Friday, 19 January 2018
Items filtered by date: June 2017

The Federal Government is set to release the first tranche of capital release of N350bn to its Ministries, Departments and Agencies for implementation of the 2017 budget.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja during the public presentation of the 2017 Federal Government budget.

The event was attended by top officials in government, including the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma; Minister of State for Budget, Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, among others.

The 2017 budget christened, ‘Budget of Recovery and Growth’, was presented to the National Assembly on December 14, 2016, and passed by the lawmakers on May 11, 2017.

It was signed into law by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on June 12, 2017 and had a total expenditure outlay of N7.44tn, out of which N2.99tn was for non-debt recurrent spending; N2.36tn for capital expenditure; while debt servicing is to gulp N1.66tn.

Adeosun said her ministry was ready to make the release as soon as the budget was loaded, adding that a cash plan meeting would soon be held where the funds would be released to the MDAs.

“We are ready to make releases as soon as the budget is loaded. We have a cash plan meeting and we will release the first tranche of N350bn for capital projects,” she stated.

Udoma, in his presentation at the event, said the 2017 budget would run for one full year till June next year.

He, however, said that both the executive and the legislature were working on a template that would enable the country to commence a predictable budget year that would run between January and December of every year.

He added that if this arrangement was to commence from the 2018 budget year, then the 2017 budget would cease once the next year’s budget was passed and signed into law in January.

The implication of this, according him, is that some of the programmes of government contained in the 2017 fiscal document would be re-introduced in the 2018 budget.

Udoma explained, “The period of the 2016 budget was up till May and the period of the 2017 budget is again by the provision of the bill that was sent to us, which is now an Act of Parliament, continues again, this time, till June.

“However, whenever a new Appropriations Act comes into law, it overtakes the previous Appropriations Act. This means that assuming we were as we intend to achieve this year, we pass the 2018 budget into law; when it is signed into law, then the other one ceases to exist.

“So our aim is by January 2018, we want to get back to the January to December budget year. That means some of the projects in the 2017 budget will have to be carried over.”

He added that the budget that was passed by the National Assembly was what was signed into law by the Acting President, adding that an understanding had been reached for the submission of virement application to adjust the budget to reflect some of the projects, which the lawmakers tinkered with.

Such projects, according to him, are the railways, health and Federal Capital Territory projects.

Udoma said, “We identified some of our priority projects where the allocations have been reduced and discussed with the National Assembly and they graciously agreed that we can bring a virement application to restore the amount of those projects.

“Those projects include the railways, some health projects and Federal Capital Territory projects. But until that is done, the budget and the Appropriations Act reflect exactly what was passed by the National Assembly, and this is what the law is as I speak.

“However, we will be bringing virement application on a number of these projects under consideration. It’s only after they have approved it before it now becomes a law, and the budget will be adjusted to reflect that.”

The minister said the capital allocation of N2.36tn, which represents 31.7 per cent of the total budget, was directed at projects that were aligned with the core execution priorities of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

Udoma noted that allocations had been targeted at critical economic sectors that had quick transformative potential such as infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals, services, and social development.

For instance, he said the government would be embarking on a rail modernisation programme for which N148bn had been allocated mostly as counterpart funds on projects to be financed by China.

They are Lagos-Kano, Calabar-Lagos, Kano-Kaduna, Ajaokuta-Itakpe-Warri, Kaduna-Idu and other rail projects.

In the area of electricity, the minister said the sum of N40bn service-wide provision had been made to settle reconciled outstanding bills of government agencies as part of the strategy to revamp the ailing power sector.

For the housing sector, Udoma said the sum of N28bn was allocated in the budget for the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme nationwide.

He stated that the government was concerned about the number of abandoned projects scattered across the federation, adding that more targeted releases of funds would be done to relevant agencies of government.

The minister noted that in this year’s budget, funds had been allocated for construction and rehabilitation of over 65 roads and bridges across the six geo-political zones of the country.

Some of them are N10bn for the rehabilitation/reconstruction and expansion of Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan dual carriageway sections I and II; N13.19bn for the dualisation of the Kano-Maiduguri road Sections I-V; N10.63bn for the rehabilitation of the Enugu-Port Harcourt dual carriageway Sections I-IV; and N7bn for the construction of the Second Niger Bridge phases 2A & 2B, including the access roads.

The Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, said the government would be engaging the citizens more in its budgeting process in order to enable the country to have a document that would be all inclusive.

He added that steps were being taken to bridge the gap between the people and the government by promoting transparency and accountability in the entire budget process.

Published in Headliners

Brighter days may lie around in the corner for prospective homeowners, following plans to introduce a public private partnership initiative that seeks to increase access to housing finance in Nigeria through mortgage guarantee insurance and microfinance scheme.

