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NAUB: MR PRESIDENT, WHO ARE THOSE PLANNING TO KILL THE ONLY FEDERAL UNIVERSITY THAT DOES NOT GO ON STRIKE?

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By femi Oyewale

 

 

Higher education in Nigeria, quite frankly, is facing immense challenges including but not limited to poor infrastructure, unrealistic academic calendars resulting in extra years against stipulated durations, lack of teaching equipment, social menace, poor funding, amongst others.

 

 

 

Interestingly, Nigerian Army University, Biu (NAUB) is quite unique from other federal universities in the sense that since inception, there has not been any issue of strike, cultism, protest, or anti-social conduct.

Rather, the university is reputed for its excellent condition of learning environment.

 

This was aptly covered by the Governor of Borno State, H.E Professor Babagana Umara Zulum through his deputy during the maiden edition of the convocation ceremony of NAUB on Saturday, October 28th, 2023 at the University’s main campus ( note not temporary campus within five years of existence) in Biu, Borno State.

 

 

 

The Borno State governor said he was physically present at the groundbreaking ceremony of the foundation laying stone of NAUB five years ago, and he is impressed by what he has seen adding that it must take military precision and focus to put in a full-fledged and functional university on a barren land in such a short period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Governor further thanked the Federal Government, the Nigerian Army, the traditional rulers, scholars and academics philanthropist, industrialists, associates and men and women of goodwill from within and outside Borno State for the selfless service of gradually re-modelling the future of Borno State in particular and Nigeria in general and for putting Borno State on the path of further greatness through the Nigerian Army university, Biu.

 

Why then do we plan to abort such a great independent institution of learning known as a barrier breaker and line crosser by merging it with NDA whose missions and visions are not in tandem with each other

Why cut short the dreams of such noble ideas via politics?

 

Are there those who do not want a stable educational system in Nigeria?

Are there external forces or their agents at home trying to destroy a good foundation for a stable educational system in Nigeria?

Is NAUB in competition with the private universities?

Are there big shots who benefit from a chaotic educational system in Nigeria?

 

Are there some subterranean forces working within the system to achieve the Boko Haram objective that “education is sin”?

 

 

 

The words of Governor Zulum rings a wise bell when he said that Boko Haram insurgents have achieved their objectives if the university is scrapped.

 

 

 

 

 

“Therefore, we appeal to Mr. President to look into this issue so that the Army University Biu would remain a university… because of the importance of education in this part of the country, where Boko Haram is saying that education is forbidden. And I think that by allowing this Army university to be scrapped, they might have achieved one or two of their objectives,” he said.

 

The governor noted that, for over a decade, Borno State has been facing a serious crisis that has denied many children access to education.

 

“Therefore, this university is very important to not only the people of Borno State but our neighbouring states,” he said.

 

 

 

Look at the Western countries that started with military polytechnics that propelled revolution in military equipment development.

 

Many of these developed countries collaborated jointly through civil-military research.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Swedish Defence University established like NAUB is Sweden’s leading resource in, and first choice for, education, training and research in the management of crisis, war and periods of tension in the leadership of both civil and military agencies. The Swedish Defence University is an accredited institution for academic education for military and civilian students and researchers where different experiences, approaches, and traditions come together. It has become a hub for both national and international students.

 

 

 

 

 

It might shock you to know that American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU). APUS is wholly owned by American Public Education, Inc., a publicly traded private-sector corporation that offers associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees, in addition to dual degrees, certificate programs and learning tracks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During my NYSC, I served in the Nigerian Army School of Education (NASE), Ilorin, which is a renowned military institution focused on providing high-quality education and training for Nigerian Army personnel and civilians. So why the proposed merger of NAUB?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interestingly, the Nigerian Army University Biu provides such a platform for the Nigerian military towards technological innovation, research, and development in varied fields for national defence and security breakthroughs like many modern nations. In fact, instead of downgrading the Nigerian Army University, many more Army universities should be established in Nigeria. That is the way out for a caricature type of educational system that has failed to have stability over the years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is not interested in seeing that a federal university graduates its students within the regular course time frame?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Must programmes of all federal universities be easily disrupted. A course of 4 or 5 years ends up taking over 6 to 7 years to complete. The worst part is that many universities end up in a crash programme to be able to cover up for the lost times. The terrible damage to these universities’ products is the very low standard of graduates.

