Foundation gives N2m to 10 young entrepreneurs

Activate Success International Foundation (ASIF), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has given out startup grants of N200,000 each to 10 entrepreneurs under its Youth Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Programme (YEEP).

TV host and Founder, ASIF, Love Idoko, said during the event on Monday in Abuja, that YEEP was aimed at helping and encouraging young people to maximise their potentials.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was listed as one of the notable leaders that has commended ASIF which is focused on helping people discover their gifts, talents and purpose in life.

Idoko said over 100 business proposals were received out of which 30 was selected and then scaled down to 10 final beneficiaries.

She said that youths could influence growth in a nation’s economy in many ways because a lot of young people were talented.

“They are gifted; they have amazing ideas but they lack the support to maximize their potential; they lack the support to implement what they have; to translate their mental picture into actual pictures.

“So, Activate Success International Foundation put together the programme called YEEP.

“What we do at YEEP is to identify young people with fantastic business ideas; a panel goes through these ideas; select those with the best ideas and then we give them startup funds to help them achieve their dreams.

“Over the years, we have a lot of programmes to empower the youths; YEEP is held once every year; where youths register from all over Nigeria.

“We have people coming from all the states of the federation to attend this event and then we brought in young chief executives that have made remarkable achievements in different field to speak to them; share their success story and then they also stand a chance to win startup grants for their businesses.’’

She said the foundation had a team that monitored the successes of the beneficiaries.

Idoko said that the foundation got reports from previous beneficiaries who had succeeded in different fields.

She said that awareness for the programme was done through blogs, televisions, newspapers among others and applications were received from across the nation.

On his part, Mr Samson Itodo, Executive Director, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), advised the beneficiaries to consider it a privilege and maximise the utilisation.

One of the beneficiaries, Miss Lois Obikeleogehene, whose product is named “Kpokpogarri’ said that her company aimed at rebranding the African snack which was very abundant in the Niger Delta region.

“Kpokpo garri; tapioca fibre, is a bi-product of the production of garri; my company is aimed at promoting Kpokpo garri; rebranding it; fortifying it.

“We are coming out with different packages; we are coming to innovate and then provide a market for this product; reaching out to not only Nigerians but Africa and the world at large,” she said.

Another beneficiary, Mr Excel Nomayo, whose product is `Pap Powder’, said he was into the production of improved pap called Pap Powder.

He said it involved going to the grassroots; taking our local foods and processing them into global best standards.

“We improved the packaging and the production technique of pap.

“It is sourced from the pap that is hawked morning and evening in our streets; you can hardly get pap in a nearby shop; you can hardly in the afternoon; you can hardly walk into a supermarket and get pap.

“I decided to improve it through industrial method that can make it last and stand the test of time,” he said.

Yar’adua Foundation, 29 Others To Lose Property Worth N4.8bn To FG ― ICPC

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has moved to seize plots of land and buildings valued at N4.8 billion from the Shehu Yar’adua Foundation and 29 other firms.

ICPC Spokesperson, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa disclosed this in a Press Statement in Abuja.

She said that the properties included 22.9 hectares of undeveloped land, one plaza, and a block of six two-bedroom flats located in Wuse, Zone 1, Abuja.

“These belong to Shehu Musa Yar’adua Foundation, Vibrant Issuance Brokers, Millard Fuller Foundation, Maibuhu Farm and Construction Limited, Gabcon Enterprises Limited and a host of others.”

“In the course of investigations, the alleged owners of the property disclaimed ownership.

“The move to seize the property spread around Abuja, follows a petition to the ICPC by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) accusing the companies of defaulting in tax payments to the tune of N288.2 million.”

Okoduwa said that section 37 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 empowered the commission to seize assets alleged to be subject of an offence under the law.

“While Section 48 authorises it to apply to a High Court for an order of forfeiture within 12 months of the date of seizure,” she said.

EFCC charges Tunde Ayeni with money laundering at Skye Bank

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to dock Tunde Ayeni, the former chairman of Skye Bank Plc, over alleged laundering of about N21 billion.

He will face trial with a former Managing Director of Skye Bank, Timothy Ajani Oguntayo; Control Dredging Company and Royaltex Paramount Ventures Limited.

The anti-graft agency on Friday filed a 10-count charge against Ayeni and the defendants. Ayeni has been in EFCC custody for about four weeks.

The trial may begin on Monday at a Federal High Court in Abuja.

EFCC said the cash was withdrawn at various times from the Suspense Account of the bank by Ayeni and allegedly doled out to people.

