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Federal Govt Canvasses Involvement Of States In AfCFTA Implentation Plan

Minister of industry, trade and investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, said for Nigeria to succeed in AfCFTA, state governments must be actively involved.

Adebayo who stated this at the AfCFTA Subnational Strategy Workshop, with the theme: “Creating Economically Viable Communities,” said it has become very important to be closer to subnational and grassroots levels, the National AfCFTA Implementation Plan of the government.

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The minister represented by Ambassador Yonov Agah, Director General of Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN), said to harness the gains of AfCFTA and achieve maximum results, each state must come up and execute its own AfCFTA strategy.

The minister said Nigeria cannot afford to be left out of the emerging African economic block, stressing that AfCTA is a 3.4 trillion dollar economic bloc, which Nigeria must play a leading role.

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Adebayo also said government has worked tirelessly to ensure that Nigeria not only partakes as a signatory in name but become a major trade and economic powerhouse.

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100MT LPG Plant Begins Operation In Kastina

Butane Energy Limited, one of the gas-based businesses supported with equity investment by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has opened its 100 metric tonnes Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) Storage and Bottling Plant in Kabukawa layout, Kastina State.

The project was commissioned at the weekend by the Kastina state governor, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari as motivation of the promoters is to help address supply constraints in the domestic LPG market in the Northern part of Nigeria.

This, it intends to do, through its plant operations/bulk storage, transportation/ distribution, cylinder filling and bulk retail.

The executive secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote explained that the project in Kastina state is the first leg of its partnership with Butane Energy Limited with the other LPG bottling plants and depots to be rolled out in 2022.

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He stated that Butane Energy’s  LPG storage and bottling plants would come up in Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, and Bauchi States while six depots would be located in Zamfara, Jigawa, Gombe, Plateau, Niger and Nasarawa states.

He stated that Nigeria still has one of the lowest per capita LPG consumption in Africa and a lot of opportunities exist for increasing LPG penetration and utilization in Nigeria.

In his comments, minister of state for Petroleum Resources, chief Timipre Sylva hinted that the commissioning of the plant is directly linked to the declaration of Decade of Gas by President Muhammadu Buhari, which seeks to reinforce Nigeria’s aspiration to leverage on its gas resources estimated at 206 Trillion Cubic Feet to develop Nigeria’s national industrial, commercial and agricultural base.

The minister, who was represented at the event by permanent secretary in the ministry, Dr. Nasir Sani Gwarzo,added that “the deliberate focus of this administration to develop the Gas Sector is largely the driving force behind NCDMB commercial intervention in partnering with the private sector, to establish Butane LPG bottling plant in several Northern states including Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Niger, and the  FCT.”

In his comments, chairman of Butane Energy Limited, Alhalji Isa Mohammed Inuwa explained that the motivations of the project are to preserve the vegetation and discourage the use of wood to heat food, create job opportunities for the teeming youths and grow the business profitably.

He underscored the importance of NCDMB’s equity investment to the project’s development, adding that, the plant in Kastina could be expanded to 160 metric tonnes

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FCMB, Proparco Sign $35m Funding Deal For SMEs, Renewable Energy

First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has signed a $35 million loan and an EURIZ portfolio guarantee of N5billion(EUR 10 million equivalent) deal with Proparco.

The credit line will fund renewable energy projects and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at an agreement signing ceremony in Lagos last Wednesday, the managing director of FCMB, Mrs. Yemisi Edun, said: “Proparco’s financing and risk-sharing interventions align with our purpose, commitment and support to SMEs with high growth potential and the renewable energy sector.

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“We are optimistic that this partnership will accelerate the development of industries critical to attaining sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Nigeria.”

Also speaking, the country director of Proparco, Mr. Jean Guyonnet-Duperat, said: “we are excited to partner with FCMB again in our commitment to promote sustainable economic, social and environmental development.

“Through our collaboration with FCMB and its wide network, we are optimistic about making more impact in facilitating the growth of local economic players to overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, this boosts the private sector contribution towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.”

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On her part, the minister counsellor/head of co-operation, European Union, Ms Celine Tassin-Pelzer, stated that: “the European Union recognises the importance of SMEs, particularly women-owned ones, to the growth of societies.

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“We will continue to offer support in critical sectors to create opportunities for individuals and businesses to thrive and overcome their challenges. We are proud to support the laudable activities of FCMB to achieve these objectives.”

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Zulum Donates N5m To Soldiers Injured In Battle Against Terrorists

Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, on Monday night, visited soldiers injured during a fierce battle between troops and Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists at Rann, a border town between Nigeria and Cameroon, in Kala Balge local government area of the State.

Zulum interacted with and consoled all the affected soldiers in Army Hospital at Maimalari Barracks, located in Maiduguri. He was received by the General Officer Commanding 7 Division of the Army, Brig Gen. Abdulwahab Eyitayo.