The scheme, ‘My Own Home’ comes as an offshoot of the Nigeria Housing Finance Programme (NHFP) set up by the Federal Government and implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with the support of World Bank’s $300 million loan.

NHFP is creating the enabling environment for strengthening the nation’s housing sector by setting up sustainable framework by mortgage originators to access long-term refinancing. The new scheme is expected to scale-up mortgage and housing finance awareness.

Under the ‘My Own Home scheme, eight micro finance banks have been selected to stimulate housing finance for low-income earners in the formal and informal sectors. They will benefit from a $15 million technical assistance, which LAPO Microfinance Bank is piloting in the housing sector.

Specifically, the eight micro finance banks are expected to facilitate access to flexible housing finance for low-income earners for incremental construction or home improvement. “It could be financing to buy a piece of land for building or laying foundation on an existing land and commence building stage by stage.

“After every stage of building, and with a good history of repayment, the microfinance bank keeps financing the customer until the building is completed. Housing microfinance is not a mortgage and is not for the purchase of homes.

“Housing microfinance is closer to our traditional sense of incremental construction. Not everyone has money to finance mortgage but under the microfinance scheme, a homeowner can stretch his building plan in such a way that he takes different tranches of loan as he builds,” according to Mr. Adedeji Adesemoye, CBN’s Head, Project Administration Team of the National Housing Fund Programme.

He revealed in Lagos that the technical assistance would be provided in partnership with the Frankfurt School of Management and AFC Consultants International, Germany. “The objective is to catalyse the growth of the housing sector through de-risking the housing finance value chain and improving access to finance,” he said.

Adesemoye stated that the programme is targeted at inspiring the younger generations of Nigerians on the need to key into mortgage process and start owning homes. “We need to educate our people that owning a home with a mixture of equity and debt is not a negative thing; having a home that you will live in the next 50 years does not require you to spend all your life savings,” he said.

Published in Business and Economy

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says Cristiano Ronaldo's apparent dissatisfaction is "all very strange," but that both he and the club expect the superstar to stay at the Bernabeu this summer.

Ronaldo, the reigning Ballon d'Or award winner, feels he is being treated unfairly by Spain's tax authorities, whose "persecution" has made him determined to leave Real Madrid and the country, a source confirmed to ESPN FC.

After initially avoiding the burning question Ronaldo's future during the address he gave to mark his re-election on Monday evening, Perez opened up in an interview on radio station Onda Cero for the first time since the news broke on Friday.

"I have not spoken with Ronaldo," Perez said. "During the election period, I've tried to be respectful and keep out of everything.

"I learned of the [reports] through what a newspaper said. He's immersed in the Confederations Cup [with Portugal] at the moment, which is an important competition, and for the moment there's nothing until that ends. Like the all other players, though, he has a contract and is a Real Madrid player.

"In football and life, in general, we encounter situations which we don't expect and we have to find the best solution for everyone. I know Cristiano and he's a good guy, not just with the ball, but as a person. This is all very strange, I will have to speak with him to see what's going on."

Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with a move for the Portuguese forward, while Bayern Munich denied interest on Monday.

But Perez was adamant that Real Madrid were not prepared to allow Ronaldo to move on.

"Not I or anyone at Madrid is contemplating that Cristiano could leave the club," Perez said. "He is not a business, he forms part of this club's history, he's at the level of [club legend Alfredo] Di Stefano."

Florentino Perez believes Cristiano Ronaldo is innocent of the tax accusations levelled against him.

Real Madrid previously released a statement supporting Ronaldo after prosecutors announced that they were seeking €14.7 million in taxes they felt the player hid in offshore accounts, and Perez reiterated his belief in Ronaldo's innocence on Monday.

"I will defend [Ronaldo] at all costs as both a player and as a person. [I have] complete confidence [that he is innocent], he has always wanted to fulfil his fiscal commitments," Perez said.

"There must be some sort of confusion which will be clarified. What I have been told is that he has the same structure [in Spain] that he had in England -- and there was no problem there.

"I'm sure Cristiano wouldn't want us to pay his fine if there was one, he's not like that. If he's angry it's because he feels unjustly treated.

"I've been affected by how the Cristiano news has been treated by the media. The presumption of innocence has not been respected. The only thing I know is that he's angry about the treatment the media have given him. [Jorge] Mendes called me and told me that."

Ronaldo, 32, only signed a new deal with Real in November and is under contract until 2021, though his disgruntlement has caused an issue for Perez as he begins his new term as the head of the European and Spanish champions.

When speaking publicly on Monday having ran unopposed to return as president for the next four years, Perez did not reference Ronaldo when discussing the current state of Los Blancos. Perez read a prepared speech and did not take questions from journalists at the event.

