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Showing posts with label The Nation Nigeria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Nation Nigeria. Show all posts

Friday, 23 June 2017


End discrimination, harmful practices against widows -UN Women

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) has called for an end to all forms of discrimination and harmful practices against widows.

The UN Women, in a statement for the 2017 International Widows’ Day commemorated on June 23, called for the protection of widows’ rights to independent life and livelihood.

“Although accurate information is limited, it has been estimated that there are some 285 million widows around the world, with over 115 million of them living in deep poverty.

“Data on women’s status are often not disaggregated by marital status, so at every level of gender statistics, from national to global, widows are not visible.

“Yet we know that many elderly widows face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, based on their gender, age, rural location or disability.

“Others are still young when they lose their husbands, perhaps as a result of conflict or because they were married as children to a much older man. These women face a long lifetime of widowhood.

“Along with the shock of losing a spouse, the situation for widows is often compounded by stigma and social isolation.

“In many countries, widows are stripped off their rights to assets such as land, income and property. Without access to social protection, they face destitution,’’ the UN Women said.

According to the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law 2016 report, out of 173 countries, 90 per cent have at least one law limiting women’s economic participation, including constraints on their ability to inherit or own land.

The UN Women said repealing these discriminatory laws was not only ethical but  a mandate of the Sustainable Development Goals as the first target of Goal 5 is to `end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere’.

Action on these could impact the lives of millions of widows who are currently dependent on their husbands for their livelihoods, the UN agency said.

The UN Women pledged its commitment to working with Member States and civil society to ensure the rights of widows.

“This includes providing women with information on access to a fair share of their inheritance, land and productive resources; pensions and social protection that are not based on marital status alone; decent work and equal pay; and education and training opportunities.

“Widows must be empowered to support themselves and their families. This also means addressing social stigmas that create exclusion, and discriminatory or harmful practices.

“Such stigma include those in Togo, where a widow can be required to undergo a period of isolation and imprisonment, purification ceremonies to ‘cut the link’ with her deceased husband, and pressed to remarry.

“The Sustainable Development Goals call on all of us to include those who are at risk of being left behind.

“Let us work to ensure that all widows have the opportunity to build a new life after personal loss,’’ the UN Women said.

The UN agency said that women had inviolable rights that were not dependent on anyone else stressing they must be able to enjoy those rights whether they are single, married, separated or widowed.

The post End discrimination, harmful practices against widows -UN Women appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

from The Nation Nigeria

I use human parts to prepare charms, says suspect 

A 52-year-old herbalist allegedly found with human head was Friday paraded by the Lagos State Police Command.

Tosenu Lussien, who was arrested at Shagamu in Ogun State for trading in human parts, told reporters that he used it to prepare charms for his clients.

Lussien said he has been in the business for over five years, claimed that he picked the human skull in a forest where he worked as a guard.

He said: “This is the first time I am dealing with human parts. I found the skull five years ago in a forest at Oko-Ode and I kept it for future purpose. It was fresh when I saw it.

“I am an herbalist and I have been assisting people in different ways. This is the first time I will be dealing with human part. It was one of my in-laws that requested that I should help him get human head. He said he wanted to use it for business ritual and I promised to do something about it.

“Immediately I brought the skull home, I called my in-law on phone to come and see it and he gave N80,000 to prepare the charm for him. He promised to come for the charm but policemen came to arrest me.

“After he gave me the money, I received a call from someone that said he needed human part and I asked the person to pay N150,000. I did not know they were policemen until they came into my apartment and recovered the human skull.

“I believe it was my in-law that sold me to the police. I was only trying to assist him when he came to me that his car business was not moving very well. That was why I decided to assist him with the charm that will boost his business.”

Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Administration, Danladi Galandachi said the suspect usually charged N1m for fresh human part and between N200,000 to N150,000 for dried ones.


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from The Nation Nigeria

$1.2b Etisalat loan: CBN, NCC intervene to save jobs, asset stripping

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Friday intervened in the $1.2 billion controversial syndicated loan owed by Etisalat Nigeria to a consortium of 13 local banks.

The regulators’ intervention was to save jobs of over 4,000 workers employed by Etisatat and prevent asset stripping.

Confirming the intervention of the two regulators in the loan dispute, the CBN Spokesman, Isaac Okorafor said: “Although it should ordinarily not be the role of a regulator to decide how individual bad loans are resolved, the CBN believes that Etisalat is a systemically important telecommunications company with over 20 million subscribers that if not well handled, may have negative implications for the banking system itself.