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The governor directed the release of N5m which was immediately shared to all soldiers on admission, including those unconnected with the Kala-Balge battle.

Accompanied by a State Assembly member, representing Kala Balge, and Commissioners for Justice and Local Government and Emirate Affairs, Governor Zulum consoled the soldiers, thanked and commended them for their gallantry and patriotism.

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The Director of Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, had in a press statement, disclosed that the insurgents mouted gun trucks and motorcycles and attacked troops deployed at the Forward Operational Base (FOB) in Rann, during which the troops gallantly killed 26 and captured the terrorists’ combat vehicles, 18 AK47 rifles and one M-21 rifle with large quantity of ammunition.

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The troops forced the insurgents “to abandon their mission and withdraw in disarray”, even though “regrettably, two officers and five soldiers paid the supreme price, while three personnel sustained gunshot wounds” and were moved to the hospital.

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Sylvester Oromoni: Dowen College Parents To Hold Candlelight Session

The Parents’ Forum of Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos State, has announced that a candlelight session will hold on Wednesday, December 8, 2021, in honour of the late student of the school, Sylvester Oromoni.

The parents, while expressing deep sadness over the unfortunate incident that led to the death of Oromoni, prayed for strength for the grieving family of the 12-year-old deceased student, whose circumstances of death have caused outrage on the social media.

Recall that the father of the deceased boarding student had alleged that the Junior Secondary School 2 student died from the injuries sustained during an assault by five of his colleagues who wanted to initiate him into cultism but the school claimed he died after sustaining an injury during a football match.

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, on Tuesday, said three students are currently in police custody for alleged assault on Oromoni while two are at large.

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In a statement by the Parents Forum titled, “Sylvester Oromoni’s Death: Dowen College Parents Mourn”, the parents urged the school management and other stakeholders to “fully cooperate with the authority in the ongoing investigation.”

“While we would have loved to bring Sylvester back if humanly possible, unravelling the cause of Sylvester’s death and bringing whoever was responsible or might have contributed in whatever way to book, will not only bring this unfortunate incident to closure for the family, but this will also serve as a deterrent to others in all schools in Nigeria.

“We, therefore, say justice for Sylvester, is justice for all.

“On our part as parents, we will work more closely with the school (management/board), to ensure necessary measures are put in place to prevent a reoccurrence of this unfortunate incident and stamp out bullying in any form from the school,” the statement added.

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The statement jointly signed by Aituaz Kola-Oladejo, Waheed Adeoye, Oluwaseun Bolanle Ajila, and Kingsley Kema Agu, on behalf of the Parents Forum, said the candlelight event would hold on Wednesday by 6pm at Dowen College on 18, Adebayo Doherty Rd, Lekki, Lagos.

“The lighting of candles is to pay tribute to a life ‘passed’ and keeping the light burning signifies that the memory still lives on and burns bright.

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“The Candlelight no doubt shall promote reflection and signifies remembrance of a life cut short in his infancy.

“We pray that the Almighty God shall comfort the Oromoni’s family during this trying period,” it added.

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BREAKING: Police Arrest 3 Dowen College Students Over Sylvester Oromoni’s Death

Three students of Dowen College in Lekki area of Lagos State have been arrested by the Lagos State Police Command for allegedly assaulting a 12-year-old fellow student, Sylvester Oromoni, which led to his death.

The State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, made disclosure at a briefing on Tuesday.

The Police boss also said that two other students of the school fingered in the assault were on the run, adding that those in police custody were helping the Command with information on how to track them.

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He added that the school principal, housemasters, and other officials of the Lekki-based school are also assisting the police with information as the Police Command has launched a full-scale probe into the circumstances surrounding the death of Oromoni Jr on November 30, 2021.

“It is still an allegation until we conduct our investigation. We just started full investigation yesterday (Monday). Two out of those mentioned in the viral video are at large while three of the students are helping us to get others.

“I am in contact with my counterpart in Delta State. I spoke with the parents yesterday, we are perfecting everything scientifically,” the Police Commissioner explained.

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Workers’ Strike: Buhari Sacks AEDC Management

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the sack of the Management of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) over the strike by the Nigerian Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) two days ago.

The strike by the NUEE left Abuja and adjoining States of Nasarawa, Kogi, parts of Edo, Niger and Kaduna States serviced by the AEDC in total power blackout.

The workers were protesting unpaid allowances, salaries and unremitted pension deductions.

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A statement issued by Ofem Uket, media aide to the Minister of State for Power, Jeddy Agba, on Tuesday, said the president approved a new interim governing board to oversee the day-to-day operations of the company.

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“The presidential directives as conveyed also directed the Bureau of Public Enterprises to set up a new management team of the AEDC.

