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Economy

Reps summon DMO over alleged breaches in $300m diaspora bond

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…As LCC dangles 50% e-tag incentive at motorists on Lekki toll***

The House of Representatives yesterday summoned the Director General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms. Patience Oniha, over alleged abuses in the subscription of the $300 million Diaspora bond.

Chairman, House Committee on the Diaspora, Mrs. Rita, explained that its decision to summon Oniha was to ascertain the claim by members of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) that they were not carried along when the bond was subscribed in the international capital market.

An official of the DMO, Usiade Monday, who appeared before the committee maintained that the DMO was not bound to render account of how the bond was subscribed to the group.

His response did not, however, go down well with members of the committee like Rotimi Agunsoye (Lagos: APC) and Okon Archibong (Akwa Ibom: PDP) who argued that since it was the National Assembly that approved the bond, it reserved the right to probe how the deal was consumated.

Orji, who recalled how she took the pains to traverse various countries across the world to woo NIDO to buy into the bond without much success, said there was the need to investigate the matter after she was inundated with claims that NIDO members were excluded in the exercise.

She said: “The DG would have to appear before the committee to give us key information on those that subscribed to the bond, the nationality of those involved and their addresses and whether the procedure followed was in line with the law.”

The bond, raised at a coupon rate of 5.625 per cent for a tenor of five years, was targeted principally at Nigerians abroad to give them the opportunity of contributing to national development.

The committee also directed the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to provide details of how the N79 million so far released to it to cater for the needs of Nigerians in the Diaspora was spent.

NAPTIP’s Director of Finance and Accounts, Hassan James, who appeared before the committee to defend the agency’s 2017 budget, explained that of the N120 million appropriated, NAPTIP got N79 million between December last year and now. He, however, failed to satisfactorily explain how the fund so far released was expended.

In the meantime, the Lekki Concession Company, manager of the Lekki-Epe Expressway, has offered frequent users of the road passing through the Admiralty Circle Toll Plaza up to 50 per cent toll discount on its e-tag.

This, according to the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the LCC, Mr. Mohammed Hassan, is to encourage more motorists to use the e-tag booth at the toll gate and free the arena of traffic congestion.

The LCC CEO, who spoke in Lagos on Thursday at a press briefing signalling the commencement of new tolls introduced at the plaza and the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge Toll Plaza, also commented on the unusual gridlock noticed at the Admiralty plaza.

He said the toll discount, planned extension of the road expansion up to Eleko Beach Junction and other amenities were some of the incentives for users of the expressway.

Hassan said, “With e-tag, you are entitled to 10-50 per cent discount. The e-tag entitles you to 10 per cent discount. If you are a loyal motorist, we give you 50 per cent discount. This makes motorists happy because they pay less and move faster.”

According to him, the e-tag is not elitist and has been made available for individuals, corporate organisations and commercial vehicle drivers.

“Motorists can get the e-tag and load it up to whatever capacity they can afford; it is not elitist. The loading process has also been made easy because it can be done on our website and through payment channels, instead of coming down to our offices,” he said.

The company had last Friday announced the introduction of the new tolls on both plazas taking effect from Thursday.

It said the upward review followed “extensive consultations held with stakeholders in the Eti-Osa/Lekki-Epe Expressway of Lagos State,” adding that the increase was as a result of current economic and business realities adversely affecting the cost of operations and maintenance of its loan obligations.

It also said with a marginal increase from N80 to N100 for mini-commuter buses, it had the assurances of the National Union of Road Transport Workers in the area that there would be no increase in transport fares for those using the route.

Speaking on the unusual traffic witnessed at the toll plaza on the Thursday, Hassan said it was expected on the first day of implementing the new tolls.

He, however, said, “Before the toll increase, this is not the first time we are experiencing traffic at the plazas and we have a way of handling it. Each time we see traffic and it is too long, we open up (plaza) to give free passage to motorists. We do this for about 10 – 30 minutes to ease traffic, and thereafter, we continue with the normal process.”

Guardian NG with additional report from Punch

Economy

Sanwo-Olu Urges Use of Innovative Technologies in Solving Challenges

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Sanwo-Olu Urges Use of Innovative Technologies in Solving Challenges

Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has called for the use of innovative technologies in resolving the economic and social challenges of the country.

Sanwo-Olu said this on Wednesday during the pioneer graduation of the Lateef Jakande Leadership Academy (LJLA) at Konga Place in Lekki.

