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Delta 2019: Gov. Okowa’s ambition cripples Asaba Airport upgrade…. • As ULO Construction Company pulls out • Okowa allegedly diverts N1.5Bn budgeted for the project

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The ripples generated by the build-up to the next governorship polls in Delta State is rubbing off on some infrastructural developments in the state starting from the Asaba International Airport project.

 

Society Reporters NG Government House sources have seen a letter sent to the governor by ULO Construction Company, owned by Asaba-born billionaire Uche Okpuno on the company’s desire to pull out of the construction work it is currently carrying out in the state airport.

 

Detailed findings by our team of reporters authoritatively link the refusal of the state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa to review the contract upward in line with global standard as a subtle way of fighting the chairman of ULO.

We gathered that the governor is already gearing up for 2019 elections and sees Okpuno as a rival whose financial war chest must not be allowed to grow beyond measure.

 

According to one of our sources, the governor is jittery as he believes one of the APC aspirants eyeing his seat has the backing of Okpuno. He fears that if the very influential aspirant decides to throw his hat in the ring, the billionaire businessman would be one of the financial pillars during the campaign period, which will not go down well with his camp.

 

To clip the wings of the powerful APC governorship hopeful, the governor has decided to frustrate ULO by not making any payment to it or reviewing the contract upward, but insisted that it completes the job with specification of 2014, which will definitely lead to a huge loss for the company should it fall into the booby trap set by the governor, a source noted.

 

A copy of the Delta State 2017 budget at our disposal under the Economic Sector, Sub-sector transport, Subhead No. 261, shows that a whopping sum of N1.5 billion was budgeted for it while N2.51 billion was budgeted the previous year for the construction company to continue its work, but the state government refused to release it. Deltans who spoke to us expressed dismay and believe that the money may have been diverted to private purse.

 

We gathered that the decision by ULO to pull out of the construction site is as a result of Gov. Okowa’s inability to come to terms with reality that the quotation used for 2014 cannot be used for 2017 as prices of construction materials have shot up astronomically.

 

“It is also pertinent to note that the estimate prepared by the Ministry of Works in 2014 without our inputs negates due process and principles of contract. Neither our company nor any other civil engineering company of competence was involved in the preparing of a competitive Bill of Engineering measurement and evaluations”, ULO wrote.

 

The company also noted that the state government’s inability to review cost of materials that have tripled since the adoption and measurement of actual works by them makes it unfavorable for it to carry out construction and maintenance work to international standard and to maintain its integrity, it has decided to serve a notice of disengagement.

We reliably learnt that several correspondences from ULO to Okowa have been ignored while entreaties for meetings were re-buffed.

 

The company declared its readiness to engage the services of construction reputable firms to carry out comprehensive cost audit jointly with officials of the Ministry of Works to determine who will make refunds be-tween them and the state government, after evaluation of all the woks done.

THE AVIATION CONSEQUENCE ON ASABA AIRPORT

 

The decision by ULO to pull out of the rehabilitation of the Asaba International Airport Runways and Taxiways has been viewed by aviation experts as a terrifying time for the governor and the state if a roundtable discussion is not held between the company and the state government urgently.

 

Our findings revealed that if the disengagement is allowed to happen, anyone using Asaba Airport to fly to Abuja and Lagos should consider going to the neighboring state for flight, as Asaba Airport may likely be downgraded or completely shut down.

 

The downgrade of the airport, according to a source in the Ministry of Works, will be a case of penny wise and pound foolish, as the state government will spend more in bringing its subsequent upgrade, as it must still review the price upward and even more to any company that it will engage to carry out such rehabilitation.

 

When we tried to confirm the story, neither the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah nor the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu responded to our enquiry as at press time.

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The Words Of ANFASSC President, Prince Abayomi Ogunjimi On Sports Minister, Sunday Dare

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The President of Authentic Nigeria Football And Allied Sports Supporters Club, ANFASSC, Prince Abayomi Ogunjimi has hailed Sports minister, Sunday Dare and congratulated him on the success of the 20th National Sports Festival which recently came to a climax in Edo State.