“In a memorandum of understanding MoU, jointly signed by the minister of state power Goddy Jedy Agba, the chairman Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission NERC, Sanusi Garba, director-general, Bureau of Public Enterprises, Alex Okoli, Comrade Joe Ajaero on behalf of the union, the federal government ordered the suspension of the strike [and asked to] given 21 days within which the outstanding emoluments and entitlements of staff will be paid,” the statement said.

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Wema Bank Signs Davido As Brand Ambassador

Wema Bank has announced the signing of Davido as brand ambassador for its digital bank, ALAT By Wema.

The bank formalised the partnership at a ceremony, over the weekend, when the musician signed the dotted lines.

A few weeks ago, the artiste raised N200 million when he posted his ALAT account before his 29th birthday and asked industry friends to donate.

Subsequently, he personally contributed N50 million and announced plans to donate all funds raised to orphanages across the country.

On Friday, the bank and the musician affirmed their partnership with Davido’s announcement as brand ambassador at its corporate headquarters in Lagos.

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Speaking at the ceremony, the managing director/CEO, Wema Bank, Ademola Adebise, lauded Davido’s artistry, including his body of work and generosity, noting that, it takes a genuine altruist to do what he did by giving away all the donations.

He added that Davido’s announcement as their brand ambassador affirms the bank’s strategic repositioning efforts and its youth-centric focus.

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Speaking on the brand ambassadorship and his association with Wema Bank and ALAT. Davido said: “I am excited to join the Wema Bank family and look forward to the great things we will achieve together.”

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At the signing ceremony, Davido was taken on a tour of Wema Bank’s corporate headquarters in Marina, Lagos, and was hosted at a cocktail reception at The Wings Complex in Victoria Island.

Speaking at the end of the ceremony, the head, marketing communications and investor relations, Wema Bank, Funmilayo Falola, thanked the artist and his management team, while affirming Wema Bank’s commitment to excellent service.

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Kwara Gov Stands Out In Women Emancipation – Aisha Buhari

The First Lady, Mrs Aishat Buhari, on Tuesday, poured encomiums on Kwara State governor, AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq, for advancing the cause of women.

Mrs Buhari spoke in Ilorin, the state capital at an event titled “Cracking The Glass Ceiling: The Story Of Kwara Women” to celebrate the social, cultural, economic and political contributions and achievements of Kwara women.

“Today, I’m a witness to the great work the Kwara Governor has been doing, especially with regards to women emancipation,” Mrs Buhari said.

Represented by the Senior Special Assistant, Administration and Women Affairs, Dr Rukayat Gurin, the First Lady added: “I am glad that Kwara is celebrating women today. It gladdens my heart that Kwara women are doing well in all spheres. I enjoin other women to follow the footsteps of these amazing women.

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“I thank Governor AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq for giving women great opportunities. We thank him for advancing the cause of women.”

She also commended the wife of the Kwara State governor, Mrs Olufolake AbdulRazaq, for her interest in the wellbeing of Kwara women.

In her remarks, the minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Paulen Tallen, said Governor AbdulRazaq broke the glass ceiling in 2019 when he appointed more women into the state’s cabinet.

“Appointment of more women in the state cabinet, the highest in the nation’s history stands out Kwara among other states of the federation, in women emancipation,” Tallen said.

She urged the governor to sustain the tempo in order to ease the challenges confronting women in the country, adding that: “We thank Governor AbdulRazaq for creating the space for women to prove their mettle.”

Earlier, the wife of Kwara State governor, Dr Olufolake AbdulRazaq, acknowledged the exploits of some outstanding Kwara’s women in the national and international spaces.

She listed a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mrs Sarah Alade, former Chief Judge of Kwara State, Justice Raliat Habeeb-Elelu, business mogul, Hajia Muinat Bola Sagaya and a politician of note, Mrs Sarah Jibril, as some of the Kwara’s outstanding women.

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Omicron: Senate Fumes Over UK’s Ban Of Travelers From Nigeria

The Nigerian Senate has condemned the United Kingdom’s inclusion of Nigeria in its COVID-19 red list without justification.

The Red Chamber, accordingly, called on the British authorities to consider removing Nigeria from the red list.

It advised the UK government to be sensitive to the diplomatic relationship between both countries when taking decision that affect Nigerian citizens.

The Senate urged the Federal Government to engage the British authorities to reverse Nigeria’s inclusion on the red list.

It also charged the Federal Government to remain firm in the enforcement of necessary protocols in the containment of every COVID-19 variant in Nigeria.

It further called on major vaccine powers, namely Britain, Canada, America, and the European Union, among others, to take urgent and bold steps to ensure vaccine equity in the interest of the entire human race.

These were resolutions reached by the Senate on Tuesday following the consideration and adoption of a motion on the “Need for Government of the United Kingdom to Remove Nigeria from COVID-19 Red List.”

The motion was sponsored by Senator Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West).

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Coming under order 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules, Ekweremadu noted with satisfaction the efforts of the Government of Nigeria in the containment and treatment of COVID-19 cases.

