Lekan Paul

FG, NSE Collaboration Useful, Says Vice President Osinbajo

The Federal Government will welcome collaboration with the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in key aspects of improving the economy including the Ease of Doing Business, the privatization of public enterprises, amongst others, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this in Abuja today when a delegation from the Nigerian Stock Exchange led by the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Oscar Onyeama, paid him a courtesy visit at the Presidential Villa.

The Vice President said the proposed NSE collaboration with the Federal Government important programmes of the Buhari administration would enhance service delivery and improve transparency in public governance.

According to him, “The collaboration with the Federal Government in the Ease of Doing Business, government’s privatization programme and even in the innovation hubs programme is a good thing, and I think it will be very helpful.

“The NSE’s participation and collaboration in our Quarterly Business Forum and the competitiveness council will also be very useful. So, generally I think collaborating with the NSE in different initiatives is a good idea.”

Speaking further on the benefits derivable from such collaboration, the Vice President said, “the participation of the NSE will bring about more transparency and credibility in the sale of public enterprises, and we will look into that aspect”.

Prof. Osinbajo said the Federal Government would make efforts to further improve the ease of doing business environment and also key into any initiative that promotes innovation and creativity.

Earlier in his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Oscar Onyeama briefed the Vice President on the proposed collaboration with the Federal Government in the operationalization of the Exchange’s innovation hub and other initiatives of the Federal Government, to which the NSE is willing to support.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President

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Osinbajo Averts Impending Unrest, Calms FCT Protesters

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday averted what was an impending civil unrest when he alighted from his convoy to assuage protesters in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The Vice President who was headed to Ekiti state for the launch of the National Home Grown School Feeding scheme ran into the protesters who had barricaded the road, he alighted from his car and had a chat with the irate youths who began chanting his name soon as he was identified.

The protesters comprising mainly of young men and some women from Gbayi village were protesting at Gossa, the alleged invasion of their land by the Nigerian Military, urged the Vice President to intervene in the issue.

Responding to their plea, the Vice President assured them that he would meet with the village leaders to find lasting solution to the problem at hand.

He urged the youth to seek more diplomatic ways of solving issues. He assured them that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is dedicated to the people and that the dividend of democracy will be enjoyed by all.

The protesters said if they had known that the Vice President was going to ply the road they would not have acted in the manner which they did.

Thereafter, the youths once again began to chant his name and then made way for the Vice President to proceed to the airport.

Speaking to the media, a protester who identified himself as Danlami Abdulgafar praised Prof. Osinbajo for his humane nature. He said the Vice President understands and relates with the plight of ordinary Nigerians.

“Imagine that all Nigerians politicians are like Prof. (Osinbajo), this country would have succeeded since the 70s. He came down from his vehicle and he addressed us, in fact we were happy that he accorded us so much respect.

Another protester, Gwatana Muktar said if it were to be any other politician they would not even listen to the person. “You know during campaign he visited almost all the villages and we saw him first hand. He is a very humble man and God will continue to bless him,” he said.

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Excitement As Ubani Chairs Abia Athletics

The Abia State Sports council has announced the appointment of Hon Eziuche Ubani as the Chairman of the Abia Athletics Association with effect from 5th April 2019

The appointment is already stirring up excitement in the Sports Community in Abia state and the southeast, because of Hon Ubani’s tremendous contribution to sports development in Abia State.

Eziuche Ubani was Editor of The Comet on Sunday, Editor of ThisDay on Sunday and Editor-at-Large of ThisDay. He was media adviser to Ghali Umar Na’Abba, speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Before becoming a member of the 6th and 7th session of The National Assembly.

Hon Eziuche Ubani who served as The Chairman of The House committee on Media, and also Chairman of the committee on Climate Change is currently The Abia State Commissioner for Works, and equally the Chairman of Saturn Communications Ltd the Owners of Magic FM 102.9 ABA the organization that has been responsible for The ABA HALF MARATHON Since 2013, the half-marathon has been the fastest growing standard distance race in the country . The Aba Township Half Marathon was single handedly organized by Magic 102.9 FM. With technical support from the Athletics Federation of Nigeria and approval by the International Association of Athletics Federation.

Apart from his pioneer role in initiating the Aba Marathon , He has also been responsible in sponsoring Atheletes from Abia state to other Sporting events like the Lagos City Marathon and the Okpekpe Road Race in Edo State . Considering his love for sports development, his commitment and extensive contacts it is believed that this appointment marks a new phase in Sports development in Abia State

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Our Own Godfather Is Progressive – Yoruba Youth Fires El-Rufai

The Yoruba Council of Youths Worldwide has warned the Kaduna’s State Governor Mal. Nasir Elrufai to desist from acts that could earn him disgrace from the Yoruba Nation

Speaking to the media in Lagos, the President of the Council Aremo Barr. Oladotun Hassan said the statement credited by El-Rufai saying he will teach Lagosians how to end Godfatherism is not only abysmally insulting and clandestine, but an intrusion to Yorubs and Lagos States’ matters, while leaving his own state Kaduna under intensed insecurity and fears, saying he lacks credibility to utter such seditious statement in our land.

The Youth leader said how can someone who is supposed to focus on how to end insecurity and abject poverty ravaging his State and region come to Southwest and without sense of caution protruding into Lagos; the megacity Center of Excellence and the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria and Africa’s emerging economic hub to claim he wants to end Godfatherism.

Even as he claimed that he had ended Godfatherism in Kaduna, we are yet to see the benefits of his political victory in the lives of the people of Kaduna and the development of the State, unlike Lagos where our our Progressive leader of leaders has great successes to show.

Our so called ‘Godfatherism’ system helped in sustaining the struggle against opposition in Nigeria and led to the building of the strong political party APC that made it possible for the enthronement of President Muhammadu Buhari which also helped the same Elrufai become the Kaduna State Governor.

Our so called Godfatherism helped sustain Lagos as the commercial hub of Nigeria and the 5th largest Economy in Africa.

Our so called ‘Godfatherism’ has produced some of the best brains who are currently an integral part of Nigeria’s political base and socioeconomic development today, thriving in all sectors of the economy, with succinct track records of excellence and landmarks achievements of the country.

Our so called ‘Godfatherism’ has put Lagos as the most viable self sustaining State in Nigeria today.

Our so called ‘Godfatherism’ has made Lagos among State with best infrastructure in Africa, without leaving no stone unturned towards achieving greater heights as one of the world’s leading economy.

Even as we want to give little respect to Elrufai, we will reject any attempt by any individual no matter how highly placed to intrude or disrespect our political leaders in the Southwest.

Governor El-Rufai is renowned for being too overzealous for power 2019, and harbinger of crises, hence his previous contemptuous stands on issues of national development, being overide with his penchant for ethnic bigotry and indiscriminate devaluation of humanity, hence we condemned his crocodile tears in its entirety.

