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Gas cylinders: How lack of local support fuels explosion

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Gas cylinders: How lack of local support fuels explosion

Apex gas stakeholders’ group says sub-standard gas cylinders found their ways into Nigeria through reliance on importation. Adeola Yusuf looks at how dearth of government action on standards and lack of support for local gas cylinders manufacturing sub-sector fuel explosion in Nigerians’ homes.

 

The Nigerian Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (LPGA), it was, who first hit the nail on the head about sub-standard gas cylinders in Nigeria. The multi-million dollars local gas cylinder manufacturing sub-sector in Nigeria is hitting the rocks, President of the highest body of stakeholders in the cooking gas sub-sector, Nuhu Yakubu, stated in a chat with New Telegraph.

This, he said with passion, is not only a big treat to the geometric growth recorded in the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) also known as cooking gas sector in the past 10 years, it had also fuelled the availability of sub-standard cylinders in circulation across the country.

 

Grounds for crisis

The difficulty buoyed by Federal Government’s inaction to end over N1 trillion average annual investments on fuel subsidy has, according to Yakubu’s NLPGA, created a shortfall of 49 million cylinders in the system. Confirming the “dangerous trend” to this newspaper on the sideline of a press conference, he registered the displeasure of stakeholders in cooking gas sector with fuel subsidy.

“Many local cylinder manufacturers have closed shops regrettably due to the way government is handling the energy mix,” he said at the press conference to herald the group’s 8th annual conference themed; “LPG diversification: Expanding the LPG frontiers in Africa.”

“ The inability of the government to deregulate the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol has made it to keep wasting scarce resources on fuel subsidy while it keeps expending scarce resources yearly to import LPG cylinders from Turkey, China, India and other Asian countries.

“The last time we heard that over N1 trillion was expended to subsidise fuel. Subsidy is a killer of economy, we – as a nation – are just technically subsidising petrol for the consumption of millions in West Africa.”
Consequently, he said Nigeria need to end fuel subsidy by deregulating petrol.

“Let the growth being experienced in the LPG market be felt elsewhere,” he said. Besides, he noted, “Nigeria’s LPG sector is fastest growing in the World. It grew between 2007 and 2017 by over a 1000th percent growth.

“What is spectacular is the fact that it has been private sector driven. It is a testimonial that with just the creation of enabling environment with deregulation. If the LPG sector is able to grow with deregulation just imagine the level of growth if this is extended to petrol and others.”

 

Many steps backward

Stating that this growth rate could have been higher, the NLPGA’s boss said: “The reason LPG has not grown at the expected pace is that the sector is being pulled down by market forces from other fuels that are yet to be deregulated.”

Another reason, according to him, is that the LPG Nigeria needs is being flared, it is being set on fire somewhere in Nigeria and the country is not doing enough to tame this tides.

“We are a net exporter of LPG meanwhile, we still have a lot of LPG that is being flared. Just imagine the level of health hazards being faced by our women who still use firewood,” Yakubu said.

“We don’t need subsidy in our sector. Subsidy is a killer of our economy. Even the petrol we subsidise benefits the rich and the middle class. Their number is even so small.”

 

Going into extinction

Declaring that local “LPG cylinder manufacturers are going into extinction,” the NLPGA boss noted that for this to be addressed, the government needs to incentivize the sector.

This, first vice President of NLPGA, Engineer Baylon Duru said, could be done through Port duty reductions; tax holiday and tax reduction for local cylinder manufacturers; incentivise cylinders distribution in Nigeria; incentivise conversion of vehicles from petrol to gas and to incentivise the cost of entry for millions of Nigeria who still face the health hazards of using the dirty fuel.”

 

Feedback from Government

Meanwhile, the Senior Adviser, Downstream and Infrastructure to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Brenda Ataga, was quoted as saying the government was working out a package of incentives to encourage investors in the cooking gas subsector.