He said that the new platform of globalisation and Internet of things must be significantly employed to resolve new challenges encountered in the course of improving the living standards of citizens.

30 students, 15 men and 15 women, between 18 and 35 years, graduated from the academy after a one-year course and mentorship in leadership.

The Lagos Leadership Summit (LLS) is a pivotal platform dedicated to empowering Nigeria’s young professionals with the skills and insights essential for success in various leadership roles.

With a focus on leadership excellence, ethical governance, and youth inclusion in governance, the summit offers a unique opportunity for participants to engage with renowned leaders and industry experts.

” You have to be able to innovate for us, you are here as leaders of not tomorrow but today. Proffer solutions that the government can use as a tool, to solve the challenges that we are facing today but more importantly to solve global issues.

“And that is why we started the Lateef Jakande Leadership Academy. For us as a government, we felt how well can we honour a man than for us in public sector to set up a cream of new leaders.

“So we set up this school that has the first set, the one-year fellowship, who indeed have not only shown us that we took the right step, they have been outstanding individuals,” the governor said.

The guest speaker and former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, noted that it was important for followers to trust their leaders for a successful outcome.

“The people need to trust the government, they must know the capability of their leaders so that when issues beyond human expectations happen, the followers can show empathy to the plight of their leaders.

” I have always been an advocate that believes that the process is as important as the result, the end shouldn’t justify the means, the process is crucial, it serves as a blueprint for others coming behind,” he said.

Similarly, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, Deputy Governor, who spoke on “Leadership And Community Engagement”, stated that to achieve effective leadership in Nigeria, there was the need to navigate complex political, economic and social landscapes.

Hamzat urged the citizens to be involved in governance while stressing the need for collaborations with private stakeholders and the public sector.

According to him, community engagement with government at all levels is pivotal to the nation’s development.

In her address, Mrs Ayisat Agbaje-Okunade, LIJA’s Executive Secretary, noted that the challenges faced required leaders who are not only capable but compassionate, visionary, and adaptable.

According to her, leadership must transcend rhetoric and manifest tangible outcomes.

“We need leaders who inspire confidence, foster unity, and drive transformation.”

Agbaje-Okunade urged the participants to embrace the responsibility that comes with leadership and pave the way for a generation of new leaders.

The keynote speaker, Mr Abubakar Suleiman, Chief Executive Officer, Sterling Bank, said that leadership is about leading people on a new purposeful journey.

Suleiman said being a strategic thinker and a transformational leader was what makes leadership different from management, adding that the future is being crafted in leadership.

“In essence, as a leader, you must be able to lead people to the future hence, you must be convincing for people to be bold to follow you, able to trust and believe in you.

“For one to be a leader, the people must be able to believe and trust you to take them to the future where you have never been to,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr Tunbosun Alake, Commissioner, Innovation, Science and Technology, stressed that leadership had nothing to do with being young or old but having good values and character.

The commissioner advised the participants to pursue excellence in their various career paths to succeed in life.

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Economy

Eid-el-Fitr: Tinubu Urges Sacrifice, Integrity For National Rebirth

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Eid-el-Fitr: Tinubu urges sacrifice, integrity for national rebirth

 President Bola Tinubu has urged Nigerians to continue to make sacrifices and exhibit integrity for national development.

Tinubu said this after observing the Eid-el-Fitr prayer at the Eid Ground at Dodon Barracks on Wednesday in Lagos.

The President also called on Nigerians to continue to have faith in his government and remain patriotic citizens.

Tinubu said that the Renewed Hope Agenda of his administration, aimed at bringing prosperity to Nigerians, was being diligently implemented.

Encouraging Muslims to extend the values of sacrifice and resilience beyond the fasting period, Tinubu emphasised the need for Nigerians to prioritise the exhibition of love for their country.

‘’The resilience and sacrifice that we have shown and made during these months should be preserved.

“Be a kind and cheerful giver. We must love our country more than any other country because this is the only one we have.

‘’We must continue to protect the integrity of our government and leadership. The Renewed Hope Agenda is alive, well and fine, and Nigerians should continue to be very hopeful. Without hope, there is no salvation.

“Without hope, there is no development. Without hope, there is no life. Eid Mubarak,’’ the President said at the end of the prayers led by the Chief Imam of Lagos State, Sheikh Sulaiman Abou-Nolla.

Earlier in his sermon, the Chief Imam urged Nigerians to shun all acts of violence, ensure peaceful co-existence, and continue to have faith in the country.