In quotes published on Marca's website, Perez said: "We have built a legendary team with the best players from Spain and the world, but also with many players from our youth academy.

"This is the model that will continue to define Real Madrid. When united, this club is practically indestructible."

Perez's latest four-year term has started as many of his previous ones have -- with frenzied transfer speculation about which big-name players might arrive at the club and, perhaps more crucially in this instance as Ronaldo's future dominates the headlines, who might end up leaving.

The Madrid electoral board met overnight and, with no other candidate putting themselves forward for election ahead of the deadline, it was confirmed that the long-serving Perez would continue in the role, taking his overall stay in the position to 18 years.

Published in Sports

Wife of billionaire kidnapper, Evans, arrested recently in Lagos has begged the authorities to temper justice with mercy and give her husband a second chance.

The wife, Precious, who is based abroad said she was not privy to the exploits of her dare-devil husband Chikwudubem Onwuamadike, a.k.a. Evans.

In a recent interview with Vanguard newspaper, Precious revealed that she could not believe all that she had heard about her husband, she said she did know he was a criminal because he presented himself as a God-fearing man who always led the family in prayer. In fact, his favorite bible verse is Psalm 23.

“I feel very bad because I did not know if he was doing all these or not. Even if he was into all these, why did he not stop because of me and his children? All the time when we pray, he used to promise God that he would tell Him his story later in life. Here reads psalm 23 a lot. Even his phone, he sets alarm for 12 noon to read psalm 23. He took part in our daily prayers in the morning, evening and night. He used to lead us in prayers. We attend Anglican Church. He has never given them money to show off. We used to give N5000 or N10,000 and the highest we have given so far was N50,000 when we baptized one of our children,” she told Vanguard newspaper.

Evans, after he was captured

She also asked for forgiveness on behalf of her husband, saying his wealth should be distributed back to his victims.

She also said she would be willing to come and see the Lagos state governor to explain her own part of the story.

“I am appealing to the powers that be to spare his life (crying), as I speak now, I am kneeling down with my children, crying and begging for forgiveness. Have mercy on us. He did not know what he was doing. He did not know what came over him. I am ready to come back to Nigeria and plead on his behalf. What I am reading in the news is shocking. Though, I have not heard that he killed anybody but all those he injured or took their money should please forgive him because of me and my children.

Happier times. Precious with Evans’ children

”They should kindly forgive him, he will repent. God knows I will not be alive and see my husband doing bad thing and keep quiet. All his wealth should be sold off and given to his victims. I am ready to come back and testify on his behalf. I will also like to see the Governor of Lagos state and explain the whole thing to him.”

Published in Business and Economy
Sunday, 18 June 2017 14:18

Spain mourns slain matador Fandino

Spain’s royal family joined politicians and the bullfighting world Sunday in mourning matador Ivan Fandino, gored to death in a fight in France.

The death of Fandino, a 36-year-old from the northern Basque region, was front page news in several newspapers in Spain, where interest in the controversial centuries-old tradition remains high.

The royals paid homage on their official Twitter feed to “a great bullfighting figure” while Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy lamented the “sad news,” as did his culture minister.

Valencia torero Enrique Ponce also paid tribute to a fighter well-known for his daring.

“Dear Ivan, “Torerazo” (super torero), I shall always remember you … those glorious afternoons. May God receive you in his glory.”

French fighter Sebastien Castella wrote in Spanish that “death has taken a friend and in a sense a part of our souls.”

Fandino died in hospital on Saturday after being gored in the ribs by a bull, whose horn punctured his lung, at the Aire-sur-l’Adour bullfighting festival in the south of France.

Fandino, who had won an earlier fight and cut off the bull’s ear, was photographed being carried away from the scene by colleagues with blood seeping through his embroidered traditional costume.

Bullfighting retains its popular aura in Spain, which hosts hundreds of shows annually in a country of some six million “aficionados” who see it as a sport that is an art integral to their culture.

But recent years have seen opponents vociferously decrying it on animal rights grounds.

Only last month thousands attended a Madrid rally calling for the practice to be banned.

In 2010, the regional Catalan government voted for a ban — but last year Spain’s top court overturned that decision, judging that it was part of Spain’s common cultural heritage

Published in News & Stories
Sunday, 18 June 2017 13:21

Beyoncé delivers twins

U.S. singer, Beyonce, has given birth to twins in Los Angeles, several celebrity news websites reported on Saturday, citing unidentified sources.

Beyonce, 35, and rapper and music producer Jay Z, already have a five-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy.

E! News, citing multiple unidentified sources, reported the birth and that Jay Z and Blue Ivy were seen at a Los Angeles area hospital on Thursday.