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He said, “Nigeria is among the countries with the lowest cases of COVID-19.”

“The decision by the British Government to include Nigeria in their COVID-19 list, with its concomitant implications, will affect many citizens of Nigeria, who had planned to spend their Christmas and New Year holiday with their families.

“Also worried that Nigerians with genuine needs to visit the U.K within this period will be denied visa and those with visa will not be allowed to enter the U.K.”

The lawmaker noted that Nigerians have consistently complied with all the COVID-19 protocols required by the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.K Government for travelers prior to the ban.

He emphasised that, “targeting African countries, especially in the COVID-19 travel ban, amounts to profiling and discrimination as well as an attack on our cordial diplomatic relationship with the U.K.”

Ekweremadu drew the attention of the chamber to global concerns over vaccines hoarding and inequity and the resulting consequences on low-income nations in the fight against COVID-19.

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In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said that the decision to include Nigeria on the UK COVID-19 red list poses a strain on the diplomatic relationship between both countries.

He bemoaned the poor treatment of Nigeria by the UK government.

Lawan, therefore, called on the British Parliament to intervene with a view to having Nigeria removed from the country’s COVID-19 red list.

“Let there be justification for it. We are not saying that they cannot put any country on the red list, including Nigeria, but there must be reasons for doing that.

“[And] of course, Nigeria has done so well to the admiration of many countries in the area of containment of COVID-19.

“Therefore, we don’t see any reason why Nigeria will be on that so called red list.

“I believe that Nigerians deserve better treatment from the British government.

“I’m using this opportunity to ask the British Parliament to mount pressure on their government to remove Nigeria from the so-called red list.”

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Aung San Suu Kyi Sentenced To 2 Years In Jail

A court in military-ruled Myanmar has sentenced deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to two years in prison after convicting her on charges widely dismissed as politically motivated.

Aung San Suu Kyi, convicted in a ruling on Monday, is set to serve the term in detention at an undisclosed location, a sentence reduced from four years after a partial pardon from the country’s military chief, state TV reported.

President Win Myint was also sentenced to four years as the court delivered its first verdicts in numerous cases against Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders deposed by the military in a coup on February 1. Win Myint’s sentence was also later halved to two years.

According to the report on MRTV, the sentences would be applied “at their current detention places,” apparently meaning they would not be sent to prison. It is not clear where Aung San Suu Kyi has been held but she has not described it as a prison.

Zaw Min Tun, a spokesman for Myanmar’s military told the AFP news agency on Monday that Aung San Suu Kyi was found guilty of incitement and of violating COVID-19 rules.

The ruling was the first in a dozen cases the military has brought against the 76-year-old since it deposed her civilian government. The trial in Naypyidaw has been closed to the media, while the military has barred Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers from communicating with the media and the public.

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Other cases against the Nobel Peace Prize laureate included multiple charges of corruption, violations of a state secrets act, and a telecoms law that altogether carry a maximum sentence of more than 100 years in prison.

Her supporters have said the cases are baseless and designed to end her political career and tie her up in legal proceedings while the military consolidates power.

Aung San Suu Kyi has denied all the charges.

The UN human rights investigator on Myanmar urged countries on Monday to increase economic pressure on Myanmar’s generals after the sentences were announced.

“Today’s sentencing demonstrates why the international community must take stronger action to support the people of Myanmar by denying the junta the revenue and weapons that they need to continue their illegitimate grip on the people of Myanmar,” Thomas Andrews, a former US congressman who is serving in the independent post, said in a statement.

“I call upon member states to significantly increase pressure on the junta as a result of this outrageous action.”

The daughter of the hero of Myanmar’s independence from British colonial rule, Aung San Suu Kyi spent years under house arrest under a previous military government.

She was freed in 2010 and led her National League for Democracy (NLD) to a landslide victory in a 2015 election.

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Her party won again in November last year but the military said the vote was rigged and seized power weeks later. The election commission at the time dismissed the military’s complaint of vote fraud.

Historian and author Thant Myint-U said the military leaders thought their predecessors who launched reforms more than 20 years ago had gone too far in allowing Aung San Suu Kyi back into politics and the entire reason for the coup was to exclude her.

“She remains far and away most popular in Myanmar politics and may still be a potent force in what’s to come,” he told the Reuters news agency.

Western states have demanded Aung San Suu Kyi’s release and condemned the violence since the coup.

On Monday, the United Kingdom said the former leader’s sentencing was “another appalling attempt by Myanmar’s military regime to stifle opposition and suppress freedom and democracy” and called on the “regime to release political prisoners, engage in dialogue and allow a return to democracy”.

Matthew Smith, the chief executive of the Fortify Rights group, said the sentencing was “part of a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population” and called for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

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MPC’s Stance On Retaining Monetary Policy Rate

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)  by unanimous vote, decided to retain the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 11.5 per cent.