He further explained that the CBN and NCC, sensing that banks might go ahead in the usual way and downsize the company’s over 4,000 staff, reached an agreement to intervene and implore the consortium of banks to reassess its position in dealing with Etisalat.

Okorafor described some media reports insinuating handwriting by CBN on the issue as “the height of mischief and insensitivity” explaining that the collaborative move by the regulators was aimed at preventing job losses and asset stripping and to ensure that Etisalat remains in business and is able to pay back the loans.

According to him, the CBN and the NCC, in the coming days, will meet with the syndicate of banks and the IHS Towers, the tower managers and the equipment suppliers, in order to achieve what he termed “a win-win outcome” for all stakeholders.

It will be recalled that Etisalat has been embroiled with a consortium of 13 Nigerian Banks that gave it a facility of about US$1.2 billion, on which the company has been unable to meet its repayment obligations in line with agreed terms of the facility.

Given the inability of Etisalat to come to an acceptable agreement with the banks, the largest shareholder in the company, Dubai-based Mubadala Development Company of the United Arab Emirates, has now pulled out of the company as well as the ongoing negotiations, leaving only their local partners, led by Hakeem Belo-Osagie, to carry the burden.

It was based on the attempt of the banks to take over the company that the financial and telecommunications regulators have moved in to intervene and forestall down-sizing and asset stripping.

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from The Nation Nigeria

Taraba governor’s media aide is dead

Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Media and Publicity to Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State, Sylvanus Yakubu Giwa died Friday.

It was not clear what caused his demise, but unconfirmed report said he died of congestive heart failure.

Governor Ishaku, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS) Hassan Mijinyawa, has commiserated with Giwa’s family on the death which he described as sudden.

Ishaku described the late Giwa as a hardworking professional who stood firmly by the lofty ideals of the journalism profession and by the interest of the people of Taraba State.

Giwa died at the Federal Medical Centre, Jalingo.

The deceased was the General Manager of the Taraba Television during the Jolly Nyame administration.

He served as Governor Danbaba Suntai’s SSA Media and Publicity Assistant and was returned in the position by Governor Ishaku in 2015.



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from The Nation Nigeria

Violation of rights: Blind man threatens legal action against Odili’s clinic



A man with disability, Thompson Iroulo, has threatened to drag Dr. Peter Odili’s Pamo Clinic and Hospital Limited for alleged violation of his human rights .

Iroulo, a former staff of the hospital who spoke Friday in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, alleged that the management of the clinic has refused to pay attention to his health condition, as well pay all his outstanding arrears since 2014.

Addressing newsmen, Iroulo lamented that his family has been facing hardship since he lost his sight.

He appealed on the Director General of the hospital, a former governor of the state, Dr. Peter Odili to intervene in the situation.

He claimed that he had accident while in active service in the hospital resulting to his sight impairment and expressed pain that the hospital abandoned him when his health situation worsened.

However, a Human Rights Advocate, Barr Higher King, who had already written to the clinic, condemned the alleged violation of rights and called on the state government and management of the Pamo Clinic and Hospital to quickly look into the matter.

King advised the hospital to immediately take the victim to India for medical treatment, pay N50 million damages to him (Iroulo) and all his outstanding salaries from 2014 till date.

The rights advocate recalled that the victim was employed into the hospital in 1987 and that he (the victim) encountered the accident that led to his loss of sight in 2002.

He revealed that the company had in February 2009 directed him (Iroulo), through a letter to sit-at-home and that the clinic would be paying his salary, but worried that the agreement had since been breached.

Meantime, in a swift reaction, the Managing Director of the Hospital, Dr. Oluchi Nzinwa has described the allegations as untrue, stating that the victim had developed the eye problem before been employed at the hospital.


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from The Nation Nigeria

UAE accuses Qatar of leaking demands, foiling mediation

The United Arab Emirates on Friday accused Qatar of derailing mediation efforts by leaking the list of demands sent by his country and the three other Arab states that cut ties with Doha over its alleged support for terrorism.

Qatar’s emir “must realise that the solution to his crisis is not with Tehran, Beirut or Ankara, or Western capitals and the media, but [a solution] is through the return of confidence in him by his neighbours,” UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, wrote on Twitter.

“Qatar leaking demands and concerns of its neighbors & Egypt either attempt to undermine serious mediation or yet another sign of callous policy,” wrote Gargash in a string of tweets on his official account.

He warned that “leakage will further exasperate and prolong the Qatar crisis.”

Kuwait has handed Qatar a list of demands by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, the Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera reported earlier Friday.