She said the ministry would set up a unit to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Finance to package tariff incentives for credible investors in the industry.

Ataga, who during a tour of Techno Oil for building the gas cylinder plant said the petroleum resources ministry, was doing everything possible to encourage Nigerians to embrace LPG, also known as cooking gas.

She said the government was keen on ensuring that every Nigerian household embraced cooking gas rather than using firewood and other harmful energy sources.

Also speaking, the Head, Gas Monitoring and Regulatory Division in the Department of Petroleum Resources, Mr Sanya Bajomo, said he was impressed with what he saw at the plant.

“It is a thing of joy that we can now manufacture LPG cylinders in Nigeria, instead of importing. We give kudos to Techno Oil for preparing the ground for every household to adopt cooking gas,” he added.

 

Cooking gas

Cooking gas cylinders are a great relief from kerosene stoves and electric cookers in environments with limited or unpredictable power supply. Some say you haven’t lived if you haven’t blown into the dark rings of smoking kerosene stove. These cylinders are one of the most common alternative fuel sources in the world, with three millions of Nigeria households relying on this cooking appliance, according to recent study by NLPGA.

In modern town planning, the use of these gas cylinders is only replaced by the expansion of town gas into buildings, as seen in Hong Kong and Brazil. When handled correctly, gas cylinders are portable, in abundant supply, convenient and affordable. When not handled correctly, they can cost your life. But the sub-standard cylinders are greater threats because whether they are handled correctly or not, they are susceptible to leaks and explosion.

 

Gale of deaths

In August 2015, the Obidigwe family of Azia in Ihiala Local Council of Anambra State, took delivery of the bodies of nine of their children, who were roasted to death in their Lagos abode.

Fifty-one-year-old Charles Obidigwe, a patent medicine dealer and head of the family died instantly, after an unsuccessful attempt to put out a fire, which engulfed his three-bedroom apartment. While Charles, the head of the family died instantly, the other eight members of his family, including his sister-in-law and her son, who were staying with them, died later in a Lagos hospital. The fire was ignited when a gas cylinder exploded and caught fire that engulfed the entire flat when Mrs. Obidigwe was preparing lunch for the family.

By the time the incident took place, no single neighbour of the Obidigwes had a fire extinguisher. So, by the time men of Lagos State Fire Service arrived, the harm had been done.

On Sunday, July 16, 2017, the national vice president of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), South-South Zone, Eddie Bekom, died as a result of injuries he sustained from a gas explosion.
The fire, which killed Bekom, a staff of the Cross River Broadcasting Service (CRBS) in Ikom, also claimed his wife and one of his sons, while three other children sustained injuries.

Up North, a gas explosion on August 28, 2017, reportedly wrecked the female hostel in the Jos campus of the Plateau State Polytechnic. According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the fire, which started around 8.30 a.m., raged on till 11.44a.m, causing confusion among students and staff. Though no life was lost, the fire, which was as a result of gas explosion, the school’s rector, Dauda Gyemang, said, burnt school property and personal effect of students, who were all away to attend lectures. The use of gas in the hostel is prohibited.

Also, until Uche Okonkwo got married to Ifeoma, the latter never lit a gas cooker all her life. Her arrival in her husband’s modest apartment was, to say the least, a life-changing moment for her. Since they observed their low-keyed honeymoon at home, Okonkwo was still in bed when he heard a loud bang in the kitchen. Pronto, he sprang and ran towards that direction only to meet his wife on the floor of the burning kitchen.

With one hand, he flung her through the door and knocked off supply from the giant gas cylinder stationed outside beside the kitchen window.

Once out of shock, Ifeoma explained that the first match she struck failed to light the cooker hence she went in search of another matchbox, as the failed stick was the last in the pack. By the time she could grab another match pack from the kitchen cabinet, the entire place had been filled with gas, and without any suspicion, she proceeded to light the cooker.

