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Business and Economy (268)

The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) has held the first ever “Investment Forum for Women Entrepreneurs” in the country with a view to providing them with opportunity to present their projects and business ideas and explore avenues for funding through the relevant agencies of government  that would assist or counsel them as appropriate.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mrs. Uju Aisha Hassan Baba while addressing the Women Entrepreneurs noted that there is need to recognize the role women are playing in economic transformation of the country despite the challenging environment and to also draw attention to the need to give them the support they require in order to match the contributions of their peers in other climes where concerted efforts have been made to open up the economic space for their effective participation.

She observed “that globally, the number of women starting their own businesses is rising quickly as countries everywhere are realizing the untapped growth potential of female entrepreneurs, but however the needs of female entrepreneurs are often overlooked by policy makers and their stories are left untold in the media” adding “this scenario has to change, starting with this forum”.

The NIPC Chief Executive pointed out that the Commission’s focus on women is in recognition of the role women investors are playing in providing the required linkages through their small scale businesses and to highlight their potentials in order to expand their businesses if given adequate attention and support, stressing that interactions like the forum with relevant stakeholders will engender networking with critical support institutions such as financiers, facilitators, regulators and enablers as well as investment partners.

She informed the participants that in line with the focus of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, to diversify the economy, the NIPC has evolved a new Strategic Framework tagged, ‘NIPC Diamond’ which aims at ‘Taking Nigeria to a Future Beyond Oil’. The salient features of the strategy covers Investment Climate; Financial value chain; Sectorial and geographic prioritization; Regulatory support and investor aftercare; Market Intelligence; Mega Projects and Investors (Game changers); National Branding and Image and Investor Engagement Platforms.

The strategy she highlighted are aimed at among attracting investments into critical sectors of the economy like Industry, Agriculture and Services, in order to expand national output, diversify exports, cut imports, and increase government income;enabling sectors like Power, Transport, and other Infrastructure which will improve productivity and competitiveness in the economy; and promoting economic Linkages and technology transfer between major projects and smaller adjacent businesses to boost employment.

The inaugural investment forum for the Nigerian women entrepreneurs, is a joint initiative of the NIPC and the LAKAJI Development Alliance, pursuant to NIPC’s mandate of mobilizing investments for economic development.

The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) in her quest to ensure that adequate conducive and enabling environment is provided for potential and existing investors has inaugurated an inter-ministerial Committee on “Doing Business and Competitiveness” and “Investor’s After Care services”.

The two Committees were constituted in order to reduce the challenges faced by both local and foreign investor in doing business in Nigeria and the members are drawn from other relevant Government Agencies.

 The Director, National Competitiveness and Policy Advocacy (DNCPA), Mr. James Ebuetse inaugurated the Committees on behalf of the Executive Secretary/CEO of NIPC, Mrs. Uju Aisha Hassan Baba on Thursday in Abuja. In her address the NIPC Chief Executive stated that the main objectives of the Committees is to review the causes for the unimpressive ratings of the economy by various global rating agencies which had affected investor’s confidence and consequently the net flow of direct capital in the economy.

The NIPC Chief Executive noted that as Government Institutions, the responsibility for promoting private sector participation in the economy must be collective and as individual expected to ensure that Nigeria’s business environment improves on the competitive advantage in attracting and retaining direct investment capital, stressing that “at NIPC the ultimate objective is to ensure that all investments and investments processes are efficiently coordinated as well as proactively advocating for a business regulatory environment that would sustainably create jobs and wealth thereby guaranteeing secured living condition for the citizen”.

She enjoined the Technical Committee on Doing Business and Competitiveness to take an in-depth review of global reports in the context of the various MDAs with the comments from investors and organized private sectors and recommend improvement on the existing policies, while the Technical Committee on Investors Care was mandated to appraise complaints of investor operating in the economy and proffer policies that will ameliorate the challenges.  She therefore urged the members of the two Committees to face the task with utmost seriousness.

