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The real price of “Changing the Change”

By Garba Shehu, 

Top opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members have been granting press interviews and addressing zonal political rallies talking about “CHANGING THE CHANGE” in next year’s general elections, without defining what exactly that means.

As the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) gears up to celebrate the completion of three years of the Buhari government in the centre on May 29th, Nigerians need to be reminded of what the reversal of the achievements of this administration will amount to.

The real meaning and cost of the “Changing the Change,” is that if they win the next election, they will not take us back to where we were in 2015, they will mostly reverse the progress the APC has brought to the nation. The main reason for the defeat of the PDP in 2015 was corruption. The present administration at the centre led by President Muhammadu Buhari has so far presented a corrupt-free image of itself. It has also succeeded in abolishing grand corruption at the top and as attested to by the American President, Donald Trump. The government has significantly brought down the level of corruption in the whole country. It has, however, warned over and again that corruption was fighting back.

Many who are discerning would have read this from President Buhari’s speech when he inaugurated the impressive new headquarters building of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) a week ago. He narrated how and why he was overthrown as a military Head of State in the 80s.

In that speech, he said not only was he kicked out because he fought corruption, the ones who took power freed all those that he had jailed, and whatever they stole was returned to them. He took their place in prison and stayed there without trial for 36 months, until that day when a journalist in Benin, now in Edo, broke the story that he had lost his mother. That was when he was allowed to go home.

The real difference between the PDP and the current APC administration is that although they mouthed a flood of rhetoric against corruption, in fact rightfully lay the claim of founding the institutions now in the forefront of fighting corruption as a government, the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, they had intended to keep them as toys, or bulldogs which teeth had been removed. No, they never intended that the war against corruption would be taken this far.

To change the change would mean that the teeth of the bulldog will be removed. It would then only bark but not bite.

In this country, politics is often considered as synonym of corruption. The previous government came under huge criticism for scandals like that discovered in arms procurements in the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA which transformed itself into a major source of funding of the PDP; NNPC crude oil thefts, broadband spectrum licensing scandal, oil subsidy scam and so many others but the present government has not faced any such corruption allegations.

Although he said he was unafraid and would not bend, the President’s concern, and fear on the part of many is that if a corrupt leader takes over, it will be happy days all over again for former Oil Minister Diezani Allison-Maduekwe who has so far forfeited USD 153 million, N23.4 billion, and USD 4m and USD 5m in separate accounts. “Change the Change” would mean she will get the money back. So would the former Managing Director of the maritime agency, NIMASA get back GBP 578,080 seized from him and the Ikoyi apartment owners have back their USD43.4m; N23m and GBP 27,800.

The hidden owner of the Lagos cash shop may then step forward to reclaim their N449.6 million; the ex-Naval Chiefs will have returned to them the already forfeited N1.8 billion; the Governors Forum paid back their N1.4 billion and the major oil marketers, from whom the EFCC has so far seized N328.9 billion will smile their ways to the bank.

The banks themselves will equally join the party, happily getting back N27.7 billion they “ate” from taxes they failed to remit; the scion of the Akinjides, Jumoke will have N650 million awarded to her while those scammers in INEC who coughed out N1 billion will equally get money back and charges standing against them in court may be dropped.

But the happiest of them all will be Mrs. Jonathan, who will get the first priority when the refunds start coming for obvious reasons. The former First Lady would not anymore need lawyers to keep her mountain of gifts, counted in huge millions of dollars, billions of Naira, hotels and buildings.

The list of people who oppose the Buhari government and yearning to ‘‘change the change’’ include a number of parliamentarians, policemen, customs officials, immigration officials, civil servants now rooting for other political parties, not leaving out those various businesses and platforms owned by these political parties directly or indirectly.

The Buhari win in 2015, and the possibility of four more years have crumbled their dreams of endlessly looting the state and the growing list of achievements of the administration is not doing any good for them.

“Change the change” means also that the biggest tax revolution since independence, the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) now being implemented, and about which many of our rich citizens are unhappy may be scrapped. A recent report shows that there are four million new taxpayers, including companies and individuals, resulting in N700 billion increase in tax revenue in 2017.

The early casualties of ‘‘changing the change’’ may include initiatives like the Whistle Blower policy by which the government is able to recover stolen or concealed assets through information provided by citizens. This has changed the ethical and moral tone of the business transaction space in the country. The whistle blower is entitled to between 2.5%-5.0% of amount recovered.

