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NiMet, TAHMO sign MoU to expand network of weather stations across Nigeria

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The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), on Tuesday, 16th April, 2024, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), on Tuesday, 16th April, 2024, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO), a non-governmental agency, to expand NiMet’s network of weather stations across Nigeria.

Signing the MoU on behalf of NiMet, the Director General, Chief Executive Officer of NiMet, and Nigeria’s permanent representative with World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Professor Charles Anosike said;
“On behalf of NiMet, I am proud to be associated with the TAHMO project. NiMet wishes to further the engagement by extending it to the marine sector as well”.

Els Veenjoven and Prof. Ahmed Balogun signed on behalf of the TAHMO project.

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Reps urge Fed govt, Army to reopen Abuja plaza

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The House of Representatives yesterday urged the Federal Government and the Nigerian Army to reopen the Banex Plaza in Abuja for business activities.
It also urged the authorities to use modern technology, such as surveillance and closed circuit television, to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of the attack on Army personnel in the plaza recently.

The House mandated its Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Defence and the Committee on Police Affairs to investigate the circumstances leading to the closure of Banex Plaza and the military’s involvement.

The committees are also to recommend more effective, less disruptive methods for handling similar situations in the future.

These resolutions followed the adoption of a motion of urgent importance on the closure of the plaza and the need for modern, civilised methods in handling security issues sponsored by Whingan Oluwaseun.

The House noted the May 18 unrest at the popular plaza, involving hoodlums who attacked military personnel, and the intervention by soldiers and policemen to rescue the victim.

Source: The Nation

 

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Assessing Tinubu’s first year in office

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Tinubu wants direct elections into ECOWAS parliament

In a piece published below my column on the back page of The Nation newspaper on Wednesday, May 8, 2024, titled Tinubu propelling Nigeria towards renewal, the Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, outlined five key foundations or “core principles” underpinning the renewed hope agenda and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s leadership vision in order to make it easier for assessors of his one year in office to be able to connect the dots between his vision and its outcomes, both short-term and long-term. He prefaced the principles with Tinubu’s corporate background and exemplary achievements as a two-term Governor of Lagos state.

The five principles cover (1) policies and actions that will attract long-term local and foreign investments to Nigeria, including rebuilding the credibility and capacity of the Central Bank and a robust tax infrastructure to lesson the burden on businesses; (2) policies involving difficult decisions, such as the removal of fuel subsidy and multiple exchange rates, always bearing in mind that such decisions would cause temporary pain and taking measures to assuage those pains; (3) policies and programmes that will provide targeted relief and benefits by way of grants, education loans, consumer credit, cash transfers, food and fertiliser distribution, and so on; (4) the need to make necessary adjustments to policies, programmes and decisions, where necessary, in order to accommodate public response—we saw this in the adjustments to the palliative and Student Loan programmes; and (5) the need to establish a robust communication network in order to keep Nigerians abreast of the policies, decisions, and programmes being made on their behalf; hence, the formation of a pioneering National Communications Team.

Without any intention of discouraging the Minister, I hope he knows that his rather nuanced analysis is not likely to influence assessors of the President’s one year in office, which comes up in a week’s time. As a matter of fact, none of the assessments already published or discussed on radio and television has taken cognizance of the Ministers brief. But why is this so?

There are three major reasons. First, many politicians and pundits hardly read newspapers, and even if they do, many of those who would assess the President are not likely to read the Minister’s piece. Of those who are likely to read it, many may not recognize its import as they might even not have read the Renewed Hope Agenda, being the President’s manifesto during the campaigns.

Nigerians’ non-reading culture is widespread, even among the highly educated. I recall devoting one of my columns to the inaugural lecture of a Professor in one of our universities. Another Professor casually asked on the floor of the University Senate if anyone had read the article the previous week, which brought the university to global limelight. Only three others put up their hands. One of them was the Professor, whose inaugural lecture was highlighted in the article. Without prompting, he confessed that it was another Professor in another university, who alerted him to the article! But that is a subject for another day.