According to her, if the two committees are able to achieve the set goal, that will help in injecting Foreign direct investment into critical sectors of the economy, then they would have helped the Commission in carrying out its statutory function as the only agency of the Government that is mandated to coordinate, facilitate, monitor and advocate for favorable investment climate for both foreign and local investors. She assured them of her support in discharging their duties and realizing the set objectives.

The Executive Secretary observed that with the high abundant investment potentials that Nigeria possess, the country should be attracting more fresh capital than what it presently does, noting that the present quantum of Foreign Direct Investment of $6billion annually is a far cry from the economic agenda demands of $13 billion minimum private capital, and charged the Committees to come up with strategies that would ensure that recommendations advanced are adopted by Government and implemented by the agencies concerned.
The Technical Committee on Doing Business and Competitiveness is chaired by Mr. Olayinka Olanipekun, a Director from the Ministry of industry Trade and Investment while the Chairman of the Technical Committee on Investor After Care is Mr. Amos Sakaba, a Director in NIPC.

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency on Wednesday stormed and occupied the Lagos house of Chika Egwu Udensi, a crew member of the Arik Air flight W3101, who was arrested with 20 kilogrammes of cocaine at the London Heathrow Airport.

The NDLEA moved to the house after they had interrogated pilots and flight attendants of the flight that left the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos for London on Monday night. The interrogation lasted for several hours at the NDLEA head office in Lagos.

It was gathered that soon after the interrogation, the NDLEA moved to the suspect’s house in the Ejigbo area of Lagos State.

A source, who did not say if there were occupants in the house, told one of our correspondents that the NDLEA men were “currently occupying the house, and we will not leave here until we get all the evidence that we want.”

It was gathered that although the operatives had seized the suspect’s Range Rover, the NDLEA was still of the opinion that Udensi had other property.

The source said, ‘We are investigating if he has other property in Lagos or elsewhere. Some of them (suspected drug courier) live simple lives, but have other valuables stashed everywhere. We are searching for incriminating documents.”

On the interrogation, the NDLEA in a statement said the entire crew members including some support staff that worked on the flight before it departed Lagos appeared before narcotic investigators at the Ikoyi headquarters of the agency.

They include two pilots and members of the cabin crew comprising an Australian and a South African.

The statement by the NDLEA spokesperson, Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, read in part, “The invitation which was made by the agency was swiftly complied with by the management of Arik Air.

“The crew members were conveyed to the NDLEA office in an official bus belonging to Arik Air. This is part of ongoing investigation to determine their level of involvement in the smuggling of 20 kg of cocaine found with Chika Egwu Udensi, a member of the cabin crew in London.

“The latest Range Rover car belonging to the prime suspect parked on the airline’s premises had also been moved to the NDLEA office as exhibit.”

Ofoyeju also confirmed to one of our correspondents that the operatives went to the attendant’s house, adding, “Wait till tomorrow (Thursday). We will make a comprehensive statement on it.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer, NDLEA, Mr. Ahmadu Giade, was said to have promised to carry out an elaborate investigation into the ongoing case, stressing that all persons involved would be exposed and prosecuted.

“The agency has made remarkable progress in it counter-narcotic efforts and will resist any act capable of reversing the gains so far recorded,” he said.

However, findings by our correspondent revealed that the NDLEA and other aviation security officials were seriously grilling an Arik staff member working in the catering department who is believed to have assisted the suspect.

Security officials, it was learnt, believed that the suspect was assisted by some staff members of Arik catering department to move the 20 kilogrammes of cocaine into the aircraft.

One of the top security officials, who spoke to our correspondent under the condition of anonymity, said, “Security officials believe strongly that the 20kgs of cocaine might have been moved into the aircraft through the Arik’s catering department. There is a prime suspect in that department that is being interrogated specially.