Sometime last year, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, told the world, “we are going after those who have stolen our money. We have put in place a very successful whistle-blower programme that is delivering results and allows those who report illicit activity to receive up to five per cent of any funds that we recover.” The response has been so fabulous that in just four months, it yielded N17bn, as revealed by the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.

Another formidable group unhappy with the change and wish it reversed are the importers of diesel and generators. Nigeria ranks as the second biggest importer of generators all over the world.

Buhari is bad business for them because he has raised electric power availability from 2,600 MW in 2015 to 7,000 MW and is targeting 10,000 megawatts by the year’s end. Increased power availability means less purchase of generators and less consumption of diesel. Noticeably, they are rooting for parties that are bent on changing the change. Rooters of ‘‘Changing the Change’’ campaign also include the beneficiaries of the malaria economy which costs Nigeria N132 billion and 300,000 lives annually, an economy now threatened by the administration’s National Malaria Elimination Programme, NMEP, by which tens of millions of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (ITN) are being freely distributed. A part of this order is now made in Aba, Nigeria.

The government’s moves on ease of doing business which has attracted international attention and investment and significantly improved the ranking of Nigeria as a place of doing business, in fact achieving a place in the World Bank’s top 10 reforming economies would suffer a hit from those bent on proving that on-going change is not working. But this is how the World Bank saw Nigeria: “Overall, the 10 top improvers implemented the most regulatory reforms in the area of getting credit, starting a business, dealing with construction permits and paying taxes,” the report said.

It’s really hard for the beneficiaries of the old order to see and appreciate what the Buhari government is doing considering that they ran an economy based purely on oil, the price of which was as high as US$140 per barrel. They reticulated oil revenue through personal spending and corruption, wasteful expenses and salaries. Nigeria did not record a single major infrastructural project in the 10 years before the Buhari administration. The money was mismanaged. No savings were made. To compound the problem, they borrowed heavily and owed contractors, and international oil companies.

The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II and Professor Chukwuma Soludo, both eminent former Central Bank Governors had had occasion to warn the government of the day about the wrongful way of doing things and the accompanying wastage but they were clobbered. The dire warnings of the dangers to economic health and the wellbeing of the people were both ignored.

Increase in government spending in infrastructure which is beginning to show results with sectors like employment, and returning growth to the recessed economy may equally suffer. Under the 2017 appropriation budget which is about to lapse, government’s capital spending is expected to hit N1.5 trillion. In the PDP years, the highest this got to was N450 billion or 21 per cent of the capital allocation in 2014. Doing more with less.

The Railways, on which the common man travels, is being changed for the better. The 3,500 monorail that had existed has been leased to the American company, General Electric. They are to refurbish it and are bringing new locomotives and hundreds of coaches. All trains and coaches are being modernized. New standard railway tracks are being laid linking Ibadan and Lagos. Kaduna-Abuja, partly completed when President Buhari took over is now in use and contracts for the entire stretch, Lagos to Kano have been awarded. Lagos-Port Harcourt will follow and by the Presidential directive, all state capitals are to be linked by the new, standard gauge railway.

“Changing the Change” means that we will go back to the old ways of doing things. A strong and diversified economy has been on top of President Buhari’s achievements. Key drivers of the economy such as agriculture and solid minerals have been progressing with over 7% growth rate, an indication of positive signs for the future. Is everyone happy with this? No. We cannot say this of the importers of rice who have seen their import business go down following the tremendous success of the home-grown rice schemes. Over two billion USD have been saved as a consequence.

Then, you must also count those who got USD 200 million every year from the Central Bank and ended up bringing in low standard fertilizers. They lapped a government subsidy of N60,000 annually and sold a bag each for between N10,000-N13,000. Now, a government-approved price, by the common consent of local producers is N5,500 per bag. Those who fed fat on the perennial shortages and the subsidy regime would desire nothing but “Changing the Change.”

There are many today who take for granted the declared victory over the Boko Haram terrorists, forgetting the reign of the bomber who made it almost impossible for regular attendance in markets, Churches and Mosques in many of our cities, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

But again, as we have seen from the heist in the national security establishment, even Boko Haram was an industry from which money was scooped. Boko Haram was the hallmark of a flourishing business of corruption. The beneficiaries won’t like that the security threat is eliminated. Yes, for them, “Changing the Change” is an opportunity for a resumption of business as usual.

