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Shareholders Laud Transcorp Hotels’ performance, Approve dividend payment

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Transcorp Hotels Plc has announced a profit after tax of N4b at its 3rd Annual General Meeting which took place at Transcorp Hilton Abuja. At the meeting, the Shareholders of Transcorp Hotels Plc   commended the management and staff of the Company for recording a strong financial and operational performance in the financial year ended 31st December 2016, with improvements across all indices despite the economic recession which took a hefty toll on hospitality businesses generally.

The Shareholders gave the commendation at the 3rd Annual General Meeting of the Company held at Transcorp Hilton Abuja on Wednesday March 15, 2017, attributing the feat to the quality of Transcorp Hilton Hotel as the leading hospitality destination in Nigeria. They also described the management of the Company as visionary and dedicated, as demonstrated by the Hotel’s constantly improving quality of service.

The Shareholders unanimously approved the Board’s recommendation of a final dividend of 40 kobo per share, stating that they are confident that as the Company continues to make progress, it will not relent in meeting their expectations.

Speaking on behalf of shareholders, Mr. Boniface Okezie, Chairman, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), expressed appreciation to the Company’s Board and Management for paying dividend at a period when the country’s economy is in dire straits, leading to significant drop in hotel occupancy. He said, “At a time when a lot of companies prefer to cut dividend with a ready excuse in the current state of the economy, we are delighted that our Company has paid dividend which will go a long way in meeting our financial needs”.

Also speaking, AlhajiMuktarMuktar, President, Trusted Shareholders Association, commended Transcorp Hotels for what he termed “a stellar financial performance” amid a challenging period and the dividend payout which he said was equally laudable. According to Muktar, Transcorp Hotels has not relented on its oars and has continued to shine brightly delivering world class service to an ever growing clientele of top notch guests across the world. Little wonder it has consistently won numerous awards and most recently bagged a long list of honours in 2016 that will make even its competitors go green with envy. “We are proud of this achievement and encourage the MD and the Board to continue in this direction”. At this point, the shareholders gave a standing ovation to the MD/ CEO  for not just winning the Seven Stars 2016 CEO of the Year at a global event, but for also leading Transcorp Hilton to win the Seven Stars Seal of Excellence Award for the first time.

Earlier, Chairman of the Company, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor explained to shareholders that the strong performance recorded by the Company is because the Company continued to re-invent its offerings, in keeping with service excellence. He noted that the Company was relentless in maintaining market leadership in its flagship property, closing the year with an occupancy of 60%, well ahead of competition. This according to him ensured Transcorp Hotels delivered a resilient performance even in the face of the impact of economic recession on the hospitality industry which has seen occupancy for large hotels dropping below 35%.

“2016 was a year of notable achievements for Transcorp Hotels Plc, despite the strong economic headwinds. The upgrade of Transcorp Hilton Abuja is underway in line with our commitment to stakeholders to build Africa’s choice hospitality assets”, Emerhor said.

He noted that, in validation of Transcorp Hilton Abuja as the prime hotel property in Abuja, the Hotel won numerous awards in 2016 and for the fourth year in a row emerged the proud recipient of five prestigious awards at the 23rd World Travel Awards; the laurels include Africa’s Leading Business Hotel; Nigeria’s Leading Business Hotel, Nigeria’s Leading Hotel and Nigeria’s Leading Hotel Suite (the Presidential Suite). The World Travel Award is recognized globally as the hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which others aspire. The Hotel also went on to clinch the 2016 TripAdvisor Travellers’Choice Awards and the 2016 Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle awards, Emerhor said.

In his review of the 2016 results, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp Hotels Plc, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo said that the Company recorded a 10 percent growth in gross revenue at N15.31bn as against N13.98bn in 2015.  This according to him was largely driven by key events including visits by very high profile guests, many foreign heads of government and representatives of consulates. All this he said was due to aggressive business development.

He said the Company recorded a Profit Before Tax of N5.24bn in 2016, maintaining 2015 performance of N5.38bn while the Profit After Tax for the year surpassed 2015 performance of N3.5bn by 17 percent to N4.10bn in 2016. “Our major priority now is creating value for our stakeholders, improving customer service for our guests and maximizing shareholder value, and we believe very strongly that the foundation that we are laying, with the current upgrade and refurbishment of the Transcorp Hilton Abuja and repositioning of Transcorp Hotels Calabar, is certain to yield very positive results.” He said.

