President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday administered oaths of office on members of the newly constituted Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC).
Buhari, while inaugurating the eight-member Council at the presidential villa, Abuja set an agenda for what they should accomplish in the shortest possible time.
The President at a meeting with the council chaired by Prof. Doyin Salami charged them to focus on developing reliable data that would properly reflect what is happening in the country.
Buhari described the task before the PEAC as ‘‘most important national assignment’’.
‘‘As you develop your baseline study, I would like you to focus on primary data collection. Today, most of the statistics quoted about Nigeria are developed abroad by the World Bank, IMF and other foreign bodies.
‘‘Some of the statistics we get relating to Nigeria are wild estimates and bear little relation to the facts on the ground.
‘‘This is disturbing as it implies we are not fully aware of what is happening in our own country.
‘‘We can only plan realistically when we have reliable data. As you are aware, as a government, we prioritised agriculture as a critical sector to create jobs and bring prosperity to our rural communities.
‘‘Our programmes covered the entire agricultural value chain from seed to fertiliser to grains and ultimately, our dishes.
‘‘As you travel in some rural communities, you can clearly see the impact. However, the absence of reliable data is hindering our ability to upgrade these programmes and assure their sustainability,” he said.
The President also used the occasion to set agenda and expectations from the Council, constituted on Sept. 16, to replace the Economic Management Team (EMT).
On the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs), the President told members that his administration was working to measure the impact of the programme targeted at improving the well-being of millions of poor and vulnerable citizens.
To this end, the President said he had directed the new Minister for Humanitarian Affairs to commence a comprehensive data-gathering exercise in all Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in the North East.
He said: “Today, we hear international organisations claiming to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on IDPs in the North East. But when you visit the camps, you rarely see the impact.
‘‘In 2017, when the National Emergency Management Agency took over the feeding of some IDPs in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, the amount we spent was significantly lower than the claims made by these international organisations.
‘‘Therefore, actionable data is critical to implement effective strategies to address pressing problems such as these humanitarian issues.
‘‘I, therefore, look forward to receiving your baseline study as this will help us shape ideas for a sustainable and prosperous future,’’ the President said.
On his expectations from the council, the President urged them to proffer solutions on how to move the country and economy forward.
He directed the Council to coordinate and synthesise ideas and efforts on how to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, working in collaboration with various employment generating agencies of government.
”I am told you worked throughout last weekend in preparation for this meeting.
”I have listened attentively to findings and ideas on how to move the country and the economy forward.
”Yes, Nigeria has exited the recession. But our reported growth rate is still not fast enough to create the jobs we need to meet our national ambition of collective prosperity.
”Reason being we had to tread carefully in view of the mess we inherited.
”Many of the ideas we developed in the last four years were targeted at returning Nigeria back to the path of growth.
”I am sure you will also appreciate that during that time, our country was also facing serious challenges especially in the areas of insecurity and massive corruption.
”Therefore, I will be the first to admit that our plans were conservative. We had to avoid reckless and not well thought out policies.
”However, it was very clear to me after we exited the recession that we needed to re-energise our economic growth plans. This is what I expect from you, ” he said.
President Buhari also assured the Council that the Federal Government would ensure that all their needs and requests were met before the next technical sessions in November.
He said all key ministries, departments and agencies would be available to meet and discuss with them on how to collectively build a new Nigeria that caters for all.
”Now, no one person or a group of persons has a monopoly of knowledge or wisdom or patriotism.
”In the circumstances, you may feel free to co-opt, consult and defer to any knowledgeable person if in your opinion such a move enriches your deliberations and add to the quality of your decisions, ” Buhari said.
Speaking, the Chairman of the Council said the mandate was about “Nigeria first, Nigeria second, and Nigeria always,” adding that it was about Nigerians, not as numbers, but as people.
Edited by Isaac Aregbesola/Sadiya Hamza
GenCos threaten to shut down power generation supply
The Power Generation Companies (GenCos), have threatened to shut down power generation supply if pressing issues in the sector are not addressed.
The GenCos spoke through the Executive Secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC), Dr Joy Ogaji at a news conference in Abuja on Sunday.
Ogaji explained that the main reason for considering to take such action was due to the inability of Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) to honour agreement it had with GenCos.
She said GenCos were facing liquidity challenge due to NBET’s breach of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) terms of 100 per cent payment for power generated and supplied.
Nigeria News Agency reports that NBET (Bulk Trader) is a trading licensee.
It is licensed and regulated by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to undertake bulk purchase and resale of electricity in the Transitional Electricity Market.
