of Church of Christ, Ilorin, said that the emergence of Abdulrazaq had put an end to the political slavery in the state.

Malomo urged the group to support the administration in its bid to transform the state.

The cleric expressed optimism that the administration would take the state to an enviable height.

Alhaji Kamaldeen Sofihullahi, who led on the Islamic prayer, urged the governor to imbibe the principles of President Muhammadu Buhari in changing the fortunes of the state.

Sofihullahi, the Head of Department, Arabic Language, Kwara State College of Arabic and Islamic Legal Studies, said Kwarans would not entertain excuses because the state had suffered protracted underdevelopment. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 15:17 GMT |

Deji of Akure observes 7 days of seclusion

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Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi
Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi

THE Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, will on Saturday, begin 7 days annual leave during which he will not attend to any function in the palace.

This information is contained in a statement signed by Mr Michael Adeyeye, the Chief Press Secretary to Oba Aladelusi on Friday in Akure.

“The palace wishes to bring to the attention of the public that the Deji and Paramount Ruler of Akure Kingdom, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi, Odundun II will on Saturday 14 proceed on his annual 7 days leave.

“The annual leave, which is referred to as “ULEFUNTA” will end on September 20.

“In line with the tradition, the Deji will not receive any visitor nor attend any function throughout the period.

“The public is hereby notified that there will be no beating of drum in Akure under any guise throughout the period.

“Equally, all shops, stalls and markets around the Deji’s palace will be under lock and key for the period of the leave.

“This will not affect other markets, stalls and shops except those around the Deji’s palace,” Adeyeye stated.

Adeyeye added that the road leading to the Deji’s palace would be closed during the period, urging road users to make use of the adjoining routes throughout the period.

According to him, the monarch will use the leave period to pray for the peace and progress of Akure kingdom.

He, therefore, thanked all residents for their support and understanding for the seven days of seclusion. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 15:15 GMT |

Man, 24, docked over alleged cultism, possession of jack knife

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A 24-year-old technician, Idowu Yusuf, was on Friday brought before a Yaba Magistrates’ Court in Lagos for allegedly belonging to an unlawful society and being in possession of a jack knife.

Yusuf, a resident of Agasa Str., in the Ojo area of Lagos is facing a three-count charge of conspiracy, belonging to an unlawful society and unlawful display of arms in public.

He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The Police Prosecutor, Sgt. Godwin Oriabure, told the court that the defendant committed the offence at 2:00a.m. on Aug. 25, behind the NLCDC office, Ojo, Lagos.

According to him, the defendant, who is a fridge repairer, and some other men (still at large), were members of an unlawful society popularly called “Eiye”.

He said that the police had information of an initiation gathering of the members of the secret society, where the defendant was arrested.

“When he was arrested, he had a jack knife and a locally made bottle for smoking hard drugs in his possession.

“My lord, the defendant and his cultist group have been terrorising the Ojo neighborhood for years,” he said.

The offences contravened Sections 42(a), 51 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

NAN reports that Section 42(a) prescribes a three-year jail term for belonging to an unlawful society, while sections 51 and 411 attract a two- year jail term each for conspiracy and unlawful display of arms in public.

The Magistrate, Mrs S.O. Obasa, admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N100, 000 with two sureties in like sum.

She said that one of the sureties must be a blood relation to the defendant and that both sureties should be gainfully employed.

Obasa also directed that the sureties should reside within the court’s jurisdiction and show evidence of three years tax payments to the Lagos State Government.

The case was adjourned until Oct. 9, for mention. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 15:12 GMT |

Plant economic trees as retirement plan – Environmentalist

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Economic trees
Economic trees

YAHAYA Ibrahim, the Director, Center for Energy and Environmental Strategy Research, Kaduna State University has urged workers to plant economic trees as a retirement plan to support their financial needs.

Ibrahim gave the advice on Friday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna.

Ibrahim, who also doubles as a Focal Person, Sustainable Fuel Wood Programme said planting of trees would help in fighting climate change, desert encroachment, deforestation, which could also come with financial benefits.

He urged government workers, groups and individuals to take advantage of the United Nation Development programme (UNDP) on forest development as part of preparation to retirement.

He said that the UNDP had been training people on how to plant fast growing trees that could re-germinate in a few years.

“Seven years before retirement, which will be cut down in systematic procedure to be sold as firewood or to pharmaceutical companies that use the woods for drugs.

“We did not know of planting fast growing trees and cultivating them for commercial purposes, all we know was to cut down trees from the natural forest for fuel wood.

“When we cut one tree, we are depriving 400 million organisms including man of a good life and survival,” he said.

According to him, workers need to know the different kind of trees and their commercial values to get the best out of tree planting business.

“We are encouraging them to have private farms and use the intervention of the UNDP to have bigger farms.”

He described Kaduna State as the highest Eucalyptus tree  planting state that people derived financial benefits from the business.

“We are encouraging people to plant Baobab trees, which have the capacity to absorb pollutants in spite serving as a consumable product with vitamin A also to plant Tamarin and Butter trees.”

He called for increased awareness on tree planting to ensure safe and healthy environment. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 15:09 GMT |

Russia: Putin to attend trilateral Syria summit with Turkey, Iran

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THE Kremlin confirmed on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend a trilateral summit in a week’s time with the leaders of Turkey and Iran in Ankara.

This, it said, were efforts geared toward resolving the Syrian conflict.

The summit, scheduled for Monday, Sept. 16, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rowhani, is to focus on Syria’s rebel-held Idlib region, which borders Turkey.

Turkey, which supports certain rebel groups, had been seeking to thwart a Syrian state offensive into the North-Western Syrian region in an effort to avert the exacerbation of a humanitarian crisis near its border.

The summit, which was expected to take place in a week’s time, would mark one year since Russia, which supported the Syrian state, clinched a peacekeeping deal with Turkey for the Idlib region.

Iran, an ally of Russia and the Syrian state, had also been involved in efforts to secure civilian safe zones in the war-torn country. (dpa/NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 15:09 GMT |

Man docked for allegedly stealing 24 MTN backup batteries

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A 39-year-old man, Imoleayo Benson, on Friday appeared before an Ikorodu Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos State for allegedly stealing 24 MTN backup  batteries worth N19.2 million.

Benson, whose address was not provided, is facing a two-count charge bordering on conspiracy and felony to wit stealing.

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The prosecutor, Sgt. John Iberedem, told the court that the defendant committed the offences on July 13, at 12a.m., at Devs Cartola Ltd MTN mask, inside Benson Estate, Ikorodu.

Iberedem said that the defendant stole 24 backup batteries belonging to MTN Nigeria Communications PLC valued at N29.2 million.

He said that the offences contravened Sections 314 and 287 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 (Revised).

The chief magistrate, Mrs F.A. Azeez, admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N800,000 with two sureties in like sum.

Azeez said that one of the sureties must have a landed property, be a blood relation of the defendant, show evidence of LASTRA registration and must be gainfully employed. She adjourned the case until Nov. 11, for mention. (NAN)

– Sept. 13, 2019 @ 14:59 GMT |

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