Members of the committee also voted to retain the asymmetric corridor of +100/-700 basis points around the MPR, the CRR at 27.5 per cent and the Liquidity Ratio at 30 per cent. This considerations according to CBN the governor, Godwin Emefiele said the Committee decided to hold all policy parameters constant to support the enabling environment for sustained recovery.

The committee had put into consideration the growth level of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, inflation figures amongst others in its decision. Inflation figures having soared to 19 per cent in the year had been on the decline, dropping to 15.99 per cent as at October 2021.

Similarly, the country, having emerged from a COVID-19 induced recession, has been on the growth trajectory with the third quarter GDP recording a 4.03 per cent growth rate, albeit a slower growth compared to the second quarter growth rate.

Considering these measures, the MPC members said given the level of its conviction about the efficacy of its actions on macroeconomic variables, they felt that whereas tightening would further help to rein in inflation aggressively. The MPC, nevertheless feels that tightening will increase cost of funds and constrain output growth.

“On the other hand, whereas loosening will lower policy rates, ease liquidity pressures, and stimulate additional credit creation which will boost output growth, MPC also thinks that loosening will further widen the negative real interest rate gap and compound the price distortions in the money markets which could fuel inflationary pressures.

“As for whether to hold its existing stance, MPC believes that the existing monetary policy stance has supported the growth recovery and should be allowed to continue for a little longer for consolidation to achieve the MPC mandate of price stability that is conducive for sustainable growth. The Committee also feels that a hold stance will enable it to carefully appraise the implications of the unfolding global development around policy tapering and normalization by advanced economies.” MPC communique stated.

Experts Concerns

The decisions on the MPC members was, however, expected as analysts believe the concerns of the committee is justified. Analysts are of the view that the “wait and see” attitude of the committee is to allow its previous policy have an effect window, while waiting for the fiscal policy makers to also put in measures that would impact the economy.

Head, Financial Institutions Ratings at Agusto&Co, Mr Ayokunle Olubunm, told LEADERSHIP that, in terms of monetary poicy, no one expects the MPC to make any changes to the status quo as going in any of the hawkish or dovish direction would adversely impact the economy.

“A lot of us were not surprised being the way things turned out. It is very tough decision for the MPC because it is going to be very difficult to increase rates given that the economy is still struggling and they can’t reduce rates further because everybody is complaining that rates are low enough.

“I think what people were looking forward to was not the rates but other major decisions that would be made. This is because, at the two previous MPC meetings, the CBN announced major decisions pertaining to the foreign exchange market. So, what people were looking forward to was something dramatic but in terms of rate, no one expected a significant change.” he stated.

Likewise, analysts at Cordros Research said the decision of the committee was in line with their expectations, saying, the committee expects that with the sustained interventions by the CBN, economic activities would continue to normalise in the short-to-medium term leading to improved output growth and lower inflationary pressures.

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‘We observed that a recurring theme at the meeting was the likely impacts of the normalisation of monetary policy by central banks in advanced countries. We think the concerns of the Committee is justified given the attendant effect of rising global bond yields on capital flows into emerging economies like Nigeria.

“Moreover, there has been a chorus among systemically critical central banks to wind down their asset purchase programme. Thus, we think the underlying tone suggests the Committee is bracing up for a change to a hawkish policy from H2-22 when we believe the Committee will judge that substantial progress has been made in supporting economic recovery and the US Fed would wind down its net asset purchases.”

Analysts at FBN Quest say the MPC members plans to maintain this stance for “a little longer” so that the gains from the efforts of the monetary and fiscal authorities can multiply. Additionally, it favours the wait-and-see position because it can better respond to changes in the uncertain global environment.

“Tightening in the words of the communique would boost the cost of funds and dampen output growth, although it would ease pressures in the foreign exchange market. Loosening, in contrast, would give a lift to inflation and push up negative real rates of return for investors. The CBN’s optimal contribution in the committee’s view, not that it is stated explicitly in the communique, is to accelerate its many development finance initiatives, which are listed in greater than usual detail.

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Dangote Refinery To Become Highest Employer Of Chemical Engineers

Dangote Oil Refining Company has made plans to be the highest employer of chemical engineers in the country when the refinery becomes operational from next year.

Nigeria as the giant of Africa and one of the largest oil and gas producing country in the world, with her production accounting for 2.5 million barrels per day. After several years of exploration, development and industrial activities; the Nigeria’s oil and gas industry approximately represents 65 and 94.3 percentage of government revenue and export revenue respectively.

The national president of Nigeria Society of Chemical Engineers (NSCh) has revealed that Dangote Oil Refining Company will be the highest employer of chemical engineers in the country when the refinery comes on stream.

The society’s national president, Engr. Saidu Muhammed, disclosed this during the NSCh’s visit/tour of the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical project at Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, recently.