Second, most assessors have made up their mind, based on partisan, ethnic, and religious biases as well as personal vendettas. Against this backdrop, Tinubu should expect acerbic criticisms, bordering on condemnation, by politicians of the opposition parties, especially the Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party, their ardent supporters (especially on social media) and pundits fronting for them. Besides, there are newspapers and their editorials as well as TV stations, which have hardly seen anything acceptable to them in the Tinubu administration. This group of assessors has hardly grown out of the bitterness of electoral loss. Besides, as the politicians begin their spadework for 2027, they are not likely to see anything good coming out of Abuja.

Third, most members of the ruling All Progressives Congress as well as supporters and friends of the President are not likely to find fault with his policies, programmes, decisions, and actions, at least not in the public square.

Apart from these three groups, however, there are assessors, who would look at Tinubu’s policies, programmes, and projects dispassionately, and assess their short-term and possible long-term impacts. This group will include economists, financial institutions, such as Goldman Sacks, and international bodies, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. These are professional assessors, who would look at all the facts before reaching a conclusion.

In assessing Tinubu’s one year anniversary, one set of data worth looking at critically is the financial situation of the country, when Tinubu took office in May 2023. Everything had gone downhill. The Central Bank was in a big mess. There were multiple exchange rates for different categories of customers. Banks were hoarding dollars and selling them at high profits. There was palpable dissonance between monetary and financial policies. The nation was deeply in debt. Fuel subsidy was already technically removed as it was not in the budget as from June 2023, leaving Tinubu with no option than to announce its removal on taking office. While it was in vogue, fuel subsidy was a potent instrument of corruption and a cash cow for only a tiny segment of the population. Its removal allowed the general population to benefit from the subsidy fund by adding it to state allocations. Unfortunately, state Governors have not lived up to expectations in adding the value of the additional fund to the dividends of democracy in their states.

The above notwithstanding, it is now getting late in the day for Tinubu to blame his inheritance. According to Bill Gates, “If you are born poor, it’s not your mistake, but if you die poor, it’s your mistake”. In governance parlance, the buck stops on the President’s desk.

To complicate the President’s poor inheritance problem, many citizens are still hurting from the economic effects of the President’s policies, some of which are inevitable, as indicated above. Nevertheless, none of these factors should impede a thorough assessment of the President’s effort so far.

A meta-analysis of the assessments will be undertaken next week.

Source: The Nation

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Nigeria Taps Tinubu’s Ally to Build a $13 Billion Highway

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The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins, has charged civil society and other Nigerians with demanding that lower tiers of

Nigeria’s federal cabinet last week approved construction work on the second section of a $13 billion highway awarded to an ally of President Bola Tinubu, a project that’s ignited a political firestorm in Africa’s most populous country.

The 700-kilometer (434 miles) Atlantic coastal road linking the commercial hub of Lagos to Calabar in the oil-rich Niger Delta has been mired in controversy since being awarded in September to Hitech Construction Company Ltd., a business owned by tycoon Gilbert Chagoury, who was listed by the government as Tinubu’s “confidante” when part of Nigeria’s delegation at last year’s COP28 climate conference in Dubai. The government has been forced to hold a series of public meetings, press conferences and speeches to defend the project, while surrogates have been sent to explain its position on television.

Authorities have demolished dozens of houses and buildings, including sections of the popular Landmark beach complex in the Lagos district of Victoria Island. That’s led to protests from businesses and residents in the area, home to many of Nigeria’s richest people and local headquarters of TotalEnergies SE and Standard Chartered Plc. Nigeria is littered with ambitious projects that are abandoned after huge amounts of money have been spent, and those that are completed often experience lengthy delays.

Chagoury, 78, has been a fixture of Nigerian politics and business for decades. In 2000, he was convicted in Switzerland of laundering money for Sani Abacha, the notoriously corrupt Nigerian dictator, and has admitted to making illegal campaign contributions in the US. The Chagoury Group didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Hitech has built a number of major infrastructure projects, including the privately developed Banana Island luxury housing estate and the 10-square-mile Eko Atlantic development — both on land reclaimed from the sea. The firm has constructed two highways in Lagos that are 16 miles and 31 miles long, but critics question its capability for large-scale projects.