U.S. Weekly, also citing multiple unidentified sources, reported that the couple welcomed twins earlier this week.

“Bey and Jay are thrilled and have started sharing the news with their family and closest friends,” one unidentified source told PEOPLE.

Reuters could not verify the reports. A representative for Beyonce did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The celebrity news websites did not provide additional details, such as the date and time the twins were born or the sex of the infants.

The “Lemonade” singer, one of the most powerful women in the music business, announced the pregnancy on her Instagram account in February along with an image of her posed in lingerie and caressing a noticeable baby bump.

The announcement got more than 8 million “likes” in the first 24 hours to become the “most-liked” Instagram ever.

The R&B singer performed live at the Grammy awards in Los Angeles two weeks later, proudly displaying her swelling belly in a motherhood-themed show.

She has since posted numerous pictures of her bare baby bump on her social media accounts.

The birth of Blue Ivy caused a paparazzi storm in 2012, with New York’s Lenox Hill hospital shutting down part of its maternity wing to accommodate music’s royal couple.

News of the pregnancy came less than a year after the release of Beyonce’s 2016 album “Lemonade,” in which she appeared to address long-standing rumors of trouble in her eight-year marriage.

The lyrics of several songs spoke about being cheated on, and regretting being married.

But Beyonce made clear in the final tracks of the album and in music videos featuring Jay-Z that she had decided to stay in the relationship.

The couple have never addressed the rumors publicly. (Reuters/NAN)

Published in News & Stories

• Kingpin begs government to seize all he owns but spare his life
• Says native doctor collected 10% of loot
• Had premonition about his arrest
• Fingers aide to the transporter

Suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeje George Onwuamadike alias Evans has told his interrogators how he once bullied a Lagos transport magnate, to pay him a large sum of foreign exchange to avoid kidnap.

Evans’ initial demand was $1millon but the transport magnate, ended up parting with less than that amount.

The suspect, who is gradually adapting to life in police custody and has started eating, claimed that a close aide of the transporter provided all the information he required about the victim.

The plot to kidnap the transporter who hails from the South East, according to him, was hatched in 2013.

He said that he stopped threatening the businessman and his family once the money was paid.

The Nation gathered yesterday that although Evans still agonises about his condition in police cell, he finds time to smile and joke with his cell mates and interrogators.

The police plan to inspect all the detention camps operated by Evans and his gang.

A source said: “He collected a huge sum of dollars but not up to the $1million he demanded in order to stop threatening the man with kidnap. He also said that the native doctor who prepared charms for him is a traditional ruler and that he usually collected 10percent of the money generated.

“Evans pleaded that Eze (native doctor/monarch) should not be arrested. He said whenever they went for an operation without telling the juju man, he always knew and would confront him. He said that the native doctor most times knew he was planning something and would tell him to stay away if he foresaw danger.

“He also said he heard of the kidnap of Ikenga Nnewi but that he was not responsible for it. He said that he knew something bad would happen the week he was arrested but he didn’t know the exact thing.

“He said he was planning to travel abroad because he knew police were looking for him. Evans said he was able to evade arrest over the years because the charms his native doctor prepared made him invincible to those who wanted to hurt him.”

He claimed that he never cheated members of his gang and that he usually performed sacrifices before and after each operation.

He begged government to spare his life but is free to confiscate all his wealth and properties.

He craves a fresh lease of life to enable him turn a new leaf.

“Evans claims that he never assaulted any of his kidnap victims. That he didn’t rape the women and never slapped any of the men. He said he only chained them and ensured their families paid the demanded amount.

“He has started laughing and feeling relaxed now, unlike before. He eats rice sold by one of the caterers at the station and drinks only bottled water. He insists that his wife knew what he was doing for a living and even used to collect ransom for him.”

Published in News & Stories

These are certainly not the best of times for notorious kidnapper, Chukwudidume Onuamadike, popularly known as Evans, who was last weekend arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team as he has gone spiritual in police cell.

Saturday Tribune gathered that the suspect, who is being detained at the Ikeja headquarters of the Lagos State police command, requested for a copy of the Holy Bible on Friday.

A police source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said “he (Evans) asked for a copy of the Bible today (Friday) and we gave him one. He has been reading it since then. He has been very sober. He has been focusing on Job and Lamentations in the Bible. He kept shifting his focus between the two books of the Bible”.

Lamentations consists of series of poetic and powerful laments, traditionally ascribed to Jeremiah over the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC while Job is a series of monologues, giving an account of a righteous man who suffers under terrible disasters.

The police source added that “other suspects in his (Evans’) cell claimed that he has been keeping to himself. He has become quiet since the Bible was given to him this morning (Friday).”