Kuwait said the list has not been sanctioned by either Qatar or Kuwait, which has been trying to mediate between the two sides.

Gargash argued that the “crisis is real” and is being ignited by the “confused” administration of Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

“Sometimes, divorce is better,” Gargash wrote.

The Qatari emir’s role in providing “funding, a media and political platform” to serve “the agenda of extremism cannot be accepted,” he said.

Al Jazeera Media Network is owned and funded by the Qatari royal family.

The network, especially the Arabic-language channel, has repeatedly angered Arab leaders since its establishment in 1996, shaking up a broadcasting world until then dominated by government mouthpieces.

One of the biggest disputes was in 2002, when Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador to Doha to protest at Al Jazeera’s “negative” coverage of Saudi politics.

In recent years, critics have argued that it is strongly supportive of Islamists, especially Egypt’s now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik attacked the demands presented to Qatar, which reportedly includes shutting down a Turkish military base in the small Gulf country.

“I have not seen this request formally yet, but it might mean intervention in bilateral relations,” he said, according to private broadcaster NTV.

“I say that the Turkish base in Qatar is for the training of Qatari soldiers, for the security of Qatar and the region. Nobody should be bothered by this.

“There is no such consideration to bring this agreement back to the table,” Isik added.

On June 5, the four countries severed diplomatic ties and transportation links with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

Doha has repeatedly denied the accusations.

The four countries have not made their demands public yet.

Later in June, several African countries cut relations with Qatar and others downgraded ties.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged the Arab countries involved in a diplomatic spat with Qatar to present their demands.

“Our role has been to encourage the parties to get their issues on the table, clearly articulated, so that those issues can be addressed and some resolution process can get underway to bring this to a conclusion,” he said.

“Our desire is for unity within the Gulf,” he added.

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from The Nation Nigeria

Policeman beaten to death by enraged crowd in India

Police in Indian-controlled Kashmir said on Friday one of their officers had been beaten to death by a crowd outside the main mosque in the region’s capital of Srinagar, in a rare lynching there of a security official.

Witnesses said worshippers had spotted the policeman, Mohammed Pandit, at the mosque in plainclothes, taking photographs of people leaving shortly after midnight.

When they confronted him, a brawl broke out and Ayub fired his gun, wounding three people before the crowd began attacking him, the witnesses said.

Two people suspected of involvement in the attack have been arrested, Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police S. P. Vaid told reporters.

The attack occurred while a separatist leader was speaking inside the mosque amid tight security on Laylat al Qadr, one of the holiest nights of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since 1947, and a separatist movement against Indian rule has raged for decades in the Indian part of it.

Hostility toward the Indian state, which Kashmiris accuse of widespread rights abuses, often boils over into violence.

Year 2016 has seen frequent clashes between security forces and civilian protesters.

Police said however that the beating to death of an officer was unusual.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said the policeman was at the mosque doing his duty.

“This was a shameless act,” Mufti said.

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from The Nation Nigeria

NDLEA arrests 204 drug suspects, seizes 1,430.51kg illicit drugs in Adamawa

The National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said it arrested 204 drug suspects and seized 1,430.51kg illicit drugs in Adamawa between January and June.

Mr Yakubu Kibo, the NDLEA Commandant in the state, who confirmed the arrest and seizure at a news conference on Friday, also said that 50 suspects were convicted during the period.

Kibo said that during period, the command “Drug Demand Reduction Unit’’ counseled and rehabilitated a significant number of people who were involved in the use of illicit drugs.

“From January to June 2017, the command arrested 204 drug suspects, secure 50 convictions and seized illicit drugs weighing 1,430.51 kilogrammes.

“Also in the months under review, 28 persons with drug related cases were counseled and rehabilitated,’’ Kibo said.

He said that currently, seven drug addicts were undergoing similar counseling and rehabilitation in the command.

The commandant said that the seized drugs are: cannabis sativa, cocaine, tramafol and diazepam tablets, pentazocin injections, cough syrup with codeine and rahypnol tablets.

He commended the cordial working relationship between the agency relevant agencies and the Adamawa Government.

Kibo, however, appealed for more support from state government in the areas of grassroots anti-drug abuse enlightenment, as well as provision of operational vehicles for effective service delivery.

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from The Nation Nigeria

Kenya: Three killed in northeast bank attack

Police said attackers shot and killed three people in a raid on a commercial bank in northeast Kenya’s on Friday.

Police commander Charles Chacha said that the civilians and a police officer died in the attack in Mandera County.