 

Last line

The Federal Government must wade into the crisis rocking local manufacturing of gas cylinder and raise the monitoring of standard of imported canisters for cooking gas.

All Nigerians, including stakeholders should support the efforts at mitigating the risk posed by these sub-standard cylinders already in circulation.

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Business

Bank mistakenly deposits $37m into woman’s account

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Bank mistakenly deposits $37m into woman’s account

A clerical error by her bank made a North Texas woman a millionaire for a day.

KTVT-TV reports that when Dallas resident Ruth Balloon checked her bank account earlier this week, it had some extra money in it: an extra $37 million to be exact.

Balloon had wanted to believe “someone really gifted us with that $37 million” but she knew it was too good to be true, reports The Associated Press.

Her husband called their bank, LegacyTexas, which informed the couple the extra money wasn’t a Christmas miracle but a mistake. The bank apologized and took the money back.

The bank told the television in a statement that even if Balloon had not caught the error, it would have been spotted and corrected. The bank said the manual entry error that resulted in the mistake has been addressed.

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Aviation

Chile starts identifying remains of plane crash victims

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Chile starts identifying remains of plane crash victims

The remains of 38 people killed in a military plane crash have been flown to a military base in Chile for identification.

“A C-130 plane [just like the one that went down on Monday] arrived at the Chabunco airbase, with the first findings of human remains and personal items .. these were already delivered to the Public Ministry … to confirm the identity of the people that went missing,” the Chilean air force said in a tweet on Friday.

On Friday, a total of 39 relatives of 11 crash victims flew from the capital Santiago to Punta Arenas, where the base is located, to provide DNA samples.

Thirty-eight people – 21 passengers and 17 crew – were on the plane that crashed on Monday, en route to a base in far-southern Chile on a regular maintenance flight for an Antarctic base, reports al-Jazeera.

Radio contact was lost 70 minutes later.

After midnight, the air force declared the plane a loss, but it was not until Wednesday that a plane scanning the seas first spotted floating debris believed to be from the plane.

Authorities say they have not ruled out anything as to the cause of the crash, while they also called for national mourning on Saturday and Sunday.

According to reports, the plane made no emergency signal prior to its disappearance, indicating the circumstances of the accident were likely abrupt.

The air force has said the plane’s maintenance record was in order.

It also said it will investigate a WhatsApp audio message sent by a passenger to relatives that allegedly said the plane was having electrical problems.

The plane was flying over the Drake Passage, the sea between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica, which is infamous for rapidly-changing and often severe weather.

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Business

Report: US reaches deal in principle on trade with China

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Report: US reaches deal in principle on trade with China

The United States has reached a “phase-one” trade deal in principle with China, a source briefed on talks between the two nations said on Thursday, saying a statement from the White House was expected soon.

Trump was scheduled to huddle with his top trade advisers at 2:30 p.m. (1930 GMT) on Thursday. Ahead of the meeting, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told senators that announcements were possibly “imminent” on U.S. tariffs, senior Republican Senator John Cornyn told reporters.

Bloomberg News was first to report a deal in principle had been reached.

U.S. negotiators have offered to reduce tariffs on about $375 billion in Chinese goods by 50% across the board, two people familiar with the negotiations said, and suspend tariffs on $160 billion in goods scheduled to go into effect on Sunday, reports Reuters.

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Business

NDIC: Mobile money subscribers hit 9.25m in H1’19

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NDIC: Mobile money subscribers hit 9.25m in H1’19

The number of subscribers to the 23 mobile money operators (MMOs) in the country stood at 9.25million as at the first half of this year, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim, has said.

He disclosed this at the 16th edition of the workshop for business editors and members of tmFinance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN), which ended in Yola yesterday.

Represented by Mohammed Kudu of the Communications and Public Affairs Department of the NDIC, Ibrahim cited the provision of Deposit Insurance Coverage (DIS) to subscribers of MMOs to maximum limit of ₦500,000.00 through the Pass-Through Deposit Insurance Framework, as one   of the significant reforms embarked upon by the corporation.