 

Who wants the Nigerian educational system to collapse completely? These are rhetorical questions the amiable president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and all stakeholders should ask those proposing the merger to answer us publicly, else should let the matter die forever in the abyss of hasty decision.

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Interview

Tunji Ojo Has No Case To Answer” – Shehu Sanni 

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Former Kaduna Central Senator, Shehu Sani, says Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has no case to answer regarding the contract awarded to a company linked to him by suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Betta Edu.

Sani, in a chat with The Whistler, said Tunji-Ojo did not violate any public service law since he resigned from the company years ago.

 

” It could have been a conflict of interest if he hadn’t resigned.

The senator further said it is “not his ministry (that awarded contracts), and companies have the right to pursue businesses anywhere.

“Edu’s case is very clear and can’t be equated with that of a company associated with Hon Ojo.

“Legally, he can’t be held to account on this matter.

“Let’s not be distracted,” Sani said.

“The extant provision of the law under the 1999 Constitution is that anybody who is a public servant cannot engage in any business other than farming,” said Nelson Kebordih, a senior lawyer whose interest is in public policy.

He said the implication of the law is “that a person must be in active control and directorship of the company in the management of any enterprise.

“You are permitted to own shares because owning a share does not put you in the day-to-day management of the company or any enterprise.

“If he (Tunji-Ojo) has resigned from being a director, the law does not stop him from owning shares in the company,” he stated.

The former lawmaker’s position aligns with the 2008 Federal Service Rules on Chapter 4 which states that “Public officers are not prohibited from holding shares in both public and private companies operating in Nigeria or abroad except that they must not be Directors in private companies, and may only be Directors in public companies if nominated by Government.”

 

Following the suspension and quizzing of Edu, concerning alleged financial sleaze, the Minister of Interior has come under pressure to resign or equally be suspended by the president after it emerged that his company, New Planet Project Ltd, also received a contract from Edu.

Edu had awarded some companies contracts, some of which were unregistered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) raising concern of fraud and illegality.

Tunji-Ojo is also being pressured to step down with many commentators saying he has flouted the Public Service Rules which barred public servants from being awarded contracts or contracting any business except farming.

But the Minister while speaking on television explained that he had resigned since 2009 from the company.

“Almost five years ago, I resigned as director of the company, so I’m not a director. I resigned on 1st of February, 2009, you can take that to the bank,” the minister had said.

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Interview

‘The Coleman Wires and Cables Business Story is a Journey From Grass to Grace’

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On the sidelines of the 12th Practical Nigerian Content (PNC) organized by the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Mr. George Onafowokan, the Managing Director/CEO of Coleman Technical Industries Limited, a leading Nigerian brand manufacturer of wires and cables, shared secrets to his business success amid recent national and global economic challenges. Onafowokan maintains that as a Nigerian, one can start a small business and grow organically into a big global competitor…..

 

What do you mean when you said Coleman Wires and Cable’s story is one of “grass to grace”?

 

Coleman Wires and Cable was registered as a company in 1975, but we began as a small-scale business in 1996. In 2021, we had to restructure our operations to overcome the setbacks we faced from the beginning, and that’s when I became the Managing Director.

Our story is one of grassroots to grace. Through investing time and effort over the years, we were able to systematically grow from a micro-small company into a small, medium, large, and extremely large company in terms of size. Our business vision started small, but we strategically expanded it. Please note, our aim was not to become the largest company, but it began with the goal of being the preferred wires and cable choice for Nigerians in terms of quality.

