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Institute, COREN move to curb corruption in engineering projects

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The Nigerian Institute of Civil Engineers (NICE) and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), have pledged to eliminate corruption and other  vices ranging from contract inflation and over designing in the execution of engineering projects.

Mrs Aishatu Umar, National Chairman of NICE made the this known she led a delegation of the National Executive on a courtesy visit to the President of COREN Mr Ali Rabiu.

Umar said that corruption in the Civil Engineering projects had remained a major challenge to the practicing civil engineers in Nigeria.

She said that getting jobs in Nigeria in spite of evidence of competence had become a herculean task.

The chairperson of NICE urged COREN to take advantage of its MOU with the Independent Corrupt Practice and other related Offences Commission to take aggressive action on corruption in the Civil Engineering Projects to sustain quality project delivery.

She said quackery was also another area that the institute was desirous of cooperation with COREN.

Umar also expressed worry over the fact that the job of Nigerian Civil Engineers had been high jacked by politicians and people who have nothing to do with the profession resulting in building collapses and other infrastructure in Nigeria.

She, therefore, appealed to COREN to aggressively fight against quackery in civil engineering domain in Nigeria as it would create jobs for the teaming population of civil engineers in Nigeria.

Other areas they sought partnership with COREN was Engineering Regulation Monitoring.

She appealed to the president to strengthen and properly fund the Engineering Regulation Monitoring programme of COREN in order to effectively checkmate those who had invaded the engineering profession especially in the civil engineering profession.

The National Chairman expressed joy over the released official Gazette no 51, volume 105 concerning COREN Regulation on the Construction Industry through an Executive Order endorsed by the President Muhammadu Buhari with the following highlights.

”Designs of all major engineering works are to be carried out in Nigeria; all contracts up to N2.5B are to be reserved exclusively for Nigerian Engineering Firms.

”Copies of all stamped working drawings are to be kept on site for inspection purposes; all major engineering contracts shall have a training component for training of engineering personnel.

”All drawings for the works shall be duly cross checked and endorsed by duly registered engineer.

”Regulation Compliance Committee – Division of COREN to be established to ensure compliance with Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) laws, local content laws, among others,’’ she said.

She urged COREN to aggressively drive toward the implementation of the gazette.

The delegation thanked the President of COREN for receiving them and pledged to give him the necessary support to enable him succeed in his tenure.

She invited Rabiu to the 17th International Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineering (NICE).

The event is scheduled to take place at the Multipurpose Hall Government House Maiduguri Borno State, from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 as the Special Guest of Honour.

Responding, Rabiu, said he was honoured and delighted to have his own institute visit him and thanked them for their support.

He assured the delegation that he would critically look at all their proposals and collaborate with the institute where necessary.

Metro

Dana Air flew 5.4m passengers in 11 years – official

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Dana Air said it flew 5.4 million passengers in its 11 years of operation in Nigeria.

The airline’s Media and Communications Manager, Mr Kingsley Ezenwa, said this in a statement issued in Lagos on Saturday.

Ezenwa said the airline expected to double the figure by sustaining its operational efficiency, increasing its fleet size, maintaining its record on-time performance and raising the bar of its excellent service delivery in the coming years.

“Having completed a commercial analysis of our loads in the last 11 years and confirmed it to stand at 5.4 million, we have set the ball rolling for the next 9 years.

“We have commenced reviewing plans and we intend to raise the bar of our operational efficiency, increase our fleet and improve on our excellent service delivery to remain on top and keep the commitment and loyalty of our staff and guests.

“With the addition of two of our recently acquired B737 aircraft, we are looking at creating more flights and providing massive capacity at underserved destinations within our route network this yuletide.

“This is to ensure seamless travel experience for our guests to avoid the uncertainty of last year.”

“On our product and services delivery, we have the Dana miles club which offers benefits such as miles plus cash, miles in exchange for ticket, excess baggage allowance, discount at partner outlets and upgrade from economy to business class.

“Our Dana Miles guests should expect more in terms of innovation and rewards.

“Our business class service is amazing and the service is second to none, tailored for customers who love to travel in style, luxury and comfort.

“We would like to keep the travel experience as topnotch as always.

“We have dedicated each day to serving our customers even better and we have upped our enlightenment for passengers to use their correct details so we can interact with them directly via our multiple channels.”

The Dana Air spokesman said that airline was one of Nigeria’s leading airlines with a fleet size of nine aircraft and daily flights to major destinations in Nigeria.