“There were five armed gangsters. When they arrived at the bank, they shot the officer at the door, and the police managed to shoot one of the criminals, but …they escaped,” Chacha told Reuters by phone.

In another development, the Kenya Red Cross also said an improvised explosive device had also been detonated on a road in the same town but no injuries had been reported.

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from The Nation Nigeria

‘NB sources 99% packaging materials locally for sustainable development’

As part of efforts for sustainable development in the manufacturing sector, the Nigerian Breweries (NB) Plc, says it sources 99 per cent of its packaging materials locally.

Mr Patrick Olowookere, the Corporate Communications and Brand Public Relations Manager of the company, made the disclosure at the Ibadan brewing plant on Thursday.

Olowookere said that the percentage covered locally manufactured cans, crown corks, crates, bottles and labels among others, which were all part of strategic partnerships with local manufacturers.

“Before now, we used to source our canning materials from Europe and as time went by, we realised that it was not sustainable.

“We decided to look at backward integration which is the only way to promote sustainability and local content development.

“NB then partnered with a company called GZ International for the production of cans for its canning lines, while other packaging materials are also sourced locally at a cheaper cost.

“Now, we are at 99 per cent sourcing our packaging materials from local manufacturers with an assurance from NB that it will buy the materials they produce,’’ he said.

Olowookere also said that the company was more proactive in developing agricultural value chains like in the development of sorghum and food grade starch among others.

He said the company had been able to invest and built the biggest sorghum malting plant in Africa and, arguably globally.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NB produces about 2.6 million hectolitre of beer annually, and one hectolitre is 100 litres.

Also, of its 11 breweries in the country, only nine are up and running currently.

The major ones are sited in Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu, Aba and Kaduna.

The post ‘NB sources 99% packaging materials locally for sustainable development’ appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

from The Nation Nigeria

Brexit: UK offer, a good start – Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described United Kingdom plans to ensure the rights of European Union citizens in Britain after Brexit as “a good start.”

However, she said there were “many, many other questions” about Brexit and there was “still a lot to do.”

The UK proposal was unveiled by Prime Minister Theresa May at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday.

The BBC reports that it would grant EU migrants who had lived in the UK for five years at the cut-off date new “UK settled status.”

The cut-off date has yet to be announced, but will be sometime between March 2017 and the moment the UK actually leaves the EU.

Those who qualify for settled status will be allowed to stay in the country and access health, education and other benefits.

The plan is expected to affect 3.2 million EU citizens now living in the UK, around a million of whom have lived in the country less than five years.

Their rights – and the rights of UK citizens living in the rest of the EU – are among the thorny issues that have to be resolved early on in Brexit talks, along with the UK’s divorce bill and the Northern Ireland border.

The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, described the offer as a “first step,” but added it was “not sufficient.”

Mrs. Merkel was more positive, calling it a “good start.”

“Theresa May made clear today that EU citizens who have been in Great Britain for five years can keep their full rights. That’s a good start,” she said at the end of Thursday’s talks.

The post Brexit: UK offer, a good start – Merkel appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

from The Nation Nigeria

Eid-el-fitr: FRSC deploys 150 personnel in Bauchi metropolis

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Bauchi state command, says it will deploy over 150 of its officer to ensure hitch-free Eid –el-fitr celebration in Bauchi metropolis.

FRSC Sector Commander in the state, Mr Abdulrazak Najume, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Bauchi on Friday that in addition, all major roads leading to the state capital would be closed to traffic from 6am on Sallah day, to be opened after the prayer session.

He said the measure was taken to avoid traffic jam in the morning hours when Muslim faithful would troop out to the prayer ground, noting that in the past heavy trucks entering the metropolis had created problem during the prayer session.

“We will deploy 150 officers in Bauchi metropolis to ensure free flow of traffic; all federal roads will be closed from 6am on Eid day, till after the prayer session.

“This is to avoid traffic jam that is usually caused by heavy trucks coming into or moving out of the metropolis.

“The roads will be opened as soon as the prayer ends and the emir moves back to the palace,” he said.

The commander called on celebrants, to be law-abiding and adhere to traffic rules, just as he reminded those travelling that ‘life has no spare parts,’ hence the need to wear seat belts and observe speed limit.

Meanwhile, the Bauchi Police command had reminded the public of the ban on use of fire crackers during festivities.

In a statement issued by the command through its spokesman, it said use of fire crackers was risky, as such would not be tolerated.

“The use of Knock-outs, Fire crackers and other forms of fireworks in the town constitute serious security risk as it is capable of misleading security personnel, as well as instill  fear in the minds of peace loving citizens.