Subsequently. we found that every Nigerian preferred locally made cables over the foreign imported ones. So, the question of why we can’t build a company capable of servicing the entire nation and the global market arose; with this, our vision expanded. We progressed from a humble factory to a ripple plant that became the largest in West Africa at the time it was built. Starting out from 20,000 square meters, we expanded to 30,000 square meters and further into the Shagamu plant, which began with over 100,000 and has grown to over 350,000 square meters today.

We diversified into other products, such as high-voltage cables, and we became the first in the country and in West Africa. This achievement made Nigeria the fifth country in the world to produce such cables. Today, more than fifty percent of Coleman’s products are not produced by any other company in Nigeria, West Africa, and most parts of sub-Saharan Africa. This accomplishment is a testament to the story developed by a predominantly 99 percent Nigerian team. It illustrates that it is possible to be Nigerian and organically grow into a global competitor.

Could you provide some insight into your personal background for the readers?

Certainly! I am George Onafowokan, the second generation of the Onafowokan family, born into the distinguished lineage of Asiwaju Solomon Kayode Onafowokan. He is currently the second Asiwaju of Remo, succeeding Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and is well-regarded as a business mogul. Personally, I am a family man with a spouse and children.

I pursued my first degree in Accounting and Finance in the UK, followed by a postgraduate degree in Information and Management. With a penchant for improving processes and a dedication to giving back, I often find myself engrossed in thoughts on how to enhance various aspects of life.

Having witnessed the success of companies I’ve mentored in Nigeria, I am committed to building the capacity of individuals and small to medium-scale businesses. My guiding principle, which I consider my calling, is to contribute to the growth and improvement of others over time.

Reflecting on my upbringing, my father’s journey serves as a true “grass to grace” story. From humble beginnings in a one-bedroom apartment, he worked his way up to become well-educated and stand out among his peers. However, my perspective evolved when, at the age of twelve, my aunt imparted valuable advice. She encouraged me to cease complaining and adopt the mindset that my parents served as vessels for me to enter the world. Once in the world, their responsibility concluded. Embracing this philosophy, I no longer felt entitled to my parents’ resources and committed to earning everything I needed. This mentality shaped my life principle—I don’t expect anyone to owe me anything. Consequently, I work diligently, understanding that neither a “yes” nor a “no” signifies offense or entitlement.

 

Was Coleman Wires and Cables your first business?

No, Coleman was not my first business; it is a family business. I started my own business when I was young. At the age of sixteen, I ventured into my first wine business. By the time I completed university, I had my own business in the UK, specializing in financing and exporting to Nigeria using containers. My initial entry into the cable business involved supplying raw materials, and coincidentally, one of my main clients was Coleman.

You spoke about replicating yourself; how can one access mentorship opportunities from you?

 

I am one of those who don’t believe that you can run a business as a one-man show. Therefore, you have to build human capacity in every way, integrate it into your structure, empower the people around you, and let them handle their responsibilities. Personally, I have built a team around what I do. I started in a business where I handled every department myself, but today, I am not involved in those tasks anymore.

Most importantly, I empower them to effectively perform their jobs and give them a sense of belonging, so they feel that their contributions have value.

In many companies in Nigeria, you often find that the Managing Director or CEOs are the only individuals making decisions, while the rest are mere yes-ma or yes-sir. I wouldn’t run a business that way.

Are there mentorship opportunities for people outside your current team?

No, we have not fully structured it for everyone; we currently have a limited number, mostly for individuals already in the industry. However, from my work with the LCCI mentoring group and my team, I have found that what most people generally need is a simple understanding and mentoring to discover what aspects of their life or history they could improve upon or learn from.

What has Coleman been doing with the NCDMB?

For us, we are a success story of the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) because we have been working with the board since 2017. Prior to that, in 2008, I met with Senator Lee Maeba, who led the private bill for the local content law before it became an act in 2010. I could see the passion in the man when he talked about the whole idea, and from that passion, we took action. “Taking action” means we started putting our money where our mouth is, began examining areas in the law that affect business and expanding capacity, and we have succeeded in doing so. Over the years, it has been challenging to break into these oil and gas companies, but we have managed to do so. We primarily supply cables to their vendors, without handling any installation. We supply for NLNG projects, Shell, and Mobile. We have been able to provide cables that have never been produced by any other company in Nigeria.

