Friday, 21 July 2017
  • On April 6th 2017, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu announced the reconstitution of 23 Governing Boards of Nigerian Universities. A public statement issued by the minister proclaimed that the exercise was carried out on the authority of President Muhammadu Buhari. Similarly, the government in the same announcement also named the Chairmen and Board members for Boards of Education Parastatals and Agencies of the Federal Government.
  • On May 9th, the Minister inaugurated the boards of 23 universities whose reconstitution he previously announced. At the ceremony, he said the reconstitution was necessitated by the fact that the four year tenure of the previous boards had expired since April 6th. The new council members are also limited to a four year term after which their appointments will be reviewed.
  • The Minister said the mandate of the new councils extended to approving financial guidelines for the universities, determining the terms of appointment of Vice Chancellors and other principal officers of the universities as well as annually reviewing the budget of the universities to monitor their performance and access the overall impact of the implementation among others. Since then the new appointees have swung into action. We commend the zeal and speed with which the new governing council members have applied to their jobs.
  • Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the other Boards under the same ministry whose appointments were made known by the same Minister and at the same time. We are informed that even though the boards are also charged with statutory responsibilities similar to the ones of the university governing councils, they are yet to be inaugurated. Needless to say, this inexplicable lacuna has had its negative effects on the functions of the boards and the institutions whose operations they are by the nature of their appointments mandated to supervise.
  • The Board Chairmen who are yet to be inaugurated almost four months after their appointments were made public by the Minister include Ayo Banjo – National Universities Commission (NUC), Mr. Emeka Nwajiuba – Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Tetfund),
    Dr. Ekaette Obon Oko – National Institute For Educational Planning And Administration (NIEPA), Dr. Mahmoud Mohammed -Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Prof. Zainab Alkali -National Library of Nigeria (NLN), Dr. Abubakar Saddiq -National Examinations Council (NECO) and, Dr. Gidado Bello Akko – Mass Literacy.  Others are Prof. Gidado Tahir -Nomadic Education, Prof. Leonard Shilgba -National Business & Technical Examination Board (NABTEB), Prof. Adamu Baikie -Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi – National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), Senator Mallam Kaka Yale -National Teachers Institute (NTI) and, Prof. Buba Bajoga -National Mathematical Centre (NMC).  The rest are Dr. Emmanuel Ndukwe -Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Chief N. N. Nnabuchi – National Institute For Nigerian Languages (NINLAN),Chief Paul Unongo -Nigerian Educational Research & Development Council (NERDC), Prof. Saliba Mukoro – Nigerian French Language Village (NFLV), Prof. Modupe Adelabu -National Board for Technical Education (NBTE)and,  Prof. O. Oladusi – Nigerian Arabic Language Village (NALV). 

The Managements of these institutions are unwittingly handicapped in their operations because they are by law restrained from carrying out certain activities. Such activities as heavy expenditures and some categories of appointments have to be approved by their boards. Sadly, without their inauguration, the boards cannot just jump into action. With a government that came to office with the banner of change and transparency, it is little wonder that the managements of these agencies have been reduced to lame ducks.

Sadly also, this tardiness in appointing people into offices is almost becoming a trademark of this government. It is on record that it took President Buhari months after his inauguration in 2015 to appoint members of his kitchen cabinet – his personal staff that did not require confirmation by the Senate. The appointment of his Ministers which required Senate confirmation took a prolonged time to come. For a man who made three unsuccessful attempts to win the presidency, this was a rather poor start. It gave the public impression that he was not ready for the job he so desperately fought for.

Even as we discuss the non-inauguration of already appointed board members in the ministry of Education, there are many boards in the federal government whose constitution have not been announced. For a government that is battling the ravages of recession, we find the failure of government to take action on such elementary issues inexcusable.

We therefore call for an immediate inauguration of the appointed boards under the Ministry of Education and the constitution of boards whose membership is still vacant.

