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EXCLUSIVE: Tinubu, Amaechi in a N750m deal………..+ Many Dirty Details Revealed!

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Details are beginning to emerge on some of the sweetheart deals that cemented the relationships of the old guard of the All Peoples Congress (APC) and Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State.

As the dust from the tremors of the political landscape settled back in 2013 with the defection of the five Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors to the APC, what followed were weeks of getting-to-know-deals in the APC.

“Finding their feet in the new environment had huge financial implications for the newcomers. Behind the photo opportunities that the country was treated to, the sharks among them moved in quickly,” a source involved in the exchanges told the Nigerian Times.

To the delight of the APC top brass, Amaechi who appeared in a hurry to acclimatize started picking the tabs of many party programmes. We learnt that even the publicity arm of the party had a new lease of life on account of Amaechi’s generosity. Lai Mohammed, the APC’s publicity czar, became a frequent flyer on the Lagos/Port Harcourt, Abuja/Port Harcourt routes.

That was when Bola Tinubu, the ultimate power broker in APC, moved in. No governor in the Class of ’99 comes close to Bola Tinubu in privatising public resources. Lagos has been such a boon that almost a decade since he left office, he has been a central figure in all the political intrigues.

Those abreast of the early days of the relationship characterize it thus: “Amaechi was the political orphan on the prowl with plenty of cash buying up affection and influence in the new political family. Too many doors opened up to him because the party, in many respects, was poorly funded and too often, depended on Tinubu’s mood swings. Tinubu on his part was seeing beyond Amaechi’s new convert’s zeal; he had his eyes fixed on the honey pot that was Rivers State. They hit it off”.

Tinubu owns both TV Continental (TVC) and Radio Continental (RC); companies that have always been run by a few journalist friends of his. But a few years ago, he brought in a former top shot of Qatar based Aljazeera to rejig the place. Part of the reforms was the launch of a pay TV arm called Consat TV (Continental Satellite Television). Since he had his fingers burnt in the defunct HiTV, Tinubu had always dreamt of a business to rival South African owned DSTV. Consat was his answer and the service launched in June.

His next move was to tie up Consat and the Rivers State Government. Consat TV and the Rivers State Government entered a deal for the purchase of fifty thousand decoders at the premium rate of fifteen thousand Naira per decoder. The deal set the Rivers State treasury back by seven hundred and fifty million Naira. Nigerian Times can report that since the signing of the deal and full payment was effected, less than ten percent of the decoders have been supplied.

Why a government would want to buy decoders for its citizens remains unclear, but watchers of the Rivers State treasury say it is one of the “transfer of wealth” cases they have been witnessing since the governor decamped to APC.”

The relationship had recorded its first victim almost immediately. In a classic case of journalism misreading the dark art of a proprietor’s interest , Bola Tinubu’s TVC, or more precisely, Oluchi, who was TVC’s correspondent in Port Harcourt ,when the Rivers State House of Assembly crisis began, was to pay a steep price. Her crime was that bit of the trade every journalist lives for, a scoop.

On the day Chidi Llyod, the governor’s supporter went wild, bludgeoning another member on the head with the mace, it was Oluchi and her crew that brought the scenes across homes in the country. But because of the limited coverage of TVC not many people saw the video that night. Indeed the government and many media houses had eggshells on their faces in the intervening twenty four hours.

The governor’s propaganda machine got all the newspapers to report the event as one more instance of Wike’s supporters’ belligerence. Unknown to them, Oluchi had reported the event as it unfolded, correctly identifying Chidi Llyod as the villain and properly situating him between the warring camps. It took twenty four hours for other media houses, especially the newspapers to realise that they have been badly used.

TVC, itself, was forced to stop running the story the following day. By then the video had gone viral. Miss Oluchi was declared persona non grata in Port Harcourt. Her company could not protect her and fearing for her safety she escaped to Owerri. Her cameraman returned home late one night to find his house ransacked. He fled Port Harcourt too. After many months of idling away in Owerri, and the company ignoring her, she resigned.