Also, operatives of the IRT have begun analyses of the call data of the over 190 SIM cards recovered from Evans.

A police source at the IRT told Saturday Tribune that “what we are doing now is to look at the call history of all the SIM cards and possibly arrest other members of his gangs who may want to continue with the business.

“We are still looking at the possibility that he has more SIM cards, but he stated that the only remaining few are with his wife but we still want to continue with our investigations. We want to put a permanent end to his gangs. We want to ensure that every single member of all his gangs is arrested.”

He also stated that “he (Evans) is very experienced and some of his gang members might have acquired enough experience to start a new gang but we will put an end to Evans’ dynasty in kidnapping and other crimes.”

A source at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, told Saturday Tribune that apart from ACP Abba Kyari, the leader of the police team who was recently promoted, the Inspector General has approved the promotion of all other members of the team.

A close neighbour of Evans in Magodo (names withheld) told the media that he was yet to recover from the shock of realising that he had lived so closely with Nigeria’s most-wanted kidnapper.

He recalled that he and Evans used to have their haircut at the same barbing salon in Shangisha.

It was learnt that he usually paid the same amount for the haircut as his neighbour in order to take any attention of affluence away from him.

He was also said to be a regular face at the bar sharing fence with the salon, with those who sat around him before claiming that he never exceeded two bottles of beer at any given drinking session.

“He (Evans) is well known around here and it is a big surprise that he was wanted by police for close to four years,” the source said, while raising the suspicion of collusion, either with certain persons within Magodo who allegedly kept watch for him, or within the security system.

However, cab hire operators around Magodo and Shangisha were said to have been the biggest beneficiaries of his generosity.

Regardless of the distance, he reportedly paid high amount, making him very popular among them.

Whenever he was done with barbing his hair or taking his beer, he would, according to those who knew him, pick a cab to his Fred Soboyede home, a distance of less than 10 minutes, for a high amount of money.

One rule, however, was that the cab operator would not take him to his house.

One of his neighbours said “he always disembarked from the taxi at our area and would walk home.”

His mansion is part of the three on the first plot on the street.

It was also learnt that cars were rarely seen in his compound, with a shouting distance neighbour disclosing that “cars had never been parked in his home, which we now believe was to ensure he wasn’t being trailed and avoid being trailed at all through car registration.

“It was only yesterday, in about a year of him being with us here, that the house was without light. He wasn’t using government electricity. His noiseless generator was always on, every minute of the day.”

A police source, who pleaded for anonymity, while speaking on the recent arrest of Evans, disclosed that he was also very popular in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where he had choice houses and other properties in many parts of the state.

Another reliable police source also told the said that Evans took police operatives to a mechanic’s workshop on Liasu Road, Ikotun, Lagos, on Tuesday, where one of his cars, which got damaged in an accident within the area, was kept.

However, a couple of high-profile residents had already made representations to the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the estate on how to sanitise the area.

Apart from this, the police are set to spread their dragnets in a bid to root out more kidnappers in Lagos State.

“With the arrest of Evans, we hope to crack other gangs that live like kings in Lagos State,” the police source added.

Evans was the acclaimed brains behind most of the high-profile kidnap cases in the country. For over four years, he was declared wanted in Edo, Anambra and Lagos states.

According to a police source, who spoke anonymously, “Vampire is the most deadly kidnapper in Nigerian history and Evans remains the most notorious, brilliant and crafty kidnapper in our history.

A police source had told the media that “after a strategic monitoring by our men, Evans was tracked to Magodo in Lagos and he was finally arrested by ACP Kyari and his men at his Magodo Estate mansion in Lagos State.

Published in Headliners

Folasade Olashore is the Human Resources Director Sub-Sahara Africa Region for Procter & Gamble. She talks about the challenges women face in making career choice, how she was able to balance everything and receive support to rise to the top.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background at Procter&Gamble
I was born and bred in Ibadan, I graduated from the University of Ibadan with a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree. I joined P&G about 20 years ago. I started as an intern and later became a full-time hire. My first role was as the Quality Control Manager in the plant. I later moved to the Lagos office as Assistant Brand Manager for Pampers and Vicks after which I progressed to become the Brand Manager for the baby care category.

In the meantime, when I got married and became pregnant with my first child, I started to consider how I was going to handle this phase of life and was unsure of how I was going to balance work with a growing family. My role at that moment required frequent travels while I wanted less mobility to enable me balance my work and family life. I considered being a stay-at-home mom and decided to take an extended leave of absence to test the waters on what life would be like staying at home before resigning.