 BY NIGERIA'S NATIONAL ACCORD NEWSPAPER/ Nationalaccordnewspaper.com

Published in Parliament

Six teenagers from Burundi taking part in a robotics competition in the US have been reported missing, police say.

Four boys and two girls - aged from 16 to 18 - disappeared during the First Global Challenge tournament in Washington DC.

The DC Police Department says they were last seen on Tuesday - on the closing day of the competition.

Reports say two of the teenagers have since crossed into Canada but this has not been confirmed by the police.

On Thursday, the DC Police Department posted fliers of the missing group on its Twitter page, asking members of the public to get in touch if they had any information.

The teenagers were identified as Don Ingabire, 16, Kevin Sabumukiza, 17, Nice Munezero, 17, Audrey Mwamikazi, 17, Richard Irakoze, 18, and Aristide Irambona, 18.

Competition organisers say they alerted police after Burundi's team supervisor was unable to find the teenagers.

In a statement, First Global Challenge spokesman Jose Escotto said "the proper reports have been submitted to the police who are investigating the case", according to the Washington Post.

The three-day robotics competition saw teams from 150 nations compete against each other.

The event aims to inspire young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.

However, it made the news earlier this month after a team of girls from Afghanistan were initially not allowed to attend the competition because of visa problems.

But US President Donald Trump stepped in at the last minute and the girls were able to travel to the US and participate.

The Afghan team later won a silver medal for courageous achievement, which was awarded to teams "that exhibit a can-do attitude throughout the challenge, even under difficult circumstances, or when things do not go as planned".

Published in Business and Economy

A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday ordered seven banks to remit to the Federal Government $793,200,000 (about N249,659,700,000.00) allegedly hidden with them in breach of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.

A vacation judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor, made the interim order following an ex parte application by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

The judge warned that the remittance order would be made permanent on August 8, unless cause was shown why it should not.

The AGF, through his counsel, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), accused the commercial banks of illegally keeping the sums in their custody for “unknown government officials”.

Justice Obiozor ordered the banks to remit the money to the designated Federal Government’s Asset Recovery dollars account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The banks are United Bank for Africa (UBA), Diamond Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, First Bank Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, Keystone Bank Limited and Sterling Bank Plc.

According to court processes filed by Akinseye-George (SAN), $367.4m was hidden by three government agencies in UBA; $41m was kept in a National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) fixed deposit account with Skye Bank.

The documents stated that $277.9m was in Diamond Bank, $18.9m in First Bank, $24.5m in Fidelity Bank, $17m in Keystone Bank, and $46.5m in Sterling Bank.

The AGF’s application was supported by a 15-paragraph affidavit deposed to by a lawyer from Akinseye-George’s law firm, Vincent Adodo.

Adodo averred that the banks colluded with Federal Government officials to hide the funds in breach of the TSA policy.

The funds, he stated, were revenues, donations, transfers, refunds, grants, taxes, fees, dues, tariffs etc accruable to the Federal Government from ministries, departments, parastatals and agencies.

Adodo said the banks failed to remit the funds to the TSA domiciled in the CBN in violation of the guidelines issued by the Accountant-General of the Federation, which fixed September 15, 2015 as the deadline for such funds to be moved.

“The 1st to 7th respondents (banks), in collaboration with and/or collusion with unknown officials of the Federal Government, conspired to disobey the relevant constitutional provisions, thereby depriving the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of funds belonging to it, which are needed urgently to fund pressing national projects under the 2017 budget,” Adodo said.

Among the allegedly culpable government agencies is the National Petroleum Developing Company (NPDC).

Moving the ex parte application yesterday, Akinseye-George said it would best serve the interest of justice for Justice Obiozor to order the banks to remit the funds to the Federal Government, to prevent the funds from being moved or dissipated.

“The withheld funds are urgently required for the implementation of the 2017 budget. The budget has a lifespan of 12 months and we are already in the middle of the year.

“By hiding these hidden funds, the Federal Government is being forced to borrow money from these commercial banks at exorbitant interest rates,” Akinseye-George added.