Another such reform, according to him,   is the NDIC’s extension of DIS coverage to micro finance banks (MFBs) and primary mortgage banks (PMBs).

He said: “In 2010, the maximum deposit insurance coverage was increased from N200,000 and N100,000 to N500,000 and N200,000 for deposit money banks (DMBs) and MFBs and PMBs, respectively. The coverage level for the PMBs was later reviewed upward to N500, 000.”

Other significant reforms embarked upon by the NDIC  during  the period, according  to Ibrahim,  are the development of Enterprise Risk Management, implementation of Differential Premium Assessment System (DPAS), Capacity Building in Risk-Based Supervision (RBS), deployment of a Performance Management System, enhanced Deb Recovery System and increased pay-out to both insured and uninsured depositors.

The NDIC boss also  stated that  as at June 30, 2019, the corporation received a total number of 35 petitions/complaints from  bank customers on various issues such as  Automated Teller Machine (ATM) fraud, unauthorised fund transfers  and cheque related  problems, adding  that  “investigations and mediation were carried out where necessary and customers were appropriately reprieved.”

In addition, he emphasised that following the issuance of the framework for licensing and regulation of payment service banks (PSBs) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which stipulated the extension of deposit insurance coverage to PSB depositors, the NDIC  would protect the depositors of PSBs and guarantee  to pay them N500,000.00 as insured sum in the event of  the financial institutions’ closure.

Noting that fintech and digital currencies were witnessing rapid deployment globally and in these parts, the NDIC chief executive pointed out that the corporation  in  August 2019, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on experience sharing and capacity building with the Korean Deposit Insurance Corporation (KDIC) and the Taiwan Central Deposit Insurance Corporation to further deepen the implementation of the DIS in Nigeria, adding that the MOU also aims to enhance the NDIC’s capacity to understand and supervise the fintech and the digital currencies phenomenon.”

He stated that the support of the media had been instrumental to the successful implementation of the DIS by the corporation since its inception 30 years ago, noting that “it is in recognition of the crucial and strategic role the media has to play in the actualisation of our own objectives that the NDIC has remained faithful in its support for the annual FICAN conference along with the editors’ forum.”

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Business

PZ Cussons’ profit dips on weak consumer spending

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PZ Cussons’ profit dips on weak consumer spending

Cosmetics and soap maker, PZ Cussons Plc, reported lower half-yearly profits on Thursday due to weak consumer spending in its major markets.

The maker of Imperial Leather soap and Carex handwash also said Alex Kanellis, a company veteran, who has been at the helm for 13 years, would retire on Jan. 31.

The company is facing challenges both at home as well as in its African business that makes up more than a third of revenue, as Britons cut back on spending and demand for personal care brands dwindles in key African markets.

According to Reuters, PZ also reported lower revenue for the first half, but expressed optimism for the second half.

“A stronger second half is expected subject to no further worsening of the economic and trading environments across our key geographies,” the company said in a statement.

Still, full-year revenue and adjusted profit before tax is expected to be modestly below the prior year on a like-for-like basis, the company said.

Non-Executive Chair, Caroline Silver, will become executive chair following Kanellis’s exit, the company said, adding that it expected to find his successor in the first half of 2020.

Shares in PZ Cussons, which said it would provide an update on cost-saving measures at a later date, looked set to open five per cent lower on the London Stock Exchange, according to premarket indicators.

PZ Cussons Nigeria had early in the year denied reports that it is pulling out of Nigeria as reported by  some online medium.

In a statement issued  by PZ Cussons Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Christos Giannopoulos, he described the stories as false.

He said the headline was misleading and creating the impression that PZ had decided to leave the country.

The CEO explained that the trading statement issued to the London Stock Exchange was clear on PZ Cussons’ continued operations in Nigeria.