He said that the airline was reputed for its innovative online products and services, world-class in-flight services and unrivaled on-time performance.

Edited by Tajudeen Atitebi

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Metro

Restructuring: Fashola fears `Brexit experience’ for Nigeria

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The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has expressed fears that Nigeria may experience the Brexit experience, unless youths in the country are given political education to make them understand the issue of restructuring.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that a cross-section of Nigerians has been clamouring consistently for Nigeria’s restructuring as basis for national cohesion, progress and peaceful co-existence.

Fashola was speaking as guest speaker at the 76th anniversary of the Island Club in Lagos at the weekend.

According to him, Nigerian youths need to be given the right political education to help them understand the issue of restructuring, to avert the Brexit experience.

Brexit refers to the decision by some people in Britain for the country to leave the European Union (EU), a choice that has thrown the country into confusion.

Fashola argued that the quest for better life had resulted in relentless agitations by some Nigerian groups pushing diverse ideologies in their demands for restructuring.

He said that Britain was currently grappling with the problem of whether to stay in the EU or not because the youth segment of the population did not fully understand the implications of the referendum they participated in.

The minister stressed the need for adequate education of the younger segment of the Nigerian population to ensure that right choices were made in repositioning the nation’s diversity to avoid the Brexit experience.

Fashola noted, however, that he was speaking in his capacity as a member of the Island Club and not as a member of the Federal Executive Council or the ruling All Progressives Congress.

Speaking on “Restructuring: Lessons from Brexit,” Fashola gave a detailed history of the evolution of the United Kingdom, which he said, was similar to Nigeria’s 1914 amalgamation that merged the Northern and Southern Protectorates.

He explained that the insatiable quest for better life was the root of the clamor for restructuring in Nigeria, noting that measures to create new identities had compounded problems throughout human history.

The senior advocate of Nigeria argued that young people, who were not aware of the history of the emergence and evolution of Britain voted in favor of leaving the EU without understanding or weighing its implications, resulting to the current logjam.

He pointed out that ignorance of voters had left Britain in a difficult position of taking a decision whether to leave or not, which had led to the exit of three prime ministers with no headway in sight.

The senior lawyer warned proponents of restructuring in Nigeria to make their definitions clear and to also educate youths on the implications of their choices to avoid retrogression in Nigeria.

Fashola noted that there had been confusion in the restructuring agitation with people clamouring variously for confederation, secession, constitutional amendment and state police, among others, adding that restructuring in whatever guise must be made clear to youths.

“Let us decompose that word and let everybody be specific. There is so much confusion. Don’t hide restructuring under one word. Bring it out, so that we know what to choose.

“Some people are calling for parliamentary system of government. The new generation must be told that it was the parliamentary system that caused crisis which was difficult to resolve and which led us into civil war.

“Where people are diverse, a federation is better. There is a great deal of work to be done by the protagonists.’’

Fashola listed countries that broke up without being able to resolve the issues of separation to include Yugoslavia, Sudan, the Soviet Union, North and South Korea, warning against agitations to split Nigeria.

The minister said there were currently 86 unresolved boundary disputes as a result of state creations in the country, explaining that the Federal Government was still building secretariats for some new states.

Fashola said that sometimes the fears of over concentration of powers in the central government was not real, citing various processes, including budgeting that depended on other arms of government for approval.

He said that the Federal Government was being blamed for all problems, ranging from education to other sectors dominated by states or the private sector.

“One of the items on restructuring is that we want quality education.

“The default argument for poor quality education is government but I say, it is true to the extent that government is the regulator.

“It licenses. It approves, sets and enforces standards but today the records indicate that there are about 165 universities in Nigeria.

Forty three belong to the Federal Government, 47 belong to State Governments and 75 are private.’’

Fashola said there were constitutional provisions already for distribution of equal opportunities, citing the 13 per cent revenue allocation for mineral producing areas as an example.

The minister said that the constitution could show direction but that Nigerians must imbibe the right attitude for it to work.

“A good document not backed by the right attitude does not take a people far. If anything really needs restructuring, it must start with us as a people, with our attitude and with our mindset.

“Better life does not necessarily exist in a new document without a right political education; a change of attitude and an inflexible commitment to the public rule.’’

Fashola, however, supported calls for state police but stated that Nigeria missed the opportunity to have it because people did not follow up with it at various levels of government.

Also speaking, a former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, said that experience had shown that “where you have injustice, humans will resist and opt for their independence”.