He commended the company for its contribution to energy security in Nigeria. Muhammed, who led members of NSCh on a tour of the Dangote 650,000 barrels per day refinery project in Lagos, to mark the end of the association’s 51st anniversary celebration, said the industries in Nigeria have not been able to absorb the over 1,000 engineers yearly from Nigerian Universities.

Muhammed stated that, “we, the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers, have keenly been watching the progress of the refinery project. When completed, the refinery will be singular largest employer of chemical engineers in the country. Nigerian Universities turn out about 1,000 chemical engineers every year and the avenues for employment have been very scarce.

“The industry has not been able to fully absorb the number of chemical engineers that passed out of the universities years ago. Some companies within the sector are not running at optimum level. Therefore, employment is really key.

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“However, from the energy security point of view, chemical engineers are always concerned about what can be put in place to guarantee energy security the country. Nigeria is blessed with abundant crude oil, but unfortunately, we are importing petroleum products simply because Nigeria’s own refineries are not utilising their installed capacity.”

“Therefore, when you see a brand-new refinery like the Dangote Refinery that has the capacity to meet the petroleum products needs of the country, there is need to celebrate such company,” Muhammed added.

He expressed delight over the size of the project and the level of work that has gone in the construction of the refinery, saying,“the Dangote Refinery project is very impressive, very big. There is no project of this magnitude right now in this part of the world. We are delighted to see that the project is nearing completion and many things have been done.”

He commended the Dangote Group for its plans to ensure that Nigerian engineers are trained to handle the operation of the refinery plant, which has been acclaimed to be the largest single train refinery in the world.

“We are most impressed by the numbers of Nigerians that we see within the site working at various sections of the plant. We are glad that Dangote is building this type of project in Nigeria, which is one of the largest in the world,” he said.

Muhammed added that members of the association are happy to see that Dangote Refinery will contribute significantly to energy security in Africa, noting that, “we are also happy about the refinery’s contribution to energy security in Africa. The refinery is also going to have positive impact on Nigeria’s downstream oil and gas industry.”

Speaking also at the event, the technical consultant to the president of Dangote Group, Engr. Babajide Soyode commended the chemical engineers for coming on a tour of the refinery. According to Soyode, Dangote’s refinery will help Nigeria meet and exceed its current demand for gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and kerosene, leaving ample product for export.

“This connotes significant positive economic impact on Nigeria and the West African region, transforming Nigeria from a net importer to exporter of refined petroleum products and curtailing significant foreign exchange outflows. “Additionally, the availability of excess fuel will also provide a catalyst for eliminating Nigeria’s expensive fuel subsidy.”

Soyode said, the 650,000 barrels-per-day refinery would complement other major infrastructure investments that Dangote has planned at the strategically located Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos, including a port, gas processing facility, power plant, and petrochemical and Fertiliser complex.

“When completed, this infrastructure complex will create a significant economy of scale for one of Africa’s largest industrial conglomerates, supporting jobs in both Nigeria and other African countries,” he added.

Dangote refinery is a 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) integrated refinery and petrochemical project under construction in the Lekki Free Zone near Lagos, Nigeria. It is expected to be the Africa’s biggest oil refinery and the world’s biggest single-train facility, upon completion.

The Dangote refinery will process a variety of light and medium grades of crude to produce Euro-V quality clean fuels including gasoline and diesel as well as jet fuel and polypropylene. The integrated refinery and petrochemical project are expected to generate 9,500 direct and 25,000 indirect jobs.

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C/River To Vaccinate 900,000 Children Against Polio

Cross River State government has unveiled plan to vaccinate 900,000 children against polio. The exercise will be carried by the state Primary Healthcare Development Agency.

Children from the ages 15 and below are the targeted beneficiaries.

Wife of Cross River State governor, Dr Linda Ayade gave the figures during the official flag-off of outbreak response of Round Two (OBR 2) campaign which took place yesterday in Calabar.

“We are targeting about nine hundred thousand children who are to be vaccinated in the state. We are told that Cross River State and Benue have shown the signs of having the virus.

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“Who knows where all of us would have been without vaccination,” Mrs Ayade said.

In her remarks, the director-general, Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, CR- PHCDA, Dr Janet Ekpeyong urged parents residing in the state to make their children available for vaccination to avoid being paralyzed.

“We are asking all parents to notify us of any child 15 years and below with signs of paralyses.

“We are leveraging on the campaign to see that any child less than 15 years that shows signs of paralysis of lower limbs, you should please report to appropriate quarters.

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“To tell you how committed we are in our campaign to have a healthy population in time to come, we go to the extent of fraternising with the militants to enable us administer polio vaccines to children in the riverine communities,” she said.

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The chairman of the Cross River State Women Medical Doctors, Vivian Mesembe Otu, stated that 50 per cent of children in the state have been vaccinated, stressing that statistics available still showed that a lot of children were yet to be vaccinated.