“While these conditions prevail, we will maintain our strong market shares in key product categories in Nigeria until growth returns to the market,” he stated.

“This year, 2019, we shall be celebrating 120 years of making life better and adding value to Nigeria.

“In our 120 years of doing business in Nigeria, we have faced different conditions and come out stronger at the end of each phase.

“We confirm to our shareholders, consumers, customers, employees, business partners and stakeholders that Nigeria still remains a market of interest for us and have made no plans to leave Nigeria. Our factories in Ikorodu, Aba and all our distribution centres around the country are operational and will continue to be,” the statement said.

The firm’s parent company in the UK has been issuing cautionary trading statements ahead of the release of its quarterly results as its business in Nigeria faced tough conditions due to weak consumer demand precipitated by a lingering recession.

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Business

Christmas rush: Controversy over Nigerian rice re-bagging

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Christmas rush: Controversy over Nigerian rice re-bagging

Following massive rush to buy rice for Yuletide and New Year celebrations, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has warned business owners involved in sharp practices of revalidating expired rice and also repackaging Nigerian rice as foreign to desist from the act in the interest of the  economy. Taiwo Hassan reports

 

Already, the hierarchy of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) led by Comptroller-General, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), had raised the alarm over existence of expired rice in circulation.

Ali, who made this known when the customs destroyed containers of foreign rice smuggled into the country recently, warned that Nigerians were eating expired rice without knowing.

The comptroller-general blamed importers of the commodity for not saying the truth on the state of what was being imported into the country.

He, however, applauded the country’s border closure policy of the Federal Government, saying that the closure would benefit the nation in future.

However, despite the attempt to take the minds of Nigerians away from foreign rice consumption, it was learnt that the preference is still outweighing that of local rice as investigations carried out by this newspaper showed that Nigerians are desperately looking for foreign rice to buy for Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Amid this mass rush for foreign rice by Nigerians, there are insinuations that business owners involved in the country’s rice value chain are now secretly bagging local rice with foreign labels and also jerking up the price tag following Nigerians preference for foreign commodity.

In fact, the fallout of rice conversion from local to foreign ones is mind blowing.

Why foreign rice patronage

Recently, a survey on the rice market across the six geo-political zones in the country by the Economic Confidential team observed that foreign rice such as Mama Gold, Royal Stallion, Rice Master, Caprice, Falcon Rice and Basmati were sold alongside Nigerian rice such as Umza and Fursa Crown from Kano, Mama Happy from Niger, Labana Rice from Kebbi, Olam Rice from Nasarawa, Abakaliki Rice from Ebonyi, Ofada Rice from Ogun State, Swomen Dama from Plateau, Lake Rice of Lagos/Kebbi States among others.

The reason for the sale can be attributed to the fact that the desire for Nigerian rice is still low, thereby raising doubt as to Nigerians’ preferences for local rice.

Stakeholders in the rice sub-sector, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Rice Millers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN) and Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) had given kudos to the Central Bank of Nigeria for the timely intervention and banning of rice import into the country since 2015 without issuing of Form M, a development that has seen growth in local production, thereby saving foreign exchange for the country.

On-the-spot checks by the magazine showed that the preponderance of foreign rice in these markets by merchants who said that profits coming from foreign rice far out-weigh the local rice which majority of those interviewed believed has more nutritional value than the foreign rice.

However, what cannot be fathomed is why still preference for foreign rice by Nigerians despite the border closure, ban and aggressive local production of rice milling?

Locally fabricated rice de-stoner machine

Speaking on the changes that need to embrace by local millers to bring sanity to the country’s rice value chain, an agriculture expert, Mrs. Bridget Obi, charged the three tiers of government to embrace and adopt the locally fabricated rice de-stoner innovation machine to boost local rice production in Nigeria.

Obi, also the former Commissioner for Women Affairs and Youths Development in Anambra State, disclosed this at the unveiling ceremony of three agricultural devices by the Nigerian Association of Technologists in Engineering (NATE) in Oshodi, Lagos recently.