My Vice-President in the company back then heard that I was considering leaving the company and offered me a role in Human Resources Division with less travel. I was excited to return back to work and I accepted the offer to move into HR. Moving into HR with no prior experience was a challenge on its own coupled with the fact that I had just returned from maternity leave and had a newborn baby to take care of. Between the sleepless nights at home and trying to understand the challenges of my new role, it was not an easy task. But I was able to manage it all with the support of the company and that of my manager who provided me with regular coaching despite her being remotely located in South Africa.

Over the years I progressed in the company and was transferred to South Africa in 2010. I currently lead the HR Function for the Sub-Sahara African region, which comes with its challenges of multiple markets and balancing family life. Procter&Gamble is a top employer for recruiting and promoting women and I am a great example of such practice. Diversity and Inclusion is in the company’s DNA and we aim to promote equality with a good representation of our consumers working in the company which makes it highly diverse. At the different stages of my life since I joined the company, I have received support on coaching, mentorship, development and flexibility which is why I look forward to coming to work everyday, but also go home daily with high energy to spend time with my family and enjoy the things that I am passionate about.

Why do you feel that Nigerian women cannot make the call to move cross-country?
A lot of it has to do with the society, even when I made the decision to move to South Africa, there was a bit of pressure. Some people told me that I shouldn’t go as I will be jeopardizing my family with the move, but the fact that I had the support of my immediate family gave me the confidence to accept the opportunity. Still, I felt judged, people even questioned both my husband and myself but one cannot make life-changing decisions based on how others feel.

The historical culture in Nigeria is that the woman should stay at home while the husband works. I want to believe that we are gradually phasing out that belief and things are changing. However, the idea of a woman relocating to another country for work is still frowned upon and is a hard sell culturally whilst for men it is a no brainer, that is, the woman follows irrespective of her career situation.

What would have happened if your husband had said no?
That’s an easy one. I probably would not have gone. My husband gave me the confidence to accept the offer, I was more worried about the implication of the move and he kept on assuring me that we would make it work. I am blessed to be in a relationship in which there is mutual respect. The relationship that I have with my husband is one where if he was asked to go somewhere and I said no, he would not go either. If it meant jeopardizing the family, then I would not have accepted the offer. My husband and I have a partnership that works for us; we both prioritize our family unit and make it work otherwise what is the point?

Was it challenging rising through the ranks as a woman?
P&G is definitely an enabling environment, was it challenging for me as a woman? Yes, there were times for example, when I was a member of the plant leadership team, I felt the need to act like a man. Interestingly, I was the only woman on that team and I consequently made more effort to act like others on the team so that I would not be different. I have to say though, I’m incredibly grateful for P&G because I’ve heard stories from other establishments on how matters of gender diversity are poorly managed. P&G is a great enabler when it comes to gender diversity and there is a lot of respect for women within the company. I also believe that a big part of it is having confidence in yourself, you need to up-skill yourself and bring your A-game to the table to be able to be competitive among the top performers irrespective of gender, race or any other factor. I would hate to hear that I got a job because of my gender or race. I want to be given the job because I am the most capable and competent amongst the pool considered for the position.

Do you think women are well represented generally in the FMCG industry in Africa?
I don’t think so, mainly because the FMCG industry predominantly attracts engineers in terms of disciplines, just by virtue of the fact that there is a lot of manufacturing involved in the business. Even till date, if you go to various higher institutions of learning, you’ll find out that in the engineering discipline there is still a wide gap in terms of gender diversity. The sales force is another discipline that is typically male-dominated and important for the FMCG industry because we make and we sell. I believe there is progress but we are not there yet.

What have you done to encourage more women, being in the position you are in?
First and foremost, when we recruit we try as much as possible to attract female talents by showcasing our work and gender diversity strategy. We also highlight during recruiting events the fact that we are very diverse; we make sure that we are equally represented so that people can see and relate to the fact that someone like them is in such a position within the company. I think it’s very important because when people are looking for a job, they aspire to grow and become a leader one day. So it is very important that they see someone they can relate to. When new recruits come in, we do a lot of training and development. I personally mentor and sponsor many, mostly within P&G, but outside as well and I think it’s important to share your personal story and knowledge.

When I first moved to HR, I had this female manager who I saw as a mentor as she was always willing to offer a helping hand. And because she was female, it was easy for me to share a lot of my challenges with her. I also didn’t feel like I was going to be judged as she understood where I was coming from and was incredibly supportive. I think that it is very important for women to have that support. During the early years of my career, we had a support group in P&G called Women Supporting Women, and it helped me to open myself up for mentorship – that is part of the reasons why I mentor people and I am passionate about it. Even outside of the workplace I have female role models that I look up to and reach out to for advice on different aspects of my life.

