NGO Pledges To Make Entrepreneurs Out Of Prisoners

Habeeb Okunola Foundation, an NGO, has restated its commitment to continued donation of equipment and machines to encourage entrepreneurship and skills acquisition in prisons across the country.

Mr Solomon Adetokunbo, the Programme Manager of the NGO made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.

Adetokunbo said that the NGO, which had been into involved in many projects including prison reform, recently donated some sewing machines to the Lagos Division of the Nigerian Prison Service.

“The gesture is in line with the foundation’s long term commitment toward ensuring the prison truly serves as a reformation and correction facility for the inmates there.

“We seek through various skills acquisition and entrepreneurship development programmes, to give a sense of value and provide options of viability to the inmates.

“The ultimate goal is to prepare them for a life of economic productivity, self-worth and self-sustenance after serving their jail terms.

“We shall continue to donate materials to prisons across the country; we shall also do the needful to contribute to development in the health, financial and economic sectors of the country,’’ he said.

According to Adetokunbo, the foundation apart from complementing government’s efforts on prison reform, also provides health service, financial inclusion, education and humanitarian assistance to other indigent people in the society.

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Olajumoke Adekeye Represents Youth Voice At 2019 Annual World Economic Forum Meeting In Davos

The Curator of the Abuja Hub of the Global Shapers Community has been selected by the World Economic Forum to represent the Community and the youth voice at the Forum’s 2019 Annual Meeting in Davos.

Olajumoke Adekeye, a trained biochemist and statistician, was elected to lead the Abuja Global Shapers hub as its curator in March 2018. Known for her commitment to excellence, Jumoke’s vision for the Hub is to – Develop, Grow, and Shine – intentionally leaving a legacy for young people to build their capacity to solve the challenges they encounter in their communities.

“Our desire is to model 360 degree leadership that distinguishes us as transparent, trustworthy, and authentic. When next people hear of African leaders, because of us, it will not be of corrupt strongmen, or aged and self-interested leaders. But it will be of transparent, trustworthy, and excellent women and men.” Jumoke notes.

Leading a hub of 48 Global Shapers who are engaged in various projects aimed at transforming and improving lives of residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Jumoke started the first community service project of the Abuja Hub, the Employability and Entrepreneurship Programme (EEP), where she works with other Shapers to execute employability skills workshops, job fairs, and entrepreneurship masterclasses.

“EEP has today touched the lives of over 800 young beneficiaries. Launched in 2013, the programme is designed to help bridge the skills and knowledge gap among young job seekers and entrepreneurs in Nigeria. The programme has a vision to equip at least 7,000 youth with employability skills to help them get viable jobs, and also to provide business mentoring and coaching to at least 3,000 emerging entrepreneurs.” Jumoke said.

At the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting at Davos, Olajumoke Adekeye will be joining seasoned world leaders as a panellist on themed discussions, including on “The Demographics of the Gig Workforce” and on “Scaling Up Solutions For Supply Chain Traceability.”

Jumoke will also be moderating an session with Jack Ma, the founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Holding.

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Just In: National Council Of State Approves N27,000 As New Minimum Wage

The National Council of State has approved N27,000 as the minimum wage for the country.

The council approved the amount at its meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Atiku Disowns Statement On Alleged 30 Corrupt Buhari’s Aides

Presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar has denied listing 30 corrupt persons in president Muhammadu Buhari’s government.

In a statement released by Phrank Shaibu, a media aide to the PDP presidential candidate, Director-general of Atiku’s campaign organisation and former governor of Ogun State Gbenga Daniel said the statement was not authorised by the former Nigerian vice president.

“Atiku Abubakar is a statesman and not in the habit of making unguarded and unsubstantiated claims about persons and institutions,” Deputy chairman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council (South), Gbenga Daniel said.

“Atiku believes in the rule of law, and would not accuse people wrongly especially if no competent court of law has found them guilty.”

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Court Adjourns Trial Of El Zakzaky

The trial against leader of Islamic movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky, his wife and two others has been adjourned to the twenty fifth of March, Two thousand and nineteen.

This followed an application by the defendant’s counsel Mr. Femi Falana that the leader and his wife had been in poor condition of health.

The trial judge also cited inability of the third and fourth accused persons to appear in court since commencement of the trial.

The court ordered the state through the Director of Public Prosecution Dari Bayero to amend the charges to enable full commencement of trial against the first and second accused person.

It also mandated the state to ensure that the accused persons are provided with access to adequate medical treatment before the next adjourned date.

