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N174.3bn Debt Weighs Down Aviation Ministry…… ……..The Stella Adda Oduah Connection.

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An accumulated debt of N174.3 billion is threatening strategic project execution and implementation by the Ministry of Aviation, the Senate Committee on Aviation heard.

At an oversight visit by members of the committee to the Ministry of Aviation to review 2013 budget performance, the lawmakers were told that about N174.3 billion is owed to contractors as well as commitments entered by the ministry for the execution and implementation of projects captured in the aviation master plan.
A copy of the presentation made to the committee obtained by  us indicates that these debt commitments were made between 2011 and May 2014, mostly during the tenure of former minister Stella Oduah to execute different project phases and special projects.
A total contract sum of N217.5 billion was awarded within the said period. In phase I of the plan about N10.1 billion worth of contracts were awarded; N57.7 billion in phase II; and N63.1 billion in phase III.


Other contract commitments include the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) projects, N31.6billion; special projects, N16.7 billion; Security projects, N9.4bn; and the Enugu and Bayelsa International terminals, N28.7, which are contracts the supervising minister, Dr Samuel Ortom, said he believed were transparently awarded.
A breakdown of the ministry’s indebtedness shows that about N740 million debt is owed for projects executed in the phase I plan, N22 billion for phase II, N59 billion for phase III, N31.6 billion for BASA projects, N16.7 billion for special projects, N9.4bn for security projects, N16.7 billion for Enugu and Bayelsa International terminals and the N18.2 billion interest accrued from both the $100m DMO loan and $500m Chinese loan for four international airports and their cargo terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano.
“By the time we came in, contracts were already awarded for these projects,” the supervising minister told the lawmakers.
Giving an account of the project implementation, Mr. Ortom said out of the 17 projects earmarked for phase I, 14 have been completed while 188 projects are at various stages of completion for the phase II. Most of the 184 projects are just taking for the phase III.
On strategies for repayment of the debts, the minister said the ministry may review and forfeit some projects. He also said the ministry is considering sending a memo to the president to seek for special intervention fund to offset some of the debts.
“We have set up an inter-ministerial committee to review the projects in addition to an airport development levy in line with international best practice,” he added. Chairman of the committee, Senator Hope Uzodimma, picked holes in the depletion of the BASA account which now stands at N10 billion.
The account is supervised by both the National Assembly and the presidency.
He said there was no time when the national Assembly gave approval for the ministry to spent huge amount of money from the account.

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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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