Basketball-Holders Fenerbahce defeats Zalgiris, reach Euroleague final

By Sports Desk

Euroleague champion Fenerbahce Istanbul, reached the premier club basketball competition’s final after overpowering Lithuania’s Zalgiris Kaunas 76-67 on Friday.

The Turkish side will battle in Sunday’s title showdown against either Real Madrid or CSKA Moscow, who meet in the second semi-final in the Belgrade Arena.

Roared on by 10,000 fervent supporters, Fenerbahce prevailed thanks to an ironclad defence coupled with a game-high 19 points from playmaker Ali Muhamed.

They forced 20 turnovers by Zalgiris and restricted them to two three-pointers from 10 attempts as they carved out a 50-37 lead midway through the third quarter.

Zalgiris, who were cheered by around 1,000 fans including Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite donning the team’s green-and-white scarf, responded with an 11-0 run to set up a see-saw final period.

Fenerbahce upped the tempo and pulled away to 66-54 on the back of the individual skill of Muhamed who netted 12 points in quick succession as he nailed a pair of three-pointers and a flurry of layups.

Zalgiris scored six unanswered points to restore a glimmer of hope but they ran out of steam and Fenerbahce closed the game out comfortably.

“We played aggressive defence to cancel out their long-range shooting and fan support was also vital,” Fenerbahce’s Serbian forward Nikola Kalinic told reporters.

“Muhamed was inspired, we know he is an outstanding player with the ability to swing matches and that’s what he did.”

State governors draw battle line with NNPC over oil revenue

By News Desk

The National Economic Council (NEC) has confirmed that the N526 billion and 21 billion dollars was under-paid to the federation account by some Federal Government revenue generating agencies between 2010 and 2015 including the NNPC.

Gov. Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe state made the disclosure while briefing State House correspondents after the meeting of the Council, which was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chamber of the presidential villa, Abuja.

He said the affected agencies which included Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and 15 others were exposed following the presentation of the report of the technical audit of the agencies to the NEC by KPMG.

Dankwambo said that NEC’s Ad hoc Committee which he chaired with members including governors of Edo, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Lagos and the Finance Minister had recommended refund of the amounts under-paid.

According to the governor, NEC has agreed to extend the audit to June 2017.

“One of the resolutions of NEC today is to extend the audit to June 2017. So, the audit will continue for the remaining agencies.

“It is NNPC, NPDC, DPR, Customs, Federal Internal Revenue Services, NPA, Maritime Authority, all the revenue generating agencies and the details of the infringement are contained in the report.

“Because it is voluminous report there are a lot of items that are there.

“The most important decision that was taken is that a sub-committee will be set up which will be an arm of the legal committee of NEC that will look into details of these kinds of infringements and make sure that those issues that are criminal and require prosecution will be handled by office of the Attorney General of the Federation,’’ he added.

He disclosed that the council had resolved to pursue strengthening of the NNPC governance structure to prevent further recurrence of such gross under-remittance by the NNPC and other revenue generating agencies.

In his contribution, Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun said the council commended the courage of the President and Vice President as Chair of Council in ensuring the probe of Federal Government Agencies and completing the audit report.

According to him, this has gone a long way to promote transparency and the anti-corruption efforts of the Buhari administration.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, updated the Council on the just concluded Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Focus.

He said the ERGP Focus Labs were conducted successfully and the outcomes presented to the public last Tuesday, May 15.

He told council members that the labs identified 164 projects spread across the six geopolitical zones of the country, saying that the outcomes indicated that over 500,000 jobs were likely to be created by 2020.

He announced that more labs would be conducted in due course for other sectors and recommended that states should adopt the same model and commended all stakeholders for making the labs a success.

“The labs process was found to be extremely rewarding exercise and stakeholders who attended benefited,’’ he said.

A statement released by the secretariat of the council indicated that the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, reported to council that the balance in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) as at May 14, stood at N1,830, 682, 945.

She also reported that the current balance in the Stabilisation Account as at May 14, stood at N15, 725,456,963, while the current balance in the Natural Resources Development Fund as at May 14, 2018 was N116, 104,644,763.

