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We will commence palliatives works on Lagos-Badagry expressway tomorrow- Sanwo-Olu

By Maryam Adamu

Worried by the persistent gridlock on Lagos-Badagry expressway, All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has disclosed an ongoing partnership between the State Government and his campaign team to commence palliative works on the road tomorrow (Thursday).

Sanwo-Olu stated that the palliative works that would be embarked upon by his team with the state government was his own contribution to reduce travel time on the road.

He disclosed the plan on Wednesday when he received members of the Estate Rent and Commission Agent Association of Nigeria (ERCAAN), actors and actresses at the headquarters of Independent Campaign Group (ICG), Ikeja.

The gubernatorial candidate stressed that Lagos economy and other activities must be made to move faster than its present state, saying, we must make Lagos move better than it is now.

Sanwo-Olu disclosed that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration frustrated the completion of the road and the red-line of the rail projects.

He said: “Our aim was to start the Red-line project but because we did not get enough backing from PDP when I was in government. The project was frustrated. And when we realise that they wanted to do that, we had to shift the focus to blue-line. Even after we started the blue-line project, we were frustrated.”

He disclosed that if elected, the red-line rail project would be completed by his administration, urging the electorate to vote for the party during February 16th and March 2nd, 2019.

While responding to the stakeholders’ demand, he assured that his administration would introduce policies that could improve the status of property in the state.

The gubernatorial candidate explained that this could be achieved if the party wins the Presidential, gubernatorial and other candidate during the poll.

Earlier, Commissioner for Housing, Gbolahan Lawal, assured the stakeholders’ in the property sector that Sanwo-Olu understand the sector and would remove all encumbrances that had served as setbacks in the sector.

Seeking Sanwo-Olu’s assistance, the stakeholders urged the APC candidate to restructure the land grabbing committee because activity of the committee has reduced investors’ confidence in the sector.

They also demanded that the process required for Certificate of Ownership (C of O) be re-modified to reduce the bottleneck in collection exercise.

Zenith Bank boss wants improvement on business environment ranking

By News desk

The Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Jim Ovia, has urged the Federal Government to introduce new strategies that will boost the country’s ranking on the ease of doing business ranking globally.

Ovia stressed that the country should consider it’s double digits on the ease of doing business ranking as a challenge that must be addressed this year.

The Chairman gave the charge while delivering his goodwill message at the Deloitte in Dialogue: Nigeria Economic Outlook 2019, event held in Lagos.

In his speech which was focused on two key points – ease of doing business, and the nation’s inflation rate, he noted that since the country was out of recession, it’s target should now be how to improve it’s position on the ranking, which apparently attract investors into Nigeria.

“The target for the ease of doing business for Nigeria in 2019 in terms of ranking, should be single digit”.

According to him, we are no longer in recession and we have been able to manage the rate of inflation. The outlook for the nation shows that we are “now on a growth trajectory”.

He attributed the growth trajectory experienced in Nigeria to ingenuity of the Federal Government to address salient issues in the economy.

Ovia added that economic team must have been filled by experts that understands need to urgently pull the country out of economic recession.

While commending the Federal Government economic team on achievements recorded, he singled out ministers present at the event – the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and her counterparts in Budget and National Planning and Industry, Trade and Investment, Udo Udoma and Okechukwu Enelamah.

The Zenith boss also commended the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.

Dangote cement, GTB top NSE gainers’ table

By News desk

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) closed trading on Thursday with Dangote Cement  leading the gainers’ table and closely trailed by Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).

Dangote cement shares improved N2 to close at N192 per share while GTB followed with a gain of 60k to close at N33.60 and  Access Bank garnered 35k to N6 per share.

FBN Holdings appreciated by 20k to close at N7.60, while Ikeja Hotel rose by 15k to close at N1.67 per share.

Meanwhile, activities on the exchange maintained a positive outlook  with the All-Share Index appreciating by 0.38 per cent.