Nigerians still kept the hate speech and treasonable felonious statements credited to Governor El-Rufai on attempted threats of mass genocide and killings in body bagging the international observers at the last 2019 election, a repition of what is happening in Southern Kaduna which almost caused the nation a huge embarrassment and disaster. if not for our intervention as future heirs of Nigeria.

Going back to memory lane, we cannot forget in a hurry the double jeopardy situation where some Traitors in Yoruba land collaborated with some hegemonic structures to betray the late sage of great memory: Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and we will never allow history to repeat itself.

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Waziri Bulama: The Rise Of A Political Mogul

I sit and ponder at my Country Nigeria. I  muse and turn over in my mind how a series of the game plan by citizens, policy and decision makers has brought us to an administration which deserves a standing ovation. 

On the far side of this layout  are the APC chieftains, the likes of *Comrade Adams Oshiomole, Arc. Bulama Waziri and Bola Tinibu* amongst many. Now in a colony of political intellects,  with APC at the climax of mending loose ends within the party, I am coerced into anticipating greatness for Nigeria. Amongst this cluster however is a munificent man worthy of recall.A man who has perfused time and strenght into this province. *Arc. Waziri Bulama*.Having served the party for over a decennium, he has made manifest of his interest for the APC national secretary. 

Bulama who is very calm, and articulate will certainly complement the chairmans personality, which heavily weighs toward innovation and reliability. If the decision makers make the right decision by shortlisting Arc. The two will unequivocally  make APC a Brobdingnagian establishment.   

As a stakeholder of the party , a woman , a youth and a member of Bulama Support group, i am optimistic that this will happen. when i joined this noble cause it had just few members, within a span of one week i witnessed volunteers from all corners of the six geopolitical zones troop in thousands. 

I have seen immense hope in their eyes,  they yearn and thirst for Arc. Waziri to become the APC National Secretary. What took me aback is The secretary of BSG Comrade Paul Oyiborolume, and members of the group who have invested their time, resources and energy into the campaign for Waziri.

The Founder of BSG Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri and head of strategy and planning along with members of the committee are at the apex of the whole lot, mobilising volunteers and paying homage to all corners of the country. This gesture is one that deserves an acknowledgement of merit. As an observer and partner i am obliged to give an enthusiastic recognition to the group. Thus, Bulama is a man we are proud of.

It is to no surprise that Comrade Adams along with stakeholders of the party made a redoubtable and distinguished resolute in the campaign by selecting Bulama at the Zenith of the presidential campaign. 

However, the APC which has whirled around President Muhammadu Buhari since inception will need to make tough , quick yet strategic conclusions as to who they hand pick for National Secretarial role. 
With the exit of Baba Buhari in 2023 the party will have to construct robust leadership structures that will give it a unifying footing before this time. As a Nigerian and member of BSG, i anticipate that APC will put to use Arc. Waziri Bulama to serve as the National Secretary for the party.

My reasons span from the fact that he is cerebral, modern, calm and has wisdom the party will definitely make good use. He  has moved solidly from the grassroots to the steep incline of Nigerian politics. He gives us hope as a young people in Nigeria.

Ms Farida Adamu Co-chair Media &Publicity Bulama Support Group

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“Nigeria Beyond Oil” – Text Of Speech On The Three Years Stewardship Of The Minister Of Mines And Steel, Abubakar Bawa Bwari

MONDAY, 14TH JANUARY, 2019.Protocols and Introduction

It gives me great pleasure to address you on the activities and achievements of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, and the Mining Sector, in the last three years of our stewardship.

2. Looking back, there is no doubt that so much has changed since November 11, 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari assigned the responsibility of running this ministry to Dr Kayode Fayemi, now Governor of Ekiti State, and my humble self.

There is a new sense of hope and a resurgence in mining activities that signal a bright future for the sector.Our Mandate

3. At the inception of this administration, President Muhammadu Buhari, assured Nigerians of his commitment to diversify the economy, using mining as one of the arrowheads of this effort. The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development was therefore given the mandate to increase the sector’s contribution to the GDP and it’s capacity to create jobs. However, in order to get a clearer picture of how far we have come in fulfilling these obligations, it is necessary to recall what we met when we first took over the reigns.Challenges We Met

4. On assumption of office, this administration inherited enormous challenges which included the following: Insufficient budgetary allocation; lack of geosciences data; weak institutional capacity of the supervising ministry; limited cooperation between federal and state authorities; limited supporting infrastructure; low productivity; informal mining and community challenges; weak ease of doing business and perception issues; and protracted litigation on legacy assets.

5. As a result, the mining sector, which used to flourish before the discovery of oil, became comatose, contributing only 0.03 percent to the GDP. Generally, morale was very low, investors felt discouraged and the ministry was unable to perform it’s regulatory role effectively.

6. In the last three years, we have embarked on a number of strategic interventions to derisk the sector, and with the support of the Presidency and Office of the Vice President, the Ministry has been able to record the following achievements:Landmark Achievements So FarRoadmap for the Sector

7. As a matter of priority, we developed a Roadmap for the Growth and Development of the Nigerian Mining Sector, in collaboration with stakeholders, to address inherited challenges. The document was approved by the Federal Executive Council in November 2016 and outlines the collaborative actions that all stakeholders must take for the growth of the sector over the next ten years (2015 – 2025).

8. Indeed, in order to enhance the Ministry’s operational capabilities, various FEC approvals were obtained within the period to execute critical projects and programmes in both the exploratory and regulatory aspects of our activities.Addressing Funding IssuesA. Increasing Budgetary Allocation

9. Over the years, poor budgetary allocation made it impossible for the ministry to function, but now our annual budget has risen from N1 billion in 2015 to about N7 bn in 2017. The government further approved the sum of N30bn (approx. $100m) as intervention fund meant to help fund exploration projects to generate critical geosciences data, and other necessary regulatory framework for sectorial growth.

10. We have also secured support from the World Bank in the form of a loan of $150m for funding the Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification (Mindiver) programme. A critical component of this will be used to provide technical assistance for the restructuring and operationalization of the Solid Minerals Development Fund, SMDF. The Fund would in turn make finances available to ASM operators through micro-finance and leasing institutions. It is also expected to help in revamping previously abandoned mining projects like tin ore, iron ore, coal, gold and lead-zinc.B. Funding for Operators

11. The Nigerian Mining landscape is dominated by artisanal and small scale miners who find it difficult to get loans from banks because of the high interest rates. In order to assist this group of operators, the Ministry, in collaboration with the Bank of Industry, established a N5 Billion Artisanal and Small Scale Miners Financing Support Fund to make funds available at a concessionary rate of 5%.C. Addressing Revenue Issues

12. A number of measures were also taken to increase the sector’s contribution to the GDP and plug loopholes in the royalty payment regime. A new Mineral Export Guideline was developed to take care of false declarations, and under-valuation of commodities for export. Our goal is to ensure that the true market value of our minerals are charged, based on the content of the mineral in the ore, concentrate, or refined consignment. This will help us get payment for the associated minerals that are often mined and exported without any royalties paid on them.Acquiring Critical Geoscience DataA. Retrieval of Old data The availability of accurate geoscience data is critical to the growth of the mining industry so we have gone to great lengths to provide essential data for the use of mining investors. We finally acquired the result of the aeromagnetic survey that Fugro carried out in 2006 but refused to release due to non-payment. We paid and retrieve these data which covers various mineral deposits across the country and the Nigeria Geological Survey Agency is currently using the data to explore for strategic minerals.