RIVERS STATE GOVERNMENT REACTS

In her reaction, the Information Commissioner in Rivers State, Ibim Semenitari, admitted that though such a deal exists between Consat TV and the state government, the agreement was never about Governor Rotimi Amaechi, but about the good of the people of the state.

She told the us that it was wrong to say that just 10 percent of the decoders had been supplied, adding that 50 percent of the product (the quantity which the state government paid for) had been delivered.

While defending the agreement for the supply of the product, the Commissioner noted that the deal was important given that the Federal Government’s digitization policy would soon take off and the state government needed to comply.

“First, your figures are wrong, but to your question, 50 percent has been supplied and that is all we have paid for. What we are doing is not about the purchase of the decoders, but about the digitization policy which will commence soon’’, she explained.

Semenitari added, “We are getting the decoders because we need to migrate to the new platform and we are also grooming installers for the project which will in turn empower our youths by way of providing job opportunities’’.

According to her, since the state owned television station and radio station were in the process of joining the rest of the world in migrating to the new platform, it was important that the purchase was made to enhance the penetration of information to the remotest parts of the state.

“The penetration into the villages will not exist since we want to reach the largest mass of the people if we do not do this migration,’’ she explained.

The Devil in the Detail of the Government’s Defence.

Consat TV which launched in June this year is one of three pay TV firms apart from the popular but expensive DSTV.

GOtv is a cheaper offering from Multichoice and StarTimes which is a joint venture between the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Chinese investors.

The NTA StarTimes, the biggest player in the direct to home television service sector is offering free decoders ahead of the 2015 digital migration.

Until the Christmas promotion started, the decoders went for N3, 900 with one month free subscription and offering 35 to 70 channels at 1,000 Naira monthly or up to 3,000 Naira monthly.

NTA Startimes is currently available in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Aba, Benin, Enugu, Ilorin, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Markurdi, Onitsha, Port Harcourt, Sokoto, Uyo, Yola, and Ibadan.

GOtv owned by Multichoice Africa with some channels from the DSTV bouquet offers a similar service to StarTimes and is a direct competitor. For N2, 900 subscribers get a GOtv decoder including one month subscription to GOtv Plus – which gives them access to over 41 local and international channels.

But until the recent promotion, Gotv access cost was 6,900 Naira for decoder, outdoor antenna, remote, and 1 month free Gotv plus package.

However, consat TV is one of the new Nigeria pay TV which offers subscribers only 24 channels at a cost of N15, 000 for dish and accessories and subscription price of N4000 per month.

And very crucially, both Startimes and Gotv are plug and play. No installation fees.

So, far from Mrs Semenitari’s pro-poor fibbing, this is a deal done at the behest of the mafia don.

 

Additional Info from Nig Times

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Union Bank, WACOT Rice Kick Off Financial Inclusion Drive for Smallholder Farmers in Kebbi

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As part of Union Bank’s commitment to driving financial inclusion in Nigeria, the Bank has partnered with WACOT Rice Limited – a rice processing company, to financially include 6,000 local farmers including youth and women in Kebbi State.
The Kebbi Financial Inclusion Drive (KFID) which will cover four Local Government Areas – Argungu, Augie, Suru, and Dandi – is a critical part of WACOT’s Argungu Outgrower Expansion Project funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) West Africa Trade Hub. This program is set to resolve the overwhelming financial inclusion deficit within rural communities in Kebbi.
The financial inclusion initiative is being implemented with technical support from National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), to help the farmers acquire the relevant documentation and identification required to open bank accounts.
Union Bank will facilitate account opening and expand its agency banking network to cover the areas while supporting its agents on ground with digital banking solutions to enable seamless transacting and account management.
Farouk Gumel, Chairman WACOT and Board Chair, Union Bank was on ground in Kebbi State to kick-off the drive and paid a visit to the Kebbi state Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu to discuss expanding the programme state-wide.
In his recent keynote address at the recently concluded and  Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) Conference, Mr. Gumel said:
 “As we work towards achieving financial inclusion to reach the unbanked, we must commit the same resources and investments to rural-local customers as we have done to urban-global clients to help create the growth that will lift us all to collective prosperity.”
WACOT Rice is a subsidiary of TGI Group. TGI Group, through another of its subsidiary Titan Trust Bank, recently acquired Union Bank in a landmark transaction which was announced in 2021.