According to her, the agricultural devices were: scale down rice de-stoner,castor oil de-husking machine and automated mains failure device.

Obi pointed out that these rice machines would ensure accelerated production and reduces drudgery, especially in the processing of agricultural produces in the country.

“We don’t need to import rice again. The Federal Government should support various institutions to help in driving technology that will help our nation to achieve our agricultural goals. “Without technology, we can do nothing; it helps to save cost, manpower and man hour,” she added.

She said local rice production should henceforth be encouraged with the devices to assist in addressing the major challenge of local rice.

“With huge amount released by CBN toward increasing rice production, the NATE scale down rice de-stoner will increase mass production of quality rice to ensure availability in the farming communities. “I urge governments to give necessary assistance in ensuring mass production of the machines at subsidised rate.

“They should be made available to farmers at a very low interest rate with long term repayment plan,” Obi said.

NAFDAC’s warning

However, NAFDAC has read the riot act warning business owners involved in sharp practices of revalidating expired rice and repackaging local rice as foreign to desist from the act.

The Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Christiana Adeyeye, in a statement made available to New Telegraph recently, called on Nigerians to be vigilant, and exercise discretion when purchasing rice and other food items.

“NAFDAC is fully alive to her responsibilities of assuring the safety, wholesomeness and quality of foods and other regulated products offered for sale to the public,” she noted.

She said the Ogun State office of NAFDAC received a report from the Department of State Services (DSS) in the state of ongoing food fraud at Oke-Aje market in Ijebu Ode

“We, in company of men of the Nigeria Police Force proceeded to the scene of the illegal activity. On arrival, the suspected perpetrators of the food fraud instigated unnamed persons to unleash mayhem on the team of investigators

“However, enforcement officers of the agency and its Federal Task Force team stormed the market in company of DSS officials. They sighted miscreants at the market who took to their heels.

“Bags of expired rice, caked rice, bags of local rice, bags of popular foreign rice and sealing machines were found in the shops the NAFDAC enforcement team finally gained access into.

“Three shops were sealed during the operation. It is instructive to note that expired and caked rice are unwholesome as they contain moulds and microorganism that cause diseases which are of immense public health concern,” she added.

She called on Nigerians to report cases of re-bagging and sale of caked and expired rice or other food items to the nearest NAFDAC office across the federation.

Last line

With this disturbing report of re-bagging, sale of caked, expired rice or other food items in the country, it has shown that government needs to do more in its monitoring activities by extending its searchlight beyond borders as perpetrators are ready to make more gains on Nigerians through re-bagging of Nigerian rice as foreign ones.

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Business

WISTA: NPA boss calls for improved female empowerment

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WISTA: NPA boss calls for improved female empowerment

The Managing Director, Nigerian Port Authority, Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman, has called on women in maritime sector under the aegis of Women in International Shipping and Trade Association (WISTA) to work towards balancing gender gap in the work place.

Speaking at the 25th anniversary of the association in Lagos, Bala-Usman, who was represented by Dr. Chinwe Abama, said that pursuing gender balancing would enable women to get fair advancement that commensurates with their qualifications and experience.

“When a woman is empowered, you are invariably empowering a whole generation that will benefit from the quality of leadership that is exceptional and unique to women.

“The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as ensuring in SDG (4,5,8,.10) aim for inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting life-long learning opportunities for all; Gender quality and empowerment of women and girls; Decent work and economic growth; Reducing inequality in the lives of women.

“Emphasis should be laid on innovation by enabling women discover themselves, build personal and corporate brands, identity that differentiate them in society making them not only unique and authentic but visible to rise into role of leadership and influential position,” Bala-Usman said.

She maintained that women were not asking for equality in terms of power with men but are earnestly calling for equal opportunities, adding that women were special gift from the unfathomable unknown and are greatly endowed with special qualities.