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AbdulRazaq Asks Kwara Govt To Give Account On N70bn Rice Project

The AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq governorship campaign organisation has called the Kwara state government the most unaccountable in the country, alleging that its so-called N70bn rice project with one Vasolar Consortium was a grand fraud. 

“Kwara State government runs the most deceitful and unaccountable government in Nigeria as most of its claims are based on outright falsehood while its projects were often conceived to either give the impression that it was doing something or divert public funds to advance private business interests,” Rafiu Ajakaye, media aide to the organisation, said in a statement on Tuesday. 

“A few examples include the Shonga farm project, aviation school, diagnostic centre and recently the so-called International Vocation Centre, all of which the government now says belong to private concerns after public funds had been used to establish them. 

“In 2012, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed entered into an agreement with one Vasolar Consortium which, to quote the governor, ‘will provide a total capital of N70billion over a period of four years while the State government is expected to provide seven million euros and 20,000 hectares of land of which 5,000 hectares will be cultivated yearly. Government Ahmed while signing the MoU at the Government House Ilorin recently described the project as another giant step of his administration towards effective governance.’

“It has been seven long years since that MOU was signed and nothing has been heard of this clearly fraudulent rice project. Where is the public fund sunk into the Vasolar fraud? To further appreciate our O To Ge (enough is enough) campaign, Kwarans may recall that the collaboration between Kebbi state government and Lagos on rice production started on March 23, 2016 and the first yield of that collaboration was in the market by the yuletide of the same year, precisely December 21, 2016. The Igbemo rice in Ekiti started much after the Kwara contraption and the rice is now in market.

“Just like people cannot point at any benefit from the Shonga farm, into which billions of public funds and resources were sunk, it is safe to call the so-called MOU with Vasolar Consortium a big scam and an economic crime against the people of Kwara.

“Because they have no answer to the many questions surrounding their stewardship, they have been engaging in scaremongering and entering into laughable agreements that the people of Kwara North know they don’t intend to keep. We call on the anti-graft agencies to scrutinise the books of Kwara State government to see how much exactly was frittered away in the name of this phantom project and prosecute all the officials involved in the grand deception.”

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FG Sacks Bichi As ES Of TETFund

The Federal Government has approved the re-instatement of Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro as the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).

 A statement from the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said, the re-instatement of Prof. Bogoro is with immediate effect, with the same terms and conditions as it were in his previous appointment and as stipulated in the TETFUND staff conditions of service.

Professor Bogoro initially handed over to Dr Abdullahi Baffa in August 2016, having worked with Adamu Adamu, the current Minister of Education, as an adviser.

Prof. Suleiman Bogoro was the Executive Secretary of TETFUND between April 2014 and February 2016.

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President Buhari Promises Sound Economic Programes If Re-Elected

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday promised to adopt sound security and economic transformation programmes to address the nagging social and economic challenges facing the country, if re-elected.

President Buhari, who spoke in Hausa language at the inauguration of his re-election campaign in Maiduguri, also promised to take the fight against corruption to a logical conclusion.

He said his administration had achieved significant progress in the campaign against corruption, economic diversification and improvement of security.

The President said his administration had adopted practical measures to reduce poverty, provide employment opportunities to the teeming unemployed youths and enhance farmers’ access to fertiliser and inputs. “In 2015; I promised three things namely: security, economy and corruption. “We reinvigorated agricultural sector; provide fertiliser and other support to farmers. I am happy that we recorded bumper harvest in the past two seasons.

“The high yields recorded boost crop production and we no longer spend money on the importation of rice. “On security, our achievements are glaring and I remain committed to the protection of lives and property of the people as well as safeguard the nation’s territorial integrity. “I always sleep with you in mind on security, economy and fight against corruption,” Buhar said.

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FG To Establish Entrepreneur Money Bank, Says Osinbajo

The federal government is to set up a special entrepreneur money bank that will offer soft loans to young school leavers and undergraduates to make them self reliants…

Vice President Professor Yemi osinbajo announced this at the launch of the trader moni scheme, and micro small medium enterprises clinic held at the state pavilion in Ado Ekiti.

The Vice President explained that the bank which would be called people’s money bank was part of government initiative to address the challenges of unemployment among youths in the country.

Professor osinbajo noted that government was poised to encourage entrepreneurs with loans that would improve their businesses with a view to stimulate the nation economic growth.

He therefore called on the people to support the re election of the president which according to him will enable the APC led government to transform the country to a better place.

The Governor of Ekiti State Dr. kayode Fayemi said the APC led administration both at the state and national level would make life more comfortable for the people.

