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Abdulwaheed Usamah

FG, BoI launches direct traders empowerment initiative in Lagos, plan for 2M Nigerians

 By NewsDesk,

As part of measure  addressing level of poverty in Nigeria, the Federal Government (FG) and Bank of Industry (BoI) have launched an empowerment program, solely designed to assist petty traders boot their businesses, with aim to ensure two million Nigerians directly benefit from the initiative.

Specifically, representatives of both FG and BoI said that the initiative, tagged ‘Traders Moni’, was created to support traders and also address issued non accessibility of average Nigerians to load.

They disclosed that no fewer than hundreds of traders, particularly market women, received N10,000 loan respectively, in Lagos State, where it had kicked off and that it would soon spread across the country in due time.

The Executive Director, Bank of Industry, Toyin Adeniji, indicated that the launched initiative was a demonstration that the bank was not relenting on measure that would make Nigerians have access to loan irrespective of status or level of education.

Briefing journalists at unveiling of ‘Trader Moni’ initiative at Ojuwoye market in Mushin, Lagos on Tuesday,  Adeniji said that the programme which kicked off nationwide,  would support 2 million Nigerians to grow their business.

She informed that the goal of the scheme was to take financial inclusion down to the grass root whereby pure water seller, bead seller, food seller, okada rider among others can access loan to expand their business without any collateral.

The bank’s head claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari led administration recognised contribution of petty traders to economic development and that presidency had concluded to ensure market people enjoy dividend of democracy since it knew they may lack requirements for bank loans.

“The government identified the fact that some of them may not have what the commercial banks may required to grant loan, so he support this initiative to help them grow their business”.

“This ‘Trader Moni’ initiative is a mobile phone driven, after your details have been captured by agent and send to BOI system for validation, within 48 hours you will get cash notification in your mobile wallet account. You can either transfer the cash to your bank account or cash it out in any mobile money agent around.

“At the beginning you can access N10,000 and pay back N10,250 to qualified for N15,000. Once you payback N15,375 you will qualify for N20,000 loan, when you pay back N21,000 you will get N50,000. All these stages have duration of six months interval to pay back.”

“If you wish you can pay back before six month grace elapsed and access bigger loan. To pay back, just entered some of the backs we have partnered with such as Fidelity, Wema Bank, Gt Bank, UBA, Heritage Bank, Stanbic Bank, Sterling Bank, Union Bank Jaiz Bank, tell them that you want to pay BOI-GEEP loan for PayDirect.

Besides, Chief Operating Officer, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP,  Uzoma Nwagba, noted that GEEP has three product, including that of ‘farmer Moni’, meant for farmers which avail them opportunity to access up to N300,000 loan each.

“We have ‘Market Moni’ which target market women, traders and artisans that are little bigger and more structured, they get between N50,000 and N100,000. The whole initiative is available across the country.

Nwagba urged beneficiaries to ensure they pay back to avail other opportunity to benefit, “All this initiative aimed to expand financial inclusion because we have over 23 million Nigerians that are financially excluded, this administration aimed to reach them so that they can grow their businesses.

Lagos youth office to commission Ambode’s connect center, host Lagosians

By NewsDesk,

An office of young people in Lagos State, Youth Organizing, has announced that it would be commissioning a connecting centre, known as Ambode Connect Youth Centre, created for young Lagosians participation in governance, as well as in other developing programs that could project the state beyond current performance.

It said that the center, which would be sitting in Surulere axis of Lagos, would be a non-profit oriented youth initiative, primarily focusing on expanding spaces and opportunities to help youths unlock inherent abilities through a collection of leadership programmes.

The Secretary, Youth Organizing, Aregbe Idris, disclosed that the yet to be unveiled Ambode Youth Connect Center, was established to connect, engage, integrate and build relationships, tailored services for young people to positively change their lives, and that through the facility, the office would drive clarion call for political participation from provision of necessary arsenal, which include consistency, creativity, transparency, and cooperation.

Through a statement issued on Sunday from the office, Idris informed that the center has been equipped with internet service and recreational facilities to support sporting activities in the state, with hope to unite youth and foster peaceful relations for the good of the entire state.

He said that beside the centre and forging a safe environment and facilitating frameworks to shore up democracy in the country, the Youth Organising office would also be hosting young Lagosians with a sequence of events decisively designed to encourage, mobilize and upsurge active youth participation in the Nigerian political scene.