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FIRSTBANK PARTNERS VERVE INTERNATIONAL, MAKES CUSTOMERS MILLIONAIRES IN THE FIRSTBANK VERVE CARD PROMO

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In partnership with FirstBank – Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider – Verve International, Africa’s leading payment technology and card business, has launched its third National Consumer promo designed to reward users of FirstBank verve card with exciting gifts and cash prizes to appreciate their patronage and use of the card to carry-out their electronic banking transactions.

The ongoing 2-month promo will end on 30 October 2022 as 20 customers (10 customers per month) with the highest transaction count during the promo will be made millionaires, winning the sum of N1 million each. Also, N20,000 will be won by 25 customers monthly.

On the other hand, 2620 FirstBank verve cardholders that double their transactions every week, stand a chance to enjoy 10% cashback capped at N2,000 per customer.

Speaking on the promo Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, FirstBank said “we appreciate our partnership with Verve Card through the years; a partnership of empowerment and opportunities which include growing the economy, supporting new businesses and preventing unemployment. FirstBank verve card holders are encouraged to keep using their cards as it is a card offering that promotes safe, convenient and rewarding digital banking experience with 20 customers standing a chance to be millionaires at the end of the promo.”

Verve card is a secure debit card that allows cardholders to conveniently meet their daily financial needs such as payment for goods and services, airtime recharge, bill payments, funds transfer, etc. Verve card is accepted across all ATMs, POS, Web and Mobile Platforms in Nigeria.

The promo is also opened to new verve cardholders as non-verve cardholders are encouraged to visit the nearest FirstBank branch today to pick up a Verve card and start getting rewarded!

Only recently, FirstBank – in partnership with Verve – rewarded over 2601 FirstBank verve cardholders with various prizes; including N20,000 cash prize, N10,000 cash prize, N10,000 worth of airtime; power generating sets, refrigerator, cooking gas, smart TV and the grand prize of a brand-new car to a lucky winner.

 

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Federal Government Orders University Vice-Chancellors To Reopen Schools, Begin Lectures Amid 7 Months Lecturers’ Strike

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The government issued the directive through the National Universities Commission (NUC), and a letter signed by its Director, Finance and Accounts, Sam Onazi, on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the commission, Professor Abubakar Rasheed.

The Nigerian government has directed vice-chancellors to re-open universities and allow students to resume lectures immediately.

The government issued the directive through the National Universities Commission (NUC), and a letter signed by its Director, Finance and Accounts, Sam Onazi, on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the commission, Professor Abubakar Rasheed.

 

The letter which The PUNCH obtained on Monday, was reportedly addressed to all vice-chancellors; Pro-Chancellors and chairmen of governing councils of federal universities.

 

“Ensure that ASUU members immediately resume/commence lectures; Restore the daily activities and routines of the various University campuses,” the letter partly reads.

We had reported that the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its ongoing nationwide strike.

 

It reported that the umbrella body of the lecturers in public universities had declared a warning strike on February 14, to force the Nigerian Government to implement agreements it earlier signed with the union.

 

The agreement stipulated how university education would be funded for better improvement.

 

The strike has since rolled over and is now in its seventh month following the government’s failure to implement all the agreements.

 

Several meetings between ASUU and the Federal Government have ended in a deadlock.

 

Consequently, the Federal Government went to court to challenge the strike.

 

The government through its counsel, James Igwe, prayed the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining ASUU from taking further steps as regards the strike, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

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