14. So far, they have made some interesting new discoveries which confirm the existence of Base metals in Ebonyi State, and gold in Osun and Kaduna states, in addition to previously known areas of mineralisation.

15. Integrated Exploration Programs In addressing the issue of scarce geological data, the Ministry commenced an Integrated Exploration Programme with the award of N15 billion contracts to five exploration companies for the purposes of exploring priority minerals like Gold, Lead, Zinc, Iron Ore and Rare Earth Metals. Delineated areas arising from these activities would be blocked and concessioned to technically and financially competent mining investors.

16 Drilling Equipment The Ministry also acquired diamond core drilling rigs and assaying equipment for the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency and National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency for use in geosciences data generation.

17. Phosphate Prospects In support of the Food Security Programme of this Administration, the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency carried out exploration for Phosphate in Sokoto State and discovered phosphate rich areas that could support the establishment of fertilizer plants. Currently, test drilling is ongoing and we are holding discussion with OCP (largest phosphate producer in the world) of Morocco to carry out cross beneficiation tests for NGSA.

18. Increasing Limestone Reserves During the period under review, the limestone resource base of the country was increased from 2.3 billion tonnes to 10.6 billion tonnes, with occurrences in 14 states, comprising Sokoto, Gombe, Benue, Kogi, Edo, Oyo, Ogun, Cross River, Ondo, Plateau, Bauchi, Akwa-Ibom, Enugu and Ebonyi States. An estimated 4.8 billion tonnes of Marble was also found to occur in the FCT, Nasarawa, Ondo, Edo, Oyo, Kogi, Kwara, Niger and Kebbi states.

19. Coal Prospects. As part of our contributions to the energy policy for the invigoration of the coal sub-sector and the concession of Nigerian Coal Corporation coal blocks, a Project Delivery Team (PDT) has been inaugurated. This is in furtherance of government’s aspirations to ensure that coal fired power plants generate 30% of the nation’s electricity by the year 2020.

20. Technical Cooperation Agreements In our effort to develop the mining sector, we have signed a number of MoUs and Technical Cooperation Agreements with countries with advanced mining jurisdictions like South Africa, Brazil, and China amongst others. Indeed, the NGSA recently operationalised the MoU with the China Geological Survey which has since commenced a nationwide regional geochemical mapping, aimed at identifying new mineral deposits.

21. Industrial Minerals Development A demand gap analysis of industrial minerals used by local industries shows that we import $44. 9 million worth of industrial minerals annually between 2014 – 2016, despite available local mineral deposits. The desire to facilitate local production of these minerals to conserve foreign exchange and create jobs led to the development of a Roadmap for the nation’s industrial Minerals. This presents opportunities for the development of hydrated and quick lime for water treatment; dimension stones for construction; and Calcium Carbonate, Gypsum and Kaolin for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Also included are Bentonite and Barites for the oil and gas industry.

22. Limestone Reserve It is interesting to note that Nigeria is now self sufficient in cement production as a result of our Limestone reserves. After additional exploratory activities, the limestone resource base of the country has been increased from 2.3 billion tonnes to 10.6 billion tonnes, occurring in 14 states, comprising Sokoto, Gombe, Benue, Kogi, Edo, Oyo, Ogun, Cross River, Ondo, Plateau, Bauchi, Akwa-Ibom, Enugu and Ebonyi States. Similarly, an estimated 4.8 billion tonnes of Marble was also found to occur in the FCT, Nasarawa, Ondo, Edo, Oyo, Kogi, Kwara, Niger and Kebbi states.STRENGTHENING EASE OF DOING BUSINESS AND PERCEPTION ISSUES

23. The Federal Government is fully focused on making it easier to do business in the Mining sector. We have one of the most competitive mining laws in the world, and we continue to collaborate with the Federal Inland Revenue Service to ensure the implementation of the 3-year tax holiday for new investors.

24. We have strengthened the ministry’s capacity to handle investment promotions and mineral trade by upgrading the unit in charge of these matters to a department, with the mandate to promote investment opportunities in the sector and supervise mineral trade. The Ministry has therefore partnered with the Ministry of Finance to develop a new Solid Mineral Export Guideline to address outstanding issues in mineral export administration. The new guidelines shorten the time for processing Mineral Export Permits from two weeks to two working days.

25. Upgrading the Cadastre OfficeIn order to further make it easier to do mining business in Nigeria, the operations of the Mining Cadastre Office has been made more effective and efficient with the establishment of six zonal offices to speed up the procurement of licenses, permits and approvals. The Cadastral System is also being upgraded with the introduction of online mineral title administration to make the MCO more transparent and accessible while also reducing Mineral title processing from 45 days to 15 days.

26. The Ministry addressed issues regarding non usage of mineral titles acquired from the MCO through the implementation of a provision in the Nigeria Minerals and Mining act, 2007 which allows for the revocation of non-performing or defaulting mineral titles. The exercise led to the revocation 2, 595 licenses which were made available for acquisition by interested investors.Addressing Mines Environmental and Health Issues

27. The sustainable management of our mineral resources by ensuring environmental justice, remains a priority of this ministry. To this end, we have prioritised the reclamation of abandoned mine sites nationwide.

28. The Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committees (MIREMCO), were also reactivated in all the states of the Federation for effective operations. A nationwide monitoring and enforcement of environmental compliance by mining operators was conducted to reduce mining operational hazards.Responding to Earth tremors

29. In response to the frequency of earth tremors in Nigeria, especially in Abuja and its environs, the MMSD acquired high sensitivity seismometers for use in monitoring and detecting earth movements and earthquake related activities locally and internationally. This is to provide timely information and advice to the public and other concerned government agencies. The first batch of these seismometers have been installed at various locations across the country based on geological considerations.Addressing Lead Poisoning

30. In our determination to promote Safer Mining practices, we have been collaborating with Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors without Borders, in providing medical services, advocacy and capacity building for miners and communities. Last year, we held an international Conference on Lead Poisoning associated with Artisanal and Small-Scale gold mining in the country. The resolutions from the Conference are being implemented, culminating in the establishment of a Centre for Training on Lead Poisoning, in Shakira, Niger State.Cooperation Between Federal and State Governments

31. In order to encourage beneficial participation of State Governments in the mining sector and enhance cooperation with the Federal Government, the Ministry successfully constituted the National Council of Mining and Mineral Resources, the highest policy body in the extractive industry. So far, we have held two editions of the Council which brought stakeholders together to shape the polices and programmes being executed by the ministry.