Some of the beneficiaries appreciated the government for the gesture which they said would assist them in their small businesses.

The vice president inspected the various exhibition of entrepreneurs at the launch of the initiative

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Ecobank Nigeria To Establish 50,000 Xpress Points In 2019

Ecobank Nigeria, has disclosed plans to bring banking operations closer to Nigerian neighborhoods by expanding its agent banking locations to 50,000 before the end of 2019.

Managing director of the bank, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan, who disclosed this during a media chat with journalists in Lagos, explained that the move is in line with the vision of the Pan African Bank to ensure the financial inclusion of all Nigerians.

According to him, the bank has 400 physical locations in Nigeria, and the aim is to let every household have access to Ecobank services “We have presence in every state in Nigeria. We have a customer base of 9 million in Nigeria, with 400 branches. More interestingly, more than 4,000 agency locations known as Ecobank Xpress point which is our approach to bringing banking to every neighborhood.

“Our ambition is to have 50,000 of such locations this year such that in every neighbourhood you can access Ecobank Xpress point to do cash deposit, withdrawal and actually make it more convenient for customers to open an account, get an instant card and participate in financial economy. Across the group, we have about 4,000 ATMs. In Nigeria we have 2,000 ATMs and we are still expanding the ATM network,” he said.

Speaking on the contribution of Ecobank to Nigerian and African economy, Akinwuntan said the bank has recorded many firsts in the banking industry revolution and introduction of EcobankPay is one of them.

He said, “we have introduced EcobankPay which has brought together all three QR codes available in the country on one platform. EcobankPay accepts and make payment with Masterpass, Mvisa and Mcash. You can have 100 QR codes at no additional cost. You don’t require different number, just one number and you are able to transact. We bringing this digital solution into the economy will enable small businesses to participate more effectively, enables faster savings, reduces risk of insecurity.”

Akinwuntan added that Ecobank will be bringing message of the combination of its POS, EcobankPay, Express Point, ATMs, Ecobank Omni, and Ecobank Omni light to markets and households to enable people interact with the products.

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BMO To Obasanjo: May You Live Long To Give Proper Testimony On Buhari

The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has prayed for long life for former President Olusegun Obasanjo so that he may give the right testimony on President Muhammadu Buhari.

Reacting to the recent 16-page write-up in which the former President listed a litany of allegations against President Muhammadu Buhari, the group said the allegations are false and they are  only a figment of Obasanjo’s imagination. 

The group described the allegations as “a calculated attempt to divert Nigerians’ attention from the misdeeds and maladministration of the former President’s party, Peoples Democratic Party over a period of sixteen years.”

In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO says it is praying for  long life for former President Obasanjo so that he will live long to attest to the monumental development of the country being undertaken by the Buhari administration, which successive PDP administration knowingly denied Nigerians during their reign.

“It is instructive to note that under the Buhari administration, and in less than four years, the country has been turned into a huge construction site as we see roads, railways and sundry projects being executed across the six geo-political zones of the country, unlike the PDP era when public funds were used to enrich and line the pockets of a few privileged Nigerians.

“For the avoidance of doubt, this is an administration that focuses on people-oriented projects with the sole aim to improve the lives of ordinary Nigerians.

“We consider the allegations against the President, APC and INEC by the former president as unfounded, cooked up, unsubstantiated, false and deliberately concocted to give the former president an unmerited relevance in the polity.

“We call on former President Obasanjo to respect himself, his age and the exalted office he once held and stop heating up the polity by constantly seeking relevance even at the risk of plunging the country into turmoil. As an elder statesman, he should know that such comments and vituperations maybe taken seriously by the unwary.”

The group then enjoined Nigerians to disregard the machinations of the former President “as he is only venting his frustration over his inability to railroad President Muhammadu Buhari to do his bidding and dance to his tune as was the case with previous administrations. We want to reassure Nigerians that the Buhari administration is determined to change their lives for the better, and will never tow the path of serving the narrow interests of a few.”

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Obasanjo’s Attack On TraderMoni Reflects Either His Ignorance Or Mischief – Presidency

The statement purportedly attributed to former president Olusegun Obasanjo regarding Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and the Federal Government’s TraderMoni microcredit scheme if, indeed true and accurate, is most unfortunate, according to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande.

While responding to media inquiries regarding the former president’s comments over the weekend, Akande noted that “it is either that the former leader is ignorant of the true workings of Trader Moni and the role of the Vice President in its implementation or perhaps he is on a mischievous mission.”