According to him, importance of youths in every society cannot be overstated, hence the need to create a conscious political alertness among the youths, foster peaceful relations and grow businesses through innovative ideas have critically influenced, by considerable amount, the formation of the ingenious hosting of young Lagosians.

He explained that the event, slated 11th and 12th of August 2018, would commemorate International Youth Day and other programs created to motivate young people spirits, and that the office  would thrill youth in the state to a Music and Message Concert with the theme: “Safe ‘n’ Save Spaces For The Youths on stated date in Lagos.

“The theme of this year’s event is an unfeigned strategy aimed at impelling the youths to participate in matters affecting the country’s political space and to also create a continuous platform to Engage, Redrive, and empower ourselves.

“The International Youth Day is a day set aside by the United Nations to raise awareness and draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding the youths. As such, the office hopes to raise the consciousness of the youths to the many benefits of political participation in modern day democracy and its critical role in abating crime in the Nigerian society”.

Idris indicated that the youths were  the powerhouse of every society hence, the present day government must continuously improve on the ongoing programmes directed at creating bracing environment that will accommodate and encourage youth participation in governance.

The secretary explained that the concert was designed to create safe spaces that would inspire youths in forging career paths in politics, as a tool for building good governance and sustaining growth in our cherished country, Nigeria.

He added that the events will serve as a vehicle to enlighten the youths on fresh perspectives in choosing the right career paths, birth innovative business ideas through mentorship programmes to groom young business talents, raise ambassadors that will sprout empowerment programmes in the state and foster impeccable brands of business connections to spark growth and drive the economy.

“The concert guarantees an eventful occasion with creatively infused music and message programme focused on changing the existing narratives of Lagos’ youths with the following messages”

“Our aim is to create safe spaces for youths and securing offices and appointments to exploit their innate potentials, promoting self-reliance through empowerment programmes.

“We also have plans to identify and support young industry starters,  assisting talents to peak, encouraging peaceful relations to shun violence, with social transformation and inclusion of the youths into the political system.

“The office have aim to create networks to integrate ideas and engage productive discussions among the young people of the state”.

 

Ambode advocates for community policing, crime rate curb

By NewsDesk,

The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has stated that fight against crime and all forms of criminality in Nigeria could only be better enhanced if concerted efforts were geared toward embracing community policing to complement police and other law enforcement agencies.

Ambode also said in view of the critical national security issues confronting the country at the point in time, paramount importance must now be attached to strong intelligence gathering even over and above the provision of physical security apparatuses, to rescue Nigeria from the myriad of security challenges.

Speaking while addressing participants of the Executive Intelligence Management Course II of the Institute for Security Studies on Tuesday in Abuja, noted that the security issues the country was grappling with such as international terrorism and insecure borders, local terrorism including lone wolf terrorists, proliferation of small arms into big cities, cyber warfare, drug trafficking, human trafficking and the regular misdemeanors among and other petty crimes, all pointed to the need for strong intelligence gathering framework to be put in place to nip potential crime in the bud.

According to him, if policy makers such as the participants at the course who were drawn from 21 security and government agencies could not understand such security issues from the point of first-rate intelligence, then it would difficult for effective policies to be made and implemented to combat them.

“In the pursuit of the primus inter pares of all governance challenges, we have identified that the gathering and utilisation of intelligence is of paramount importance, even ahead of the provision of physical security apparatuses.

“As is well known, I am a huge proponent of community policing. Indeed, I strongly believe that the fight against crime and all forms of criminality would be better enhanced if efforts are geared towards embracing community policing to complement the police and other law enforcement agencies,” the Governor said, adding that it was for such reason that his administration established the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corp Agency (LNSC) to enhance intelligence gathering in the communities.

The Governor, who specifically spoke on the theme: “Cultural Values, National Security and Challenges of Contemporary Governance: Perspective from Lagos State Experience,” said being the melting pot of diverse cultures, as well as major economic hub as the fifth largest economy in Africa with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $131billion, Lagos had been able to appropriate its cultural values, especially the multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan nature, to confront its security and governance challenges, adding that the country stand to gain from the model which the State had adopted in fighting crime and administering governance.

Recalling security challenges faced by his administration at the initial stage especially kidnapping, the Governor said in fighting the menace, the government garnered the support of the security agencies to set up military bases and security operations that resulted in the rescue of kidnap victims and arrest of kidnap kingpins, while further steps were taken on intelligence gathering, community partnership and huge investment in security, such that today, the State was now one of the safest cities in Africa.