32. We are also working closely to build the capacity of State governments to structure Special Purpose Vehicles to participate in Mining in their jurisdictions. A two-day capacity building workshop for this purpose was organised in Sokoto State, which attracted representatives from all the states.

33. We believe that these administrative mechanisms has helped in dousing tension between federal and state authorities on issues surrounding natural resource governance.Developing Nigeria’s Gold Value Chain

34. Gold is one of the most smuggled commodities in Nigeria and a great deal of Nigeria’s gold is traded in the international market with hardly any impact on the economy or GDP. We therefore decided to reorganise the gold sector by developing a national gold policy aimed at facilitating formal gold production, trade and exports to ensure regular payment of royalties and taxes.

35. There is also a National Gold Purchase Scheme which is meant to promote the production and refining of gold for purchase by the Central Bank of Nigeria under a Federal Gold Reserve Treasury Scheme which is meant to accredit 10,000 artisans in five states; shore up our gold reserves as the CBN purchases the refined gold under the Federal Gold Reserve Treasury Scheme; produce 175,000 ounces of gold per annum, and increase the earnings from gold by N53 billion thus boosting our sector’s contribution to the GDP massively.Gains of Reforms

36. As a result of these efforts in the last three years, the sector has seen growth in a number of areas, and Nigeria is gradually becoming a mining destination once more. Some of the benefits include:REVENUE GENERATION AND EMPLOYMENT CREATION

37. Increased Sector Contribution to the GDP: Under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s strategic interventions, the mining sector has witnessed a steady rise in its contribution to the GDP from 0.03% in 2015 to 0.6% in 2018. Indeed, even during the recession of 2016, the sector was recording growth.

38. According to the audit report of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, the solid minerals sector contributed N43.2 billion to government coffers in 2016, including N40.38 billion in taxes collected by the Federal inland Revenue Service. In 2017, royalties and fees alone amounted to N3.92 billion with limestone leading in royalties earned by the government. Indeed, the Mining Cadastre óffice which until the advent of this administration in 2015, contributed an average of N600 million annually to the federation account, made N2. 1billion in 2017 alone.Improved Local Production

39. Essentially, the local mineral production index has experienced a boost as more and more private operators are committing huge investments to the sector. A great deal of trust in the Nigerian mining landscape is being demonstrated and formal mining is gradually becoming popular again as seen from the following developments:

40. Gold refineryIn line with our policy of developing the downstream operations of the sector, and following decisions reached at the recently concluded ERPG Focus Lab, the ministry approved the first ever gold refinery license in Nigeria to a private operator, Kian Smith Trade Co. Ltd. The ground breaking ceremony of the plant took place in Mowe, Ogun State, on the 13th of December 2018 and production is expected to start this year. The company will start with a production capacity of three tonnes per month of 99.9 percent gold and one tonne per month of 99.9 percent silver. Most of the gold will be sourced locally and when completed the refinery will provide more than 500,000 jobs in two years.

41. GemstonesAMRAN Mining Company Ltd commissioned the first ultra-modern incubation centre for gemstone faceting in Gwarimpa, Abuja in June 2018. The centre will be training youths in the art of gemstone faceting to enable them establish their own businesses, which should result in more jobs and wealth creation.

42. Iron Ore MiningKogi Iron Limited continues to blaze the trail in the utilization of iron ore. Contrary to previously held beliefs, the company has developed ways of using its iron ore resource to produce high grade steel, proving that apart from Itakpe, – which was meant to feed Ajaokuta – Nigeria has other sources of iron ore for making steel. It plans to build a steel plant at Agbaja is in its final stages.

43. Gold MiningSegilola Resources Operating Limited/Thor Explorations Ltd – operating in Atakunmosa East LGA, Osun State, the company is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and has established a proven reserve base of about one million ounces on part of their tenements. Mine development and further exploration is ongoing. The Company plans to commence production of gold in the first quarter 2020.

44. Lead/Zinc MiningSymbol Mining/Imperial Joint Ventures located in Bauchi State is a major Lead/Zinc and Copper prospect. The company’s mined material grades 22% zinc compared to the average global value of 6%. It is continuing with exploration activities to expand its mineral reserves.

45. First Patriot Ltd (Formerly Royal Salt Ltd) located at Ikwo LGA, Ebonyi State, is mining lead/zinc with an estimated reserve of two million tonnes. It has an installed lead/zinc ore processing capacity of 500 metric tonnes of lead/zinc concentrate per day. The Company operates an open cast mine and has concluded plans to commence underground mining by 2019.

46. Barely a month ago, we performed the groundbreaking ceremony of another lead/zinc/copper processing plant in Ebonyi State, owned by Tongyi group. It is also expected to begin operations this year

.47. Nickel ExplorationComet Minerals Group made a significant Nickel discovery in Kaduna State and is set for deep exploration. The company is currently finalizing arrangements for listing on the Australian and London Stock Exchanges for more exploration funding.

48. Tin Smelting PlantTimah Nig.Ltd, a product of a Joint Venture Agreement entered into between Messers Topwide Ventures and Messrs P.T Timah, for the purpose of exploration, mining and mineral processing/beneficiation of tin, intends to set up a processing plant of large capacity as a first step towards establishing a Tin Smelting Plant in Kaduna.

49. Coal ProductionEta Zuma located in Ankpa LGA, of Kogi State is presently mining coal and is also into intensive exploration to determine more coal reserves. The Company supplies coal to Dangote Industries for firing their kilns. Eta Zuma has also successfully developed the production of coal briquettes for household cooking; thus helping to curb the menace of deforestation arising from using wood as fuel for domestic heating.

50. MarbleRoyal Ceramics Ltd has successfully launched a new line of engineered marble tiles made from marble chipping with a total local content of 95 per cent. Its products are comparable to the best anywhere and still cheaper than imported ones.

51. Legacy ProjectsWe have made progress in resolving the legal issues around our legacy projects, particularly Ajaokuta. We have signed a Modified Concession Agreement (MCA) that has finally returned the entity to the Federal Government of Nigeria. Similarly, the issues around the reactivation of the Aluminum Smelting Company of Nigeria, ALSCON, has been resolved in favour of UC RUSSAL, which is now set to commence operations this year.

52. SteelIn our quest to ensure local sourcing of steel raw materials, the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency, undertook the delineation of 7.5million tonnes of bauxite deposit assaying 45% alumina in Mambila Plateau, Taraba State; iron ore diamond core drilling in Yola Nora, Bauchi, kogi, and Kaduna States; and over a hundred core holes drilled for various private companies.531. These projects are geared towards satisfying the current estimated local steel demand which stands at 4.5 million tonnes per annum, out of which only 30% of the local requirements are met by local steel companies using 100% scrap as raw material.