The index during trading rose by 111.04 points or 0.36 per cent to close at 30,989.60 as against 30,878.56 which was recorded berely 24 hours before.

In the same vein, the market capitalisation increased by N44 billion to close at N11.558 trillion against N11.514 trillion on Wednesday.

Analysts at Cordros Capital urged investors to trade cautiously in the short to medium term, as selloffs were likely to persist, amidst the brewing political uncertainty, and the absence of a positive catalyst.

They, however, said the stable macroeconomic fundamentals remained supportive of long-term gains.

On the other hand, Cement Company of Northern Nigeria topped the laggards’ table with a loss N1 to close at N24 per share.

Union Bank trailed with 60k to close at N6.15, while Stanbic IBTC lost 50k to close at N47 per share.

Julius Berger dipped 40k to close at N28, while Fidson Healthcare declined by 25k to close at N4.70 per share.

In spite of the growth posted by market indices, the volume of shares traded closed lower by 28.70 per cent with an exchange of 268.26 million shares valued at N3.15 billion in 3,756 deals.

This was in contrast with a total of 376.26 million shares worth N2.97 billion traded in 3,405 deals on Wednesday.

It was gathered that investors have continuously seek banking stocks ahead of the 2018 earnings season.

Specifically, Zenith Bank was the most active stock, exchanging 36.47 million shares valued at N806.51 million.

United Bank for Africa followed with an account of 31.64 million shares worth N232.34 million, while FBN Holdings traded 28.99 million shares valued at N217.37 million.

FCMB Group sold 19.99 million shares worth N39.01 million, while Fidelity Bank sold 19.32 million shares worth N44.02 million.

N27,000 Minimum Wage bill passes Second Reading at Senate

By News desk

Barely 24 hours after receiving National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill, the Senate on Thursday deliberated on the N27, 000 wage and passed through the crucial second reading.

The lawmakers passed the bill during plenary after the suspension of the Senate rules, to accommodate it after Senate leader, Ahmed Lawan, moved for expeditious passage of the bill because of its importance.

During the debate, the lawmakers supported the bill and were confident that it would improve the standard of living for workers in the country.

They called on the state governments to look inwards on how to actualise the new minimum wage by cutting frivolous expenses and improving revenue generation.

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, presided over the plenary, disclosing that contrary to reports, the minimum wage proposal sent to the National Assembly was N27,000 for both Federal and state workers.

Ekweremadu, however, faulted the part of the proposal which exempted organisations which employ less than 25 people from paying the new minimum wage.

He decried that the exemption would exclude many low-income earners who work in small organisations from benefitting from the new minimum wage.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has also commenced deliberation on the bill sent to the lawmakers by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In the letter read to the lawmakers, the President proposed a minimum wage of N27,000 for workers.

Earlier, the senate agreed to Lawan’s request and the minimum wage bill was debated in the chamber.

Presidency transmits Minimum Wage bill to NASS

By News desk

Barely 24 hours after National Council of State approved the new minimum wage, the presidency has disclosed that the bill to ensure ratification has been transmitted to the National Assembly.

It would be recalled that the National Council of State approved the sum of N27,000, which the Federal Government, however, said it would increase to N30,000 for its workers.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, confirmed this to Channel Television on Wednesday, saying that the bill was transmitted to the parliament earlier in the day.

The President’s aide, however, did not give details of the content of the bill.

Lagos-Ibadan rail will be test run in 10 days-NRC

By News desk

The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has disclosed that the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge line will test run by February.

It would be recalled that  Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation, had said in 2018 that the completion of Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge would also ease off the Apapa gridlock.

The NRC Managing Director, Fidet Okhiria, who disclosed this on Wednesday at Ijoko in Ogun, while inspecting the project, added that work on the tracks is moving towards Lagos with 1.5 kilometers being laid daily.

“They have done a lot in laying of tracks between Abeokuta, Itori, Papalanto, Kajola, Ijoko towards Lagos corridor.

“Within seven days the track laying will reach Iju towards Agege corridor of Lagos state.