“We don’t feel like we caught the best deal,” Lagos opposition politician Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour said by phone. “Because this whole project did not go through the Senate, did not go through the regular due process and we’re just being stuck with the bill that seems extremely overbloated.”

The bidding process for the contract wasn’t conducted publicly, which has also drawn criticism from civil society groups and opposition politicians.

Works minister Dave Umahi told journalists that the government approved a “restrictive bidding” round for the project, without elaborating on what other companies were involved or why it wasn’t made public.

“People say it was not listed in the 2024 budget,” he said during a May 14 speech at the presidential villa in Abuja, the seventh time he has addressed the controversy around the highway since April. “Yesterday, I quoted the budget number and so everything about coastal road followed due process.”

This year’s budget contains two line items for the project totaling 1 billion naira, a fraction of the 2.6 trillion naira ($1.8 billion) approved so far, according to the version posted on the website of the budget office in January.

“It is curious that the terms of such an audacious project continue to be shrouded in secrecy,” opposition leader Atiku Abubakar, who lost to Tinubu in last year’s presidential election, said in a statement. “It is no secret that both Tinubu and Chagoury are business partners.”

The president’s office didn’t respond to a detailed list of questions, instead referring to an April 8 statement that called the highway an “economic gamechanger.”

Tinubu, who was governor of Lagos from 1999-2007, has long been dogged by allegations of corruption, which he denies. He was being investigated by Nigeria’s anti-graft authorities as recently as June 2021, two years before he was elected president. In 1993, he forfeited $460,000 to resolve a lawsuit in Chicago after US federal authorities said bank accounts in his name held the proceeds of heroin trafficking. Tinubu’s lawyers have said he was never charged over the matter.

Nigeria ranks among the world’s most graft-ridden countries, according to a Corruption Perceptions Index published by advocacy group Transparency International, a key reason why the economy is mired in crisis. Since coming into office, Tinubu has talked about enhancing transparency in government and vowed to fight corruption. In April, he described corruption, self-interest and fraud as “an enemy” of the country.

The task of completing the coastal road project will extend beyond Tinubu’s first term, and cost more than Nigeria’s 9-trillion naira budget deficit for this year. Civil society groups and opposition leaders have questioned the rationale behind spending so much on a highway while ordinary Nigerians battle a cost-of-living crisis and citizens have died in stampedes to get food.

“With the cost involved, you can see that it’s an inflated contract that has been given simply because some people believe that they will make money out of it,” said Auwal Rafsanjani, Nigerian head of Transparency International. Lack of transparency around Nigerian projects like this is “the reason why we are not making any progress in terms of improving transparency and accountability in public sector.”

23-Year Plan

Estimated at 15 trillion naira, the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway is part of Nigeria’s 23-year plan to improve the nation’s infrastructure. The project was first designed as a railway under President Goodluck Jonathan and awarded to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corp. for $12 billion, but fell apart when he left office in 2015.

The following year, the plan was revived by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for $11 billion and given a timeline of three years, which expired without significant progress.

Minister Umahi then announced the project had been resurrected once again, but as a coastal highway alongside some rail, and this time awarded to Chagoury’s Hitech.

As much as 30% of the funding for the highway is expected to come from the government, with Hitech sourcing the rest, according to Umahi. The road will also be tolled, costing as much as 3,000 naira to use for a one-way trip — the equivalent of two day’s salary at the current national minimum wage.

Source: Bloomberg

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Abode Academy graduates first cohort of 280 real estate consultants

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Proptech firm, Abode Assets at its 2024 graduation ceremony over the weekend, certified 280 real estate consultants from her Academy.

Proptech firm, Abode Assets at its 2024 graduation ceremony over the weekend, certified 280 real estate consultants from her Academy.

The event, which took place at Oluwalogbon House in the Alausa area of Ikeja, saw the inaugural set of the academy handed certificates following an intensive three weeks of training.

The Community Manager of the Academy, Sophia James, said facilitators were drawn across industries, including Tope Mark-Odigie, Abel Adejoh, Faren Maren, David Asogba, Taiwo Anjorin, and the co-founders of Abode, with major focus being on attaining financial stability through sustained sales of real estate products.