She accused NBET’s management of constituting itself as “the Alpha and Omega” authority that has the capacity to make or mar generation businesses in the country.
According to her, the situation is so bad that to remain in business and provide power to Nigerians, GenCos have to plead, lobby, and beg to be paid for power generated and utilised.
“NBET has now reduced its role to blackmailing and threatening GenCos investors and chairmen who have refused to concede to NBET’s illegal demand of a 0.75 per cent charge on invoices paid to gas suppliers.
“NBET has clearly threatened not to release payments due GenCos until they accede to NBET’s request, urging them to agree for a quid pro quo with the 0.75 per cent administrative charge.
“The situation is truly grave and completely unprecedented as NBET has completely shed its role as a licencee of the industry and has taken on some sort of regulatory role.
“This singular action by NBET may lead to shutdown of power supply by GenCos, who have unanimously agreed to call the bluff of NBET.
“GenCos have, in addition to the mounting debts being owed, working under the harsh, unprofessional and unethical dealings from the NBET management staff.
“GenCos Chief Executives and other key staff all have a bucket full of tales of abuses, insults, aggression, nonchalance, non-responsiveness, bullish, belittling, and ostracising actions
“All these are geared towards intimidating the GenCos and keeping them at bay from seeking legitimate clarifications,” she said.
The executive secretary said the matter had been reported to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and other high authorities but yet nothing had been done.
She called on Federal Government through the board Chairman of NBET to review the professional conduct of the management of NBET and ensure that business etiquettes were instilled.
“In a nascent market as ours, there are processes entrenched in the Market Rules and other applicable Codes that should be followed in dealing with sectorial issues at all times.
“This is in order not to leave room for arbitrariness, duress or undue influence.
“The Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) clearly delineates the terms of the business relationship and expectations of the parties.
“NBET was designed to help smoothen these relationships, removing frictions which may exist between Gencos and DisCos.
“NBET was envisaged to occupy the space between GenCos and DISCOs, acting as a “shock absorber” in times of market turbulence and not to make it worse. “
Ogaji said there was N600 billion the Federal Government needed to pay GenCos through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
She said that if that money was not released on time, it was likely to contribute to the shut down of power generation in the country soon.
Effort by Nigeria News Agency to speak with Dr Marilyn Amobi, the managing director/chief executive officer of NBET failed.
A phone call put across to her cell phone was not answered, neither did she respond to the Short Message Service (SMS).
Edited by Ese E. Ekama
Africa Industrialisation Week: EU urges expansion in intra-Africa trade
The European Union has called for expansion in the volume of intra-Africa trade, if the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are to be realised.
Head of Cooperation, European Union, Mr Thomas Huyghebaert, made the call during a media training on Global Trade, on Saturday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The training is holding in conjunction with World Export Development Forum (WEDF) and on the fringes of the 2019 African Industrialisation Week holding from Nov. 18 – 22.
Highlights of the two- day training programme include the AfCFTA agreement; trade between Africa and Europe; trade data for reporting; and trade-led development.
Huyghebaert said despite the heartwarming development seeing 27 African countries ratifying the AfCFTA agreement, more needed to be done on intra-Africa trade.
He explained that the new alliance between the EU and AU was aimed at increased investment in Africa.
According to him, increased investment in the continent is needed, beyond what is currently obtainable.
Huyghebaert also stressed the need for increased role of the private sector.
“We also must reinforce our joint efforts, especially in investing in Africa’s young people. The continent has the largest population of youths.
“Coincidentally, as we began this training you would notice young Ethiopians here set to benefit from the fair on education in Europe.
“We also have this programme where we already have 20,000 African students going every year to Europe.
“We are intending to increase the number further, as this is about skill sharing and building the economy,” he said.
He said the latest AU-EU partnership was informed by the need to understudy how continental single trade works.
“The African Union is coming closer to us, because of the experience we have had over the last 70 years in building the EU single market.
“And so, we are here, really as peers and sharing experiences.
“What has been achieved so far was only the easy bit, the task is now in negotiating the terms of trading, and then what happens afterwards.
“There are lots of other things, including how do we overcome the barriers from the customs, amongst other things.
“We are here as a long term partner in this transformation, and eventually as a future step, to have the continent to continent free trade between Africa and Europe.
“The first step, however, is to integrate more intra-Africa trade and enhance trade between.
“It is then that African countries would be in a better position to transform their production capacities to meet global standard and export to the European market,” Huyghebaert said.
He said journalists would play crucial roles in spreading the advantages of AfCFTA before the actual implementation of the agreement.