UNICEF school enrollment programme threatened in Sokoto

By News Desk

Poor infrastructure and lack of furniture in some schools in Sokoto State have threatened the sustainability of the Cash Transfer Programme (CTP) introduced by UNICEF in 2014.

This followed an appeal to the government by the Management of New Rimawa Model Primary School, Goronyo Local Government Area, Sokoto State, to provide furniture for the school to sustain the programme in the locality.

Balekisu Garba, a class teacher in the school, made the appeal when UNICEF led the media on a field tour to the school to assess the progress of CTP in the area.

Garba, who decried the absence of furniture such as chairs, tables among other working materials in the school, emphasised that such gaps could discourage teachers, pupils and parents from partaking in the programme.

It was revealed that UNICEF, in 2014, introduced the CTP in the northern states to increase enrollment of children in schools.

The project focuses on meeting the needs of the poor in the northern communities as well as encouraging children to go to school.

The project also targets caregivers, especially mothers, with the promise of sending their children to schools.

NAN reports that pupils of the school were seen sitting on floor while teaching was going on.

Some of the teachers were also communicating with the children in Hausa language.

Garba says, “No mother will like to see her child sitting on the floor while in the school.”

According to her, if government can provide us with the necessary facilities that will attract children and parents’ attention to key into western education, it will go a long way to improve productivity and enrollment.

“I am the class teacher of Primary three but as you can see I have no chair and table to work with.

“Even, the children are sitting on the floor, which is discouraging. In spite of all this gaps, large number of pupils on a daily basis still floods the school.

“We need assistance of the UNICEF in terms of classroom renovation, provision of chairs, tables and more teachers.

“Our children are willing to learn, likewise mothers are willing to bring their children to school, but human resources are not available,” Garba said.

Also, Mr Yusuf Abubakar, Headmaster of the school, said several appeal had been made to relevant government agencies for the provisions of infrastructure but attention had not been given.

Abubakar said there is also no school feeding plan for the children, adding that such programme would go a long way to enhance enrollment.

He said that the school had experienced tremendous increase in its enrollment of children but this increase had overstretched facilities on ground.

Tsalha Liman, a parent, commended UNICEF for the initiative, pledging that he would continue to sustain the programme even after its expiration.

Liman also called on the government to be proactive in responding to the challenges in the school, saying that this would help children to access quality education.

A primary five pupil of the school, Mariam Maidabu, said the initiative had made it possible for her to return to school.

Maidabu said the CTP had also enable her parent to provide for her school materials such as books, socks, uniform and the rest, adding that this had also helped her willingness to go to school.

NAN reports that the school which was established in 1970 initially has the population of 300 pupils but has increased to a total of 1,170 populations comprising of 575 boys and 595 girls as a result of CTP intervention.

About 12 teachers were in the school serving children from 11 communities in the local government area.

Air Peace to penalise, blacklist violent passengers

By News Desk

Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, says it will henceforth penalise violent passengers especially those who attack guests, their staff or involved in the destruction of company’s facilities.

The airline’s spokesman, Chris Iwarah, said in a statement on Thursday that the airline took the decision after a passenger who flew into a rage and destroyed its check-in system at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos on Tuesday was blacklisted.

Iwarah said the airline had already dispatched a letter to the unnamed passenger informing him of the ban.

He said the company was also reviewing 14 similar cases to check the growing trend of attacks and violence by air travellers.

Iwarah said: “During the check-in formalities of our Lagos-Abuja Flight P47128 at the GAT on May 15, an impatient passenger standing in the queue suddenly flew into a rage and destroyed one of our computers.

“The unruly passenger claimed he destroyed the check-in system because the process was too slow.

“We were, therefore, compelled by the need to guarantee the safety of members of the flying public and our staff to blacklist the passenger.

“It is also to signal our resolve to henceforth penalise violent conduct towards our valued guests and staff as well as view unwarranted destruction of our facilities very seriously.

“We are currently reviewing about 14 similar cases to determine the appropriate action to take.”

According to him, some Air Peace staff have frequently been attacked by aggrieved passengers at the slightest excuse while facilities costing costing huge sums have also been destroyed in the process.

“This easy resort to violence by unruly passengers often results in flight disruptions, delays and frustrates our resolve to deliver the best flight experience to the flying public.

