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Student loan scheme takes off September- FG

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The Federal Government on Wednesday gave more details about the Student Loan Scheme.

The government said the scheme would kick – off in the 2023 September/ October academic session subject to the conclusion of work on the scheme by an Inter-Ministerial Committee approved by President Bola Tinubu.

Students from private, public universities would benefit from the loan, the government said.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, David Adejo gave these details during a briefing in Abuja.

President Tinubu signed into law the Student Loan Bill in fulfilment of one of his campaign promises.

The student loan bill sponsored by the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, provided for interest-free loans to indigent students.

The law is to provide easy access to higher education for indigent Nigerians through interest-free loans from the Nigerian Education Loan Fund.

Adejo told journalists that the directive of President Tinubu was for the Inter – Ministerial Committee to ensure that the first batch of eligible students are able to access the loan in September.

The permanent secretary dispelled insinuation that the Federal Government has planned to introduce tuition fees in tertiary institutions because of the new law.

Adejo explained that the government had been working on granting financial autonomy to universities before now.

The permanent secretary also disclosed that the gazetted Act would be made public when it was transmitted from the Federal Ministry of Justice.

The permanent secretary said the federal government could no longer foot the bills of university education alone.

He said that was why the Federal Government was mulling a public – private partnership.

The permanent secretary added that the government, over the years, had wanted to provide an opportunity for every Nigerian child to go to school and live a life of dignity.

Adejo recalled the Student Loan Board that was defunct and after that there was Nigeria Education Bank that became defunct too, disclosing that a number of issues led to their collapse, including leakages, people getting the loan and not paying and in some cases, the loan did not get to the people it was created for.

“The bill is to make sure that every Nigerian has access to higher education through what we called the Higher Education Nigerian Bank.

“Learning from past mistakes, the bank is not going to be the type that will sit down and be collecting applications for loans, it will also perform normal banking functions and make sure loans are given because we had cases of loan recovery in the past.

“The Act as it is tells us the process but as I speak with you today, the president has approved the committee made up of the Ministries and agencies and their inaugural meeting will come up on 20th of June.

“The President has also directed that by September to October this 2023/2024 academic session, he wants to see recipients of these loans. So it is a very serious marching order for us. So between now and then we have to fine-tune the process for people to get the loan.”

While disclosing that a tracking system would be put in place, the permanent secretary noted that all applications would be submitted in the individual applicant’s school before getting to the bank for processing.

Adejo said a specialised bank would be created to handle the loan applications.

He said in the past “it was like it’s a government thing, come and take and there were more defaulters,” adding that this time applicants would start the process from school.

He also assured Nigerians that the loan scheme would not be politicised, saying the Federal Government had tried as much as possible to reduce the influence of politicians from the scheme.

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Keyamo inaugurates, Anosike, others as members of National Executive Safety Council (NESC)

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The Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Professor Charles Anosike, and aviation

The Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Professor Charles Anosike, and aviation sector stakeholders, were on Tuesday, 23rd April, 2024, in compliance with ICAO annex 19, inaugurated as members of the National Executive Safety Council (NESC), by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo.

Performing the inauguration, the Minister informed the members of their terms of reference. According to the Minister, the National Executive Safety Council (NESC) shall meet once every quarter or as emergencies require and its activities shall ensure the SSP remains relevant and appropriate to Nigeria.

The Terms of Reference of the NESC are; Endorse the priorities and ensure that appropriate resources are allocated to drive the desired improvements in safety performance, based on risk assessment, and give strategic direction to the Safety Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC). Ensure the development, periodic review and decision and policy making pertaining to SP activities, such as safety policy, safety indicators, enforcement policy, safety data protection and sharing, SMS regulatory requirements, and internal SSP review and findings, are carried out in an integrated and coordinated manner.

Monitor safety performance against the Nigeria’s safety policies and objectives. Assess and accept the picture of the aggregate risk within the aviation industry. Identify new and emerging strategic safety risks. Direct and monitor the effectiveness of the SIAC.

Ensure the effectiveness of the safety oversight of regulated organisations and personnel. Review and sign off major policies, rules and interpretation changes. Handle escalated issues identified by the SIAC. Approve Terms of Reference as recommended by the SIAC for projects, new entities and other safety activities as determined by the SIAC. Ensure the effectiveness of the organisation’s safety management processes.

The NESC comprises key aviation sector stakeholders, including the Director of Air Safety Administration, NSIB Director General, and heads of FAAN, NAMA, NiMET, NCAT, NCAA, representative of Nigeria Air Force (NAF), and technical advisers. The SSP Coordinator will serve as the National Executive Safety Committee Secretary.