After listening to the SAN, Justice Obiozor granted the interim orders.

He directed that the order should be published in a national daily newspaper.

The judge adjourned till August 8 “for anyone interested in the funds to appear” before him “to show cause why the interim orders should not be made permanent”.

Published in Headliners

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered the temporary forfeiture of a property at Banana Island, Lagos, reportedly bought for $37.5m in 2013 by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The property, designated as Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate, has 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses, according to court papers presented on Wednesday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Apart from the property, the court also ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84,537,840.70, said to be part of the rent collected on the property.

The funds were said to have been found in a Zenith Bank account number 1013612486.

Justice Chuka Obiozor ordered the temporary forfeiture on Wednesday, following an ex parte application to that effect brought before him by a counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Anselem Ozioko.

Ozioko had told the judge that the EFCC “reasonably suspected that the property was acquired with proceeds of alleged unlawful activities of Diezani.”

The lawyer said investigations by the EFCC revealed that Diezani made the $37.5m payment for the purchase of the property in cash, adding that the money was moved straight from her house in Abuja and paid into the seller’s First Bank account in Abuja.

“Nothing could be more suspicious than someone keeping such huge amounts in her apartment. Why was she doing that? To avoid attention.

“We are convinced beyond reasonable doubts because, as of the time this happened, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke was still in public service as the Minister of Petroleum Resources,” Ozioko told the court.

The ex parte application taken before the judge was filed pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, No. 14, 2006 and Section 44(2)(k) of the Constitution.

Listed as respondents in the application were Diezani; a legal practitioner, Afamefuna Nwokedi; and a company, Rusimpex Limited.

After listening to the EFCC lawyer on Wednesday, Justice Obiozor made an order temporarily seizing the property and the funds.

He directed that the order should be published in a national newspaper.

He adjourned the case till August 7, 2017 for anyone interested in the property and funds to appear before him.

Published in Headliners

Over the past few weeks, crowd-control vehicles, guns and tear gas have been shipped into Kenya, reports Kenya's Standard newspaper.

This comes ahead of the general election on 8 August.

The newspaper reports at least a dozen new South Korean-made riot control vehicles arrived in Nairobi at the weekend.

It also says anti-riot gear including teargas canisters, batons, anti-riot wear and guns came through Mombasa port.

The newspaper adds that this "points to an assessment by the security forces that there could be violence after the announcement of the results".

Every week until the election the BBC's Dickens Olewe is taking an in-depth look at an aspect of the vote.

Published in Business and Economy
Tuesday, 18 July 2017 00:24

I Am A Radical For Jesus – Tonto Dikeh

Nollywood actress Tonto Dikeh whose marriage recently was annulled and who has also declared that she’s now a born again christian made a post on what it truly means to know Jesus.

The mother of one said:

“Being born again isn’t a license to be BORING,OR DIRTY IN APPEARANCE..
Being born Again is living a fun filled,Happy joyous life knowing that you have a mighty God by your side..
Being born again isn’t about not having friends or hanging out,it’s about having the right friends that will elevate,motivate,inspire you and most especially pray with you..
Being born again means having Access to the best and the most beautiful things of life..
Being born Again is having Peace and never been afraid to show how genuinely happy you are no matter who that affects..
Being born Again is having to see a hate word and still praying for them..
God wldnt call you only to make you A boring person or a less fashionable person,As a matter of fact I believe a born Again Christian shld have the finest things of life..Because if my life isn’t Colourful how then can I convince you that a LIFE IN CHRIST IS A BLISSFUL ONE..
My fellow brethren it is time for us to Allow the world see Jesus in us colorfully.. MY NAME IS TONTO DIKEH,I AM A RADICAL FOR JESUS,MY LIFE IS AS BRIGHT AS THE COAT OF MANY COLORS,I SPEAK IN HEAVENLY TONGUE AND AM AN ENTERTAINER #KINGTONTO #MAMAKING #RADICAL4JESUS”

Published in Arts & Culture

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday, intervened in inter-bank Foreign Exchange Market with the supply of 195 million dollars as part of effort to stabilise the market.