James also confirmed that over 700 people registered to participate in the free training while about 400 attended classes, but after performances from various evaluations were considered, only 280 participants emerged worthy of certification.

One of the successful participants, Jumoke Akinwunmi said: “I learnt a lot. The training was special to me because this is my field. The acronym EBA meaning emotional bank account was one thing that hit me well, and I have now learnt how to use it for better business outcomes.”

Another graduate, Isaac Akinyemi, added: “I feel excited. I am sceptical that the next session of the Academy might not be free, so yes, I feel excited about this opportunity. We had speakers with a deep wealth of knowledge, and I am happy to be part of those graduating today.”

During the event, the property technology firm, which launched its business barely two years ago, reiterated its mission to help one million Africans own, profit and earn from real estate with ease.

The industry, according to Abode’s COO, Damilare Oshokoya, therefore needed people with good professional ethics and integrity to lead the way for others to follow, and that was the essence of the Academy.

In his words, “We had a sincere desire to train realtors across Nigeria to succeed. We brought a couple of speakers who came to train them on different aspects of real estate like understanding the Nigerian real estate landscape, how to be a winning realtor, understanding sales and marketing strategy, and other related subjects.

“The sessions were tactical and engaging, there were evaluations as well just to ensure that it’s not about the certification alone, we wanted professionalism to be seen in the participants after the training. There are a lot of integrity issues in the industry right now, people lying to people about properties and all of that, but we wanted to groom the right set of people about doing the right thing. That is our contribution to the sector, and the feedback has been amazing.”

Oshokoya also led the launch of a product, Flex 3.0 at the graduation ceremony. He said, “Flex is our simplified property ownership scheme that allows flexible payment options for people to be able to invest in real estate with as low as N12,500 monthly. We just launched this in seven locations in Epe, Ikorodu, Mowe, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Ibadan and Abeokuta. We just want to democratise property ownership across Nigeria.”

The graduates and guests at the event were entertained by a panel session where veteran salespersons in real estate shared their experiences over the years to motivate other attendees to make their marks.

Abode also handed rewards of refrigerator, air fryer and tabletop gas cooker to high-performing realtors. Two other realtors won shopping vouchers for their efforts during a promo, while one other realtor won dinner for two at the Marriott Hotel, Lagos.

Also present at the event were co-founder of Pertinence Group, Mr Wisdom Ezekiel; Mr Ebunoluwa Olufemi; Mr Jeffrey Itepu, the CEO Abode and Chancellor of the Academy who joined the event via Zoom, and a host of other real estate gurus and investors.

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Reps Threaten To Block Accounts Of MDAs Over Incorrect Remittances

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PDP crisis: House minority leaders disown 60 Reps

ABUJA – The House of Representatives Commit­tee on Finance on Monday issued a warn­ing that it may instruct the Accountant General of the Federation to block the ac­counts of Federal Government agencies that do not provide accurate reports of their revenue profiles to the government.

Musa Jemaku, the Director of Fi­nance and Accounts at the Financial Re­porting Council of Nigeria, has refuted claims made by the Office of the Accoun­tant General of the Federation. The Ac­countant General’s office had alleged that the Council failed to remit its operating surplus for the years 2019 to 2021.

Jemaku’s anger was fueled by an al­legation from an unidentified represen­tative of the Office of the Accountant General. The claim stated that the FRC had failed to remit its operating surpluses to the federation’s coffers for the years 2019 (N126 mil­lion), 2020 (N143 million), and 2021 (N26 million). ­

At the resumed revenue moni­toring exercise of the committee, the Vice Chairman, Saidu Abdul­lahi, who represents Bida/Gba­ko/Katcha Federal Constituency, expressed his displeasure at some agencies’ deliberate failure to ap­pear before the committee despite being invited.

He noted that out of the eight agencies invited to appear before the committee on Monday, only two, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and the Na­tional Health Insurance Author­ity, attended.