“On this premise, I am happy to add that our turnaround initiatives for Transcorp Hotels Calabar are equally paying off as the Hotel recorded laudable profit for the first time since 2012”. This development, he explained, was predicated on strategy of increasing occupancy and proactive cost management” Ozigbo stated.

Speaking on 2017 prospects, Mr. Ozigbo maintained that the Company will keep up with the tempo to sustain the financial performance in 2017, despite the impacts of the temporary airport closure. He also confirmed that the Company is on track to deliver on the ongoing upgrade of Transcorp Hilton Abuja as preparations get on for the 30th anniversary of the Hotel in the 2nd quarter of this year.

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NASRE Advises FG On Food Crisis, Forex Shortage Amid Calls To Suspend Import Ban

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As Nigeria finds itself at a critical crossroads, grappling with simultaneous challenges of a food crisis and a foreign exchange (forex) shortage.

 

This is even as the nation seeks solutions to mitigate these pressing issues, the debate over whether to open its borders for importation has intensified.

 

The food crisis gripping Nigeria has raised concerns about food security and access to essential nutrition for millions of citizens.

 

Adverse weather conditions, supply chain disruptions, and other factors have contributed to dwindling food supplies and soaring prices, placing a significant strain on households and exacerbating the vulnerability of already marginalized communities.

 

Meanwhile, the forex shortage has hampered Nigeria’s ability to import essential goods and raw materials, further exacerbating supply chain disruptions and exacerbating inflationary pressures.

 

Industries reliant on imported inputs, including agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare, have been particularly hard hit, impeding economic growth and development.

 

In response to these challenges, some stakeholders advocate for opening Nigeria’s borders to facilitate the importation of food and other essential commodities.

 

Proponents argue that increased importation could help alleviate immediate food shortages, stabilize prices, and provide relief to vulnerable populations facing hunger and malnutrition.

 

However, others caution against the potential risks of opening borders amid a forex shortage. Critics raise concerns about the impact on domestic production and self-sufficiency, as well as the long-term consequences of relying heavily on imported goods. They emphasize the need to prioritize investments in domestic agriculture and infrastructure to build resilience against future crises.

 

As Nigeria navigates these complex issues, the government faces the daunting task of balancing short-term relief efforts with long-term strategies for sustainable development and economic resilience.

 

Proffering suggestion on how the government can address the unending inflationary pressures, Forex shortages, food prices hike and revitalise the nation’s economy, the Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors (NASRE), has advised the Nigerian government to adopt collaborative efforts involving policymakers, industry stakeholders, civil society organizations, and international partners to identify holistic solutions that address both immediate needs and underlying structural challenges.

 

On the debate over whether Nigeria should open its borders for importation amid the food crisis and forex shortage, the President of the advocacy group, Mr Femi Oyewale, underscores the urgency of coordinated action and innovative thinking.

 

According to him, now more than ever, solidarity, cooperation, and forward-thinking policies are needed to ensure the well-being and prosperity of all Nigerians.

 

“The question of whether Nigerian borders should be opened for food importation in the face of a food crisis is complex and multifaceted. However, there are factors to consider, which basically, Domestic Agricultural Capacity. Because opening borders for food importation could undermine domestic agricultural production by flooding the market with cheaper imported goods.

 

“However, if domestic production is insufficient to meet demand, importing food may be necessary to avoid shortages,” he said.

 

On the economic implications of borders opening, the President of NASRE, Oyewale, said: “Importing food can have economic ramifications, both positive and negative. On one hand, it can provide access to a wider variety of foods and potentially lower prices for consumers. On the other hand, it may negatively impact local farmers and exacerbate trade imbalances.”

 

The resourceful editors, while commenting on Food Security, pointed out that relying heavily on imported food leaves a country vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and price fluctuations in the global market. Therefore, it urged the federal government to develop a robust domestic agricultural sector, which is crucial for long-term food security.

 

According to Oyewale, the Nigerian government must consider its broader economic and agricultural policies when making decisions about food importation. This includes evaluating subsidies, tariffs, and investment in agricultural infrastructure.

 

“Importing food often involves long-distance transportation, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. Promoting local production can help reduce the carbon footprint associated with food consumption.

 

“Food is not just a commodity; it is essential for human well-being. Government policies should prioritize ensuring access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food for all citizens, particularly those most vulnerable to food insecurity,” he added.