Besides, the Governor listed core cultural values which are essential to ensure security and development to include truth, justice, hard work and character, which according to him, have been effectively deployed in Lagos State in the creation of agencies such as LNSC, the Security Trust Fund under the Public-private partnership model to enhance transparency, among others.

“In Lagos State, we are resolved to continue to review and revise our policies with the aim of maintaining, at every point in time, a sustainable security framework that will stand the test of time and enable every stakeholder in Lagos to participate. So far, we have been encouraged by the massive contributions of many corporate organizations to the Security Trust Fund and by the participation of our communities in the work of the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps,” he said.

He said though a lot had been achieved, but that the State Government was nonetheless not oblivious of the fact that more needed to be done, assuring that his administration would continue to prioritise the security of the people.

Going forward with regards to preserving the culture of the people with focus on security, the Governor said from the home front, parents should now attach importance to their culture, saying the State Government had already led the way in placing paramount importance on the continuous learning of indigenous languages.

According to him, “Many parents are not training their kids to know and understand the realities of life and cultural values. Parents should go back to the teaching and promotion of our core cultural values. The abandonment of these cultural values has led many children to take to drugs and bad vices with the attendant challenges to national security.

“Beyond the efforts to sustain and, as the case may be, to resuscitate cultural values as a veritable means for ensuring cohesiveness in the society and promoting security, I also advocate a collective vigilance mentality whereby all stakeholders in security management have properly defined roles and relationships to stay ahead of all forms of violent crimes such as terrorism, cyber and transnational organised crimes while utilizing processed intelligence made possible as a result of our cultural values,” Governor Ambode said.

In his opening remarks, Director of the Institute, Matthew Seiyfa commended Governor Ambode for the various projects and initiatives implemented to make life better for the people, saying the projects have also contributed immensely to enhance security.

He also commended the initiative of the Security Trust Fund, saying the fact that many States have now copied it from Lagos attests to its vitality and effectiveness in security management.

“Since 2015 when Governor Ambode took hold on the reigns of office as the Executive Governor, he has not only continued but revitalized this visionary path. He (The Governor) has sought to consolidate and deepen the status of Lagos as a mega city and a hub for regional transportation, tourism, entertainment, finance, industry, among others.

“The Governor’s projects have not only been world class in standard and quality but also inclusive,” Seiyfa said.

APC is a sinking ship-Atiku

By NewsDesk,

The former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar,  has said that with with 15 members of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at National Assembly decamping to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),  was an indication that the ruling party was a sinking ship.

Atiku noted that the decampment from the APC further explained lack of capacity of the ruling party to hold and manage a political party, and indeed a government, just as he called on the new entrants to see decsion  as a call to duty.

Through a statement issued on Tuesday by the the former vice president’s media office, Atiku stated that decision of a significant number of members of both the senate and the House of Representatives to left the APC and decamp into the PDP clearly indicates that there is hope that the country can be rescued from the misrule of the APC government.

“I want to extol the courage of those legislators for standing up for a mission of salvaging our democracy, restoring the economy to make it work for Nigerians, creating opportunities for the teeming youth, promoting unity and security to lives and property.

“At such a time like this when the APC has brought our country to an all-time low in poor management of the economy and millions of Nigerians out of job; the daily killings of Nigerians while the police is being deployed to persecute political opponents – it is commendable that these lawmakers have chosen to be on the right side of the moment and history shall keep a noble account of their exceptional courage,” Atiku said.

The former VP congratulated the PDP for presenting itself as a suitable platform for the new entrants.

He emphasized that the choice of the PDP as a preferred destination for them is an endorsement of the kind of leadership the national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus has provided since assuming office.

“Like I said at my declaration rally in Yola barely 72 hours ago, there are more mass defections from the APC into the PDP and it is important to mention that these defections signify a vote of no confidence in the APC-led government and the 2019 election is going to be a referendum of how the APC shattered the expectations of Nigerians”.

Lai Mohammed, online publishers, bloggers meet over fake news ahead 2019 election

By NewsDesk,

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and various online publishers, as well as bloggers have met over need to monitor how fake news were been disseminated into public domain, so as enable curb breach of peace and unity ahead of 2019 election.