The lawmaker stated that while two entities requested another date, the Lagos Interna­tional Trade Fair Complex, the National Broadcasting Commis­sion, the National Examination Council, and the National Inland Waterways Authority neither at­tended the meeting nor provided reasons for their absence.

He stated, “We anticipated that eight agencies would appear be­fore the committee today (Mon­day). However, only two agencies attended. Additionally, two other agencies requested a rescheduled date, which was granted.”

However, four others decided to abscond. “I used this same word last year, which did not sit well with some of the agencies. They have chosen to shirk their duties on a very important as­signment. If members can turn out in large numbers for this assignment, there is no reason any agency should decide not to appear before the committee.

“We would like to formally state our intention to have the following agencies appear before the committee: the Lagos Inter­national Trade Fair Complex, the National Broadcasting Commis­sion, the National Examination Council, and the National Inland Waterways Authority.

“We expect them to appear be­fore this committee by tomorrow, Tuesday. Should they fail to do so, we may be compelled to take appropriate action, including po­tentially requesting the Office of the Accountant General to block their accounts.

“We will not tolerate any agency failing in this crucial task. Collecting revenue is vital for our country, and any inability to do so poses a significant problem.”

Jemaku, who stated that the agency paid approximately N800 million to the government in 2024, also disputed the Attorney Gener­al of the Federation’s (AGF) claim that only about N602 million has been deposited into the govern­ment’s account.

He clarified that an official circular from the Minister of Fi­nance’s office mandates the exe­cution of the Finance Act 2020. Additionally, he mentioned that this circular streamlines the pro­cess for the automatic deduction of 50 percent.

Meanwhile, the Joint Commit­tees of the House of Representa­tives investigating the ‘arbitrary increases in the prices of cement’ has accused cement manufac­turers of hiding under a court injunction to scuttle the ongoing probe by the committee.

Chairman of the committee, who is also the Chairman, House Committee on Solid Minerals, Rep. Jonathan Gaza Gefbwi, stat­ed this at the resumed sitting of the committee on Monday.

He noted that the cement manufacturers had refused to honour their invitation for the second time.

Rep. Gefbwi warned that they should desist from using frivolous court injunction to interfere or halt the ongoing investigation by the House.

The committee chairman disclosed that the Committee on Solid Minerals had received a let­ter from Tunji Abayomi and Co, the representatives of the Nige­ria Employees Consultative As­sociation (NECA), who claimed representation for all witnesses summoned.

He said, the letter referred to the court ruling of the Fed­eral High Court FHC/ABJ/ CS/458/2012 which is being re­viewed by the Supreme Court under SC/458/2017.

He said, “I want to first under­line that these rulings are about a separate hearing conducted in the 9th Assembly by the House Committee on Labour and Pro­ductivity and House Committee on Interior.

“It is the preceding ruling of the Supreme Court. It is equally to address the flagrant misuse of the judiciary to delay, interrupt or interfere with the legislative process”.

MDAs remitted N835.7bn revenue to FG in February – Edun

According to him, the manu­facturers’ refusal to appear before the committee is an affront to the powers of the National Assembly as enshrined in Section 88 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) and Sections 4 and 7 of the Leg­islative Houses Powers and Priv­ileges Act.

Source: independent.ng

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NCC warns against buying pre-registered SIM cards

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has issued a stern warning to Nigerians through its social media platforms about the

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has issued a stern warning to Nigerians through its social media platforms about the dangers of purchasing pre-registered SIM cards.

The Commission emphasized that this practice is illegal and could lead to severe consequences, including imprisonment.

They highlighted that individuals using these SIM cards might inadvertently become implicated in crimes such as identity theft, financial fraud, kidnapping, and armed robbery.

Moreover, the NCC pointed out that the use of pre-registered SIM cards compromises the accuracy of consumer information and hampers efforts to track criminals effectively.

By using such SIM cards, the reliability of data collected on consumers is undermined, making it challenging for authorities to identify and apprehend the actual perpetrators of crimes.

The NCC’s message aims to educate the public on the risks associated with pre-registered SIM cards and encourage compliance with legal guidelines to enhance national security.

 

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