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Record-breaker Tunde Onakoya returns to heroic welcome

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Nigerian chess master Tunde Onakoya is leveraging his skills to raise $1 million for Chess in Slums Africa (CISA), an initiative he

Chess-in-Slums Founder, Tunde Onakoya, was on Wednesday warmly welcomed back to Nigeria after breaking the record for the longest-ever chess marathon with a time of 60 hours.

He was greeted with a heartwarming reception, singing and dancing at the airport.

Onakoya broke the record of Norwegian players, Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad, who played for 56-hour, 9-minute in 2018.

The Nigerian Chess Master on April 17 began his attempt to set a 58-hour chess marathon record at Times Square in New York, United States.

The new record holder said he attempted to raise funds and awareness for providing educational opportunities to underprivileged children across Africa.

 

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Buhari’s minister, Sirika to be arraigned for alleged N8 billion fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it will prosecute a former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, over alleged money

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it will prosecute a former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, over alleged money laundering, contract fraud in the ministry and Nigeria Air debacle.

The EFCC Spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, disclosed this on Wednesday in a phone conversation with Nairametrics.

When asked if the anti-graft plans prosecuting the former minister, he responded in the affirmative.

“He (Sirika) is going to be charged to court, but it may not be able to be either now or…but definitely, he is going to be sued. He may be arraigned very very soon. That is the information I’ve got,” he said.

Sirika served under former president Muhammadu Buhari as Minister of Aviation.

Another source familiar with developments within the commission but chose not to be named also told Nairametrics that the anti-graft agency’s ongoing probe would lead to prosecution.

“The EFCC is planning to prosecute him, but I don’t know the details except that he was arrested,” the source said.
Several media outlets claim the ex-minister is being interrogated over alleged contract scam under his purview and knowledge.

A reliable source said the arrest is also linked to the botched Nigeria Air. Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, had cancelled the Nigeria Air deal on August 31, 2023. He had revealed on January 31, 2024, that “the whole composition and totality of the deal is merely Ethiopian Air flying the Nigerian flag.” He also admitted that the EFCC was investigating the whole deal.

Backstory
Three months ago, the EFCC said its operatives arrested Abubakar Ahmad Sirika, the brother of Hadi Sirika, over an alleged contract fraud in the aviation ministry.

Abubakar was picked up by the anti-graft agency on Sunday, February 4, following an investigation in the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development.

During his tenure as minister, Sirika faced allegations including conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds, contract inflation, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering totaling N8,069,176,864.

The commission had revealed that the funds in dispute related to four aviation contracts awarded by the former minister to a company called Engirios Nigeria Limited, which is owned by his younger brother.

The EFCC is empowered by law to track financial crimes.

Every accused person remains innocent until found guilty by a competent court.

Sirika served as Aviation Minister from 22 August 2019 to 29 May 2023.

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Tinubu approves 20% palliative for traditional, religious institutions

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Vice-President Kashim Shettima has disclosed that President Bola Tinubu has approved that 20 per cent of palliative in terms of food

Vice-President Kashim Shettima has disclosed that President Bola Tinubu has approved that 20 per cent of palliative in terms of food intervention be routed through religious and traditional institutions.

Mr Shettima made this known while delivering the keynote address at a High-Level Dialogue of Faith Leaders on Nutrition in Nigeria, held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

“The Imam of Bayero University (BUK) mentioned about the exclusion of the traditional and religious leaders in the distribution of palliatives.

”The President has approved that 20 per cent of the palliative in terms of food intervention be routed through our religious organisations and the traditional institutions.

“The Tsangaya schools, the mission schools will be specially targeted for such intervention,” Mr Shettima said.

The Vice-President said that government was working out logistics through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to ensure smooth implementation of the intervention programme.

“This intervention will be anchored in the office of the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Sen. Abubakar Bagudu, and he is going to anchor the programme.

“We are going to provide the overall supervision towards the implementation of the programme.

“Also 20 per cent of the funds for the School Feeding Programme is going to be channeled through the office of the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning to the religious bodies.”

Mr Shettima stated that government had already commenced engagement and working out modalities for the intervention to ensure a very transparent disbursement, taken into cognisance of all tendencies in our system.

He added that the intervention would include Tsangaya and Mission schools.

NAN

 

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 Chinese supermarket where Nigerians are not allowed to shop sealed

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The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has sealed the Abuja-based Chinese supermarket located within the China General

On Monday, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) sealed a Chinese supermarket located within the China General Chamber of Commerce in Abuja, following allegations of discriminatory practices against Nigerians.