Besides, stakeholders, during the meeting, proffered solution to dissemination of fake news and advised the government to it goes all out to ensure it gains control over unverified information before landing in public domain.

Lai Mohammed, said that the federal government would continue to do its best to ensure fake news dissemination is brought under control before it damage the peace and unity in the country.

Speaking at the a press conference on Tuesday in Lagos, the minister disclosed that the government had launched National Campaign Against Fake News  few days ago, aiming at sensitizing Nigerians to the dangers posed to the peace and security, democracy, and indeed the corporate existence of Nigeria by the phenomenon.

To him, the campaign was more urgent and that in view of the role of fake news in aggravating the various crises in the country, there was  need to check phenomenon ahead of the 2019 elections.

“As part of the modality for the campaign, we said we will use all the information dissemination tools at our disposal, work with both the traditional and social media, as well as the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to get the word out there on the need for all to shun fake news and to do everything possible to stem its tide.

“The online publishers and social media influencers – are the first stakeholders we are meeting as a group. It is just as well, because you are at the epicentre of the fake news phenomenon. Yes, fake news is not limited to the social media, and it is not new. What is new, however, is the way and manner it is spread.

“And the social media is the catalyst for that spread. Why? Because all you need to make any news go viral these days is a phone and access to the Internet! That’s a free ticket to any of the social media
platforms.

“Therefore, we are here today to dialogue with you, as critical stakeholders. Your credibility, and indeed your source of livelihood, is at stake. If the society loses confidence in the media, especially social media, because of fake news, you will be the worst hit. And we are very close to that point now. Today, nobody knows what to believe anymore. You read something online, and within a few hours, it is denied. The fake news epidemic is spreading fast.

“This is where you come in: You must not lend your various platforms to the spread of fake news. Yes, it offers instant gratification. But it doesn’t last. Once your platform is identified as a source of fake news, your credibility is gone. And once you lose your credibility as a news channel, nothing is left.

Accoding to him, traditional media has signed on to this campaign. The Nation, Vanguard and Leadership newspapers are co-sponsoring the campaign. The Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) are also on board.

“I am therefore calling on you today to join us in this campaign. A starting point is for you to put a banner on your various platforms that says: SAY NO TO FAKE NEWS! Of course, a platform that abhors fake news will not engage in one.

“We are also telling Nigerians to do two simple things: Before sharing that information on Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp: 1) Ask how credible the source is, and 2) Don’t share any information for which you can’t vouch.

“The war against fake news is a must-win. As a multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation, Nigeria cannot afford an unbridled spread of fake news. This phenomenon is exploiting our fault lines to aggravate the crises in the country. Of course, you are aware of a recent BBC report that says fake news circulating in the social media is fuelling the farmers-herders crises in Nigeria. Gory pictures from other lands are circulated freely via Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, purportedly being from the killings in Benue or Plateau States.

“Let me repeat what I said at the launch of this campaign: The Federal Government will not use coercion or engage in censorship in other to fight the fake news epidemic. We also believe there are enough laws in our books to fight this phenomenon.

” We are therefore appealing to you and to all Nigerians to join us in fighting this scourge. Fortunately, we are not alone in this fight. The big technology companies – Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc – are deploying resources and technology against the scourge. Nations of the world and international organizations are taking steps against fake news. Global media organizations are not left behind. Let us do our own part in tackling this scourge.

” I thank you for your kind attention. I will now take your questions”.

Event organizer postpones Lagos food, beverage fair

By NewsDesk,

Organizer of annual Lagos International Food and Beverage Fair and Festival (LIFBEF) has postponed 2018 edition of the fair, earlier slated to commence on 26 and end 29th of July, to 27 and end 30th of September 2018. due to logistic reasons.

Through a statement released over the weekend by convener and Managing Partner,  Imani Events and Exhibitions, Khadijah Tebun, it was stated that the postponement was due to desire to ensure that the 2018 edition of the event was given world class standard and satisfy purpose of the initiative.

It said: “The fair organizers and other partners deem it important to reschedule the event, to enable accommodate various programs and plans, such that would make the event a memorable one.

According to the statement, LIFBEF had its debut edition in 2012 and has held the remarkable event for five years consecutively, as a specialized trade fair which brings together the Food and Beverage Industry annually for four days, Thursdays-Sunday every year.

“LIFBEF is approved and supported by NACCIMA, endorsed by the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry LCCI, while NAFDAC and Consumer Protection Council CPC are partners. The fair has enjoyed the participation of multinationals like Honeywell PLC, Promassidor, Dufil now Tollaaram group makers of Indomie, Power Oil among others.