“In view of this, parents and guardians are advised to warn their children not to use Knock-outs as the law governing the sales, purchase and use of Fireworks is still in force,” it said.

The command said it was fully prepared to ensure that law-abiding citizens of the state enjoyed Eid-el-fitr peacefully.

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Enugu pledges to move school-aged children off streets

The Enugu State Government has pledged to compulsorily move all school-aged children off the streets and back to schools soon.

The state’s Commissioner for Gender Affairs, Princess Peace Nnaji, made this pledge while addressing members of Gender Equality Movement (GEM) on Thursday in Enugu.

The members of GEM had embarked on a rally advocating that under-aged children should be kept off the streets and roads within Enugu metropolis.

The placards in the rally reads: “Keep Children off the Street, They Need Education; People Should Stop Using Children for Begging; Education Gives Children a Brighter Future and Please, Government Do All You Can to Rescue these Children.’’

Nnaji, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Sunny Okafor, said that the ministry was coming up with a modality to get children off the streets while following due diligence and human rights.

“The ministry is seriously concerned and as fathers and mothers, we see these children roaming the streets while others are used for alms begging.

“However, we are working out a modality with our partners and security agencies to ensure we evolve the best way to civilly remove these children from the streets and fix them in schools where they should be.

“We also needed the collaboration of GEM to ensure that you carry this advocacy to your individual homes, neighbourhood, streets and council areas in order to enlighten our people to ensure their wards are enrolled in school,’’ she said.

Nnaji noted that Gov. Ifeanyi Uguwanyi personally sponsored the Child Right Act bill in the state and ensured it was passed as well as signed into law.

“Our governor had remained a child-friendly governor that promoting the rights of children as well as their health through free healthcare for children, especially those under the age of five,’’ he said.

Earlier, the Leader of GEM, Mrs Ijeoma Uzoma, said that the advocacy was meant to draw the attention of the people of the state to the growing menace of under-aged and school-age children roaming the streets.

Uzoma noted that GEM felt concerned that the future of such children might be bleak if no concerted effort was done by the society including the government, organisations and groups to get them back to school.

“We have watched with dismal the overwhelming number of these children growing in the state, especially within Enugu, Nsukka and other metropolis in the state.

“GEM believe that it is high time this issue is tackled to give hope and sense of belonging to these children to guaranty them a brighter future,’’ she said.

A total of 100 volunteers carried placards across Enugu metropolis; the areas covered included: Ogui Road; Asata Road and Roundabout and Presidential Road before terminating at the ministry.

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$1.2bn loan: Banks deny Etisalat takeover

Consortium of 13 banks involved in Etisalat Nigeria loan on Thursday refuted reports that they have taken over the operations of the company.

A management source close to the banks who pleaded anonymity told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that there was no truth in the report making the round.

The source said that the banks major interest was the loan repayment borrowed by the company and not takeover.

“We are not telecommunication companies, all we want is our money,” he said.

The source said that the company must pay back the loans in order not to jeopardise the economy, jobs, payment of dividends and depositors funds.

He stated that it was not only the banks that would suffer but billions of Nigerians, even the vendors and distributors doing business with the company.

“We did not take over Etisalat as being insinuated, if we have taken over, it has to be registered with the CAC.

“They are still doing their business, they just want to weep up sentiment at the United Arab Emirates (UAE),” the source added.

He added that the company had about 20 million subscribers, adding that any interruption would affect many businesses, especially SMES.

According to the source, the affected Nigerian banks are owed about 570 million dollars out of the 1.2 billion dollars syndicated loan with the balance being owed vendors and distributors, among others.

The source said that Etisalat wanted to pay only 10 per cent of the loan borrowed and requested that others should be written off as non-performing loan.

He said that Etisalat wanted the consortium of banks to pay 50 million dollars out of 570 million dollars being owed, which the banks rejected.

The source added that the banks practically reduced the debt to between 20 per cent and 30 per cent at a discounted interest rate of six per cent below the market rate which was rejected by Etisalat.

“All we are requesting is for the Federal Government to wade into the issue and carry out due diligence on what the loan was used for.

“A foreign company cannot come and ride us in Nigeria, if this issue is not handled carefully, others will do the same thing,” the source said.

The source said that the company was avoiding negotiations which made the affected banks to fly to London earlier in the year to have a discussion with a company with its office in Nigeria.

He said that the company was advised earlier before naira devaluation to convert the foreign loans to local currency due to fall in oil price at the global market, which it also rejected.