“Normally, staff members of the catering department carrying foods from the airline office to the aircraft are not usually screened. Officials believe the bags containing the 20kgs of cocaine may have been taken through this route.”

“The reason for this is that there is a machine that searches the cabin crew members at the airline’s office before they go to the airport terminal to board the plane. So if the suspect carried it himself, he may have been caught. A major suspect in the catering department is going through series of interrogation.”

The Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ajjampur R. Ghanashyam, has revealed the dubious practice by former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison Madueke in selling crude to India through intermediaries, thus denying Nigeria’s treasury of the full proceed.

India is now Nigeria’s number one crude buyer, an importation that grosses $15 billion yearly.

But under Diezani Alison-Madueke, commission agents creamed away some of the billions, when Nigeria’s treasury ought to have enjoyed the full benefit. Nigeria is the only oil producing nation selling its oil this way. Other nations make the sale, country-country.

“From other countries, when we buy oil, whatever we want to pay, we pay to the Ministry of Finance of that country. In Nigeria, we pay to intermediaries. We would like to be dealing directly with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). It’s not a good thing. Why should we go through intermediaries?

“Secondly, we would also like to have long term agreement, which we have with many countries: Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other countries from where we buy oil. Nigeria is the only country with whom we don’t have an agreement. .. When we write a letter to NNPC, we don’t get a response,” Ghanashyam told Nigeria’s newspaper, Daily Trust.

The newspaper quoting NNPC 2014 Annual Statistical Bulletin reported that India bought 136,419,844 barrels of crude oil from Nigeria. The relationship continues.

The Indian High Commissioner added that apart from the lack of long-term agreement between the two countries on crude oil purchases, in 2006, an Indian company, Oil & Natural Gas Commission Videsh Limited (OVL) and Mittal Energy International, which is a joint venture between OVL, an Indian government company, and Mittal Energy a private firm, applied for oil concession. The Signature bonus sum of $25 million was paid, but neither was the oil concession granted nor the money paid returned to the Indian companies.

“How many years is it? Nine years. Even to get the concession is not possible, and the money is not refunded to us. For nine years your country has been sitting on this, and they make us go round and round and round. We buy $15 billion worth of crude oil per year and we have the potential of importing $50 billion worth of crude oil from Nigeria. We can buy more because our requirement is going up.

But if you continue to make us to pay through agents, and continue to ask us to buy from the swap market, it means you don’t trust us, and if you don’t trust us, we have to look for those who trust us more. We are making concessions to Nigeria by buying your crude oil because you’re our old friends and we’ve been friends for a long time, and your crude oil is better quality. But you must take our interest into account.”

The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Mrs. Uju Aisha Hassan Baba has called on Sector Regulators and relevant stakeholders to take  advantage of the Commission robust and interactive website to advertise

their Sectors for the attraction of both local and Foreign Investors.

The NIPC Chief Executive who made the call when she received in audience members of the Nigeria International Mining Investment Conference and Exhibition in her office stated that the Commission is very desirous to promote the Solid Mineral sector in her bid to take Nigeria to a future beyond oil.

She stated that the Commission’s website is very dynamic and is visited regularly by many investors and by placing adverts of their various Sectors on the site will enhance the promotion of their activities and provide detail information on their investments.

She reiterated the resolve of the Commission to partner with relevant stakeholders to promote the country’s abundant investment opportunities and attract beneficial investments into the economy, thereby create job for the teeming unemployed Nigerians and create wealth.

On the request by her visitors, she promised that the Commission will participate in the 2015 edition of Nigeria International Mining Investment Conference and Exhibition scheduled to hold in Abuja in November.

Earlier, the leader of the delegation Engr. Peter Obinna expressed the determination of her Organization to collaborate and work closely with the Commission to promote the Solid Mineral Sector which has not been tapped to its fullest yet. He stated that their organization has been working with state governments to identify the various Mineral deposits in their locations in order to promote them to would be investors.