She further argued that there was evidence to show that institutions with more women leaders have better performance and achieve higher economic growth.

Also speaking , Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Dame Pauline Tallen said that the most effective approach towards balancing the gender gap in maritime participation was to ensure qualitative priority education of the girl child, particularly in terms of equal opportunities at the developmental level.

According to her, “this explains my priority focus on girl-child education as the fulcrum for balancing the gender gap in the society.

“And to achieve this, we are collaborating with the ministry of education to promote enrolment, retention and completion rate of girls in schools at all levels.

WISTA also unveiled its first ever magazine, a development which Pauline noted and lauded, saying that women operating in the nation’s maritime industry may become the bedrock on which genders equality in Nigeria may one day, lean on.

“It is heartwarming to note that the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association, Nigeria, is driving the vision of creating a credible platform for women in this sector to network and forge stronger partnerships.

“For this, I salute the leadership of the organization and encourage you to sustain the momentum.

“The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality. Therefore, balancing gender gap in the maritime sector connotes that there is inequality in opportunities and need to be rectified.

“It requires that from the onset young girls receive quality education to prepare them to make the rightful choices in life; especially in careers in maritime,” she said.

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Business

Oil workers parley to tackle challenges

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Oil workers parley to tackle challenges

The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), and Petroleum Dealers Association of Nigeria (PEDAN) are collaborating to tackle challenges confronting members in the downstream sector.

Among the challenges is a plea for the international oil companies (IOCs) to look into their rebate, which they describe as presently very low.

PEDAN team led by Hamlet Emman solicited NUPENG’s assistance in this regard during a recent visit of the leadership of the Interim PEDAN to NUPENG Secretariat in Lagos.

Reiterating the union’s support and assistance to the Association, Williams Akporeha, President of NUPENG, urged that they embrace workers’ right to unionisation at their various filling stations.

Akporeha, however, said that NUPENG has commenced negotiation with Nexen Petroleum Ltd. in furtherance of its commitment to social dialogue.

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Business

Unemployment: ILO restates importance of Nigerian forum

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Unemployment: ILO restates importance of Nigerian forum

Following the growing youth unemployment in Africa, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has declared that the forum organised in Nigeria in August was apt to address the unfortunate development.

Speaking on the challenges facing Africa as regards unemployment at the 14th African Regional Meeting in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, the Director-General, (ILO) Guy Ryder, said that despite opportunities to be proud of within the continent, a number of challenges are also there to contend with.

According to him, “our meeting is taking place at a time when the global economy is stalling: estimates for next year will show growth to be only three per cent worldwide, and about 4 percent to the continent. It is in this context that the challenge of employment in Africa will have to be met: to create 26 million productive jobs every year in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“It is also in this context that the $68 billion annual financing gap will have to be filled in order to finance the investments needed to make universal social protection a reality in Africa.”

The ILO boss said that it was estimated that by 2035 the labor force would grow by more than 60 per cent in Africa, adding that “it is a tremendous demographic dividend for growth and development, provided that all the jobs that it needs can be created, without which this development will lead to more economic, social and migratory pressures.

“That is why it was particularly timely for Nigeria to host the Global Forum on Youth Employment in Abuja in August, and I was very pleased to be able to participate.”

He pointed out that new technologies opened up entirely new perspectives for development in Africa, with real breakthroughs if these technologies can be applied and deployed successfully.

“However, the danger is that digital divide and marginalization will become worse if the necessary investments and innovation are lacking.

“Africa has a unique renewable energy potential, which gives it an extraordinary advantage in the transition more than ever necessary to climate neutrality. At the same time, we are witnessing the continent’s vulnerability to climate change, which gives rise to fears of large-scale population displacement and the destruction of their livelihoods.