UAE’s Etisalat had on June 20, said that it had been instructed to transfer its 45 per cent stake in Etisalat Nigeria to a loan trustee.

Etisalat said it had been notified to transfer its stake by June 23. It said the stake had a carrying value of zero on its books.

In the last few months, Etisalat Nigeria has been in talks with Nigerian banks to restructure a 1.2 billion dollars loan after missing repayments.

The loan is a seven-year facility agreed with 13 banks in 2013 to refinance a 650 million dollars loan and fund expansion of the telco’s network.

Although the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stepped into the fray to prevent a takeover by the banks, those discussions failed to produce an agreement on restructuring the debt.


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Chris Giwa defects to PDP, says it holds key to better Nigeria

Mr Chris Giwa, ACN candidate for the Plateau governorship seat in 2011, has defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Giwa, proprietor of Giwa FC of Jos, who was received at the party’s secretariat in Jos on Thursday, said that he opted for the PDP because he was convinced that it held the key to a better Nigeria.

“Nigerians have tested and tasted the PDP and the APC; from experience, the average Nigerian believes that PDP is a better option. I have opted to go with the majority,” he said.

Giwa, who said that he had “no immediate ambition”, promised to work for the return of Sen. Jonah Jang (PDP, Plateau North), to the senate in 2019.

In an address to welcome Giwa, Jang said that the PDP in Plateau was intact and ready to regain power in 2019.

“We had a setback in 2015 but we have put that behind and moved on. The defeat was a temporary setback that has made up stronger after realising our mistakes,” he said.

Jang cautioned PDP members against the temptation to jump ship simply because the party was out of power, and declared that those doing so would regret “very soon”.

He stressed the need for the PDP to remain united, saying that a divided opposition had no chance against an incumbent government.

“As your leaders, we will do everything within our powers to ensure that the PDP remains a strong and united entity.

“It is good to have an ambition, but no ambition is more than the PDP because it is the platform through which we can achieve such ambitions,” he said.

Jang assured PDP members that there would be no imposition of candidates, and advised those interested in seeking elective positions to reach out to the people.

Plateau PDP Chairman Damishi Sango in his remarks said that the party was stronger with Giwa in its fold.

Sango tasked members on discipline, noting that nothing would be achieved if members were not focused and discipline toward achieving set goals.

“The party is supreme; every member must respect it,” he said.

Other top PDP members that welcomed Giwa included Sen. Jeremiah Useni (PDP, Plateau South), national and state assembly members, as well as former ministers and commissioners.

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Delta, private firm, sign MoU for $20m oil palm project

The Delta Government has signed a 20 million dollars Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Norsworthy Investment Limited, a private firm, for the cultivation of 3,000 acres of oil palm and processing plant project.

The MoU for the project which would be sited at Akwukwu-Igbo community, Oshimili North Local Government Area of the state, was signed in Asaba on Thursday by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Festus Agas.

Agas reiterated the commitment of the state government to provide the needed support for investment towards developing every sector of the state economy.

He said: “Upon the inception of this present administration in the state, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa, expressed his commitment to create an enabling environment for investement to thrive.

“The governor is committed to creating jobs and as such ensure a massive investment drive to grow our economy.

He pointed out that Okowa’s administration placed high premium on agriculture, saying that agriculture remains the mainstay of the state economy.

He lauded the management of Norsworthy Investment for its interest in developing the state, assuring the firm that the state government would provide every necessary support to make the project a success.

“In my opinion, I think this is most strategic MoU we have signed with a private firm so far.

“I want to say here that it is a laudable move that will not only create jobs, but also bring development to the area.”

Agas called on other investors both local and foreign to emulate Norsworthy and take advantage of the enabling investment environment in the state to help grow the state economy.

Also, the Commissioner for Economic Planning, Mr Kingsley Emu, said the signing of the agreement marked the highpoint of a business plan hatched over eight months ago by both parties.

According to him, what we are witnessing today is the highpoint of a meeting held about eight months ago between the state government and Norsworthy Limited.

“Sometime ago, the company approached the Delta state government requesting for three thousand acres of land to enable them grow oil palm plantation for agricultural value chain development.

Emu said following the request, the state government approached the people of Akwukwu-Igbo community and the community volunteered to provide the needed land.

According to Emu, the people of Akwukwu-Igbo, led by their monarch, Chief Obi David Azuka,  have provided the three thousand acres of land, which have been inspected and ready for the take of the project.

The commissioner said that the land provided was highly productive considering its richness in agricultural production, and expressed the hope that the investment would be of mutual benefit to the state and the company.