Prince Ogunjimi noted that the minister showed class and quality by ensuring that the multi sports event will go ahead despite the situation of the world at a time that the Covid-19 pandemic is still at its place.

Twice, the Sports festival was postponed, but it was achieved at the end of the day with team Delta defending the crown they won in 2018.

The ANFASSC President said ” I specially congratulate the Minister for this feat, the festival could have been cancelled but he showed that the athletes and officials whose futures are attached to the event are major priority”.

“Unfortunately we at ANFASSC could not be there, but then, the success alone is enough to celebrate the sports custodian and I believe the next edition will be bigger and better”.

Delta State have been given the rights for the 2022 edition where they would want to make it a hat trick of wins

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Shoprite to sell Nigerian business to Persianas

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One of Nigeria’s biggest retail store, Shoprite is planning to sell its Nigerian Business to Persianas Group Nigeria, according to reports. The company in August last year classified its Nigerian business as a discontinued operation; after it was approached by potential investors willing to take over its Nigerian operations.

Reuters quoted a source who said the store was waiting for regulatory approval; to sell the business to a Nigerian real estate investment company, Persianas.

It claimed three bank sources confirmed the sale to Persianas Retail which operates autonomously from Persianas Group.

Shoprite owned by South African billionaire Mr. Christo Wiese as well as over 2,300 stores across Africa had decried that in 2018; revenue from other countries with the exemption of Nigeria only accounted for 11.6 per cent of sales; while South African operations contributed 78 per cent of overall sales.

By the second half of 2020, Shoprite said it lost 8.1 per cent of its sales to the September xenophobic reprisal attacks on South African owned firms in Nigeria in 2019.

Prior to the announcement of its planned divestment, the retail supermarket had operated in the country for 15 years.

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FIRSTBANK HOSTS WEBINAR TO SENSITISE INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES ON STAYING PROTECTED IN THE INFORMATION AGE

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider has announced a webinar to sensitise individuals and businesses with useful information on being protected in today’s digital age. 

 

The virtual event is scheduled to hold by noon on Friday, 16 April 2021 with “Staying Protected Amidst the Pandemic Chaos” being the topic to be discussed at the event. Registration is ongoing for the event via the link https://firstbanknigeria.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_PUnqA7enTMG8o0OfOaWxlg 

 

Today’s world, largely referred to as the digital age has been influenced by information technology which has optimised the way we carry out our individual and business activities. 

 

However, the current age has been marred by illicit activities like identity theft, internet fraud amongst many others which poses a risk to the safety of individuals and businesses. Attending the webinar will have participants knowledgeably equipped with vital information that will ensure they make informed decisions, thereby promoting their safety whilst staying protected against possible risks and malicious attacks.

 

Tope Aladenusi, Chief Strategy Officer & Cyber Risk Services Leader, Deloitte West Africa; Confidence Staveley, Cyber Security Evangelist/ Founder, Cybersafe Foundation and Harrison Nnaji, Chief Information Security Officer, FirstBank will lead the discussion at the event.

 

Speaking on the planned Webinar, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO of FirstBank Group noted that “the world as a global village is associated with not just benefits but also risks of cyberattack and for individuals, businesses and governments to make the best out of the digital and online opportunities, they need to be deliberate in protecting themselves against cybersecurity threats”.

He further noted that, “in today’s digital age, which the pandemic has accelerated the embrace, cyberattacks are occurring at an alarming rate across the world. As such, no individual, business or government entity with digital and online presence is immune to cyberattacks; and the financial, physical and legal implications of an attack can be significantly upsetting.’’

In concluding, he enjoined everyone to participate in the forthcoming webinar as it is a viable opportunity to stay informed whilst being abreast with current trends that are pivotal to promoting safety in today’s world that is driven by information technology”.

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