53. It is however pleasing to note that some of the private steel plant owners like the African Natural Resources and Mines Ltd; KAM Steel; and WEMPCO have acquired mineral titles in preparation for steel production, using iron ore instead of scrap iron or steel.

54. African Natural Resources and Mines Ltd, in particular, has invested $600 million in the development of their steel plants located at Lagos, Ikorodu, ogijo, Agbara, Abuja and Port Harcourt. They are also building a captive power plant in Kaduna, using Nigerian coal.Developing Supporting infrastructure

55. The ministry is mindful of the need to develop the necessary infrastructure required for the effective functioning of the minerals and mining ecosystem. These include railways, competitive financing systems, mine and asset security, and related support services which are being developed in concert with other government agencies.

56. We have therefore collaborated with the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Transport for the re-operationalisation of rail transport services along the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri line; and the reactivation of Ajaokuta’s 110MW Thermal Power Plant which will be used to generate electricity for the plant while the excess is fed into the national grid.

57. We have also commenced the development of mining resource corridors around contiguous States and along key infrastructure like railways, so that we can establish cluster industrial zones for increased economic opportunities and growth. We believe that when States are able to determine their comparative advantage within the mining resource corridors, they will make meaningful infrastructural investments to support our modest efforts.

58. Addressing Illegal Mining and Community ChallengesThe ministry has taken the following actions to address issues of informal and illegal mining;CooperativesThe Artisanal and Small Scale Mining department is working with the MinDiver programme, state MIREMCOs and other relevant MDAs to formalise our Artisanal miners into cooperatives for easier management and monitoring. This will facilitate their access to financial and commodity markets through grants and the establishment of mineral buying centres. So far, out of the over 2000 applications we received for the formation of cooperatives, we have registered 725 of them that meet our criteria after the verification exercise we conducted. Each cooperatives has not less than 10 members and engages about 20 artisans, and this has created over 15000 jobs in the sector.

59. As a result of increased activities in the sector, and the prospect of loans and other facilities that are only available for registered operators, we now have a total of 216 Private Mineral Buying centres all over the federation.

60. Mines policing and SecurityWe have reinvigorated our Mines Surveillance efforts with the deployment of newly trained and empowered mines officers across the federation. We have also established the Special Mines Taskforce team to address challenges of informal miners and conducted sensitization workshops and training for security agencies to help them understand our regulations, so they can identify, arrest and prosecute informal mining operators. We have procured over 70 new Hilux vehicles and distributed these to our offices nationwide, to security agencies for monitoring activities, and to the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committees (MIREMCO) across the states.

61. Considering the general security challenges in the country, we partnered with the NSA’s office to review the Explosives Act to check cases of proliferation, pilfering and diversion of explosives. We have also improved the ministry’s collaboration with security agencies, especially the Nigeria Customs Service, in addressing illegal exportation and smuggling of minerals; and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in checkmating cases of illegal mining activities.

72. Stakeholder Capacity BuildingUnder the MinDiver program, we have commenced the modalities for capacity building in community-based organizations and other community representatives, helping them to participate in key decisions in mining operations and processes. We are also providing guidance on suitable benefit sharing mechanisms (e.g. foundations, trusts and funds) and educating communities on what to expect from a mining operation, and at what stage in the operation.Other Issues

73. We improved our capacity to promote sustainability in our mining sector by producing the Mining Environmental Regulatory Compliance Handbook, and the guidelines for Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation Programme, to ensure sustainable mining in Nigeria. We are already collaborating with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation to develop an Action Plan on Mercury in the Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sector of Nigeria.

74.We also ensured the operationalization of a centralized GIS Web portal and ICT Infrastructure upgrade which has led to the automation of our monitoring activities.

75. As part of our collaborations with stakeholders in the sector, the Ministry granted N84 Million to 11 Universities for research development in various areas in the mining and metals sector in July 2018 in the first phase of our research collaboration with Tertiary Institutions.

76. Moreover, after several years, the Nigeria Institute of Mining and Geoscience (NIMG) Bill, 2018 has been passed into law and recently assented to by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, while the Bill for the National Metallurgical Institute, Onitsha is undergoing processing.

77. The Ministry engaged in some strategic developmental programmes to improve the sector. We continue to support the Miners Association of Nigeria, and Women in Mining in Nigeria, especially in their conferences and workshops. We hope to ensure gender mainstreaming in the mining sector, while ddressing social issues like child labour, conflicts, human rights abuses.

78. Similarly, some trainings and other forms of human capacity development were done to meet the skill challenge in the sector in order to empower our youth and create more job opportunities. In this vein, the Metrological Training Institute Enugu graduated 714 students and trained 60 persons under the Npower programme.

79. On its part, the Nigeria Institute of Mining and Geoscience, Jos graduated 66 post graduate students in the field of Mining Engineering, Mineral Engineering, and Exploration. A total of 157 Nigerian Youth were also trained as Gemmologists amongst others.

80. The NGSA trained 11 scientific officers of the Nigeria Geological Research Laboratory, in Mintek, South Africa for 10 days on XRD, SEM, XRF, Fire Assay and ICP-ores. Forty-nine (49) other staff were also trained on Health, Safety and Environment at ABU Zaria.

CONCLUSION

This report presents the highlights of our efforts and major achievements so far. I am confident that more successes will be recorded by the Ministry within the remaining period in the life of the present Administration.

Let me seize this opportunity to appreciate the entire staff of the Ministry and its Agencies for their wonderful commitment to duty. I also thank all our stakeholders and development partners for their cooperation with the Ministry and interest in the progress of our country.

We thank the members of the Press for their continued cooperation and patriotism and look forward to more of such partnerships in the period ahead.

Thank you all for listening, and may God bless You.

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Buhari: Why And How He Won, By Garba Shehu

President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to office in a seismic political shift that swept out of office 16 years of continuous rule by the People’s Democratic Party, PDP recorded yet another resounding victory to win a second term in office, leading his closest rival by a record-setting four million votes.