The acting Director, Corporate Communications of the apex bank, Mr Isaac Okorafor, in a statement, said 100 million dollars was offered through the wholesale segment.

He said that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) segment received 50 million dollars, while tuition fees, medical payments and Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), among others, got 45 million dollars.

Okorafor said that the CBN was pleased with the state of the market, and assured that the bank would continue to intervene in order to sustain liquidity in the market and guarantee international value of the naira.

He said the apex bank remained determined to achieve its objective of rates convergence, “hence the unrelenting injection of intervention funds into the foreign exchange market’’.

Okorafor expressed optimism that the naira would sustain its run against the dollar and other major currencies around the world, considering the level of transparency in the market.

He, therefore, advised stakeholders to abide by the guidelines to ensure transparency in the market.

Last week, the CBN intervened in the various segments of the foreign exchange market with the injection of 396.8 million dollars.

Meanwhile, the naira continued to maintain its stability in the market, exchanging at an average of N364 to a dollar in the Bureau de Change segment of the market.

Published in News & Stories

There is hardly any doubt that the subsisting economic recession in the country is taking its toll on all sectors of the economy. The arising pains, from time to time, become so heavy that even the most enduring lets out a cry of exasperation. The other day, operators in the automotive sector were reported to have cried out that low demand for their products might cause them to shut down their operations. What that means is that auto-manufacturers or assembly plants in the country have reached their wit’s end. That situation has been driven by many factors but certainly not because Nigerians no longer need brand new cars and vehicles. The forces include non-availability of financial resources needed to purchase new cars; poor state of the economy resulting from the on-going economic recession; devaluation of the Nigerian currency against major international convertible currencies; lack of or inadequate consumer finance facilities for vehicle purchase; high cost of the cars/vehicles assembled in the country; availability of cheaper alternatives especially functional second hand cars; ineffective implementation of government’s policy on ‘buy Nigerian made goods’; and inflation that has eroded the value of money.

If the auto-manufacturing companies are allowed to shut down, the inherent dangers will include loss of jobs by the employees leading to higher national unemployment rate. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country will nose-dive as the contributions made by the auto-makers will be lost. There will be decline in government’s revenue as a result of lost income taxes; industrialisation of the country will suffer a major setback; small and medium scale enterprises that provide services or supply materials to the companies will lose their contracts and perhaps, die. Local capacity and skills development will tend downwards; and ultimately, all the investment that had been made will be lost even as the government goes about in search of more investors.

Incidentally, what is happening to the business of the auto-manufacturers currently cuts across all sectors of the economy. Individuals and organisations, including governments at all levels, are struggling to make ends meet. It is incumbent on each and everyone to find innovative and creative solutions that will facilitate overcoming the current challenges posed by unhealthy economic environment. Thinking out of the box is paramount. It does not matter how long and how far and loudly the cries of drowning individuals, corporations and governments are heard, such are unlikely to produce positive solutions. That the auto-manufacturers are reported to be operating presently at five per cent of installed capacity can be noted as worrisome but such notation will not change the situation. Companies as big enough as the auto-makers should have the means of reading and interpreting goings-on in the market place as well as the know-how to generate ideas that, when implemented, should turn the table in their favour. If the directors and managers are unable to deal with ensuing challenges and as a result the companies are shut down, that will be a clear sign of leadership failure and a bad baggage they will carry around for the rest of their careers. Consequently, it is not in the interest of the leadership of the auto-companies to keep waiting until they are shut down. No amount of outcry will assure that the companies either remain productive or improve on capacity utilisation. Therefore, they should think and act.

