Stakeholders in the investment sector, including officials of the Bank of Industry (BoI), have toured facilities set up by the administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Edo State to improve the ease of doing business and increase productivity.
The team of investors were conducted around Edo Innovation Hub, Edo Production Centre in Benin City and Edo Food Processing Cluster in Ehor, to get a glimpse of the different hubs for innovation, manufacturing and agro-processing available to SMEs in the state.
The BoI team was led by Mr Ayo Gbajumo; the tour was held with support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ).
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Skills Development and Job Creation, Mrs. Ukinebo Dare, said the stakeholders were in the state to assess how the state government was assisting entrepreneurs to activate their ideas, start and grow businesses through the use of technological innovations.
She said at the Edo Innovation Hub, the administration provided training opportunities for youths to develop skills in graphics and web design, artificial/business intelligence, data analysis, among others.
During the stop at the Entrepreneurship and Agribusiness Development Center in Ehor, Dare explained that the Ehor Centre houses the Edo Food and Agric Cluster (EDOFAC), which was initiated by the state government to empower rural farmers.
, with the training programme focused on enterprise development, food processing, marketing and distribution.
Nigeria ranks 11th highest in number of students in United States
Nigeria has emerged first among African countries and eleventh, worldwide in terms leading source of international students studying in the United States.
Latest report released by Open Doors, shows that the number of international students in the United States rose to an all‐time high in the 2018/19 academic year, the fourth consecutive year with more than one million international students.
The total number of international students, 1,095,299, is a 0.05 per cent increase over last year, according to the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.
The new report indicates there was a 5.8 per cent increase in the number of students from Nigeria who are currently studying in the U.S. This percentage represents a total of 13,423 Nigerian students studying in the U.S. in the 2018/2019 academic session. This number also represents 33 per cent of the overall African students in the United States.
Nigerians are enrolled in more than 1,000 institutions in 51 states and territories in the United States, out of which 18 per cent are studying in Texas. Nigerian students using EducationUSA services recorded $16million in scholarships and financial aid awarded to newly admitted students for the 2019 academic year.
Open Doors 2019, released yesterday by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, highlights the continued competitiveness of the U.S. higher education sector as a destination of choice for international students and the growing interest in international educational exchange among U.S. students. The release of the new Open Doors data marks the celebration of International Education Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from other countries to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States.
The Open Doors report is published annually by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Court hears army’s objection to Falana’s suit on OPI
Justice Mohammed Aikawa of a Federal High Court in Lagos will next week Thursday hear the preliminary objection filed by the Nigerian Army against the suit filed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, to challenge the controversial Operation Positive Identification (OPI).
The judge had at the last hearing of the matter on November 5, ordered the army to suspend the operation pending the final determination of the suit.
At yesterday’s proceedings, lawyer representing Army and the Chief of Army Staff (1st and 2nd respondents), Mrs. Olayemi Badewole, drew the court’s attention to a motion dated 14th Nov., 2019, seeking to regularize her clients’ notice of preliminary objection.
In the absence of any opposition from other parties in the matter, she moved the motion and her request was granted by the court.
The Solicitor General of the Federation, Mr. Dayo Apata (SAN), who represented the Attorney General of the Federation (3rd respondent) had earlier informed the court that necessary processes in respect of the suit has been filed and served on the plaintiff.
Responding, a lawyer from Falana’s chambers, E. E. Olawale, while acknowledging the receipt of the processes, sought for an adjournment to enable him respond appropriately.
Justice Aikawa subsequently adjourned the matter to November 28 for the hearing of all preliminary objections to the suit.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, the Army and the Attorney-General of the Federation were joined as co-respondents in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1939/2019.
In the suit, Falana argued that the planned nationwide operation which was scheduled to run from November 1 to December 23, 2019, by which Nigerian citizens would be required to move about with means of identification was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
He insisted that the operation violated his right and that of other Nigerian citizens to liberty, “as encapsulated in Section 35 respectively of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as Amended and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, (Cap A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
N1bn debt: AMCON takes over former minister’s assets
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) yesterday said it had taken over two properties belonging to a former Minister of State for Defence, Ademola Seriki, in Lagos and Abuja over an outstanding indebtedness of nearly N1billion.