He stated that their annual conference which always attracts many investors both local and foreign was meant to promote the sector.

Sunday, 23 August 2015 09:26

UN Chief Travels to Nigeria

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U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon travels to Nigeria on Sunday to meet the country's new president and to commemorate the anniversary of a deadly attack on the United Nation's building in Abuja.

U.N. officials said Friday that Ban will meet with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power in May, as well as other leaders from government, civil society and business.

U.N. spokeswoman Eri Kaneko says Ban is expected to discuss development, climate change, human rights, and countering violent extremism while in Nigeria.

He will also mark the anniversary of the 2011 suicide car bombing at the U.N. headquarters in Abuja, which killed 21 people.

The secretary-general then travels to Paris to discuss preparations for a major climate change conference to be held there in December. He will also meet with French President Francois Hollande.

Buhari took office in May, marking Nigeria's first democratic transfer of power since the end of military rule in 1999.

He has made fighting corruption and defeating Islamic militants top priorities of his new administration.

Nigeria's military under former president Goodluck Jonathan was heavily criticized for failing to stop the six-year Boko Haram insurgency. The militant group, which has pledged allegiance to the militant group Islamic State, has killed more than 10,000 Nigerians in its campaign to impose Islamic rule on northern Nigeria.

While violence has been a persistent problem in northern Nigeria, the country faces other major concerns, including corruption, electricity shortages and a precipitous drop in price of its largest hard currency export - oil.

 

ABUJA—IMMEDIATE past Secretary to the Federal Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim has been dragged before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over the multi-billion dollar Centenary City project.

In a petition dated July 21, 2015 and addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, National Vice Chairman South-South of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh called on President Buhari to as a matter of urgency, probe Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, who, he said, handled the Centenary City project, adding that former President Goodluck Jonathan was not properly briefed about the project before he appended his signature on the Centenary City document.

Addressing journalists  in Abuja, yesterday, he said: “The former President thought that the Centenary City project was for the good of all Nigerians because of the centenary spirit. But unknown to him, it was the private project of the former SGF and his cohorts. Yes, the former President signed the papers as presented to him by the former SGF.

“He was not properly briefed because of vested interests. I can defend him, he was not part of the fraud. If Jonathan had been properly briefed, he would not have approved the project, let alone talk of going to perform the ground breaking of the project.

“I am calling on President Buhari now to revisit the centenary project and he will be shocked at the findings that the project was owned by private individuals but procured with government funds.”

He alleged that the former Senate President was involved in fraudulent acquisitions perpetrated by the sponsors of the project covering over 1,500 hectares of land in the Federal Capital City, Abuja, adding that the size of the land was equal to Maitama, Asokoro and Guzape districts put together.

But in a swift reaction, former SGF, Anyim Pius Anyim, who noted that he was already in court, said he was not ready to join issues with Cairo Ojuogboh, adding, “the issue is already in court.”

Speaking to journalists on the development, Senator Anyim’s media aide, Sam Nwaboisi said, “Senator Anyim has gone to court to sue him for defamation of character on the previous press conference and interviews that he has granted in which he has accused him of almost all these things he is saying now.”

Some of the photographs on the state of survivors  of the ill-fated Bristow Helicopter that plunged into the Lagos Lagoon on Wednesday. Read recent developments here

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A view of Gbagada General Hospital, where some of the survivors where admitted

Medical attendants,  Gbagada General Hospital moving survivors of the Bristow helicopter crash on a referral to St. Nicholas Hospital in Lagos on Thursday.

Medical attendants, Gbagada General Hospital moving survivors of the Bristow helicopter crash on a referral to St. Nicholas Hospital in Lagos on Thursday.

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One of the survivors

 

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Another hospital, Folabi Medical Centre, located at 78, Oworo Rd, in Oworoshoki area of Lagos, where other two survivors of the crash were admitted.