He asked those in leadership positions to remain faithful to their oaths of office and work towards alleviating the suffering of the less privileged.

‘‘Let us not forget our brothers and sisters in Gaza and other areas of conflict,’’ the Chief Imam said.

He offered prayers of God’s guidance, wisdom, and protection for the President and the Lagos State government, as well as for peace and stability in the country.

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Economy

Lawmaker Secures Release of 4 Persons Involved in Illegal Arms Manufacturing in Delta

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Lawmaker Secures Release of 4 Persons Involved in Illegal Arms Manufacturing in Delta

Sen. Ned Nwoko (PDP-Delta), on Wednesday, disclosed that he had secured the release of four family members involved in manufacturing arms at the Onicha-Olona Illegal Arms Factory in Delta.

Nwoko representing Delta North Senatorial District, who disclosed this in an interview in Abuja, said that the release of the four persons was through collaborative efforts.

On March 12, troops of 63 Brigade, Asaba, uncovered an illegal arms manufacturing factory in Onicha-Olona, Delta North Senatorial District and arrested eight family members in connection with the crime.

Nwoko disclosed that efforts have been made to ensure fair treatment for those involved, balancing justice with the opportunity for rehabilitation and contribution to society.

“Following my recent visit to the headquarters of 63 Brigade, Asaba and productive discussions with the Brigade Commander, I am pleased to announce progress in addressing the situation regarding the illegal arms factory discovered in the Onicha-Olona community, Delta.

“Efforts have been made to ensure fair treatment for those involved, balancing justice with the opportunity for rehabilitation and contribution to society.

“I am pleased to reveal that through collaborative efforts, I have successfully secured the release of four family members implicated in the illegal activity.

“However, our commitment to upholding the law remains unwavering, and endeavours continue for fair judgment and potential pardon for the remaining four individuals,” he said.

The lawmaker stressed that the underlying issue highlighted by the discovery, however, remained of paramount importance.

“We must seize the opportunity to redirect the talents demonstrated by those involved towards lawful and productive endeavours.

“The young man in the family, known for his passion and ability to build drones, exemplifies this potential.

“His skills should be harnessed and put to good use,” he said.

Nwoko added that the Industrial Revolution served as a pertinent historical precedent where individual efforts catalysed transformative change and made possible by governments that created conducive environments.

“We can emulate this model here. We can provide support and opportunities for talented individuals like the young drone builder, and stimulate a new wave of innovation and economic growth in Nigeria.

“As previously stated, Nigeria’s economy faces significant challenges exacerbated by escalating imports, particularly in the realm of arms and weaponry.

“Therefore, we must harness our indigenous talents for the greater good and bolster our local industries,” he said.

Nwoko further said that the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), as well as the Ministry of Science and Technology, have crucial roles to play in this regard.

According to him, by engaging with individuals possessing such skills, we can offer them legal avenues for their expertise to flourish.

“The aim is not only to prevent the proliferation of illegal arms or other weapons manufacturing but also to channel these talents towards legitimate industries for national development.

“I reiterate the need for the government to support and integrate such offenders with specialised skills and talents into the formal economy.

“This initiative should focus on recognising their capabilities and providing opportunities for them to contribute to the development of our local indigenous technology.

“As noted earlier, an individual capable of modifying an AK-47 magazine, originally designed to hold 30 rounds, to accommodate 60 rounds using rudimentary equipment, holds immense potential for greater achievements.

”Such individual can do more with proper legal support and access to adequate resources.”

He disclosed that he was committed to proposing or supporting a new law aimed at assisting talented and skilful individuals involved in illegal activities and also partnering with law enforcement agencies in these endeavours.

“I am committed to proposing or supporting a new law aimed at assisting talented and skilful individuals involved in illegal activities and also partner with law enforcement agencies in these endeavours.”

“They have the intelligence and insights of the potential beneficiaries of this “amnesty” drive towards creating a new cadre of indigenous technologists.

“This law would establish an agency dedicated to providing government support and resources to rehabilitate and engage these individuals in legal and productive activities.

“I tentatively suggest naming this proposed law the “National Talent Rehabilitation and Integration Act”.

“This legislation will not only focus on rehabilitation but also on harnessing the skills and talents of offenders for the benefit of society.

“By providing a structured environment and necessary support, this agency will facilitate the transition of individuals from illicit activities to lawful and productive ventures.

”And they will be contributing to both their personal rehabilitation and national development,” Nwoko added.

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