In a press release made available to journalists, the corporation said its action was in accordance with the order of Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
AMCON stated that while it usually does not, in the first instance, resort to the courts except when an obligor defies all overtures for a peaceful resolution of an obligation, the case between it and Seriki, who was also a former Supervising Minister for Mines and Steel Development, has been lingering for a while and eventually ended up in court because all efforts it made to have the issue resolved peacefully did not yield the desired result.
AMCON disclosed that it yesterday took possession of the properties belonging to the former minister through Oak Partners, one of the firms which works for the corporation as one of its asset management partners.
It said the affected properties included those located at No. 1a & 1b, Jalupon Close, Surulere, Lagos and another at No. 4, Djibouti Crescent, a high-brow area of Wuse 2, Abuja.
Head, Corporate Communications, AMCON, Jude Nwauzor, said: “The Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) of Ademola Seriki was sold to AMCON by the defunct Oceanic Bank and Skye Bank. When all efforts to amicably resolve the loan was frustrated by the former minister and a prominent member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the corporation was left with no other choice than to defer the matter to court. Having looked at the case over time, the court ordered AMCON to take over the assets of the APC chieftain.”
ICCDI, Bio-Stark Win SAGE Climate Pitch Competition
The International Climate Change Development Initiative (ICCDI), a youth-led organization on a mission to build climate-smart generation through education, empowerment across Africa has clinched the grand prize of Seven Hundred Thousand Naira in the 2019 SAGE Climate Pitch Competition.
The SAGE Climate Pitch Competition is an initiative of the Social Accelerator for a Green Economy (S.A.G.E) Innovation Centre, a non-profit organization that empowers entrepreneurs to build and scale bold solutions in the fight against climate change. The winners emerged after a fierce pitching competition that held at Oriental Hotel in Lagos.
Emerging runner-up was Bio-Stark Green Solutions, a waste recycling company that recycles organic waste into Bio-Energy emerged first runner up and took home the sum of Three Hundred Thousand Naira.
Congratulating the winners, Nazanin Alakija, founder of SAGE Innovation Center stated that the pitching competition was aimed at seeking entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and solutions to fight climate change. She also revealed that the winners are worthy entrepreneurs whose ideas have demonstrated viable solutions to make the planet safer.
“The SAGE pitching competition was opened to all social entrepreneurs with viable and innovative ideas to help our environment safer, and it is amazing to witness the success of this day as the winners have come up with unmatched ideas to making the world a safer place for all. I congratulate all the winners and the finalists,” she said.
Abikoye Abimbola, Campaign Lead for ICCDI Africa, and winner of the grand prize of the pitching competition expressed her profound gratitude to SAGE Innovation Center for giving climate advocates a platform to showcase their ideas to fighting issues affecting the environment.
“On behalf of ICCDI Africa, I want to express our profound gratitude to SAGE Innovation Centre for providing us this wonderful platform to showcase the solutions we are providing to help our environment become safer and healthier for all. With this funding, we will be able to upscale our activities and solutions in the fight against climate change by engaging in more educational and community empowerment initiatives,” she stated.
Jeremiah Hinmikaye, founder of Bio-Stark Green Solutions and first runner up at the competition revealed that SAGE Innovation Center has set the pace for other climate advocacy groups by supporting entrepreneurs who have sustainable solutions to fighting climate change. He further calls on other companies to emulate SAGE Innovation Centre to come up with such platforms to help more social entrepreneurs scale up their practices in the fight against climate change.
The SAGE Pitching Competition had a total of 17 viable entries, out of which the top five pitched at the competition and two winners emerged, going home with a total of One Million Naira. All top five contestants were also given certificates of participation by the Social Accelerator for a Green Economy.
CAPTION (R-L) Nazanin Alakija, Founder, SAGE Innovation Centre; Abikoye Abimbola, Lead Campaigner, ICCDI (International Climate Change Development Initiative), winner of the grand prize of Seven Hundred Thousand Naira and Lolade Awogbade, Sustainability Specialistat the SAGE Pitch competition which held at Oriental Hotel in Lagos recently.
Anxiety in Ekiti varsity over planned sack of 500 workers
There appeared tension in Ekiti State University (EKSU), Ado-Ekiti over alleged plans by the institution to lay off no fewer than 500 workers. Investigation had revealed that 500 workers on sack list were those employed by the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof Samuel Oye Bandele. Sources also disclosed that some professors, who were promoted during that time may be demoted over allegation that due process was not strictly adhered to in their elevations.
One of the affected persons, who pleaded anonymity, said the new management , headed by Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Prof. Bamitale Omole, had consistently been complaining that high rate of workforce in the university and hell-bent on urgent step to curtail the alleged complicity.