“From here to Iju is 10 kilometers, and we are laying 1.5 kilometers on daily basis and by the first week of February we will do a test run to Abeokuta from Lagos.

“All the formations have been put in place to expedite the tracks laying,” he said.

The managing director said work had been completed between Kajola and Abeokuta.

NRC Lagos District Manager, Jerry Oche, said that when completed, the trains would be travelling at 150 kilometers per hour.

“With the new standard gauge, you can reside in Ibadan and be working in Lagos which is a very good development to people and for our economy,” he said.

Earlier, Amaechi said: “As you can see, the narrow gauge is existing but it’s not efficient, but the moment we fix this project, then those goods will be transferred to the rail and the lock jam will disappear on the road.

National Council Of State approves N27,000 minimum wage

By News desk

The National Council of State has approved N27, 000 as the minimum wage for the country, a fee which was N3,000 less than the proposed fee by labour unions.

Following the Council’s approval, a minimum wage bill was expected to be sent to the National Assembly on Wednesday.

According to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, the Federal Government is topping the approved amount by N3,000 to 30,000 for its workers.

He said the states are at liberty to augment the new agreement as they see fit.

Although there are exemptions, private and public organisations employing less than 25 workers are bounded by the N18,000 minimum wage.

The Council, however, set N27,000 as the new benchmark that any lowest paid worker (that is Grade Level 1 Step 1) would get.

The amount approved by the Council of State is N3,000 short of the N30,000 that the Tripartite Committee on Review of National Minimum Wage recommended.

The committee, chaired by a former Head of Service of the Federation, Ama Pepple, had submitted the report, which contained the recommended figure, to President Muhammadu Buhari on November 6, 2018, after many months of deliberations.

Prior to the committee’s recommendation, in October, state governors had offered to pay N22,500 as minimum wage.

Nine days after the committee recommended N30,000, on November 15, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum insisted that the states cannot pay the amount, leading to criticism by organised Labour which insisted on N30,000.

On January 8, 2019, the Nigeria Labour Congress held a nationwide protest over what it said was the delay by the Federal Government to transmit a new minimum wage bill to the National Assembly.

Buhari presided over the Council of State’s meeting which had in attendance Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, as well as former Presidents, Heads of State, and former Chief Justices of Nigeria.

They include Ernest Shonekan, Olusegun Obasanjo, Abdulsalami Abubakar, and Goodluck Jonathan, while Yakubu Gowon was absent.

Others present are Senate President Bukola Saraki, governors of Zamfara, Kebbi, Plateau, Lagos, Borno, and Ebonyi, as well as members of the President’s cabinet.

Facebook tightens rules for political adverts for Nigeria, others due to upcoming election

Facebook is tightening the rules of political advertising on its platform in countries with big elections to be held in 2019, such as India, Nigeria, and Ukraine, Reuters reported.

The company is taking such measures in order to counter interference with the electoral process, the source noted.

According to Katie Harbath, director of global policy and coverage, beginning on Wednesday in Nigeria, only ads located in the country will be able to run electoral ads, mirroring a policy unveiled during an Irish referendum last May.

Tthe same policy will take effect in Ukraine in February, the source noted adding that Nigeria holds a presidential election on Feb. 16, while Ukraine will follow on March 31.

What comes to India, which parliamentary elections set for this spring, Facebook will place electoral ads in a searchable online library starting from next month, said Rob Leathern, a director of product management at the company.

“We’re learning from every country,” he said. “We know we’re not going to be perfect, but our goal is continuing, ongoing improvement.”

Facebook believes that holding the ads in a library for a total of seven years is a key part of fighting interference, he noted.

Oyo workers begin 3-days warning strike

Workers in the Oyo State Public Service on Wednesday began a three-day warning strike over unpaid salaries and withdrawal of promotion by the state government.

The state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Waheed Olojede said that the state Public Service Joint Negotiating Council, comprising the NLC and Trade Union Congress, had been negotiating with the state government over the issues for the past three weeks.