His party, the All Progressives Congress, APC gained the highest parliamentary majority in the Fourth Republic in the Senate and the House of Representatives, giving the President an ample room to carry out reforms he wished to carry out, but was outmaneuvered and frustrated by the Eighth National Assembly.
While campaigning for the 2015 general elections, President Buhari’s All APC made promises to end Boko Haram terrorism and secure the country for it to be efficiently managed; to restructure the economy, halt its downward slide and create jobs and to fight corruption because, as the president repeatedly says, “if Nigeria doesn’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”
His climactic victory against the then incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, his strong message on the three issues as listed above, his practical and serious approach helped to awaken a nation misled by characters who placed self above nation for sixteen years and more.
The Buhari administration has established for itself an anti-corruption reputation and has been in office nearing four years without a major scandal.  The African Union has on account of this, selected the President as the continent’s anti-corruption champion.
The Buhari administration can pat itself on the back for this achievement when it is viewed against the established culture in which corruption is the norm.
To win the war against corruption and institute transparency in the affairs of government, the Buhari administration introduced a number of fiscal reforms and plugged several leakages.
In the firm belief that the party was not mistaken about the problems facing the country, Candidate Buhari went into the February, 2019 campaign on the same issue platforms. The President and his party looked certain of victory from the sea of crowds that attended his political rallies all over the 36 states of the federation. He was the only candidate to have campaigned at least once in each state and the Federal Capital Territory.
These rallies attracted large crowds, mostly of the poor who are trusting in his impeccable qualities of honesty and integrity, and have bought into the idea that he will quickly push their country onto the top by lifting up the economy, creating jobs, securing the nation and ending the nightmarish corruption which had become the order of the day. Some of the events were marked by incidents of road accident, podium or building collapse and stampede leading to tragic losses of life.
At many of those well-attended rallies, the venues fell short of the people gathered. Thousands of supporters outside tried to barge into the inner rings of the venues. Pleas were not heard by surging crowds which resorted sometimes to throwing chairs, sachet water and bottles into the no-man zones in front of the stage.
It was evident from the commencement of the campaign that President Buhari had a a two-pronged election strategy, one to showcase the achievements of his administration in its first term and two, to cash in on his popularity with the lower rungs of the population. 
The party itself doubled down on President Buhari by zeroing in on his image as a diligent, coolheaded and incorruptible leader. In that enduring appeal, the APC saw a trump card going into the election.
Nobody can question President Buhari’s achievements. They are there for all to see.
The administration has significantly curtailed corruption to the point of abolishing what is called “grand corruption.” Given Treasury Single Account,TSA, the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information Scheme, IPPS, the Bank Verification Number, BVN number and Whistle Blower schemes, it is no longer possible for people in authority to, for instance, request the withdrawal of millions, or sometimes billions of Naira or US Dollars to be shared among party members as was the practice under the past administrations. To boot, the Buhari administration has signed onto the global Open Government Partnership, OGP.
Reforms are being carried out in the justice sector with a number of domestic legislations and international agreements to facilitate the identification, tracing, freezing, recovery and forfeiture of ill-gotten assets.
The administration’s primary sectors of agriculture and solid minerals have experienced growth of 180 and 565 percentage points respectively. Nigeria has today achieved near self-sufficiency in rice production.
Government has launched a series of funding and capacity development initiatives to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.  The work of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), inaugurated by President Buhari in August 2016 has resulted in moving Nigeria up 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, and earning a place on the list of 10 most improved economies.  In this regard, the administration has issued a number of Executive Orders on improving efficiency in the business environment and promoting local content.
The Buhari administration has also demonstrated a single-minded commitment to upgrading and developing Nigeria’s transport, power and health infrastructure.
Road projects are ongoing across every state of the country, with many of these projects having been abandoned for many years.  
The country’s narrow-gauge rail network of 3,500 Kms is currently being upgraded; Abuja’s light rail system has been completed and commissioned with a link to the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, which has equally been completed and launched.  The Ibadan-Lagos standard gauge rail is being test run.  Ibadan-Kano has been awarded.
The administration has successfully reconstructed the Abuja Airport runway, completed and commissioned new terminal buildings in Port Harcourt and Abuja with Lagos, Kano, Enugu and the others soon to be inaugurated.
Several water supply projects and dam/irrigation projects have been completed and many more on the way to being delivered.  About 100 ecological projects have been awarded and completed in the six geopolitical zones.
The Buhari administration has more than doubled power generation capacity.  It has increased generation to 8,100 MW and expanded transmission to more than 7,000 MW capacity, and has successfully deployed thousands of solar power systems to rural and urban households.
This is an administration that has been investing in people. It has introduced a social Investment Programme (SIP), which so far, has four components.  These are the N-power employment scheme that is hitting 500,000 this year, the home grown school feeding program that feeds more than nine million school children across the federation, the Government Enterprise and Empower Program, GEEP giving out interest-free loans to millions of market women, traders, artisans and farmers and the conditional cash transfer, CCT which pays N5,000 monthly to the poorest and most vulnerable households in the country.
In dealing with security, one of the first major steps by the Buhari administration was the revitalisation of the Multi-national Joint Task force, MNJTF aimed at combating transborder crime and the Boko Haram insurgency.  The MNJTF has the support and participation of neighbouring countries Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin, in addition to Nigeria.
On the day of his inauguration, the President had directed the relocation of the command and control centre of the Boko Haram war to Maiduguri, the epicentre of the insurgency.
The military has since proclaimed victory over the Boko Haram terrorists, following the capture of their operational and spiritual headquarters, “Camp Zero” in Sambisa Forest.
So far, more than one million displaced persons have returned to their homes and communities.  About 20,000 hostages have been freed. One hundred and six (106) Chibok Girls, abducted in April 2014 and 105 Dapchi Girls abducted in February 2018 have been released and reunited with their families
In the area of diplomacy and international relations, the Buhari administration has re-established Nigeria’s position and influence in regional and global arena. 
As a political leader, Muhammadu Buhari enjoys three formidable assets– his record as a disciplined former Army General, his reputation as an honest leader who has not allowed corruption to flourish under his watch when he served as a state Military Governor, Minister of Petroleum and Military Head of State and the public perception of his record as one who stands for and by the truth, Mai Gaskiya.
The main opposition to President Buhari, the Peoples Democratic Party failed to realize how much these qualities meant to ordinary Nigerians; they did not reckon with the disillusionment of the citizens with their perceived acts of commission and omission for the 16 years they were in power.
They must by now, have realized with a with benefit of hindsight, that demonization and denigration of an individual does not bring in poll dividends. In their campaigns, they chose to demonise and denigrate Muhammadu Buhari as President. It did not pay.
Before and after this election, there is no face in the opposition who can match President Buhari’s inspiring character and personality. Many, including this reporter believe that it wasn’t the rail, road or achievements in the power sector that won this election for President Buhari. No doubt, these and many others are important. They may have added a bit here and a bit there. But what won it for him, was the focus by the voter on the single most important factor of Mai Gaskiya.
 Mallam Garba Shehu is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity

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Bulama: A Square Peg In A Square Hole, By Segun Tomori

As the race for who to succeed the former National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Governor-Elect of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni heats up, one name has featured prominently amongst party stakeholders in the APC – Arc. Waziri Bulama. Bulama, a top contender for the post in last year’s national convention had stepped down for Buni in deference to party leaders in the North-East as a loyal party man.