The FCCPC officials interrogated Nigerian workers at the supermarket before sealing up the premises.

According to facilities workers at the store, the owner of the supermarket, Cindy Liu Bei, fled the premises with her family on Monday at 8:26 am, as captured on Closed-Circuit Television camera footage.

The workers, who are mostly Nigerians, disclosed this information to the FCCPC officials when they stormed the supermarket. As a result, the commission shut down the supermarket in question.

According to The PUNCH, the supermarket had implemented a controversial policy restricting entry solely to Chinese nationals, excluding Nigerians from patronising the establishment.

This policy sparked widespread condemnation across various social media platforms, as Nigerians voiced their concerns over the discriminatory treatment.

But visiting the premises on Monday, the commission officials led by the Director for Surveillance and Investigation, Boladale Adeyinka, said the mission of the commission is in response to the viral video when Nigerians were allegedly being discriminated against and denied access to a supermarket located in Abuja.

Speaking at the end of the enforcement exercise, Adeyinka affirmed that the owner of the supermarket, Cindy Liu Bei, fled on Monday at 8:26 am with her family as confirmed on the Closed-Circuit Television camera.

She said, “The essence of the surveillance and investigation that we conducted today is to verify the allegations and the content of that viral video.

“On arrival, we noticed that the supermarket which is right behind me, was sealed and padlocked externally. Inquiries have shown that yes, as this morning this supermarket was open and people were here.

“CCTV footage also shows that in the morning, two vehicles departed from these very premises allegedly containing the owner of the supermarket, whom we have been able to identify by name and we have her contact details.”

She further directed that the owner appear before the commission tribunal or the compound will remain sealed.

“Now the summons of course since she’s not around and the place is locked, is to serve notice on her to appear before the federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission by Wednesday

“There are other regulatory tools to be deployed, if she fails to attend to this summon. The summons means that on entering into these premises they must see the summon because that is how they gain access to it”, she said.

She added that if the Chinese owner fails to attend to the summon which is a lawful inquiry, the mandate of the commission under its powers will seal the premises until she comes to the commission, meaning that the place will remain locked until she appears before the commission.

The FCCPC officials subsequently sealed the supermarket.

 

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‘We have found him’- Kenyan police arrest Binance executive who escaped from Nigeria

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The Kenya Police Service has arrested fleeing Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, as the International Criminal Police Organisation moves

The Kenya Police Service has arrested fleeing Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, as the International Criminal Police Organisation moves to extradite him to Nigeria within the week.

Government sources familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak on the matter confirmed the development to our correspondent on Sunday night.

One of the sources said, “Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, has been arrested by the Kenya Police Service, and he would be extradited to Nigeria this week by INTERPOL.”

Another source noted, “As we had said before that Anjarwalla would be extradited, he has been arrested in Kenya, and he’ll be extradited to Nigeria this week.”

The PUNCH had exclusively reported that the Federal Government had traced Anjarwalla to Kenya, following his escape from lawful custody in Nigeria.

Following the development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the International Criminal Police, the Nigeria Police Force, and the Kenyan Police Service have deepened talks to quicken Anjarwalla’s extradition.

In the earlier report, Saturday PUNCH reported that Anjarwalla, whose cover has now been blown, went into hiding immediately after he landed in Kenya.

“We have found him. We know where he is; he is in Kenya, and we’re working with the authorities to bring him back to Nigeria.

“All hands are on the deck, the government and all the security agencies are working hard in conjunction with the Kenyan authorities and INTERPOL, to ensure his return to Nigeria to face the charges brought against him,” the report had quoted a source as saying.

Meanwhile, the EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede, had in the March edition of its bulletin titled, “EFCC Alert,” onfirmed that the commission was working in conjunction with the International Criminal Police Organisation, the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, the governments of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Kenya to extradite Anjarwalla.

Olukoyed said, “The takeover of the prosecution of Binance chiefs by the commission is no less a strong message in the direction of EFCC’s resolve to hedge in distortions and disruptions in the country’s forex market.

“Tax evasion, currency speculation, and money laundering to the tune of $35,400,000 and are at the foundation of the Commission’s five counts against Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, the company’s chief executives.

“While Gambaryan is currently in the Commission’s net, the process of extraditing the fleeing Anjarwalla is revving in full swing. Involved in partnership with the EFCC to nick Anjarwalla in flight are the International Criminal Police Organisation, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the governments of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Kenya as the clock winds down to his arraignment in absentia alongside the company and Gambaryan.”

 

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