In terms of career planning, I think we need to be sensitive and understand that it’s not a one- size fits all approach. You may want to get to the CEO position but there are different paths to it depending on who you are and we need to be flexible. As an HR professional, I’ve also played my part in making sure that policies are adjusted as well as to drive and promote gender diversity in the different markets that we operate in.

Do you think women have hit the glass ceiling?
Yes, I believe so and this is just the beginning. We have seen the exploits of Angela Merkel, Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May, Hilary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Folorunsho Alakija, and more female leaders are emerging daily in both the developed and developing society. It has become a movement and it will keep growing.

Published in News & Stories

The day of the kidnap

On September, 2015, as I was coming back from my factory in Agbara to my home in Festac, arriving Seventh Avenue, I saw four gun men. They stopped in front of my vehicle and started shooting while I was with my two drivers in my Hilux pickup. I was sitting at the back, thinking they were policemen. I was wondering why they were shooting and charging at us not knowing that they were kidnappers. In the process, they shot us, me and two of my drivers but luckily, nobody died. I still have a bullet in my body. By the time I realized they were kidnappers, they dragged me out of my vehicle to their own Lexus 470 Jeep. Inside their Jeep, there were lots of arms and ammunition inside a box. They had another box at the back where they put me in. Four guys were inside that Jeep, well-armed, even the driver had his own AK-47 riffle. They drove past Festac Link Bridge to Amowu-Odofin, around 4:30pm as if they were going to Okota. Later, they came out to Oshodi -Apapa Expressway. By this time, they had not blindfolded me but they pushed my head down, lying bare on the floor of the car. One of them just held me as I was seriously bleeding. I never knew I would survive this. I couldn’t remember the places they took me to because I was lying down.

Change of baton

After a long journey, they stopped at a particular area, those guys jumped down and another group came on board and zoomed off again. As we were going, we got to one house, they called the security guard who came and opened the gate, and they brought me out, gathered water, changed their cloths and called one doctor, whether he was quack or not, I do not know. They told the doctor they had emergency. The doctor came, washed me and treated my wound. That was the first thing they did. Though, when we were about to get to where they wanted to take me to, they blind folded me. They were administering two injections on me daily. When I asked them the kind of injection they were giving me, they said it was anti tetanus injection and pain reliever. They refused to give me water saying that if you have bullet in your body, you don’t drink water. The second day, Evans came there with the doctor and said to me that, he came there because of me. Yet, I did not set my eyes on him. Maybe, the person that asked them to kidnap me told them that they should not let me die. I said this because of the kind of treatment they were giving me or maybe, it could be because of my wound. But, I was seriously bleeding. At a point, they were thinking of exchanging me. They called my brother to come and let me go out and treat myself of the bullet wound. My elder brother accepted to come but backed out at the end because those people, you never know what they planned. May be their plan was to capture the two of us before they would kill us. It was an ugly situation. They injected me for seven good days. From that Monday till the next Sunday, every two days, there was a particular guy that came there to treat my wounds, dress it and put the bandage again. After some days, Evans called.

How they operate

How they operate is that, they keep a hostage keeper, which is someone that would be guiding kidnap victims so that any time their boss wants to call, he would call that person. When he calls the person, the person would bring the phone to the victim and hold the phone for you talk to him. They were always communicating. They did not maltreat me because of my condition but I heard them maltreating the victim in the other room with hot iron and the person would be crying. Before they start that, they would go and put on their generator so that their neighbours would not be hearing. That guy was a terror.

Feeding pattern

They were feeding me with one useless Indomie. I was just managing to eat to keep my life moving.   They asked what kind of drugs I was taking but I told them I was not on drugs. I did not make trouble with them but there was a day I tried to escape. I was scared whether all the neighbours were their gang members or not. Again, even if I would have escaped, I would have been naked because before you go to the bathroom, they take away your boxers. When you finished, you knocked at the door and turned your face to the wall as they gave you your boxer to wear. They would blind fold you and put you in chains again. Early morning I used to hear siren and I thought, that it was police that were coming to rescue me. At the end nothing would happen. They would go. What were they coming to do there around 4:00 am to 5:00 am? I noticed that five times and I asked myself, “what the police are coming there to do?”. I also noticed there was a construction site nearby where people were working. One   particular day, one boy came in and asked “mummy, who is this uncle?”. I was listening and waited to hear what the woman would say but she did not say anything. So, that couple that was paraded were there. I was praying every minute of the day, waiting for anything that would happen the next day. It was traumatising . So many things happened.  I knew that, nothing would happen to me but they would charge me more money.   You know, I paid $1.2 million.  We paid it in three instalments. We paid two hundred thousand dollars, eight hundred thousand dollars and another two hundred thousand dollars. He claimed that, the first two hundred dollars we paid had been cancelled because we set them up by inviting security agents to be tracking them. That’s how we were accused and that the payment had been rubbished. He bargains with the victims, he doesn’t bargain with the families. Whatever he asked for that is what the family would pay.   A person that is under chain, what would he say? Anything they asked you to do, you just had to do it because of your life. That was not joke, they meant business. If you refused to corporate, they would kill you. I am sure; they have killed some people there.   I stayed there for six weeks. I was abducted on the 7th  of September and I was released on the 19th  of October, 2015.