The Academics Staff Union of Universities, EKSU chapter had in September threatened to embark on strike owing to inability to pay their salaries and other benefits. ASUU chairman, Dr. Kayode Arogundade, disclosed that the monthly wage bill of the university had increased from N380 million to over N502 million while the monthly subvention from government stood at N260 million, leaving the university to grapple hard to make up for the N262million shortfall internally. The source, who was employed as an academic staff said “yes, it was true, the management will soon be issued out sack letters to over 500 staff because of complains that the university was overstaffed.
Bello dedicates victory to mother, Kogi people
Kogi State Governor, Mr. Yahaya Bello has dedicated his victory in the last Saturday governorship election to hIS mother, Hajia Hawawu Bello and the people of Kogi State.
He said the people of Kogi State are the winners of the election for breaking ethnic jinx, class stratification and age difference in the state by re-electing him during the poll.
Governor Bello while giving his acceptance speech during a press conference at the Government House in Lokoja shortly after he was declared winner, assured the people of the state that they will all benefit from the resources of the state.
His words: “I appreciate my mother, Hajia Hawawu Bello. As a matter of fact, I dedicated this victory to her. I sincerely appreciate the good people of Kogi State from all the length and breadth of Kogi State; starting from Kogi East to Kogi West and Kogi Central. You are the winners of this particular election.
“We are making this feat and we have decided to break the jinx; the jinx of ethnicity, class differences and age differences. In diversity lies our strength.
“With the renewal of our mandate to serve for another four years, I reiterate the promise of our first term, which is to make all the citizens of Kogi State benefit from the entirety of our resources. May the Almighty God protect, guide and direct us toward the path of righteousness, good governance and development.”
Bello who condemned the violence and killings in different parts of the state during the poll, sympathised with those who lost their loved ones, calling on the Nigerian Police and other law enforcement agencies to bring those behind the violence and killings to book.
“During this particular election, there were reports of pockets of violence in some areas. We condemned the perpetrators of these particular crimes. Any form of crime is a crime; whether you call it political or whatever. I urge the Nigeria Police Force and all other law enforcement agencies to go after those who caused this particular violence.”
NDDC’s debt: NASS to probe NLNG, Shell, 15 other IOCs
Ajoint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has concluded arrangements to investigate 17 international oil companies (IOCs) including the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG), Shell Petroleum and Conoil for alleged indebtedness to the Niger Delta Development Commission.
Other oil firms, which are to be quizzed by the joint committee, are Shebah Express Petroleum, Atlas Petroleum, Allied Energy, Frontier Oil, Seven Energy Limited, Belma Oil Producing Limited, AITECO Exploration and Production, Dubrin Oil and Continental Oil and Gas.
Also to be investigated is Enageed Resources Limited, New Cross exploration and Production, Pan Ocean Oil Corporation Nigeria Limited, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company and Prime Exploration and Production Company.
Co-chairman of the joint committee and House of Representatives committee chairman on NDDC, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo (APC, Ondo) who disclosed this yesterday in a chat with the media in Abuja, explained that as part of the investigation, the Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed; the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele; the Accountant General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris and Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. Anthony Ayine, will also testify before the joint committee.
According to Tunji-Ojo, records have shown that the affected oil companies jointly owing the NDDC N72 billion and $73 million respectively, adding that the Federal Government was also owing the agency a whopping N1.2 trillion.
Giving details of the indebtedness, the co-chairman said: “These companies we are investigating are owing the NDDC huge sums of money, which when remitted to it, would improve the fortunes of the people of the Niger Delta area. By the records we have, a company like Shell Petroleum Development Company is said to owing more than N54.9 billion.
“We also have it on good authority that Pan Ocean is owing as much as $46.6 million, while Allied Energy is indebted to the tune of $43 million, and Shebah Express Petroleum owes as much as $23.8 million and then Atlas Petroleum is owning $22 million”, he stated.
Speaking further, Hon. Tunji-Ojo, revealed that, “the 9th National Assembly cannot afford to sit and watch oil companies deny the NDDC of its statutory revenue from firms operating in the country. The 8th National Assembly did a technical audit of the NDDC and the findings were very revealing and we must recover these monies. And it is even believed that some of these oil companies do not give the actual annual budget.