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The High Cost Of School Bullying

Bullying is dreaded by parents, it is shunned by teachers and feared by good pupils.

In many boarding schools, it is even systemized as “cutting tail”! In such schools, the authorities shielded pupils by attaching each new junior student to a senior student who would act as big brother.

In the past, bullying hardly ever led to death. It may have led to injury, it may have led to psychologically scarred pupils, but it never led to death.

Bullying as traumatic as it often is, is sometimes seen as an integral part of growing up or a way of toughening up the child for the hazards of living in the obstacle rave called life!

Bullying, is actually a form of youth on youth violence, particularly in school settings. Bullying is defined by aggressive behaviour that occurs repeatedly over time and within the context of a power imbalance. Most school-aged children are exposed to bullying in some form due to the unequal balance of power and influence that is so common in youth relationships and peer groups. Research shows that bullying and harassment in schools increases in late childhood and peaks in early adolescence, specifically during junior secondary school and typically takes place in unstructured settings such as the cafeteria, hallways, and playground!

Students need school to be a positive climate where they can feel safe and secure. A positive setting reduces their own stress and potential aggression, allowing them to focus on the learning.

Fortunately, there are actions that students and school staff can take to prevent bullying and harassment in schools. Such actions create a more positive school climate. One of such is very close supervision of hostels and boarding houses.

Without such close supervision by adults, aggressive ones may start to prey on the gentle and restrained.

Indeed, everyone is aghast at the event that took place in Lagos State which led to the Lagos State Government ordering the indefinite closure of Dowen College, located in the Lekki area of Lagos, pending the outcome of an investigation into the death of Master Sylvester Oromoni (Jnr), a student of the school. The announcement was made by the Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, after a meeting with the School’s Management and Staff on Friday, December 3, 2021.

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The death of the 12-year-old student of the college, Sylvester Oromoni Jnr., had elicited various reactions from Nigerians as they demand justice for the deceased. Media reports had emerged that Sylvester was allegedly assaulted by members of a school cult group.

He had mentioned their names before his death. A report said that Sylvester, who was bullied and beaten by fellow students was said to have died from injuries sustained from the beating. However, Dowen College, in a press statement that went viral on social media, denied all allegations stating that Oromoni was neither bullied nor beaten but only complained of hip pain after playing football. The child’s father, stated that contrary to what Dowen College had said in the statement, the family friend who they sent to pick up Oromoni Jnr. from the school described a totally different situation. The bereaved  father stated that his son was bullied and beaten to stupor!

“The next day, we sent a family friend to help pick up our son since he was the only person in Lagos and take him to the hospital. When he got there, he panicked, pointing out that he doubts it’s a football injury as the school claimed.”

Without preempting the outcome of the investigations by the Lagos State government and the police, one can say without fear of contradiction that cultism which uses bullying as a strategy to enforce its rules is rampant in our colleges and universities. Bullying is at the root of cultism in our secondary schools and universities.

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In the past cultism was unheard of in the secondary schools. It used  to be restricted to the universities where it is used to intimidate students, lecturers and the university authorities. Many dreams have been killed as a result of cultism in the universities.

Our society had tolerated cultism in the universities where cultists are even courted by politicians, so much so that the bad behaviour has now permeated the secondary schools. Boarding secondary schools are now becoming breeding grounds for cultists and bullies! Sadly, perpetrated by children whose parents have outsourced parenthood to the schools! How do we get rid of bullying in our schools permanently?

Some people have suggested in the light of what happened to Sylvester at Dowen that boarding schooling should be abolished. But that would be like throwing away the baby with the bath water. This is more so that cultism also exists in day schools. Bullying in schools sometimes arises from harsh parenting practices or sibling bullying at home. Even parents’ workplaces matter. Adults experience bullying in their workplaces at about the same rate as children in schools, and it’s even found among teachers and communities.

In other words, bullying is not just a childhood problem; it is a pervasive human problem. Children are not buffered from the wider social world. Ultimately, we need a substantial shift in our mindsets about the importance of children and their feelings. Children are more likely to thrive when we nurture their humanity, and offer them language and strategies that help them identify, express, and, thus, regulate their feelings.

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When parents, teachers, and administrators gain new awareness into the complex roots of bullying and adopt new strategies for addressing it, schools can lead the way. The kids are counting on us.

Aluta Continua!

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As North Central Intensifies 2023 Bid

Without doubt, the race for who succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 is intense. As more aspirants openly declare for the top seat, the intrigues have also heightened.

Across party lines, some persons have been touted to be in the race while others have since declared their intention.

Those whose names have been linked to the contest are former President Goodluck Jonathan; vice president Prof Yemi Osinbajo; former vice president Atiku Abubakar; Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal; former Kano State governor, Musa kwankwaso; APC National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; PDP presidential running mate in 2019, Peter Obi.