Among the counts is that Ayeni on 24 December 2014 transferred N3 billion from the defunct Skye Bank Plc Suspense Account to the First City Monument Bank Plc account no. 0758662025 of Control Dredging Company Limited.

The anti-graft agency also charged Ayeni for allegedly transferring another N1.25 billion from the defunct Skye Bank Plc Suspense Account to the Skye Bank Plc account no. 1770380476 of Royaltex Paramount Ventures Limited in March 2015.

Nigeria has $48bn investment opportunities in oil, gas sector — Baru

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Baru says that over 48 billion dollars investment opportunities are in the Nigerian oil and gas sector.

Baru disclosed this in a statement issued in by the NNPC Spokesman, Mr Ndu Ughamadu, in Abuja, on Thursday.

The GMD called on investors to utilise the over 48 billion dollars investment opportunities available in the upcoming capital projects within Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry.

Ughamadu said Baru disclosed this at a Panel Session on the topic “Insights on Future Exploration Hotspots: Opportunities for Africa’s Oil & Gas Industry” under the sub-theme “The New Frontier for Africa’s Oil & Gas” at the 2019 International Petroleum (IP) Week conference in London.

The IP Week is a global oil and gas platform where executives and other energy professionals discuss the big issues affecting the sector.

It is organised annually by the London-based Energy Institute.

Baru said that the NNPC’s Frontier Exploration Service was currently drilling the Kolmani River-2 Well where desktop estimates revealed that about 400 bcf of gas was expected to be encountered.

He stressed that several new frontiers for exploration opportunities abound in Nigeria, even as offshore discoveries in the country had mostly been limited to between 1,000 – 1,500m of water depth.

“Beyond these water depths, the new frontiers of ultra-deep waters need to be tested. And that is where we need the investors,” he told the audience.

He noted that unless issues related to Legal and Regulatory uncertainties, lack of infrastructure, skilled manpower shortage, transparency and accountability were addressed among key stakeholders, the continent’s oil and gas industry might not achieve its full potential.

On the potentials of the industry in Africa, he said the continent’s energy outlook was looking positive amid difficult operating and economic headwinds.

He added that over 41 billion barrels of oil and 319 trillion cubic feet of gas were yet to be discovered in sub-Saharan Africa alone, while between 2008 and 2017, exploratory success in the sub-region was at least 45 per cent.

According to him, there has been a surge in the capital expenditure (CAPEX) across Africa’s oil and gas sector, with close to 194 billion dollars earmarked to be spent between 2018 and 2025 on 93 upcoming oil and gas fields in Africa.

“Out of this 194 billion dollars , Nigeria accounts for 48.04 billion dollars (over 24.8%) of the total CAPEX coming into upcoming projects in Africa over 2018 to 2025, with over 20 planned projects,” Baru said.

The GMD observed that 23.8 per cent of the CAPEX in Africa would be spent in Mozambique, 11.3 per cent in Angola while about 29.2 per cent would be spent in Tanzania, Senegal, Mauritania, Uganda, Egypt, Algeria and Kenya combined.

Baru noted that with over 14 oil producing countries, Africa currently accounts for 7.5 per cent (barrels of crude oil) and 7.1 per cent (488 Tcf of gas) of global proven oil and gas reserves.

On production, he said the continent accounted for 8.7 per cent (8.1 million barrels per day) of global oil production and 6.1 per cent (21.8 bscfd) of global gas production.

He further that the continent , consumed four Million barrels of oil per day and 13.7 bscfd of gas (equivalent to 4.1% and 3.9% of global oil and consumption ).(NAN)

Court frees Ladoja over N4.7b money laundering charge

Rashidi Ladoja, a former governor of Oyo state was discharged and acquitted today by a Federal High Court in Lagos, over a N4.7 billion fraud charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

by Justice Mohammed Idris in his judgement said the evidence brought to the court by the EFCC was “too low on credible evidence.”

He therefore discharged and acquitted the former governor of Oyo state and Waheed Akanbi, who was Oyo State Commissioner for Finance during his administration.

Jeff Bezos accuses tabloid National Enquirer of blackmail

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and world’s richest man,  on Thursday accused the publisher of the National Enquirer of blackmail after it threatened to publish intimate photographs sent by the billionaire to his mistress if he did not cease his investigation into how the newspaper got the pictures.

It comes after the tabloid, having accessed private text messages, last month reported Bezos had an extramarital affair with former news anchor and entertainment reporter Lauren Sanchez — a leak that led to his divorce.