“Experience has shown us that the benefits globalization brings to Africa depend entirely on the conditions in which it integrates into the global systems of trade, investment, finance, migration and technologies. Hence, ladies and gentlemen, the imperative need to strengthen the global foundations for sustainable, balanced and just development for Africa’s future prosperity.

“This is to say how important are the issues of the discussions that we will have this week here in Abidjan. It is about how to apply in Africa the approach to the future of human-centered work enshrined in the Declaration of the Centenary adopted in June by the International Labor Conference.”

On her part, the ILO’s head of employment and labour markets, Sukti Dasgupta, described the youth unemployment crisis in Africa as a reflection of ineffective development strategies, saying that serious and honest political will was needed to avoid a disaster.

Of the over 226 million youth on the continent, 13.4 million are unemployed, while 52.2 million are not in employment education or training.

Dasgupta said the biggest problem that has exacerbated the youth unemployment crisis was a lack of opportunities and that drastic action is needed to fix this.

“There is a time bomb about to explode, I would say. The number of youth in the labour market is rising. By 2040 you will have a labour force size on the African continent which will be the combined size of the labour market in India and China,” she noted.

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Pressure mounts on govt to tax vacant properties

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Pressure mounts on govt to tax vacant properties

As one of the remedies to check money laundering and corruption in the country, both federal  and state government have been urged to tax all vacant houses  in most value precincts and communities across Nigeria.

According to real estate professionals under the auspices of Society for Professional Valuation (SPV), more than 80 per cent of proceeds of corruption in the country find their way into real estate, hence the  need to tax  vacant houses that have remained in the market in the last two to seven years.

Leading the call  to  commemorate the United Nations (UN) Global Anti-Corruption in Lagos, Chairman of SPV, Mr. Sola Enitan, stated that government would need to send tax notifications to owners of  these properties once the vacant period exceeds one year.

He said: “In most high value precincts and communities in Nigeria, large swathes of vacant homes exist with the owners uncaring and unperturbed about the long- vacancies of the properties running into years.

“Government should realise that these are symphony of money laundering and such properties ought to be taxed to ensure that they are engaged in productive occupation.”

The SPV boss advised Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies to upscale their efforts in the fight against money laundering in the country.

He pointed out that effects of the scourge on economic growth among others included loss of economic policy, erosion of financial institution systems, weakening of the financial sectors and evasion of tax.

New Telegraph gathered that most of these buildings, which have stayed more than five to eight years unoccupied, are located in exclusive quarters of Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki in Lagos; Maitaima, Asokoro, in Abuja and other locations in the federation.

Secretary and Public Relations Officer of the association, Isaac Fabiyi and Adetokunbo Fakeye respectively, said Nigeria had been described as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, adding that pervasive corruption in Nigeria constituted a major threat and underlined most of the money laundering cases reported in recent time.

For over 27 years, they noted that government had committed itself to combating corruption and money laundering to set the stage in confronting the menace on economic activities, and to comply with the Vienna Convention.

Enitan further listed some causes and methodologies of money laundering in Nigeria, pointing out that the menace had the tradition of eroding financial institutions and weakening the financial sector’s role in economic growth.

“It has the habit of facilitating corruption, crime and other illegal activities at the expense of the country development and increase the risk of macroeconomic instability,” he said.

Suggesting ways out, Enitan urged government to make asset declaration by public officials a must before and after their term in office, adding that an independent body such as Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) should ensure their asset declaration was true and made public.

“Pre and post-construction development appraisal ought to be done to clear issues of over and under invoicing,” he stated.

Besides, he stated  that procurement officers from public and private institutions should be held accountable through professional certification and strict ethical conduct.

He called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to establish an online land registry to which a catalogue of all titled properties nationwide will be seated, where owners of lands and properties will be known with cover ups exposed and their sources of wealth fully disclosed.

Besides, he urged EFCC to work with other international intelligence agencies to report suspicious movement of funds in accounts suspected of belonging to Nigerians across the globe, adding that all suspicious transactions be reported to the appropriate authorities.

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