“The major objective of the event is  introduce, exchange, and learn about the latest innovations and technologies from around the world; to create opportunities, exposures, and training for innovative Agricpreneurs.

“The Food and Beverage industry is the Largest industry in the world in the country. The Nigeria population of over 200 million gives her the advantage over all other countries where there is a huge market, especially for food.”

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

Minister Adeosun’s NYSC Certificate

By Reuben Abati

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has been in the eye of the storm, and that is putting it mildly. While I believe that she may be the target of a conspiracy against her by persons on whose toes she may have stepped, (otherwise, who is still worrying these days about NYSC certificate?),

it seems she herself has not helped matters by refusing to say a word to explain her dilemma. If she thinks the matter will blow away, the fact that the Federal Government has now intervened with the unconvincing claim that a probe is underway is a sure recipe for mischief.

There are three weighty issues involved, in fact four: (1) she has been called a dodger. The NYSC Act does not permit anyone below the age of 30 to dodge a mandatory call to national service, except under circumstances that do not apply to her. At the time of her graduation from university, the Minister was 22 years old; (2) she is also being accused of forgery, or being an accessory to the act of forgery.

The NYSC has not been helpful by suggesting that although she applied for a certificate of exemption, after dodging the NYSC for eight years, the exemption certificate with her is unknown to them; (3) she is also being accused of having made false representation of herself on the basis of which she has taken very high jobs in Nigeria – first as a Commissioner and now as a Minister. (4) some persons have labeled this an act of corruption, obviously in order to score a point against the government she is serving. It is a tough moment for her.

Still, Mrs. Adeosun should be given the benefit of the doubt, which she is entitled to, but her silence is not golden at all: we need to hear her own side of the story, within a reasonable period of time. The burden of proof having shifted to her, her refusal to talk is a clear evidence of withholding which could destroy any presumption of innocence in her favour. It is also wrong for anyone to say on her behalf that at the time of her graduation, she was not a Nigerian citizen because she was born in England. Section 25(1) (c) of the 1999 Constitution states clearly that Nigerian citizenship includes “every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria”.

So at what point did she renounce her Nigerian citizenship? And does she have a work permit to enable her work in Nigeria if indeed she is a foreigner? There are many lessons here for all young persons who were “born abroad” or who may not be excited about the NYSC.

Hadi Sirika and the return of Nigeria Airways

By Reuben Abati

One of the usual features on Nigerian social media is the nostalgic passion with which Nigerians often distribute pictures of the old Nigeria Airways and how that company once considered one of the best in Africa was mismanaged and made to fail. Established in 1958, it was liquidated in 2003.

I have seen pictures of old tickets, images of Nigeria Airways pilots and crew, and for anyone who travelled with Nigeria Airways, you cannot but be moved to pity.  Pity yes, because while Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa can no longer manage an airline of its own, the African skies are dominated by such airlines as Ethiopian airlines, Air Maroc, Kenya Airways, and South African airlines. Rwanda has a functional airline too. There is also Air Namibia.

The assets of the Nigeria Airways of old have not only been liquidated; most of its former staffs are wasting away. In the aviation sector, Nigeria has the biggest market in Africa, and has signed Bilateral Air Service Agreements with over 70 countries, but it lacks the capacity to compete. Even the few private airlines operating within the country are barely struggling to survive.

The agony of the Nigerian air traveller is not something to be imagined: we all face a daily grind of disappointment from airlines that cancel flights at will and offer no explanation. When you complain, the airlines simply tell you that things are very hard. So, if things are hard, are they supposed to be so shabby? The other month, the door of an aircraft on the domestic route flew off as the plane landed.

That has not stopped Nigerians from patronizing that same airline. Most of the country’s airports are also poorly equipped and poorly maintained. The air-conditioning rarely works; the toilets are a nightmare. Aviation is big business but more than that, it is a major catalyst for economic growth and development. If there is any sector that is in urgent need of rescue, the Nigerian aviation sector is that sector.

It is therefore a thing of interest that the Federal Government says it is now determined to revitalize the aviation sector and bring back Nigeria Airways or Air Nigeria as it has been referred to. This much was disclosed when the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika received a certificate of no objection, an Outline Business Case certificate of compliance it is called, from the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC).  Tomorrow July 18, in London, Minister Sirika is launching a Road Show to attract investors, and formally unveil the name, the logo, the colour scheme and the structure of the national carrier.