 

Three days after a Saturday PUNCHreport detailed how a part-time lecturer of the University of Lagos, Akin Baruwa, allegedly raped an 18-year-old admission seeker, Shola (not real name), a 28-year-old former student of the lecturer, has come out with a revelation of how she barely escaped being raped by the accused.

The young woman, who spoke under the strict condition of anonymity, explained that the sexual assault of the 18-year-old girl provided a window of opportunity for her to expose what she went through in the hands of Baruwa.

In February 2014, Agnes (not real name) was finalising her undergraduate project at the Distant Learning Institute of UNILAG. She told Saturday PUNCH she was like a prey, which fell into the lap of Baruwa, when she was reassigned to him after her supervisor retired.

Agnes explained to our correspondent that she felt a surge of anger when she realised that some reactions to Shola’s story showed that some people did not believe the poor girl’s story.

She explained that she felt obligated to share her own story as a way of showing solidarity with the girl.

Certification page of Agnes’ project signed by Baruwa (arrowed)

Agnes said, “I finished my project around December 2013. It was around that time my supervisor, who was a very pleasant woman, retired. I was reassigned to Mr. Akinfolarin Baruwa. I got his number and called him on the phone and he told me to come the following day.

“He fixed the appointment around 5pm the next day. I went to meet him in an office in the Faculty of Business Administration, which he shared with another lecturer. I noticed it was the other lecturer’s name that was on the door.

“When I got to his office, I noticed that there was a student that came to submit her project also. She was from the Lagos State University. So, I supposed he was also doing part-time work at LASU.

“While I was there, other students came to submit their projects also and he told me to wait outside. Later he started sending me on errands. He would tell me to go and make one photocopy or another or buy things for him. I was patient and did everything he asked.

“He did all these until around 8pm when he eventually looked at my project. As soon as he opened the pages, he flung it away. ‘What kind of rubbish is this?’ he said. He said I would have to start the project from the beginning.

“Mr. Baruwa told me that everything I did was rubbish. He said I did not cite a particular reference somewhere and said he would report me to our course adviser for plagiarism and I would be given an extra year. He just wanted to hold on to something just to rubbish my work.”

Agnes alleged that it was at this point that she started to beg Baruwa. She claimed that she was on her knees because she was writing exams and most of her colleagues had already finished their project.

“There was also a deadline I had to meet for the submission of the project. I explained all these to him and begged. Later, he said I should drop the project that he would see what he could do about it,” Agnes said.

According to Agnes, Baruwa does not have a doctoral degree. She said he was a part-time lecturer, who was assigned students for supervision and given invigilation roles during examinations.

It would be recalled that the management of UNILAG had on Monday, denied having Baruwa under the employ of the institution despite the fact that he supervised the final projects of many students in the Faculty of Business Administration.

A handwritten complaint filed against Baruwa, which Agnes submitted to UNILAG authorities

Infact, Agnes, who is now married, showed our correspondent a copy of her undergraduate project, bearing Baruwa’s name and signature.

Agnes said after Baruwa softened on his threat that she would have an extra year, she went down on her knees to thank him but while she was mouthing her appreciation, the man allegedly moved around the office closing the blinds.

“He brought out some fruits from the fridge. I thought he was preparing to go home when he was doing that. He was clearing the books on the sofa. He said, ‘is that how to say thank you?’ I only knew something was amiss when he suddenly locked the door,” she said.

“Before I knew what was happening, he pulled me and put my hands on his manhood. He grabbed my breasts and I began to struggle with him. He started to forcibly remove my clothes. I was shocked beyond words. I felt really violated.

“He grew more aggressive as I fought him off. I screamed but I knew my screaming would do nothing because the office is opposite the UNILAG guesthouse by the seaside.

“I am asthmatic. As he was about to force himself on me, I realised that I was beginning to have breathing problem as if an attack was on its way. I decided to lay still and I started breathing excessively as if I was already having asthmatic attack. I started to beg him as I breathed heavily. I told him, ‘Please, I can’t breathe, I have asthma.’