 

In the face of business and economic setbacks, Coleman expanded. What did you do differently?

First, I think we took a strategic position to ensure our ability to continue operations. Second, we minimized our losses and restructured our capacity. One month before the Covid-19 shutdown, we had submitted a request for restructuring with our banks. We had slowed down, scrutinized all our positions, and had already started reducing the size of our business. By the time we entered the Covid-19 pandemic, we operated with the same number of staff for about a year. After Covid-19 started easing, we increased the number of staff. Therefore, we were somewhat prepared for Covid-19, and over the years in our business, we had already trained specific capacity. During Covid-19, we were able to build two factories without anyone coming from abroad. Covid-19 has, in a way, compelled everyone to enhance their in-country capacity.

In your panel discussion, you mentioned that the NCDMB should replicate the success in the petroleum industry in manufacturing. So, in concrete terms, what are you looking for to happen?

 

Replicating success in manufacturing means being intentional with manufacturers, ensuring that they perform well because there are not a lot of manufacturers. We need to be more deliberate, encourage more factories, open more businesses here, and manufacture goods instead of just assembling them. That is the focus I am emphasizing. There should be a deliberate action to build local capacity.

 

What is the future for Coleman?

 

The future for Coleman is still very bright. The opportunities have not stopped. We have two or three projects that are still ongoing, which will be finished by the first quarter of next year. The copper and aluminum factories are underway, the fiber-2 project, the expansion and completion of the Shagamu project, and our power project to increase our capacity from 16 to 24 megawatts. We are also looking to supply around West and Central Africa going forward in the next year, and later on, in East Africa. Our export plan is quite extensive, and we hope to see significant figures coming out of it, apart from Nigeria.

I believe we need to trust in the opportunities that abound in Nigeria, and in time, we are all going to reap the benefits. Regardless of the situation, Nigeria still finds its way to continue growing; and if given peace and the chance by the government, we would most likely see an upward swing in businesses by 2025.

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Interview

EFCC arraigns couple for alleged N500m fraud

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The Port Harcourt Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arraigned a couple, Emmanuel Dike and Ugochi Eziaku Dike, for an alleged N500 million investment scam.

This was disclosed in a statement posted on the official X handle of the EFCC on Thursday evening.

According to the statement, the couple was arraigned alongside their company, Dike & Phil Associates Ltd, on Wednesday, November 29, by the EFCC on five-count charges bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence and criminal conversion of funds to personal use.

One of the charges read, “That you Ugochi Eziaku Dike, Emmanuel Dike, Dike & Phil Associates Ltd; Kelechi Chigozirim Ahiawe (still at large), and Ampletech Integrated Services Ltd, sometime between the 24th day of August, 2020 and 15th day of February, 2021, at Port Harcourt within the jurisdiction of this honourable court with intent to defraud obtained the sum of Five Hundred Million Naira only from one Captain Chukwuemeka Stanley Ikeri, a Nigerian citizen and his company- Clipboard Office Superstores Limited, under the pretext that it was for investment purposes that will yield him 10% interest, which you all claimed to have the capability to deliver to him, which pretext you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1) (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act”.

The statement further read that the couple pleaded not guilty to the charges read to them.

In view of their pleas, prosecution counsel Dr. B. Ubi, prayed the court for a trial date, while counsel to the defendants, J. C. Okeke, informed the court of his application for the bail of the first and second defendants. He prayed the court to grant the defendants bail to enable them prepare for trial.

Justice Ajoku granted the defendants bail in the sum of one million Naira each, with two sureties in like sum.

The defendants were remanded in the Port Harcourt Correctional Service pending the perfection of their bail conditions, and the matter was adjourned to January 30, 2024 for commencement of trial.

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