“This trend poses a grave danger to the lives of our esteemed guests and staff, and such unruly passengers are no longer welcome on any of our flights,” Iwarah said.

He added that the airline would continue to take all reasonable steps within its capacity to check violent conduct by passengers.

Iwarah also urged the regulatory authorities and security agencies to take a tough stand against this trend to ensure that the safety of law-abiding travelers and aviation staff was not compromised.

“We affirm that a vast majority of our valued guests show understanding and cooperate with us and we are sincerely grateful for their support, patronage and loyalty.

“We solicit their support in checking the unfortunate violent behaviour of the handful of persons who often seek to frustrate our determination to provide quality flight services in a safe atmosphere.

“We have active online and physical channels through which members of the flying public can let us know their grievances with a view to addressing them.

“We appeal to them to consider this a better option than a resort to violence and self-help,” the airline said.

Education Ministry endorses “Nestle for healthier kids manual” for schools

The Federal Ministry of Education (FME) has endorsed the “Nestle for healthier kids manual” targeted at inculcating a healthy life style into school children from an early age.

The endorsement was made by the Minister of Education Malam Adamu Adamu on Thursday at the launch of the “Nestle for healthier kids programme” in Abuja.

The programme, expected to commence in schools in Ogun State and some in the FCT and Abaji Area Council, will carter for about 17,000 kids in its pilot stage.

The minister, represented by Benedicta Okonkwo of the Dept of Basic and Secondary School, FME, said the manual was endorsed considering the fact that it was only a well fed child that would excel in school.

Adamu said the growth of children are stunted when they are malnourished, and as such could be backward in learning.

The Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole who was represented by Dr Chris Isokpunwu, Head of Nutrition, Federal Ministry of Health, said children would live a healthy life when they eat healthy.

“The major problem in the country is unhealthy life style which leads to obesity, hypertension and so on; people no longer live to their old age.

“Most of the deaths in the country now occur because people don’t take care of their diet and life style. It is time to go back to our olden days of good life style.

“But it is necessary to start with children under five years, to inculcate a healthy style of living into them from an early beginning,” Adewole said.

He said that the school feeding programme of the federal government was part of effort to show the children the right kind of food to eat, even when at home.

The minister urged Nigerians to reduce their intake of carbonated drinks and drink more of clean water.

Victoria Uwadoka, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Nestle Plc said their global vision was to help over 50 million children have the right information and enjoy good nutrition and healthy life style to ensure a better future for them by 2030.

Uwadoka said: “This year we want to reach about 17,000 children with this nutrition education

“We are going to experiment this programme in Ogun State and in FCT, particularly in the Abaji Area Council.

“And we will have a monitoring and evaluation team that will be able to give us a monthly, quarterly and annual report on the programme. This will help us in spreading the programme to other states.”

Gloria Nwabuike, Marketing and Public Affairs Manager of the company said “Nestle for healthier kids programme” was launched globally on May 15 to mark the United Nations (UN) International Day of Families, but that it was being launched in Nigeria to increase the awareness of healthy living.

“Part of what we do is to train the teachers to enable them impact this nutrition education into the children, so that when they grow, they will practice the same healthier living to ensure that they grow and stay healthy.

“We also embarked on this school-based initiative having in mind that parents know that every day counts when it comes to preparing children for a bright and successful future,” Nwabuike said.

According to her, the company is aiming to build, share and apply nutrition knowledge as well as offer tastier food choices and inspire families to raise healthier kids.

The event saw the unveiling of the Nestle for healthier kids manual and the signing of the partnership certificate involving UBEB, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, as well as the Ministry of Health.

2018 budget passage, a relief to the nation – FRC

Victor Muruako, Acting Chairman, Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), says the passage of the 2018 Appropriation Bill by the National Assembly is a relief to the nation.

Muruako said this while speaking on Thursday in Abuja, in reaction to the recent passage of the budget.

He said it would also bring hope to the populace and boost the economy.

He also said the crude oil benchmark which was increased from 45 dollars per barrel to 51 dollars per barrel was the right thing to do, considering the current rice of crude oil globally.

“The crude oil price benchmark is very realistic because if you look at the current crude oil price you will see that 51 dollars is fair enough, because the essence of these things is not to have an unrealistic estimate.

“Presently, crude is going for 78 to 80 dollars per barrel and I think 51 dollars is even conservative but it is better to be on the safe side, so for me it is a commendable effort,” Muruako said.