“He then left me alone after that and apologised. He said he was not usually like that and that he was only aroused. He said I should just give him a ‘handjob’ (fondle his manhood with my hand) instead. I started to beg him again and pretended as if I wanted to faint. I told him to open the door in order for me to get fresh air.”

Agnes said as she rushed out of Baruwa’s office, she was in so much shock that she lost her bag with , out knowing. She said the shock was so much that she fell down and could not move.

According to her, her troubles did not stop there.

She claimed that the next time she went to Baruwa’s office for her project, she had to tell a friend to follow her.

She said, “He must have sighted me from afar because when I told him that I was around, he just dismissed me that he had no time. He gave me an appointment for early morning but I went there some minutes after 7am. He said, ‘You think you are smart eh? You are playing with your graduation.’

“After I eventually got the project back from him and went back to submit, there was a little activity in his office then. He told me to wait outside. As the office cleared and the lecturer he shared the office with left, he called me inside.

“He started to force himself on me again and I started begging that I had a fiancée. He said ‘So?’ In broad daylight, he was fondling me. But as I resisted him and dragged myself from his grip, my shirt tore. I was infuriated. I stormed out of his office and threatened that I was going straight to the vice chancellor’s office.

“He became aggressive at this point and shouted at me that I should get out of his office. He said I would never graduate. I was so angry that I was going straight towards the senate building.”

Agnes said she was later called back by someone who knew her. She claimed that some officials in the faculty intervened in the matter that day and that when Baruwa was approached on the issue, he feigned ignorance.

“He said, ‘Me? I was only telling her about the corrections she had to effect on her project and told her to come back when she started shouting.’ Later, the lecturers were behind closed door with him and I did not hear what they discussed. When they came out, they just told me to forget the issue,” she said.

Saturday PUNCH learnt that Agnes’ problem persisted when it was time for Baruwa to submit her score sheet to her course adviser.

According to her, every student was mandated to submit a score sheet to their respective project supervisor, who would in turn submit to the course adviser.

Agnes said, “Without it, you cannot submit the final copy of your project or defend the project. In short, you cannot graduate,” Agnes told our correspondent. “But Mr. Baruwa refused to submit my score sheet. I kept asking him about it and he kept referring me to the course adviser. He maintained he had submitted it. But the course adviser kept telling me she had not got my score sheet.

“He later said something that made me realise he was merely punishing me for not allowing him to have his way with me. While I was going through these problems, I heard of other ladies who had the same problem but could not speak out.

“When the frustration was too much, I had to write a letter of complaint telling the school authorities to look into my issue with Mr. Baruwa.

“He later submitted my score sheet after he put me through so much trouble. By the time I escaped him, I was already psychologically drained.

“When I heard about the case of this other girl, I just shook my head because there was no way the girl could have escaped him.”

Despite initial denials from the UNILAG management that it did not know who Baruwa was, it was learnt that he supervised the final projects of undergraduates.

Saturday PUNCH learnt that after Agnes’ report to the school authorities, Baruwa was stopped from supervising female students. But why he still retained his part-time duties in the faculty is not clear.

Our correspondent contacted the Public Affairs Officer of UNILAG, Mr. Olagoke Oke, following this fresh allegation.

He said every allegations against Baruwa would be discussed by a four-man panel set up by the institution to look into how the suspect got into the university system.

Asked if the school could now admit that he was indeed working in the institution and that he was even supervising undergraduate projects, he said, “That might have been possible in DLI (Distant Learning Institute). But the panel would look at all these and come out with the report of its investigation soon.”

 

The NIPC team  had several meetings with with various Business communities in the Turkish capital, Istanbul. Solid Garment Factory and KONSAID were among the Turkish business concerns at the meetings. These meetings shall continue till Friday 14th,2015.

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