Aside his intimidating credentials which has seen him rise to the position of the Deputy Director-General (Coordination) of the APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) 2019, amongst other strategic roles in the party in recent past, what strikes one about him at first sight is his humility, calm disposition yet impeccable grasp of issues that concerns the inner working of the APC.

While the battle has been won with the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari, a lot needs to be done not only to justify the people’s confidence in the party, but also strengthen it as a viable platform for the future. At present, most analysts posit that the APC is still a conglomeration of strange bedfellows and yet to transit into a close knit party. Others infer that President Buhari is the only unifying factor within the party. Unfortunately, Buhari has only 4 years left as President, hence the party must begin the process of reengineering itself to be formidable enough to continue its winning streak. That is where Arc. Waziri Bulama comes in.

Combined with the sagacity, vision and energy of the Comrade Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, Bulama brings vast experience, intellectual acumen and excellent inter-personal skills to the table. With both men at the helm of affairs at the APC national secretariat, APC is poised to reinvent itself, evolve greater cohesion in the party and assert its supremacy in Government formed by the party both at Federal and sub-national levels.

The APC has a “Next Level” manifesto which is expected to guide the policy direction of the incoming 2nd term administration of President Buhari. Bulama having served at the top echelon of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) will be better positioned to assist the President with requisite human and material resources within the party that will bring the lofty manifesto to fruition.

Bulama’s impeccable credentials and qualities is not lost on party stakeholders as he has already garnered support of majority from his North-East zone amongst other influential leaders across the country.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Arc. Waziri Bulama is the perfect “Square peg in a square hole”, that’s why we are with him and we trust that the APC won’t hesitate to utilise this invaluable asset as it’s next National Secretary.

Segun Tomori is the Chairman, Media & Publicity Committee of the Bulama Support Group.

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Plateau: Which Senatorial District Should Produce The Next Minister? By Gyang Bere

The 2019 General Elections has come and gone, leaving behind tales of woes from the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Plateau State. However, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is battle ready to assemble competent personnel to fill in political appointments that President Muhammadu Buhari is going to offer the state.

The quest for political appointments, particularly the Ministerial position which is done based on Federal character has generated heated debate among citizens of the State.

The question on the lips of many Plateau indigenes is: Which Senatorial District should produce the next Minister?

Many believed that in the spirit of fair play, Plateau North Senatorial District should be considered for the Ministerial appointment since the Governor, Simon Bako Lalong hails from Plateau South while the Deputy Governor comes from Plateau Central.

Currently, Hon. Solomon Dalung is occupying the plumb seat. He was single-handedly appointed in 2015 by President Buhari without seeking inputs of political stakeholders from the state. Dalung is jostling to retain his seat in the next cabinet.

Political pundits from the state believe that competent hands like Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, Lumumba Dah-Adeh and Ambassador Chris Giwa, who have fair knowledge in the world of sports should be considered for Sports Minister if the position will be retained for Plateau State.

The cream of personalities all hail from Plateau where the masses are drumming support for the Ministerial appointment for political balancing and fair play.

Hon. Solomon Dalung is the current Minister of Sports and Youth Development. He was a chieftain of the APC and a die-hard supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari before his appointment in 2015.

Dalung hails from Langtang South Local Government Area in Plateau South where Buhari and APC got 11, 000 votes while Atiku and PDP polled 18,000 votes.

Hon. Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande is a current and two term serving member of the House of Representatives for Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency of Plateau State.

He was elected under the Platform of Democratic People’s Party (DPP) in 2011 and defected to APC to support President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 where he secured his second tenure.

Yahaya-Kwande contested the House of Reps party primaries under APC and lost narrowly to Alh. Haruna Maitala.

It was believed that Kwande lost the party primaries due to political narrative that his father, who was former Ambassador of Nigeria to Switzerland and member of APC Board of Trustees was working for Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of PDP.

But the lawmaker refused to align with his father in the PDP, instead remained focus and steady in pursuing victory for President Buhari, Governor Lalong and other APC candidates during the polls by providing campaign vehicles and mobilising grassroots support for the party.

 In his Jos North constituency, Buhari polled 93, 800 votes to beat Atiku and PDP who scored 53,277 votes. Honourable Kwande is the youngest football administrator among all the Ministerial contenders in Plateau.

Hon. Lumumba Dah-Adeh is a former member of the House of Representatives and ex-adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He is the Acting Chairman of Former APC members of the House of Representatives.

Dah-Adeh who hails from Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State in the Northern zone has been a loyal and committed member of the APC.

Ambassador Chris Giwa is a peace Ambassador and ex-embattled President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). He contested the position in 2014 and lost in a controversial circumstance to the current President, Amaju Pinnick.

He battled through legal means to retrieve his mandate but couldn’t succeed. He was restored to the Glass House at some point through the court but lost the position through appeal.

Chris Giwa delivered 25,574 votes to Buhari in his Jos South Local Government Area while Atiku polled 106,574 votes in the LGA.

Other prominent APC stakeholders in the zone who are interested in the Ministerial appointments includes, Ex-Nigeria Ambassador to Ukraine, Ibrahim Kasai, Director General of Lalong/Tyoden Campaign organisation, Arch. Pam Dung Gyang, former Minister of Information, Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande and former Secretary to Government of Plateau State, Hon. Rufus Bature among others.

As the battle and lobbying continue, only time will tell who among them will be favoured by the Buhari’s administration.

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Spotlight On Arc. Waziri Bulama, By Farida Ali Adamu

The turmoils of elections are over, the drumming of victory still resonate the airs of Nigeria. The winds of the Next level have swept the country and the entire nation await the inauguration and formation of new cabinet members. A new administrative government is about to take off…

APC must be applauded for their ability to remain unshakeable despite the obstacles they encountered from various oppositions. Yet, in all of these, APC and it’s working committee have proven their determination with a drive to succeed against all odds.

Thus, it is time to consciously appraise the Presidential Campaign council – led by a benign, noble man. One who has been a pillar of APC for over a decade. A political Mogul who has served the party without reservations since inception:
Arc. Waziri Bulama.

So far, Bulama served applaudably with his role in the Presidential Campaign Council. His comprehensible input enabled the whole APC populace project a narrow, yet sharp beam of light on a hero_ a priceless intellectual gem.

Since the outgoing National Secretary’s resignation (Mai Mala Buni), the party has been in desperate need of a National Secretary. The right person who can complement our National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshomole, in ensuring the party maintains it’s solid stance within the 36 states of Nigeria.
The party’s stakeholders have come together to nominate and support Arc. Waziri Bulama irregardless of other candidates huge interest in the role.

In all of these, Arc. Waziri Bulama remains the dependable choice for the position. His unbeatable profile is worth the highest recognition.
An unnamed source attested that Waziri has the blueprint for APC secretariat. According to him, there are structures put in place to address some pressing issues such as gender parity and youth involvement in the coming years. However, this does not come as a surprise considering Bulama’s well experienced background in business and politics. Members of the Presidential Campaign Council celebrates his potentials.