“Some of them are alleged to be tampering with their annual budgets and in fact, some are said to be paying the actual expenditure or stop gap whereas as the law provides that it should be the annual budget.”
Continuing, the co-chairman noted that “even the one that they were supposed to pay, they never paid. That is why the NDDC consultants have been going after them yet they have refused to pay. We have mandated the Central Bank of Nigeria to send the money wrongly credited to the NPA, to the rightful owners, that is the NDDC”
Ikpeazu presents N136bn Budget
Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, yesterday presented N136, 617, 847, 316 2020 budget estimate to the State House of Assembly for consideration.
The budget estimate is made up of a total sum of N66, 802, 247, 316 only as recurrent expenditure and capital expenditure of N69, 815, 600, 000 only.
The recurrent expenditure, however, would represent 48.90 per cent of the total Budget while the capital expenditure also represented 51.10 per cent of the Budget.
Presenting the Abia State 2020-2022 Medium Term Draft Estimates, christened “Budget of Economic Repositioning” to the legislators, Ikpeazu stated that the budget outlay was slightly less than N140, 944, 885, 770 for 2019.
He said the slight moderate decrease was occasioned by his administration’s resolve to formulate a realistic budget, while working hard to improve revenue generation and expenditure management approach.
This, the governor said that in spite of economic challenges, the state government was determined to reposition the state on a new foundation for growth as it had already keyed into the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability as well as the other partnership initiatives with the aim of enhancing efficiency in its financial processes with a view to continuing to sharpen the process of participatory budgeting with the involvement of communities, civil society groups, private sector agencies and other stakeholders.
In his remarks, Speaker Chinedum Orji commended the governor for the timely presentation of the budget estimate to the House of Assembly and promised that the house would ensure speedy passage of the bill.
He pledged that the legislators would support the governor through their oversight functions not meant to witch-hunt anyone but to realize the Governor’s projects.
NLC seeks compensation for Enugu coal miners 70 years after
Exactly 70 years after the massacre of 21 coal miners and injured others in Enugu, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday called on the British government to compensate families of victims of the disaster.
Besides, NLC called on the government of the five South-East states to declare November 18 every year a public holiday in commemoration of the slain coal miners who were mowed down by British colonial police for demanding improved welfare and a raise in their allowance.
Addressing a labour rally in Enugu at the cenotaph of the slain miners, NLC chairman in the Enugu state, Comrade Virginus Nwobodo, appealed to the federal government to revive the coal industry in Enugu and other parts of the country, noting that other parts of the world still use coal for power generation.
Nwobodo, who said that the rally was in commemoration of the sad incidence, explained that the workers were killed by colonial police who thought they were being used by independence agitators as the British colonial masters never believed that workers would agitate for their rights as at the time.
“It was high level of injustice meted on Nigerian workers. British government must pay compensation for killing our people like animals; it’s high level of unfair labour treatment.
“We have the names of the coal miners killed or wounded, we know their families. The federal government has a role to play in this, it should initiate the process of compensation by the British government,” he said.
Also two relations of the murdered coal miners, Pa Joseph Ndubuisi, 87, and Pa Matthew Dike, 77, narrated how as kids they saw the bodies of the slain miners and those wounded and taken to the hospital.
Ndubuisi, who said he was in Standard 2 when the incident took place noted that his senior brother, Ibeabuchi Ndubuisi was among the coal miners shot but he sustained bullet wounds.
5,000 benefit from free medical outreach in Ebonyi
No fewer than 5, 000 at the weekend benefited from a free medical outreach in Ebonyi state just as 29 patients in Afikpo, Afikpo North local government area of the state with various ailments undergone surgery.
The patients benefited from the free surgery and treatment during the medical outreach organized by doctors from the area, who were based abroad under the aegis of Afikpo organization incorporated.
The medical outreach which, however, lasted five days took place at mater hospital Afikpo. It was an annual event.
Leader of this year’s outreach, Immaulata Ulu explained that the organization had been in existence for long, assuring residents that they would continue to give back to the society.
She said: “I live in the United States for a long time now; there is an organization that I am part of called Afikpo Organization Incorporated (AOI) U.S.A., it is a group of Afikpo people in the United States of America. We come together every year, we have been doing this as far back as in the 1980s.
“But at some point we came out with an idea of what we can do to give out to our people, and we decided that medical care is a critical issue in our community, so we decided to form a way to raise funds every year and help those people who ordinarily will not have access to health care and that is why we started a medical mission.
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