He called for equal opportunities to remove increasing inequalities and endless agitations for session in the country.

The Chairman of the Island Club, Mr Philip Abumere, lauded Fashola for his commitment to nation building, citing the minister’s strides when he was governor of Lagos State.

Edited by Silas Nwoha

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Metro

Building Collapse: Lagos Govt. to step up material testing, surveillance, enforcement

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The Lagos State Government says it will begin enforcement of material testing at construction sites, to achieve its vision of zero tolerance for building collapse in the state.

The Acting General Manager, Lagos State Materials and Testing Laboratory (LSML), Mr Olalekan Ajani disclosed this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency , on Saturday, in Lagos.

Ajani said the agency was passionate about forestalling incidences of building collapses, adding that the Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration had empowered the agency with increased workforce across all local governments and local council development areas.

Lagos State is stepping up operation in construction sites to see that builders comply with the quality assurance of the state to forestall cases of building collapse.

“We want to ensure a zero incidence of building collapse through regular visits to the construction sites; this is the only way to save lives in conformity with the state’s extant laws.

“Our officers are now recruited in all local governments, working and checking all the sites for compliance and enforcement; that is what we are stepping up now.

“LSML officers are mandated to visit construction sites frequently now to ensure that builders have quality assurance certificate; and if anyone is found wanting, the site will be shut down, he told NAN.

Ajani said that even completed structures would not be spared from supervision and quality control, as they would also undergo non-destructive tests.

“Even already built houses especially the commercial buildings in Lagos will also undergo a non-destructive test, while subsequent materials for use will be tested.

“For buildings already erected, we will be asking if they have carried out non-destructive test and issue them certificates, however, they do not need to destroy their buildings in the process.

“The non-destructive test is conducted with the state-of-the art scientific equipment; we are only interested in knowing the condition of the house, maybe for reconstruction, rehabilitation or rather reinforcement or re-engineering.

“Ours is to see to the quality of the materials used in building houses, we have other professionals such as technicians, geo-technical engineers, such as soil engineers, surveyors, planners, material engineers, quantity surveyors, and others, he said.

Ajani warned the contractors against cutting corners; adding that the process of getting the certification for their building permit was not expensive as envisaged, rather it was designed to save lives.

The Acting General Manager also called for collaboration of professionals to eliminate quackery and corruption in the building sector.

“All the professionals working with us are driving towards one aim, which is safe delivery of projects, and if citizens can engage them, it will bring to fore the integrity of such structure.

“Some people think it is expensive, but is always cheaper to save lives. So we encourage the developers to always ensure that they do not bypass process.

“Builders must ensure that they engage the professionals for approval, and be certain about integrity of the site to ensure that such construction did not contravene either the state law or natural law.

“There should also be a quality design before construction can be embarked upon and also due supervision because some artisans like to cut corners by using substandard products.

“Contractors should also ensure that they get the right people for supervision, and the materials needed for construction. Everything must be checked right from water to reinforcements for quality control and assurance, he said.

Edited by Nyisom Fiyigon Dore

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General news

NECA raises concerns over CBN’s directive to banks on lending

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The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), has raised concerns over the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) directive to banks on lending, saying it could pose a risk to financial stability.

NECA’s Director-General, Mr Timothy Olawale, who raised the concerns in a statement on Saturday in Lagos said that effective monitoring mechanism should be put in place to avert the negative effects.

Nigeria News Agency reports that NECA is the umbrella organisation of employers in the organised private sector of Nigeria.

Olawale recalled that CBN had on July 4, directed commercial banks in Nigeria to maintain a minimum Loan Deposit Ratio (LDR) of 60 per cent.

According to him, this is aimed at promoting growth of the real sector of the economy.

“The objective of the Apex Bank is clear as regard improving the flow of needed credit to the private sector to stimulate growth.

“We are concerned that these methods being deployed to achieve this aim may have many unintended negative effects if effective monitoring mechanism is not put in place.

“The attempt by the CBN is worthy of commendation considering our peculiar situation as a nation and the fact that over N1.5 trillion additional money will be available as credits to the real sector of the economy.

“However, forcing the banks to lend under the current macro-economic situation will only result in a likely build-up of non-performing loans in the medium to long term, given the sluggish growth of the economy.

“Also, the high risk in the operating environment, this could pose a risk to financial stability, ” he said.

The director-general also identified high interest rates, which remained at a double digits as a challenge to businesses.