It all sounds so exciting and I am sure many Nigerians who agonise daily over how other African countries seem to succeed where we keep failing would like to see Nigeria run its own national airline and create opportunities for the business sector. The only problem that I see is that there is so much that is opaque in the proposals that have been put forward so far by Mr. Sirika. Being a former pilot, the Minister is definitely not a tyro in the business, but as he engages both the local and international audience, there are many questions that must be addressed. I intend to raise a few of these in this preliminary comment.

The Ministry of Transportation and ICRC, the regulatory body, do not seem to be on the same page. The ICRC and similar institutions involved may face challenges with their own reputation. The Outline Business Case Certificate by the ICRC seems to agree only in principle that a national carrier can be established. It goes further to give specific conditions under which this may be done, and the Minister himself has quoted some of these conditions which the Ministry under his watch seems to be breaching already.

Having noted that the business case and market study submitted to it are “in substantial compliance with the ICRC Act, 2005 and the National Policy on Public Private Partnership”, the ICRC avers: “This certificate is granted on the condition that the Federal Government demonstrates her commitment to leverage private sector capital and expertise towards the establishment of the National Carrier through the provision of an upfront grant/Viability Gap Funding (VGF) to fund aircraft acquisition/start-up capital.

The FGN also agrees to zero contribution to airline management decisions and zero management control by the government. Any attempt to impose government control over the management of the Airline invalidates this certificate and the entire process”.

It goes further: “In view of the fact that the mitigating conditions for the project may change over time, this Certificate is valid for 12 months from the date indicated below. This certificate is therefore issued to enable the Ministry commence an international open competitive bidding process to procure a world-class strategic investor to manage, operate, maintain, and invest in the National Carrier.”

The ICRC provides further information on its website with regard to other aviation sector projects including the development of an aerotropolis, the establishment of a maintenance, repair and overhaul centre (MRO) and the development of cargo/agro-allied airport terminals.

Except the role of the infrastructure concession regulatory body is a mere formality, I do not see any evidence that the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Ministry of Transportation (Aviation) is keen about compliance with the strict provisions outlined in the Certificate of No Objection.

The Road Show scheduled for Farnborough, London, tomorrow, does not sound like “an open competitive bidding”; it is a launch. Do you do a roadshow for a transaction that does not yet exist, or for a company that is not yet in existence? Minister Sirika and whoever his transaction advisers may be have already determined that the proposed airline would cost the Nigeria government $8.8 million.  How was that arrived at? He has also talked about a take-off grant of $300 million to purchase 5 aircraft to be delivered by December 19?

There certainly must be some known best practices in the setting up of a national carrier. Whatever business model, that we are following does not look like the very best. Who starts an airline by first buying aircraft at full cost? Hadi Sirika reportedly met with officials of Boeing, the aircraft maker in May. Would it not be better to lease the proposed five aircraft from Boeing and enter into a partnership agreement with them, with a private investor in charge of the new airline?

The ICRC says the Federal Government must not operate or control the proposed airline.  This is precisely what Hadi Sirika and his team are already doing.  And if they say no, and insist that the private sector is already involved in the project, perhaps Mr. Sirika will disclose this tomorrow in London! But let him also disclose basic information about when the tender was placed for an “open competitive bidding.”

And if there was no tender, who is that person who may have appropriated the power to determine the private sector partners for the national carrier? And when Mr. Sirika talks about a N300 million for the purchase of five aircraft to be delivered by December 2018, he should be asked where that money is coming from? Is it provided for in the 2018 budget?  And if so, under what line entry, or will the money come through virement?

The National Assembly should raise these questions. Nobody should use taxpayer’s funds to buy some end-of-life aircraft and claim that they are setting up an airline for Nigerians.

I also find it curious that all the relevant persons and agencies that should be involved in the planning of something as important as a national airline have been quiet. Did the National Economic Council headed by the Vice-President discuss the matter for example? Is the Ministry of National Planning aware of it? Is the proposed airline part of the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP), and what is the framework in place to ensure fairness and transparency? Is the substantive Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi even involved in this at all; his studied silence is odd.  Or abi the thing no concern am?