On the other hand the likes of former Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim; former banker, Kinsley Moghalu and Kingsley Moghalu; and  Mazi Samuel Ohuabunwa a former president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, have openly declared their intentions to seek the top post.

As the debate rages over which zoning should produce the next president, the ones which seem to stand a better chance have been pushing their best credentials forward. With the South Presidency clamour gaining traction, the North Central zone is leaving nothing to chance to get the position.

The North Central strategy 

Like the southern region, the political leaders from the North Central believe they deserve to provide Buhari’s replacement in   2023. The North Central Peoples Forum (NCPF) has stated this repeatedly.

But with the agitation from other regional stakeholders mounting, LEADERSHIP gathers the North Central leaders might be pulling their ranks across political parties lines to make a collective bid for the presidency.

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The ultimate goal, it was learnt, is to ensure that the idea of a Nigerian President from the zone is acceptable to all and sundry from the zone and that it becomes a consensually accepted idea.

It was gathered that top-level meetings have been going on in Abuja, Jos, Makurdi, Lafia, Ilorin, Minna, and Lokoja.

“The campaign is being handled at different levels with members of the National Assembly from the zone, former members of the National Assembly, present and past governors from the Zone, Speakers of the state Houses of Assembly, retired generals, business people, and traditional rulers being co-opted to start working at various levels to sell the agenda to their colleagues, friends, and associates from the other zone,” an insider told LEADERSHIP.

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“The leaders of the North Central zone and their people believe that this time around, their counterparts in the North Central and North East zones should support their agitation to produce the next President. They stated that their agitation is supported by historical facts, the principle of justice and equity as well as the concept of brotherhood.

“They argued that since 1960 when Nigeria became independent, the unity of the North has been achieved because the North Central solidly supports the Arewa oneness. They noted how leaders like Chief Sunday Awoniyi, S. B. Daniyan, Alh. Aliyu Makaman Bida, Alh. Ahman Pategi, and others stood solidly behind Sir Ahmadu Bello and ensured the Gamji tree provided cover for all northerners.

“They also noted that when the military took over, the North Central was the reason why Nigeria did not break into pieces as an aftermath of the 1966 coup. The nation had to look up to a young officer of North Central origin, Col. Yakubu Gowan as the most acceptable officer to provide stability, lower the tension and assuage hurt feelings across board. Part of their position is that North Central lost a lot of its people who fought as Nigerian soldiers during the civil war and that is why it is said the people of the area made supreme sacrifices to hold the nation together. By extension, It is also said that the Zone holds the key to the unity of Nigeria.”

The source also stated the leaders would argue that nobody has become the President of Nigeria without having strong showing or support in the North Central.

From Shagari to Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan, and Buhari. “This our zone decides who becomes the President. We are tired of being kingmakers. We want to produce the King because we have numerous qualified, experienced and connected individuals,” the leader said.

It was further gathered that they intend to leverage on the argument that they are not just the food basket of the country, but the epicenter of Nigeria’s unity, being a multi-cultural, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic region.

Much like some other regions, the North Central leaders are also claiming that it is the only zone that has neither produced a president nor vice president since the advent of the country.

“This fact, they stated, placed them in a worse situation than that of the South East which between 1979 – 1983 produced Vice President Alex Ekwueme,” the source stated.

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There is more. The North Central leaders argue that the success of the South-South in producing a President has imbued confidence, the spirit of nationalism, and patriotism in the people of the zone.

As for what’s to be expected ahead of 2023, the North Central leaders, it was learnt, have begun mobilising their political sons and daughters from the zone to join the race in their respective political parties as a way of advancing the North central agitation.

“The plan is to ensure that two or at least one of the two leading political parties presents a presidential aspirant from our zone while the other parties also get ready to present presidential candidates who are from the Zone. Then you will see our people solidly coming out to persuade the rest of the country to vote for a Nigerian candidate from the North Central”, one of the leaders stated.

As much as the leaders believe a candidate from the zone can easily win the trust of the rest of the country, unite the country, they are set to start sending emissaries to all the other geo-political zones where they will meet other leaders and persuade them to help make the idea of a Nigerian from the North Central zone possible the way they did in 1999 when the entire country was made or persuaded to elect a Nigerian President from South west.

But the North Central leaders certainly have a tough task as other regions. The South East has also intensified their bid for the top seat going by the recent comments of Ohaneze Ndigbo and the argument by others like Chief Willy Ezugwu of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), who believe that the political atmosphere favours South East presidency.

Other top contenders from the South West and the North East also believe they have as much right to aspire for the seat as anyone from any region. Alas, all eyes will be on the political parties.

“How the political actors pull their weight within their parties remains the crucial thing”, says Maxwell Obiekwe, a political analyst and lawyer.

“Every region would have to find a way to ensure that its interests align with the aspirations of the political parties’ desire to win the 2023 election,” he added.

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