“With the volatility of the Nigerian economy and the unpredictable regulatory environment, the risk of a double digit interest rate could be too high for businesses.

“This is especially for the Small and Medium Enterprises that are supposed to also be beneficiaries of the directive.”

He urged CBN to ensure the effective implementation and monitoring of the directive.

According to him, more deliberate efforts should be made to ensure a hospitable business environment that will make lending attractive and borrowing by the real sector even more attractive.

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Edited by Ese E. Ekama

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Metro

NEMA launches National Disaster Risk Management Policy

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The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), on Friday, launched its National Disaster Risk Management Policy document in response to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 to 2030, adopted by UN member states in 2015, outlines targets and priorities for action to prevent new and reduce existing disaster risks.

Mr Mustapha Maihaja, Director-General, NEMA, while launching the document, said that the document is aimed at building safer and more resilient communities.

He added that the policy document concentrated on four priority areas namely: awareness governance, capacity and resilience, in order to support development of strong governance structures in the country.

Maihaja added that to build resilient and sustainable societies capable of addressing both climate and disaster risks, it was important to integrate risks, into development,planning and budgeting.

“Globally, disaster risk management has witnessed improved legislation, awareness, early warning systems, better preparedness, including establishment of sustainable structures and national platforms for disaster risk reduction.

“But, these have not been sufficient, to generate the transformational change required in risk governance.

“If we truly want to get ahead of the curve of humanitarian need and economic losses we must set up strategies to address underlying risk drivers.

“It is projected that if we continue with the current business as usual, an estimated amount of 3 trillion naira will be required to curb and respond to disasters across the 36 states in Nigeria in 2020.

“This will be mainly for providing short term relief and replacement of damaged infrastructures.

“To achieve this, we must deploy appropriate instruments and we have developed several plans and guidelines,”he said.

NAN reports that the event had in attendance, representatives of the Police, Fire Service, UNOCHA, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development among others.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Metro

CPAN says 2019 UTME marred by biometric, browser failure

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The Computer-Based Test Centres Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (CPAN), has alleged that the 2019 UTME was marred by both biometric and browser failures.

The President of CPAN, Mr Maxwell Akwuruoha, made this known at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday.

Akwuruoha claimed that contrary to claims by the board that the examination was a success, the 2019 examination was marred by both biometric and browser failures from JAMB with most candidates denied the opportunity to write the test.

He said that more than 2000 candidates could not write the 2019 UTME due to the biometric and browser failures.

According to the body, many JAMB workers deployed on the examination days were either incompetent or connived to carry out malpractices.

“Biometric and browser failure, incompetence of technical staff, inadequacies in CBT centres and excesses in sales of novels, syllabus and brochures are some of the technical challenges that characterised the 2019 UTME exercise.

“Biometric enrollment as secured registration medium for UTME and Direct Entry candidates started in 2011, with the introduction of electronic testing actively in 2013 and absolutely in 2015.

“The introduction of technology as electronic testing saved huge costs, initially meant for printing question papers, syllabus, brochure, and logistics for delivery of same.

“But JAMB applied a fire-brigade approach during accreditation, especially with ad hoc workers who were not trained.

“It does not kill anybody to apologise that the biometric system actually failed. We had candidates that were prevented from writing the test because of biometric failures from JAMB.

” The system failed because some of the technical people sent to some centres by JAMB were incompetent. It is only noble that JAMB apologises to these children that were prevented from writing the examination.

“What we are saying is that the biometric solutions deployed by JAMB during the examination was not perfect,” he said.

Akwuruoha added that such technical challenges should not be allowed to happen during the conduct of the 2020 examination.

He called on JAMB to issue to its members a Memorandum of Understanding and adequate time for visitation and accreditation.

The CPAN president also said that the association was ready to partner with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to enroll candidates for the 2020 UTME.

JAMB’s Head of Information, Fabian Benjamin, while reacting to the allegations, described them as “cheap blackmail.”

Benjamin said that the board conducted biometric verification for about two million candidates.

“Let me assume, without conceding, that 2000 candidates could not be verified, what is the percentage of 2000 in two million?

“Every candidate that registered properly was verified. So for any candidate who was not verified, it is not as a result of biometric failure.

“Some of them registered in centres that were not approved and some of them did multiple registrations and were therefore blocked.

“If you accused us of examination malpractice, we will tell you that we have been delisting centres involved in that. None of them has ever come with allegations against our workers,” he said.

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