He said that one of the issues was `technical’ withdrawal of workers’ promotion earlier approved by the state Gov. Abiola Ajimobi, which the beneficiaries enjoyed for few months.

“The promotion was approved by the governor in February 2018, which implementation commenced in March 2018, and a good number of workers started enjoying it.

To our surprise, by September 2018, the promotion was technically withdrawn by the Oyo State Government, and this led to setting up of a committee to meet the government to explain the reason.

“Other issues are outstanding salaries of workers in local governments and primary schools. They are yet to collect their December 2018 salaries which others have collected.

“In some local governments, workers are owed salaries of three to five months; this is why we said government must do the necessary things to ensure that workers are paid as and when due,’’ Olojede said.

According to him, a meeting between the committee and the government on Tuesday was inconclusive.

“This led to the declaration of the three-day warning strike. We had earlier notified the government of warning strike.’’

The NLC chairman added that there were crisis in  state-owned tertiary institutions.

He said that the institutions were facing one problem or the other and owed salaries and allowances, regretting that the situation had led to industrial unrest in the institutions.

FG installs tracker to ascertain petrol consumption

By News desk

Following disparity in statistics of Premium Motor Spirit  (PMS) also known as fuel consumed in Nigeria, the Federal Government has said that its new installed Sensor Monitoring Project will end the challenge facing the country.

According to Petroleum Equalisation Fund  (PEF), the sensor will help to track the exact quantity of the product consumed within the country.

The PEF Executive Secretary, Ahmed Bobboi, who disclosed this while addressing newsmen, on Tuesday in Abuja, said that the adoption of the monitoring mechanism was the outcome of the project embarked upon after a study to determine the technology gap assessment of its operations.

Bobboi added that PEF did the project in collaboration with other agencies in the petroleum industry.

According to him, the Sensor Monitoring project will address the diversion of petroleum products and provide consumption data to critical agencies of government to help in economic planning.

“Up to today, it is difficult to determine the actual quantity of fuel consumed in this country. Different agencies give you different figures and I think it is not tidy.  With the introduction of the Sensor Monitoring project, we believe it would serve to answer all the questions.

“The project for the Sensor Monitoring which was approved by the Federal Executive Council was supposed to last for three years, but work has already started.

“Work has started, some of the equipment we are going to use,  such as the ICT equipment are being produced now; the contractor has already mobilised on site, work has started already.

“The question is when do we begin to see the effect?  By six months, we would begin to feel something, at the end of one year, we would begin to see something. Maybe before the end of this year, we would begin to see some of the landmarks of this project.” he said

He further noted that the Fund had planned to commence equalisation of petroleum products through the railway  but was suspended due to the proposed policies of the Federal Government.

He said that PEF was waiting to determine the direction of the government as regards the rail system, so that it could enter into discussions with the eventual managers of the railway on the modalities for the transportation of PMS  and Liquefied Petroleum Gas,(LPG) through the railways.

“We planned to introduce the railway equalisation programme last year, but certain developments delayed it.  One of the development is the government policy of divesting from that area, because government is considering the concessioning the management of the railway system.

“We want to wait and see who will end up managing the railway, whether it is governments or the private sector, so that we would discuss with them and agree on the modalities.” he added

Bobboi said that  PEF was also considering transportation of petroleum products through the waterways, adding that the introduction of alternative means of transportation of the products would reduce the pressures on the roads and create employment opportunities for Nigerians.

“We are also thinking about marine transportation in the near future.  This is because we believe that if we introduce alternative means of transporting the products, it would reduce the pressure on our roads, reduce the wear and tear of the roads.

“It  will also create job opportunities for people who want to work in those areas,” Bobboi noted.

Commenting on Aquila 2 project , he said that the project had not been abandoned but had been subsumed inside the Network Sensor Monitoring project

‘Aquila 2’ project, was expected to monitor products movement from receiving depot up to the retail outlet of the oil marketers.