According to Akande, the former President has demonstrated “a surprising but complete misunderstanding of the workings of TraderMoni, that is if we assume there is no mischief intended. “

Firstly, the Vice President does not personally distribute money during his visits to the markets. He goes there to assess the progress of the implementation and to create awareness for a programme designed to meet the financing need of 2 million petty traders across the country in the first instance.

Secondly, while one will not bother to further address the issue of timing of the implementation since such issues are now known to be political posturing, it is important to note that TraderMoni is being actively implemented across all states of the federation and the FCT. It is not only Lagos and Abuja as was insinuated.

These petty traders at the bottom of the economic ladder, with an inventory often less than N5,000, are beneficiaries of the TraderMoni scheme which provides N10,000 collateral/interest-free loans to them, empowerment that improves their small businesses, their families, while also contributing significantly to the economy.

Thirdly, in what is certainly a curious comment, the former President has also been quoted as describing the TraderMoni scheme as idiotic. To label such people-friendly scheme as idiotic is not only an absurdity, it is also an affront to the sensibilities of these hard working Nigerians, the beneficiaries of the micro-credit scheme.

For emphasis, the Bank of Industry implements the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP, one part of our Social Investment Programme. Enumeration Agents have been engaged to visit the markets and other points where petty traders are found to confirm that they are traders and also take their biometric information for recording purposes. After the enumeration, the N10,000 collateral free loans are then disbursed electronically through the petty traders’ phones.

TraderMoni is designed to meet the needs of the larger population of petty traders at the bottom of the pyramid who do not meet the more stringent criteria of BVN, bank accounts, market associations, cooperatives, required for bigger Market Moni loans.

Under GEEP – which has MarketMoni, FarmerMoni and TraderMoni, at least 1.5 million Nigerians are already beneficiaries of the three-pronged approach of GEEP, while N-Power has created jobs for 500,000 young Nigerians graduates, besides non-graduates. Also, almost 300,000 Nigerians have benefitted from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), which is given to the poorest and most vulnerable among us, and over 9.2 million school pupils are being fed a free meal daily in 26 states under the Home Grown School Feeding Programme.

It bears repetition that higher economic growth potentials are associated with lower income inequality. This makes a most overwhelming case for welfare payments like the social investment schemes like the TraderMoni/MarketMoni schemes. Such a micro-credit scheme provides a higher rate of inclusion into the financial bracket and is crucial in lifting hardworking people out of poverty as has been the case in other countries like India and Brazil.

Fourthly, the former president also rehashed discredited claims suggesting that TraderMoni beneficiaries were required to tender their PVCs, and questioned the timing of the implementation.

Let me, therefore, state again that beneficiaries of TraderMoni are not required to show their Personal Voters Cards (PVCs) or any document indicating their political affiliations to qualify for the loans. This is why the enumeration is done in the open markets and wherever the traders ply their trade. This issue has been addressed several times by the Presidency in the public space. Therefore the former president’s alleged comments smirk of outright mischief as it regurgitates blatant falsehood.

Equally, if the former president had conducted a simple act of diligence, he would have found that the National Assembly had approved this programmes and budgeted for them duly.

When President Muhammadu Buhari came into office, one of the major hinges of this administration was to uplift the common man out of poverty and ensure the welfare of ordinary Nigerians. TraderMoni is one of such schemes conceived in 2016 under the Social Investment Programme of this administration.

Being a former president, Chief Obasanjo ordinarily should appreciate the impact of such far-reaching social investment schemes, which has provided what is now the largest social safety net for millions of Nigerians and is unprecedented in the nation’s history.

Again, the former president’s attack on TraderMoni and the person of the Vice President is an indicator that he may be wittingly or unwittingly playing to the sinister script of the opposition party to spread falsehood and attack the social investment programmes of the Buhari administration, which champions such impactful schemes, and which is now attracting the praise and commendation of Nigerians everywhere.

It is pertinent to state that the false allegations against TraderMoni raised again by the former president is sadly a rehash of baseless claims previously made by leading chieftains of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, whose record of profligacy, corruption and mismanagement clearly show it has no agenda to uplift the common man or improve the lives of Nigerians.

Finally, attacks such as this on a scheme that benefits the masses of our people is a direct attack on the people and this kind of conduct does not reflect very well on a former president but is only self-denigrating and of no public value. As is already now obvious, the generality of the Nigerian people will not only reject that attack but will also condemn its source. We, therefore, urge the former president to be far more circumspect and more public-spirited in his utterances going forward.

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