The training programme was jointly organised by the International Trade Centre, the AU, EU and the Enhanced Integrated Framework.
Other speakers at the programme were Vittorio Cammarota,
Chief of Commmunications
and events at the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Deanna Ramsey of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF).
Also in attendance was Rongai Chizema, Chief Technical Advisor at the Department of Trade and Industry, African Union.
Edited by Oluwole Sogunle
Embrace skills acquisition to secure your Future: Taraba NYSC Coordinator tells Corps Members
Mrs Florence Yaakugh, the Taraba Coordinator, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), on Saturday urged corps members to embrace skills acquisition and entrepreneurship development in order to secure their future.
Yaakugh said this during the official launch of skills acquisition and entrepreneurship development (SAED) training for 2019 Batch ‘C’ Stream 1 corps members at the ongoing orientation course at the NYSC camp in Sibre, near Jalingo.
The coordinator described skills acquisition and entrepreneurship as the surest paths to a life of self dependency and financial security for corps members.
Yaakugh, who noted that white collar jobs were becoming increasingly scarce, said that SAED training was the NYSC’s panacea to the challenge of unemployment.
She urged corps members to take advantage of the rare opportunity to acquire skills other than their areas of specialisation.
“I want to urge all of you to take ample advantage of the skills acquisition programme to guarantee a life of self-sufficiency and insulate yourselves from the frustration that comes with fruitless search for unavailable white collar jobs,” she said.
Edited by Donald Ugwu
Cooperative societies want review of cooperative Act to meet international best practices
The Cooperative Rating and Award Society of Nigeria (CRASON) has appealed to the National Assembly to review the Nigerian Cooperative Act of 2004 to meet international best practices.
The President of CRASON, Mr Victor Oyegoke, made the appeal at the 2nd National Cooperative Awards and Symposium organised by the society in Abuja on Saturday.
Oyegoke noted that the law was outdated and was no longer in tandem with current realities in the sector.
He also appealed to the Federal Government to support cooperatives, adding that they were contributing enormously to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
According to him, cooperative is contributing over one trillion Naira to the GDP; they also create more than 600,000 employments both directly and indirectly in the country.
“This is a very vital sector that the government needs to see how they can key into; we have over 30 million individual members and over 300,000 cooperatives.
“Our law is outdated, we need to review it to accommodate the realities on ground and the government can help us.
“There is a law reviewed already that has been sent to the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
“FEC should help us send to the NAtional Assembly for scrutiny and passage.
“There is need for a platform to call stakeholders to review the Act to meet up with the current realities of global best practices,’’ he said.
Mr Akintola Akintoye, the Chairman CRASON Advisory Board, said the objective of the society was to rate the operations of cooperative societies and proffer awards.
Akintoye noted that the move was targeted towards encouraging deserving cooperatives.
“Cooperative in Nigeria is a bit down because the sector is not 24th century compliant.
“To be 24th century compliant, the knowledge base of practitioners need to be upgraded.
“We need massive injection of funds for capacity training,’’ he said.
Mrs Shimite Bello, the Chief Executive Officer of the Quintessential Women Association, said that adequate information and technology was crucial to boost the operations of cooperatives in the country.
Bello, in a lecture entitled, `Strengthening Cooperatives to serve as Catalyst for Nigeria’s Sustainable Socio-Economic Development’, called for more training for cooperative members to ensure proper management of loans.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that no fewer than 40 different cooperatives and individuals would bag the 2019 CRASON’s award for their outstanding operations.
Edited by Maureen Atuonwu
Nigerian, Colombian win the WorldRemit and Arsenal “Future Stars” coaching programme
Online money transfer company WorldRemit (www.WorldRemit.com) and Arsenal today announce that Chinasa Ukandu from Nigeria and Luis Alejandro Castañeda from Colombia are the winners of the 2019 Future Stars coaching program.
The two youth coaches will now prepare to travel to London for a personalized training session with Arsenal Football Development coaches, and their trip will be sponsored by WorldRemit.
Chinasa and Luis were among eight finalists, four women and four men, who were selected by a panel of judges from WorldRemit and Arsenal for their commitment to using football to empower young people and benefit their communities.
They emerged as the winners following a public vote on www.FutureStars.WorldRemit.com. Almost 40,000 votes were cast in less than three weeks – Chinasa received the highest number among the female coaches and Luis received the highest number among the male finalists.
About Future Stars
The Future Stars program was developed by WorldRemit and Arsenal to celebrate the positive impact that grassroots youth football coaches have on their communities, helping the children they train to develop life skills both on and off the pitch.
Now in its second edition, the Future Stars program received over 1,400 applications this year from across Africa and the Americas.