“It is our believe that this strategic move by Norsworthy will open up the area and create jobs for our people,” Emu said.

Earlier, the Chairman of Norsworthy Investment Limited, Dr Gabriel Ogbechie, expressed the determination of the company to contribute its quota in the development of Delta.

Ogbechie said: “We are very passionate when it comes to investment, not only in Delta but elsewhere because investment brings development to the people and grows the economy of its area of operation.

“I want to commend Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa for his vision and commitment to bring development to the state, and we are ready to bring our own contribution to growing the Delta economy.”

Ogbechie, who is also the chairman of Rainoil Nigeria Limited, a leading player in the nation’s petroleum industry, said Nigeria was blessed with veritable agricultural land that should be utilised to improve the fortunes of the nation.

He said with the signing of the MoU, the company would be moving to site as early as possible to commence clearing work so that the project could start in the shortest possible time.

“As a company, we are going to inject an initial 20 million dollars into the project to take off, and as we move on, more funds will be inject to expand and grow the investment.

“Also, I see this project creating over five thousand jobs for our people. I can assure the people of this state that this project is going to improve the economy of Delta state,” Ogbechie said.

NAN reports that the occasion was attended by some members of the Delta Executive Council, management team of Norsworthy Investment Limited and a representative of Akwukwu-Igbo community, Dr Ben Iwezu.

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Edo signs MoU with Nigeria Institute of Welding to establish Fabrication Village

The Edo Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigeria Institute of Welding (NIW) to establish  a Fabrication Village in the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Governor Godwin Obaseki signed on behalf of the state government, while Dr Solomon Edeberi, the president of NIW signed on behalf of the school.

The ceremony was held at the Edo Government House in Benin on Thursday.

Obaseki said the aim of the MoU was to fast-track the industrialisation process of the state.

“Industrialisation is the core of my administration and at the core of industrialisation is fabrication, and welding drives fabrication.

“We are very excited to work with you and it is an understanding that we will give life to,’’ he said.

He noted that Human Capital was needed to coordinate all aspects of development and commended the institute for its initiative to train human capacity in state.

According to the governor, the MoU with the institute will give the state global access to welding processes and technological capacity to have welding colonies.

The governor also assured of provision of power to the proposed fabrication site in the state.

Earlier, Edeberi said the signing of the MoU showed the level of confidence the state government had in the institute.

He assured that the team working on the fabrication project would bring its wealth of experience to bear to justify the confidence reposed on them.

The institute’s president said that the school would work with all aspect of the state to ensure that professionalism was brought into technical training.

“We will work to actualise your vision of a technologically driven state and bring up a centre for welding and technology.

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Battle for NLNG’s soul

I knew it would not just pull through without a fight. But, I never knew the fight would be this epic. The battle for and against the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited is gaining supporters by the day. The latest entrant to the ring is Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike. NLNG Limited’s operational base is in Bonny Island, Rivers State. Wike believes NLNG deserves to be protected and he is mobilising for it. This means there are chances of seeing other governors from the region queuing behind Wike to join NLNG Limited’s squad against the National Assembly.

It is all about the move to amend the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited Act. The Rivers governor does not believe there is any need for the Act to be tampered with. He plans to stop the amendment, which has already received the blessing of the House of Representatives. All eyes are now on the Senate, which is yet to concur.

Wike’s position is not shared by the Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON), which wants the amendment concluded as soon as possible.

The monarchs from the nine crude oil-producing states have berated the NLNG Limited for kicking against the amendment.

The TROMPCON members, in their position paper read by the National Chairman, HRM Eze Akuwuez Ikegwuruku, the paramount ruler of Mgbirichi/Abakuru land in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State, enumerated what they considered the benefits of the amendment.

“The NLNG, as a gas-processing company, must be made to comply with Section 14 (1) (b) of the NDDC Act, which stipulates that 3 per cent of the total annual budget of any oil producing company operating onshore and offshore in the Niger Delta,  including gas processing, under which NLNG is supposed to be, goes to the NDDC.

“While we acknowledge the fact that Section 2 of the NLNG Act gives NLNG what is called a tax-relief period, the fiscal incentives are very clear in terms of their duration, as they are purely for a period of ten years. NLNG has enjoyed the incentives for almost 18 years, without paying levies, because the law says the incentives commenced on the commencement of first operation. We all know that the first train came into operation in September 1999.”