He also said the increase in the budget estimate by the National Assembly by N508 billion was in the interest of the country.

Muruako added that the legislative arm had been working very closely with the executive to ensure that things are done properly.

The National Assembly on Wednesday passed the 2018 Appropriation Bill of N9.12 trillion from the N8.61 trillion proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari in November, 2017.

The budget expenditure was premised on oil price benchmark of 51 dollars per barrel as against 45 dollars proposed by the President.

Crude oil production was bench-marked at 2.3 million barrels per day and exchange rate of N305 to one dollar.

NAN reports that economic analysts have, over the months, expected the budget to be passed by the National Assembly, citing grave consequences the delay could cause for the economy and the nation at large.

Stakeholders to adhere to standards – SON

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) says there is the need for stakeholders in the e-Commerce space to adhere strictly to standards to grow the sector.

The organisation made the call when it met with the stakeholders at a forum in Lagos, tagged “The Role of Standards and Quality Regulation in Electronic Commerce’’.

The organisation said that it had become imperative for stakeholders to provide solutions that would ensure safe and secure transactions, assurance of quality, consumer protection and boost the sector.

The Director General, SON, Osita Aboloma, said that imbibing standards in e-Commerce would go a long way to facilitate trade, promote global competitiveness, economic growth and development.

He said the need to promote awareness on standards and quality regulations in the sector was to ensure a safe and secure online platforms for sales of goods and services.

It will also enhance trade within Nigeria and across borders that will ultimately increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation, he noted.

The SON boss, represented by the Director, Corporate Affairs, Dr Paul Angya, said e-Commerce was a business that is on the rise, hence, it was apt and crucial for the standardisation and regulation of the quality of products and services traded through the cyberspace.

According to him, the promotion of awareness on standards and quality regulation has become necessary as the drive for digitalised market places increase and the pressure on the standards community mounts.

“This requires that all stakeholders reckon fully with the realities of the competitive and fast-paced global economy,’’ he said in a statement.

“Having identified that the roles played by stakeholders in this sector is key to the growth and development of the nation, the participants and this forum have been carefully selected.

“From consumers to consumer groups, telecommunications companies, banks, airlines, regulatory bodies, advertising practitioners, embassies and trade charters and online marketers and dealers are expected to chart a way forward for e-Commerce in Nigeria.’’

Aboloma said that with the increasing volumes of consumer complaints being received on the quality of products and services sold online, it has become necessary to have a robust regulatory framework to drive e-commerce.

“For instance, products like mobile phones, electrical and electronic devices cannot be physically viewed and tested before purchase online, while the claims on what they can do have been found in many cases to be inaccurate or sometimes outrightly false.

“It is expected that decisions reached at this forum today, will foster positive change that will ensure improved customer satisfaction and consumer protection.

“That will ultimately guarantee the safety and security of online sales and marketing as well as ensure that only quality goods and services are provided for the consumers,’’ he said.

He urged the participants to take optimum advantage of the forum to discuss pertinent issues with online marketers and the regulatory bodies to attract more investors into the sector.

An official of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Mr Babatunde Irukera, said e-commerce was the way of the future, noting that technology was disrupting the traditional ways of commerce and trade.

Irukera noted that as consumers were becoming more sophisticated, so also is the role of consumer protecting authorities all over the world to ensure that they were as dynamic as the sophistication of consumers.

“What we believe at CPC is that any e commerce platform must capture the responsibilities of providing consumers good quality for money spent.

“This is why the question of returns, refunds and warranties are very important to us.

“We are in the process of writing new regulations with respect to returns, refunds and warranties while paying rapt attention to e-Commerce with respect to that.

“We must find a way to promote e-Commerce, while at the same time, promote the interest and safety of the consumer,’’ he said.

On his part, the Director, Product Certification Directorate, SON, Tersoo Orngudwen, said standards were global, and noted that Nigeria must embrace standards as it was done everywhere.

He said the forum was aimed at making e-Commerce seamless, while taking cognisance of standards.

The president, Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria, Shola Ajulo, said that Nigeria had caught up with e-Commerce businesses and also possess the skill required to ensure protection not just for physical markets, but for the online markets.