The Future Stars winners
Chinasa Ukandu – Chinasa coaches boys and girls aged 5 to 16. Together with her friends, she helps provide young people with an opportunity to develop football and life skills at Help The Talent Academy in Lagos State. She completed phase three of the Premier Skills Coach Educators Course (an initiative by the English Premier League and British Council) in 2015.
Chinasa commented: “I’m so excited to win the training session in London and can’t wait to meet the Arsenal Football Development coaches. I love a challenge and will use this global coaching opportunity to take new skills back to Nigeria and give back to my community.”
Luis Alejandro Castañeda – Luis is a volunteer coach for a blind boys’ football team from Bogotá and the surrounding area. The team was set up by his father, who is blind, 20 years ago to help young people develop their mobility and independence.
Luis said: “I’m so grateful to WorldRemit and Arsenal for this opportunity. I’ve always dreamed of travelling to London and will use the experience of training with Arsenal Football Development to help develop and raise awareness of Paralympic sport in Colombia and even globally.”
Andrew Stewart, Managing Director Middle East & Africa at WorldRemit said: “At WorldRemit, we are inspired every day by our customers, who work hard to send money home to support their communities.
“Through our partnership with Arsenal and the Future Stars program, we are delighted to celebrate the stories of inspiring individuals such as Chinasa and Luis, who use sport to make a difference to the lives of the young people they train. Congratulations to the winners and our team look forward to welcoming you to London!”
Simon McManus, Head Coach at Arsenal Football Development, said: “Through our programs in London and across the globe, our Football Development coaches are dedicated to helping set young players up for success both on and off the pitch.
“The Future Stars winners’ work within their communities shows just how powerful football can be and the importance of promoting diversity within the sport. We are excited to meet Chinasa and Luis and support them in amplifying their contributions to grassroots football in Nigeria and Colombia even further.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WorldRemit.
Experts mentor female entrepreneurs on turning passion to profit
More than 40 young female entrepreneurs on Friday in Lagos participated in a business seminar which focused on helping women to recognise their potential and turn their passion into profit.
The Nigeria News Agency (NAN reports that the “Excelling in Business for Women” seminar, organised by Holivent Nigeria, attracted established female SMEs who inspired and mentored participants on prospects, challenges and opportunities for women in business.
Mrs Olanibi Olumide-Fusika, who spoke on “Nurturing from Boot to Branches” said she started her business, Fussytech, by selling phones in her car boot at Computer Village in Ikeja.
“Never despise a small beginning, there is money on the street if you are not ashamed, so try as much as possible to convert your time into money,” she said.
The Fussytech CEO also advised prospective entrepreneurs not to venture into business on the basis of emotions because emotions could not overcome the cold dictates of the market.
According to her, women should not be attracted to business by considering only the potential for profit without giving thought to possible pitfalls.
She said: “In a business that survives on regular cash flow, never indulge in sale on credit and ensure you have good relationship with your partners and colleagues in business, as they keep you going during trial times.”
Also speaking, Mrs Ope Tejuoso, Managing Director, Opindos Brasserie and Bakery, told participants that the best time to start a business is now, no matter how small.
Tejuoso, also a trained lawyer, said that ideas are everywhere but they come as disguise in form of a challenges, hardship or lack.
“Opportunities come wrapped as problem, so shine your eyes, start now, be courageous and life will push you beyond your desire.
“Don’t be afraid of a humble beginning almost everybody has a story of starting small, ” she said.
Mrs Tope Olagbegi, Managing Director, Sixth Sense and Publisher, International Living Daily Planner, also urged the participants to recognise what they are good at doing in life, as this would set them apart in the business they venture into.
Mrs Tope Olagbegi, Managing Director, Sixth Sense and Publisher, International Living Daily Planner, urged women to be careful in choosing a life partner and not allow their love relationship to affect their ambition in life.
“No matter how gifted you are, if your love relationship is not working, you cannot give in your best.
“God has endowed you with so much, don’t go down six feet without fulfilling your purpose in life,” she said.
The Convener of the business seminar, Mrs Olaide Orangun, said the event was organised out of her curiosity to help women recognise their potential and turn their passion into profit.
Orangun said that not everything in life was about making money but fulfilling purpose.
“This is why women must not let setback define them, because setbacks are actually a set up in real sense,” Orangun said and called for more support from philanthropists towards empowering more women in business.
NAN reports that the event provided opportunity for young women entrepreneurs to meet and network with established entrepreneurs towards expanding their frontiers.
Edited by Wale Ojetimi
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