If Nigeria must have a national airline again, then we must get it right. This is my point. The ICRC is obviously insisting on private sector control and management, because it was government inefficiency that killed off the old Nigeria Airways. The airline became a gravy train for the big men in high places.

They used the planes for their private purposes, including going for weekend parties in London at government expense. Directors of government agencies and departments travelled with the airline on free tickets. Nigeria Airways was supposed to provide a hub for the aviation sector in Africa, its eventual mismanagement made that impossible. We must learn from history in order not to repeat it. Sirika says the proposed airline will take advantage of the African Single Air Transport Market.

The Open Skies Agreement is part of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement – 44 countries signed up to it in Kigali in March. Nigeria wants to benefit from this agreement, but it is yet to make up its mind about the value of African integration and free trade. You see our people?  “We want to buy aircraft, we want to buy aircraft…” That’s all I hear them saying as if an aircraft is a toddler’s toy.

I raise another poser: why do we even have to create a brand new national airline from the scratch. The Federal Government, through the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) is already in possession of three airlines that are indebted to AMCON: Arik Air, Aero and whatever is left of Virgin Nigeria or Air Nigeria.  AMCON’s mandate is to rescue these airlines and put them back on their feet. Can they not form the nucleus of the proposed national carrier;  and turned, surviving assets and all, into one airline that Nigeria can brand for national purpose under the management of competent investors, and with government providing the needed oxygen?

Would this not be more advisable than embarking on a new set of opaque transactions? Government can rescue moribund airlines such as the ones I have mentioned, encourage quality private sector participation, and just ensure a level playing field. A national airline that will be under the control of the Minister of Transportation in charge of Aviation, will sooner than later constitute itself into a threat to industry competitiveness.

What remains is a moral question. Whatever the Federal Government decides to do eventually, it would be most unfair to set up a new national carrier without resolving the lingering matter of the unpaid entitlements and benefits of the old Nigeria Airways staff. When that company crashed, many lives were destroyed. Some of the pilots ended up as taxi drivers; many of the crew had to go and learn new trade, a few got jobs with the new commercial airlines.

There was a time former Nigeria Airways staff formed a union and they used to carry placards to lament their fate and the injustice that they suffered. I don’t see those placards anymore; they have probably given up hope, and some of them may have died.

Not to pay their entitlements – calculated at a total of N45 billion, and already approved for payment by the Federal Executive Council more than a year ago, would be an assault on their memory and an act of cruelty.

Atiku Abubakar… the man of his own class

By Funsho Ademoye

Presidential election campaign has begin gathering momentum and both the pretenders, that have filled the Nigeria political stage as well as the few contenders that have shown their faces, are both making promises of what they can deliver. The biggest of it all, are promises coming from failed political officers’ holders, to Nigeria citizens, with return ticket to Mars’ in 2019 if voted in, and worthy of note is the man that has spent more time abroad looking after his health than days he has spent in active governance promising ‘heaven on earth’ in just a year to another election.

In reality, we don’t want to wake up in 2020, just as it happening now, and be calling on God for His intervention for the deceptive change that is coated with anti-corruption war that we would have consciously but ignorantly voted for.

Ideally, nation building is ten per cent about prayer and ninety percent about doing the right thing by voting the right candidate with right national vision into political office, not a person who wants to grab 5000 hectares of land in states across the federation for an ethinic group he belongs to in the name of cattle colony.

It is about what we choose to do with our PVCs in 2019 as Nigeria citizens that will determine what will become of us as a people post 2019 election. We don’t want to be like the tick that kills itself, thinking it is killing the dog. We should not look back after 2019 and begin to count our loses instead of our democratic gains.

The bitter truth is that loses are what we are counting in Nigeria of today under the current government that came into power with the promise of change which is rooted in falsehood and ethnic bigotry. Human killings is our new normal all over the county as a result of insecurity and gross negligence of government primary responsibility of protecting lives and properties.

With few months ahead 2019 election, not only are all of the so called able contestants suddenly in top form of their lives. This is evident in the way and manner the ‘accidental politicians’ that we have today are busy criss-crossing the length and breadth of the country soliciting support and ‘begging’ the kingmakers of the land for them to be anointed as the ‘saviour’ of the project called Nigeria.

Also interesting about Nigeria presidential race is a sudden awakening of lots of pretenders. This isn’t surprising at all as we are currently in the era of false change that has brought untold hardship and unimaginable agonies on the Nigerian masses that were cajoled to embrace the ‘change’ mantra that has no specific direction in terms of economic and social transformation of the most populous black nation on earth – the poor masses have been politically defrauded once again.