Eventhough APC as a party has emerged to be the strongest and biggest party in the country, it is worthy of note that Bulama contributed immensely to this progress. Therefore, the party should take advantage of this great man and benefit by utilizing his potentials once again.
This is a resolution from the party’s stakeholders and Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole.

APC party members are searching to make a decision that will directly impact the party.
We the BSG (Bulama support group) are optimistic that the decision makers will make the right choice for the party in good time ..

We look forward to a resounding victory…
This is my hope for BSG

Ms. Farida Ali Adamu

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PEBEC Completes Fourth 60-day National Action Plan (NAP 4.0) At NSE Closing Gong Ceremony

On Monday, April 29th, 2019, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) completed the fourth National Action Plan (NAP 4.0) which began on March 1st, 2019. The completion of NAP 4.0 marked the end of another 60-day accelerated reform cycle targeted at implementing reforms and promoting accountability.

In the remark by the Honourable Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment/Vice-Chair of PEBEC, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, he emphasized the continued need for partnerships and collaborations towards economic growth, transformation and an overall improved business climate. He stated that, ‘’there is a need for government to forge synergy with the private sector towards exploring opportunities of raising capital through the market for infrastructure projects and boost industrialisation’’.

Also speaking on the completion of the 60-day NAP 4.0 reform cycle, the PEBEC Secretary and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade & Investment, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole congratulated the MDAs on the successful completion of the NAP 4.0 and urged them to complete the implementation of outstanding reforms. She also thanked private sector and other arms of government for the strong collaboration that has been enjoyed on Nigeria’s ease of doing business initiative, even as we all collectively strive to expand and deepen reforms for continuous improvement of our economy.

During the NAO 4.0 cycle, specific Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) implemented reforms during this period that will improve efficiency, cost savings as well as transparency of processes and systems. These reforms are also a direct response to some of the challenges which SMEs encounter, particularly in the areas of starting a business, enforcing contracts, paying taxes, registering property and dealing with construction permits.

On the implemented reforms during this period, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) enforced compliance of its Service Level Agreement (SLA) on post incorporation filings. This means that post-registration applications are now treated within the timelines specified in the SLA at CAC offices. The Kano State Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Co-operatives and Tourism (KSMCICT) also enforced the use of the newly introduced electronic process for registration of business premises in Kano State. This will largely improve the efficiency in the process for registration of business premises in the State.

Lagos and Kano States Judiciaries have published performance reports and judgements of the Small Claims Courts on their respective websites, as reforms to ease the enforcement of contracts. These courts were set up in April 2018 and January 2019 respectively, to handle liquidated money demands with a threshold of N5 Million and below. The availability of performance reports and copies of judgments of will improve transparency and engender confidence & trust in the judicial system for both States.

The ease of paying taxes was also improved, as the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) worked extensively on driving the implementation and adoption of electronic payment and filing of taxes in Lagos State. This reform is expected to provide access to e-platforms for use by all classes of tax payers.

The Lagos and Kano States Ministries of Physical Planning and Development also drove more awareness and compliance on previously implemented reforms, with constant monitoring and evaluation. Some of these reforms include: the removal of the infrastructure development charge (IDC) for 2-floor warehouses, which saves about N6 Million for stakeholders; the removal of the requirement for submission of certified true copies (CTCs) for purposes of obtaining title documents and survey plans, amongst others. The communication of the implemented reforms has improved efficiency with regards to operations at the State Ministries and translated into cost savings.

The National Action Plan 4.0 concluded with an overall completion rate of 64%.

The Ag. Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms. Mary Uduk, also in attendance, said that the SEC has been at the forefront of supporting capital market operations, through its development of e-dividends to boost investors’ confidence in the market.

PEBEC was established in 2016 to oversee Nigeria’s business climate reform agenda, and is chaired by His Excellency the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, with the primary mandate to remove critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints as well as to drive reforms for economic impact. PEBEC’s model aligns with global best practice and includes a strong performance tracking element that is measured by the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index (DBI), which is reported annually.

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Ecobank’s Rapid Transfer App Wins Asian Banker Awards

Ecobank’s Rapid Transfer App has been named Best Remittance Product and Service of the Year by the Asian Banker Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards for West Africa. 

]The Rapid Transfer App was selected following a rigorous and transparent process that saw the Asian Banker accessing banks and non-bank retail financial services players in several countries in West Africa. Currently The Asian Banker Awards covers the Asia Pacific, the Middle East and West Africa where more than 300 banks and non-bank retail financial services players in more than 42 countries are evaluated.

Presenting the awards to winners in Lagos, Nigeria, Chairman, The Asian Banker, Emmanuel Daniel, said the Excellence in Retail Financial Services programme is probably the most rigorous, prestigious and transparent awards programme for consumer financial services in the world.

He congratulated Ecobank for winning the award and explained that the programme also assesses all new players such as payments companies, marketplace platforms and alternative financial services platforms made possible by financial technology (fintech) who are greatly contributing to the transformation of the retail financial services industry. He said through the awards the Asian Banker aim to capture the evolving competitive landscape and recognise the outstanding players and initiatives, from which the industry can learn from to better provide consumer products, services and experience.

Receiving the award on behalf of the Ecobank Group, Executive Director, Commercial Banking, Caro Oyedeji, thanked the organizer for engaging in rigorous exercise to arrive at winners of the various awards, stressing that Ecobank retail business has witnessed substantial transformation, innovation and growth in all its segments and dimensions – customers, products and channels in recent years.

She disclosed that Ecobank is now being commonly regarded as digital payment solution bank because of its offerings such as Rapid Transfer, EcobankPay, OMNI and Xpress account, among others.

Also speaking Linus Adaba, Ecobank Group Head, Remittances & Mobile Money, described the awards as a worthy recognition of the Rapid Transfer App which is one of Ecobank’s landmark initiatives targeted at easing the process and enabling Africans in diaspora send money to their loved ones back home on the continent.

“Many Africans work elsewhere in Africa, or further afield in Europe, America and Asia and financially support their relatives back home. “Rapidtransfer is a safe and secure low-cost remittance solution, which ultimately will put more money into the hands of the recipient. This will have a multiplier effect on the African economy by boosting demand and driving business growth. Rapidtransfer removes all of bottle necks and high cost of sending money back home. Its standout affordability is a game changer in the way that Africans send money to their loved ones.” He stated. The Rapidtransfer App can be downloaded in both App & Play stores and setup is easy in less than 5 minutes.

“I use this opportunity to dedicate these awards to all hard working staff of the Ecobank Group, who have tirelessly worked to see the success of the bank. And also to all Africans who believe in us and have continued to encourage our efforts by adopting our products”.

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