In a post on blogging platform Medium Thursday, Bezos said Enquirer publisher American Media Inc (AMI), led by David Pecker, approached him with a threat to publish the photos if he did not halt an investigation into the motives behind the leak.

He added the publication demanded he and security consultant Gavin de Becker, who is leading the probe, publically state they had “no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”

De Becker mentioned in a recent Daily Beast interview that “strong leads point to political motives” — and that he was interested in Lauren Sanchez’s brother Michael, a vocal supporter of US President Donald Trump with links to his inner circle, as a possible perpetrator.

And in his Medium post, Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, pointed to AMI and David Pecker’s previous cooperation with Trump — including payments made to suppress negative stories, currently under investigation by federal prosecutors. One involves a woman who said she had an affair with Trump.

The hush money payment, and a similar one to another woman, was made on the eve of the 2016 election that Trump won. Trump is suspected of campaign finance violations because of the disbursements on grounds they were made to affect the outcome of the vote and should therefore have been reported to government campaign monitors.

Bezos, his newspaper and Amazon are all regular targets of Trump’s signature Twitter tirades.

Bezos also raised the publisher’s links to Saudi Arabia — whose Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is accused of directing the murder of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

“My ownership of the Washington Post is a complexifier for me. It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy,” Bezos wrote in the blog post.

“President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets. Also, The Post’s essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles.”

He added: “Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” Bezos wrote in the post, which was entitled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker” and included copies of emails from AMI.

“Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favours, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out,” he added.

*Read Bezos response to National Enquirer in  Medium.com

2019 election: Buhari not sharing public funds – VON DG, Okechukwu

The Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osita Okechukwu, on Tuesday, said that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was not sharing public funds, rather was investing the funds, in the nation’s critical infrastructures.

Okechukwu, who stated this in an interview with BENGBENRO, shortly after the APC Presidential campaign rally held in Aba, Abia State on Tuesday, reiterated the commitment of the Buhari-led administration to tackle the infrastructural deficits in the country, so as to enable investments and businesses thrive, for the general well being of the people.

The APC chieftain also lauded the recently-commissioned 9.5MW Independent Power Plant at Ariaria Market in Aba by President Buhari, saying, that would enhance the economic and industrial development of the commercial city (Aba).

Okechukwu, however, commended the people of Abia State and South East in general for the warm reception being accorded to the APC presidential candidate and the incumbent, President Buhari, urging them to massively vote for APC to enable south East zone to take its shot at the Aso villa in 2023.

His words, “I thank the people of Abia State for their turn out to welcome Mr. President. It shows that the South East is coming to the reality that President Muhammadu Buhari is the best for the country today.

“Because, he had embarked on most laudable infrastructural development of the country, spanning from 5000 kilometres of federal roads,5000 kilometre of standard railway,additional 5000 megawatts of electricity.

“What was demonstrated today, in the Ariaria Market Aba, where Mr President in the past year, had instructed that major markets and industrial bases of the country should have mini solar power plants.

“And the Ariaria Market own has been commissioned, and the traders are happy about that, and also the manufacturing concerns, especially the small scale entrepreneurs and Medium scale entrepreneurs in Aba.

“It is a good joy that President Buhari, is not sharing public funds, but he is investing the people’s money in critical infrastructures, so that the nation’s economic development will prosper, and our people, the entrepreneurs can expand their economic talents in different sectors of economic and industrial development.

“It is no more the issue of sharing money. It is now that the investment is coming in real terms, so that a lot of people could advance themselves without the government. This is where we are heading to.”

Nigerian workers boo Ngige, Gov. Yari, call them ‘Ole’

The chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, Abdulazez Yari of Zamfara, and Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, were booed by Nigerian workers yesterday while making their submissions at the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee public hearing on the new minimum wage.

The general consensus by critical stakeholders at the hearing was that N30,000 was affordable and that the issue of revenue formula review was long overdue.

BENGBENRO earlier reported that the Speaker of the House of Representatives,Yakubu Dogara, in his welcome address, declared that the N30,000 being proposed was not even enough, adding that Nigerian workers deserved a living wage.

Ngige and Gov. Yari were not spared by the workers who stormed venue of the public hearing in large numbers as they were both booed throughout their submissions.

Ngige, at a point, was forced to tell the workers that “if you like, don’t clap for me. As a rule here, you don’t clap.”

The workers replied with a thunderous ‘time up! time up.’

Ngige in his submission, had earlier told the panellists that the decision of the National Council of State, NCS, was not cast on stone, stressing that for anybody to say there was an agreement was a misnomer.