As far as Wike is concerned, the monarchs can tell that to the marines. Speaking  on Tuesday night at the Government House Port Harcourt during a visit by the management of the NLNG Limited, Wike said the state government would mobilise the  state’s representatives at the National Assembly to ensure that the amendment fails. He also wants the Federal Government to work against it because of the negative multiplier effect it would have on the economy.

The Act, which started out as a military decree, has been in existence for close to 30 years. If the amendment is allowed, our jewel of inestimable value and Bonny Island’s dearest will never be the same again.

The amendment aims to end the company’s status as dollar denominated, which was agreed on to protect the company against Naira’s flip-flop. The National Assembly also seeks to make its subsidiary, Bonny Gas Transport Company, pay tax in Nigeria. It also plans to make NLNG pay three per cent of its annual revenue to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), pay three per cent of gross freight on international inbound and outbound cargo to NIMASA, pay two per cent of contracts performed by companies engaged in cabotage and pay one per cent of any contract award upstream to the government.

Bonny Island, where NLNG is located, was without form until Shell the light. Mobil saw it later. The Nigerian LNG Limited saw it over two decades ago when work started on Africa’s largest LNG plant. They all liked the place and the promise there. The Federal Government, which has interest in all of these ventures, too knows what the country stands to gain from Bonny Island, which hosts the country’s only port of origin.

Of these companies in Bonny, NLNG seems dearest to the indigenes. It is their pride. Through it, they enjoy uninterrupted power supply, among other dividends. For Nigeria, it is both our pride and cash-cow.

You will understand better what NLNG means to Nigeria if you listened to Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Director (GMD) Dr. Maikanti Baru  some months back on an NTA programme.

To Baru, the Bonny NLNG is one of the biggest success stories of the oil and gas industry. This company, Baru said, has generated $90 billion revenue, $30 billion dividends and contributed four per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Baru believes this move against the NLNG Act has dampened the optimism of investors in the industry.

“The review of the NLNG Act by the National Assembly is causing a challenge for the Federal Government and the IOCs and it is sending wrong signals to the international community about how business is done in the country,” he said.

The NLNG has been a darling and should be allowed to remain so. Let me cite this particular example: When President Muhammadu Buhari came in, the Federal Government initiated a bailout package for states owing their workers. The bulk of the money which made up the N400 billion package came from proceeds from the Bonny Island, Finima, Rivers State-based company.

This darling, which was incorporated some 30 years ago but its first cargo of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) did not leave the Bonny Port until ten years later, rose so fast that it became the fourth largest supplier of LNG. The company has also paid over $5.5billion as Companies Income Tax, Tertiary Education Tax, WHT, VAT and PAYE. Regulators’ levies and other fees have led to the company coughing out over N51billion.

Former Coordinating Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala visited the NLNG Plant on Bonny Island, Rivers State on November 15, 2013. She described the NLNG as an asset to Nigeria, a shining example of a successful company and a beacon of hope for a better Nigeria. She described the NLNG as the most successful Nigerian company with 49 per cent government ownership.

The planned seventh train of the NLNG plant will bring in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) estimated at over $8 billion, help reduce flared gas and improve the country’s revenue profile. With Train 7, the NLNG, said industry watchers, would provide about 10,000 jobs. Since it opened shop in Bonny, NLNG Limited has provided over 2,000 jobs each construction year and 18,000 jobs at the peak of construction. The government, they said, will also reap an additional $2.2 billion annually in dividend.

This Act under threat is a contract between the Federal Government and the NLNG shareholders. The thrusts of this contract include incentives, concessions, guarantees and assurances, which were reaffirmed in Letters of Assurance to lenders for the Nigeria LNG Trains 4 and 5 expansions by the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice and the Central Bank.

The incentives, concessions, guarantees and assurances are not uncommon in the global LNG industry. They are used in countries, such as Qatar, Oman, Malaysia, Angola and others to support and grow their LNG plants. The guarantees are to assure foreign investors that their investments will be protected.

These alterations planned by the National Assembly are against the guarantees and assurances Nigeria entered into with the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and others. The National Assembly needs to forget its feeling that the NLNG is enjoying a rare privilege. Firms in free trade zones enjoy almost absolute exemptions from taxes and levies. NLNG enjoys partial exemptions. Since 2010, it started paying Companies Income Tax, because its exemption from this expired in 2009.

My final take: The sponsors of the amendment believe the NLNG has cheated the people of the Niger Delta by not contributing to the purse of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). I do not share this sentiment because even the bulk of the money released for the development of the region has ended up in private pockets. There are also reasons to believe that the brains behind the amendment are into it because of what they have gained and what they still stand to gain.

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