Among the few contenders and capable hands that can be trusted with the affairs of Nigeria at this moment is the former Vice President of Nigeria, Waziri of Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is an accomplished businessman, a detribalised individual, a visionary leader, someone with the burden to serve and a man that has been proven and tested when it comes to governance and leadership.

He is a generalist and a political titan – one man that dwarfs any political, industrial and charitable acheivements of anyone currently in the race to occupying the highest seat of the land. He was an exemplary public servant. A man of integrity that believes in proper restructuring of Nigeria as well as equality and dignity of all Nigerians lives irrespective of tribal or religious affiliations.

Atiku is an entrepreneur of note, a distinguished administrator and manager. Waziri Adamawa is one man whose immediate family diversity represents the Nigeria we really want. Every region in Nigeria can be said to be represented in his immediate family without any form of prejudice.

He is a seasoned democrats and a true federalist at heart unlike the clueless autocrat and ethnic bigot that we currently have at the helm of affairs in Nigeria. Knowing the threat that Waziri Adamawa, a political generalissimo in his own right, poses to the institutionalised corruption and ethnic bigotry of the acclaimed ‘owners of Nigeria’, many salacious false accusations and propaganda have been thrown into public domain to dissuade him politically. The reality is that truth will always triumph over falsehood.

As a leader, “If you are emotionally attached to your tribe, religion or political leaning to the point that truth and justice become secondy considerations, your education is useless. Your exposure is useless. If you cannot reason beyond petty sentiments, you are a liability to mankind,” said another political juggernaut, late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo. It is no wonder that the situation of one of the most blessed nation on earth is what it is today because of the calibre of people we often entrust with power. Of course, when the clueless is in power, the whole nation will without doubt groan continually in pain!

Africa Diaspora Mobilisation Movement, as a progressive minded organisation, has weighed all the available options of both the contenders and the pretenders in 2019 Nigeria presidential race – including the clueless incumbent Nigeria president – and we have come to the conclusion that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is in the class of his own as the only genuine contestant for Nigeria presidential seat that possesses all the needed criteria befitting a Nigeria president.

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Waziri Adamawa, is the only man in Nigeria political terrain of today, that has set a hard to surpass benchmark before now in public service. With our collective support, we strongly believe that he possesses the capacity and the needed experience to deliver to us the Nigeria of our dream in our lifetime. He has done it before as the executive vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and he is more than willing to do it again, even in greater dimension, as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

Ademoye is coordinator Africa Diaspora Mobilisation Movement, South Africa chapter.

Macron’s visit to Lagos

By Reuben Abati

One of the major highlights in Lagos recently was the event of the Lagos State Governor, playing host to two Presidents – President Emmanuel Macron of France and President Hage Geingob of Namibia. Lagos is no longer just the economic hub of Nigeria; it is gradually becoming a major centre for international diplomacy.

President Macron’s visit in particular had all the markings of soft power diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, citizen diplomacy and economic diplomacy. Lagosians are yet to recover from the excitement that was generated by that visit and Macron’s humility and humanity as well.

Macron’s visit has done more for Nigerian-France relations than any other initiative since a cat and mouse relationship was established between both countries in the 60s. Nigeria has always been resentful of France’s leaning towards its Francophone former colonies, and its support for Biafra during the civil war.

A 2018 visit by France’s youthful President has endeared France to many Nigerians. The Lagos state government not only rolled out the carpet, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode played the role of a perfect host.

For President Macron, the visit was a kind of homecoming, and a journey of remembrance, having lived and worked at the French Embassy in Lagos 25 years ago. He visited the New Afrika Shrine, where he danced, pumped hands, took selfies, paid homage to Fela and Afro-beat and spoke the language of the streets: “What happens at the shrine stays at the shrine”, he said.

He also granted an interview to the BBC where he spoke pidgin English. The following day, President Macron commissioned the Alliance Francaise building in Lagos, named Mike Adenuga Centre, and conferred on Otunba Mike Adenuga, one of France’s highest honours.

Not done, President Macron was a guest of the Tony Elumelu Foundation where he addressed over 2, 000 African entrepreneurs and interacted with young business leaders. Congratulations to the Lagos State Government, Otunba Mike Adenuga and the Tony Elumelu Foundation and to President Macron: that was really good and profound.