But the auto-manufacturers would have seen the issue of low sales coming if only they had been market-sensitive. Indeed, if their marketing, research and development departments were alive to their responsibilities, they would have foreseen the situation. With such early knowledge, the companies would have strategised on how best to deal with the challenge in order to keep their operations on-going despite the country’s economic situation. One way this would have been achieved is by exploring the export market, especially in countries that are not suffering from economic recession. It would also have been necessary for the auto firms to strategically re-assess their cost profiles with a view to identifying and effectively managing major cost drivers in order to achieve lower selling prices of their products.

It is imperative, however, that it is recalled that the Federal Government not too long ago unfolded the National Automotive Industry Plan. That plan received broad-based acceptable by stakeholders, including the auto-producers. As good as that plan may be if it is not implemented in its letter and spirit, the challenges that face the automotive sector will not abate in the short to medium term. The government must therefore ensure that the implementation is driven to the extent that the intendments are achieved with the operators having little or no cause to complain. If, for example, governments and their agencies patronize domestic auto-assemblers by buying their vehicles, that will be exemplary and may encourage other corporate entities in the country to do the same. If governments’ employees are made to buy locally assembled cars, private sector operatives may also follow. This can be achieved faster if governments arrange, through the banks, new vehicle purchase finance facilities for their employees. The ‘buy made in Nigeria goods’ slogan needs to be catalysed through government examples. These initiatives will assist in solving the ‘low sales’ challenge being faced by the automotive industry. 

Additionally, the production cost of the auto companies needs to be studied to reveal and rectify what drives them too high resulting in high selling prices and inability to compete with imported ones. Furthermore, issues of poor infrastructure such as power, high cost of funds, inadequate foreign exchange, non-payment of employees’ salaries by most state governments, rising cases of unemployment, depreciation of the Naira, and so on require urgent remedial attention if enduring solutions must be found. In the final analysis, government should appreciate that with the reported development, realisation of its objectives and projections in the National Automotive Industry Plan, is under threat and thus, must do something to counter the threat.

http://guardian.ng/opinion/auto-plants-may-shut-down-amid-poor-sales-2/

Published in Parliament

The Gambian President Adama Barrow has set up a commission to look into the assets of the former leader Yahya Jammeh.

He is accused of stealing more than $50m (£38m) from the state before he fled into exile earlier this year.

The commission will investigate a number of public enterprises said to have links to Mr Jammeh.

The former president, who held power for 22 years, ran several businesses, including bakeries and farms.

Initially he refused to accept defeat in last year's election but stepped down when threatened with military intervention.

Published in Business and Economy

A crackdown on visitors with visa overstays is imminent in the United States of America with Nigeria, Brazil, Venezuela, China and  Colombia listed as countries with the most total overstays that do not participate in the visa waiver programme.

The Trump Administration says it has a problem with visa overstays in the country and is now determined to step up enforcement to try to cut down on the violations.

Consequently, the government is introducing a face scan for all US citizens travelling abroad.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said this is aimed mainly at better tracking visa overstays and also at tightening security.

The agency said it’s the only way to successfully expand a programme that tracks non immigrant foreigners.

A report in May showed that more than 54 million visitors checked in last year – and nearly 630,000 of them didn’t go back home.

John Wagner, the Customs deputy executive assistant commissioner in charge of the programme, confirmed in an interview that U.S. citizens departing on international flights will submit to face scans.

The number of visa overstays was about 200,000 higher than the previous 12-month period.

Libya, a country of special interest because of terrorism concerns, saw 43 percent of its students refuse to leave on time, while a staggering 75 percent of students from Eritrea broke the terms of their deal, the report said.

Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Centre for Immigration Studies, said those kinds of rates should force a rethink at the State Department, which issues visas, and should spur immigration officials to put more effort into deterring and deporting overstays in the U.S.

“The fact that more than 700,000 visits were overstayed last year shows just how much we need to step up interior enforcement to create more of a deterrent, not only by identifying and deporting overstays, but by weakening the job magnet by cracking down on employers who hire illegal workers,” she said.

Published in Headliners
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