The Minister said that the Federal Government would pay level one federal civil servants a minimum of N30,000.

Also speaking, President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, told the stakeholders that any increase in workers’ wages would not translate into inflation.

He said, “So far, 30 state governors have agreed to pay N30,000 and only six are still delaying their support.’’

On his part, Chairman of NGF, Yari pointed out that the forum accepted what was approved by NCS as regards the minimum wage of workers.

He said that governors were not against Nigerian workers, while pleading with them to understand the economic situation in the country.

“Let me also emphasize on the issue of revenue formula, the truth is that it’s long overdue for a review,” he said.

Shortly after his presentation, the congregation started chanting “Ole ole ole” to the hearing of chairman of NGF, Yari.

Other stakeholders, such as the private sector and the Small Scale and Medium Enterprise agreed, in their presentations, to pay N30,000 per month as minimum wage.

Akwa Ibom governor announces discovery of crude oil in Uruan

Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has disclosed that the state would soon begin the exploration of crude oil discovered in Urua Local Council area of the state.
The governor disclosed this during his campaign yesterday at the council’s headquarters.

According to him, the state is now awaiting the conclusion of some paper formalities, adding that when completed, it would go a long way in expanding the state’s status and income from the federation account.

Emmanuel said the commencement of oil exploration would further boost the state’s economy and create employment for the people.

He said: “Uruan is at the verge of becoming one of the oil producing communities in the state. That is why you see a new oil rig in the area, and once we are done with signing of papers, we will begin exploration.”

The governor said his administration had established a green house agriculture farm project along airport road for the cultivation of special crops in the area.

“We are not playing politics of development, because campaigns should be issue based. I can assure the people of Uruan that everything ongoing in the area will be completed and commissioned before the end of this administration.

The greenhouse in Uruan will be commissioned by our presidential candidate,” he said.

The governor disclosed that about 2000 cattle had been purchased to reproduce in their natural habitat, before they are transported to the state for the production of milk and yoghurt.

He reiterated his committed to improved healthcare delivery, noting that such has made him to work towards massive turnaround for the Ituk Mbang General Hospital, which he said, has been in a serious state of disrepair.

“Ituk Mbang hospital was overgrown with weeds without maintenance and we turned its fortunes around by equipping it with modern facilities,” he said.

Emmanuel lamented that previous administrations did not even give a kilometer of road to the area, adding that the first ever range in the state is at Adadia, all of which he set up to boost the economy and create jobs.

A political leader in the area, Obong Peter Ekpe Atakpo, commended Emmanuel for being the first governor to fulfill a promise to develop the area.

He listed the projects to include: Akwa Prime Hatchery, Anua-Mbak-Issiet road, Mbiaya Uruan road and Mbiatok Itam-Mbiaya Uruan road.

Others are Mbiaya-Ita-Ikpa-Mbiakong- Idu road, Ituk Mbang General Hospital, Adadia/Use Cattle Range, the Housing Estate-Ibiaku Ishiet, and Greenhouse Agriculture farm project.

FG to review revenue sharing formula over minimum wage

The Federal Government yesterday resolved to engage governors of the 36 states of the federation and the Council of State in a review of the nation’s federal allocation sharing formula.The review is part of demands by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) prior to its accepting the implementation of the proposed N30,000 National Minimum Wage for Nigerian workers.
Following the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, it was gathered that if agreed upon, the proposed wage would be taken care of as prescribed by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).

The NGF had recently sought a new fiscal restructuring plan on the grounds that economic challenges in the states would make payment of the new wage difficult.Although the Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee led by the former Head of Service of the Federation, Ama Pepple, had recommended N30,000, the Federal Government agreed to pay N24,000, while the state governments insisted on N22,500.

A presidency source privy to the closed-door deliberations at yesterday’s NEC meeting said the Federal Government has decided to take the governors’ request to the Council of State for a definite resolution on the wage crisis.He said: “We are making progress. We will be meeting with the Council of State on Tuesday, January 22. The governors are asking for a review of the revenue sharing formula, and government is looking at that. The Minimum Wage Technical Advisory Committee that was inaugurated recently is looking into the revenue sharing formula.”

Asked to be specific on whether the Federal Government has agreed to allocate more resources to state governments, the source said: “Everything is in progress.”

Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige said NEC discussed the matter and agreed to meet members of the Council of State for a unified position.

President Buhari recently inaugurated an advisory technical committee for the implementation of the proposed wage. The committee, which was given one month to submit its report, will advise the Federal Government on new sources of funds and ways to implement the initiative in a sustainable manner.