“I hope today, the consumers, regulators and service providers come up with agreements that will go a long way to protect the consumers and the online markets.

“We want to address things like warranties, refunds, returns, misleading adverts, because on-line marketers are taken undue advantage of so many consumers are being taken advantage of,’’ she said.

It was reported that the awareness event on digital marketing was attended by operators and relevant stakeholders in business, commerce, trade, investment, communications and other relevant sectors of the nation’s economy.

Russia 2018 World Cup: England’s Lallana out, Alexander-Arnold in

By Sports Desk

England team selection for the 2018 World Cup, Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana missed out 23-man World Cup squad as club team-mate, Trent Alexander-Arnold earned a first call-up for the finals.
Goal keeper, Joe Hart absent as expected, as Gary Cahill returns in defence, the Chelsea defender is England’s most experienced player with 58 caps.

Lallana joins goalkeeper Tom Heaton, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and James Tarkowski on the stand-by list.

Arsenal’s forward, Danny Welbeck, is rewarded for his form run to the semi-finals of the Europa League, but 34-times capped team-mate Jack Wilshere misses out with young Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek included after impressing during a friendly against Germany last November.

Loftus-Cheek, 22, has spent the season on loan at Crystal Palace and was pivotal in ensuring they preserved their Premier League status under former England manager Roy Hodgson – playing 27 times as Palace finished 11th in the table.

Alexander-Arnold, caps a dream season by earning a place in the squad after making his Liverpool debut in October 2016 and helping his team reach the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 26.

The uncapped 19-year-old right-back earns a place despite having yet to play for England in only his second season in the senior game.

“The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it,” said Southgate.

“We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.”

U21 international Alexander-Arnold trained with England before the friendlies with Italy and Netherlands in March.

He has made 32 appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s side this season with Southgate admitting he was excited by the player’s ability.

Fabian Delph makes the cut despite winning the last of his nine caps against Spain in November 2015.

Kyle Walker’s ability to play in central defence as part of a back three has apparently given Alexander-Arnold the chance of a call-up.

But his Anfield team-mates Joe Gomez and Nathaniel Clyne both miss out on the squad.

“I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,“ said Southgate, whose forward threats are the strongest part of his squad boasting Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Jamie Vardy, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford.

“It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.”
England have warm-up matches with Nigeria at Wembley on June 2 and Costa Rica at Elland Road on June 7.

They begin their finals campaign against Tunisia on June 18 before facing Panama on June 24 and concluding their group G matches against Belgium on June 28

 

Dutch govt drops Kaspersky software, citing security concerns

By News Desk and Agency Report 

The Dutch government is phases out the use of anti-virus software developed by Russian firm, Kaspersky Lab amid fears of possible spying, despite Moscow-based cyber security company denial.

The Dutch Justice and Security ministry disclosed in a statement late Monday, the decision had been taken as a “precautionary measure” in order “to guarantee national security”.

But Kaspersky Lab, whose anti-virus software is installed on about 400 million computers worldwide, said Tuesday it was “very disappointed” by the move.

The firm, which is suspected by US authorities of helping the Kremlin’s espionage efforts, also announced Tuesday that it was moving its core infrastructure and operations to Switzerland.

“Our new centre in Switzerland will strengthen the proven integrity of Kaspersky Lab’s products, (and) significantly improve the resilience of our IT infrastructure to any trust risk ?- even theoretical ones,” the Russian company said in a statement.

Last year, the US federal government removed Kaspersky from its list of approved vendors, weeks after senior US intelligence agency and law enforcement officials expressed concerns about the safety of its software.

The Netherlands fears Kaspersky’s anti-virus software is “deep in systems” and any abuse could “pose a major security risk.”

Dutch officials also voiced concern that under Russian law companies such as Kaspersky are “required to cooperate with the Russian government”.

But the company hit back saying “Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber espionage or offensive cyber efforts” and adding it was “being treated as guilty merely due to geopolitical issues.”

It said it would try to arrange a meeting soon with the Dutch coordinator for security and counterterrorism to discuss the situation.

Dutch intelligence officials have increasingly warned however that they fear the Kremlin is trying to hack into Dutch companies and manipulate elections here.

“Russia has an active offensive cyber programme focusing on the Netherlands and vital Dutch interests,” the ministry warned, adding it had therefore concluded there was a risk of “digital espionage and sabotage.”