What led to my release?

After I had finished paying the ransom, they still kept me for another eight days. My people were worried, and I was worried too because I did not know what was going on outside. They had cut off communication with everybody. Immediately, he collected his ransom, he travelled abroad.   He goes outside to keep his ill-gotten wealth, which was obvious. I now asked the hostage keeper, how long it takes them to release a hostage. He said four days, I now asked again, but why am I still here? He then said I should not worry, that the chairman travelled and that I would be released as soon as he returned. He said that I should see myself as a free man and relax. The man was a greedy man. Of all the money we paid him, he didn’t feed us well. His duty, I observed, was to collect money and drop victims. When he came back to Nigeria, he came to me where I was detained by his men and said to me that, today, you will go. He ordered his boys to bring all my belongings.   My Rolex watch, my bag, my golden ring and my sandals were nowhere to be found. Not to talk of cash because all of them were criminals. All other valuables were gone. They only brought my cloths, bank cheque books and seals and a polythene bag. And for my sandals, they bought one bathroom sleepers for me.   Just imagine someone coming back from his office.   Then, he asked me to hold on till the road was free; it was about 5:00 pm.

How Evans promised to attend my thanksgiving in church

As I was waiting, he came back and called me, Nnwa which is my title name. Any time he wanted to talk to me he first called me Nnwa. When he saw my wound, he said, I was a lucky man. That, my God is a great God. He said that, I would live up to hundred years for surviving that gunshot. I asked him why they were shooting us like that. He said in war all was fair. I then asked “you and who were fighting?. Did I have gun with me?”. Evans now asked who was the person in front of my car. That was when they thought I was a policeman. In fact they would have killed my driver if he were a policeman. When he came down and they asked him, he told them he was just an ordinary driver. That was when they left him. He advised me to buy a lot of drinks because many people would be coming to sympathize with me. He stressed that people were already waiting for my arrival. He said: “Any day you are going to do thanksgiving, we are going to be there.” I now asked him, how would I know you will be there? He replied that, I shouldn’t worry; he would come and follow me to thank God. “Nnwa, but your God is great oh”. All these things he was talking, my mind was not there because I knew he was wicked. That evening, he brought ten thousand naira that I should take it. That if, they drop me anywhere, I should use it to enter taxi to my house. Or if I wanted, they could drop me in a nearby hotel so that, I could call my people to come and carry me. But I told him to just drop my anywhere he wanted. When it became dark everywhere, they took me out of that house and moved me round the city before finally dropping me around Lagos State University (LASU, side in Iyana Oba. Even to walk was a problem because, I had been in chains for long and all my bones had grown weak. I almost fell down while trying to cross the road because of my wobbling legs. I lost so much energy that, I became weak, lean and tired.

Suya was the first thing I ate after my release from captivity

I called a motorcyclist to take me to any nearby bus stop, which he did. When I turned the other side, I saw one man selling roasted meat (Suya), I went to him and bought the meat for one thousand naira and started eating. My action was to soften the ground for me to start asking question that would let me know exactly where I was as by this time I never knew where I was exactly. I asked the man, how I could get to Mile 2, and he said before you get to Mile 2, you first of all get to LASU. I asked again, how I could I get to LASU, he told me to cross the road to the other side and enter any bus that was going that way.   As soon as I entered the bus, I switched on my phones and there was no single credit on my phones except the one we used as a company group. That one doesn’t need credit because we pay once in a month. I now used it to call one of my managers.   Immediately he saw my call, he knew I was out and asked me where I was so that he could come and carry me. I told him to come to LASU, I got there and was waiting for him. He was coming from Agbara axis. While there, I strolled down a bit to buy orange, one man just came to me that I should give him money in spite of my tattered appearance. I took two thousand out of the ten thousand Evans gave to me and gave to him. I was kind of hiding so that people who knew me before would not notice me until I got home. When my manger came, he took me straight to the house after that, I went to report officially to the police. Even the commissioner of police came to my house after that. After that incident, I requested for police protection which I was later provided with. I was so happy when I heard that, the guy has been arrested. I thank the Nigeria police for doing a great job. That shows that, if the police want to work, they could work.

Published in Headliners
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