 

The Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors, NASRE, therefore, noted that the decision to open Nigerian borders for food importation during a food crisis should be approached cautiously, taking into account the country’s domestic agricultural capacity, economic implications, food security goals, environmental concerns, and social welfare considerations.

 

“A balanced approach that supports both domestic production and responsible trade practices may be necessary to address immediate food shortages while also promoting long-term food security and sustainability,” the Association stated.

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Lagos State Government to prosecute 11 suspects for extortion

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The Lagos State Government said 11 suspects arrested at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state will be prosecuted to serve as deterrents to others extorting residents and motorists in the state.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Olawale Musa, disclosed this while addressing journalists on Wednesday.

He added that the suspects parade themselves as enforcement officers to extort unsuspecting motorists and residents in the state.

Musa said, “Lagos State Government has declared zero tolerance for extortion of unsuspecting residents, especially motorists, by miscreants parading themselves as enforcement officers at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state.

“We have announced severally that nobody is allowed to collect money for the local government on the street of Lagos, and the government has set up a team to ensure that anybody that does that is picked up and from that Lekki axis.

“They will be charged to court to explain themselves, and I want to sound a note of warning to others that do the same thing that we will not relent; the government is all out for them.”

He noted that it is unlawful for any local government area within the state to place personnel to conduct such operations on the highways.

“If you have any issues, you call us, and we will come and address them, but when you have people coming on the road on the guise that you want to have revenue at this hard time, collecting money from motorists on the road is not fair, and it is illegal in Lagos State to resist it.

“It is illegal for any local government area in the state to deploy people on the roads as it negates the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, Section 18, 2018, which empowers only the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority to carry out such operations on the roads,” he added.

In March 2023, The PUNCH reported that the Lagos State Government arrested four suspected hoodlums in some parts of the state over extortion.

The suspects were arrested in the Amuwo-Odofin area of the state while attempting to extort motorists.

 

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N10bn fraud: EFCC to arraign Abdulfattah Ahmed, ex-Kwara Governor Friday

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will arraign the immediate-past governor of Kwara State, Abdulfattah Ahmed, for alleged N10bn fraud on Friday, The PUNCH has learnt.

Credible sources in the anti-graft agency said the ex-governor would be dragged before the Federal High Court in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

“He is going to be arraigned on Friday at the Federal High Court in Ilorin for diversion of funds, amounting to N10bn,” the source told our correspondent.

The ex-governor has been detained by the EFCC since Monday when he honoured an invitation for interrogation.

His Chief Press Secretary, Alhaji AbdulWahab Oba, confirmed his principal’s visit to the EFCC office on Monday, stating that it was only “procedural and routine”.

“Dr Ahmed’s visit to the EFCC is procedural and routine. He was invited and he honoured them as he’s always done. He’s always ready to respond to any query or question regarding his tenure as a governor of the state.”

On Tuesday night, Oba lamented that the EFCC was still holding on to Ahmed, saying he was given stringent bail conditions.

“Yes, he is still with the EFCC and we are now in a dilemma over the issue because they keep changing the goalpost during the match. The case is taking a new dimension, which we don’t really understand for now.

“Initially they said they wanted him to produce two sureties who are federal directors. The sureties came and were asked to provide landed properties in Abuja. We see this as a contradiction. The case was initially handled by the EFCC office in Abuja before it was transferred to Ilorin over the issue of jurisdiction. Additionally, he has been denied access to his doctors, medication and direct access to his cook,” Oba said.

Meanwhile, members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara State on Wednesday staged a peaceful protest to the EFCC zonal office in Ilorin, where Ahmed was being detained.

The protesters, who carried placards with various inscriptions, expressed displeasure over Ahmed’s detention.

Led by the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olusegun Adewara, the party members alleged that the All Progressives Congress in the state was behind Ahmed’s troubles.

Some of the inscriptions on their placards read: “EFCC should stop being a tool in the hands of Abdulrazaq led-APC”, “Governor Ahmed was very transparent”, “EFCC is not a department in the APC, EFCC, stop the harassment”, “The opposition cannot be silenced”, “Maigida will not join the APC no matter the persecution”, “EFCC, don’t instigate political crisis in Kwara State”, “No to illegal detention. Respect the rule of law”, among others.

But addressing the protesters, the zonal commander of the EFCC, Michael Nzekwe, said Ahmed had been given an administration bail but he could not meet the conditions.

“We’re wrapping up. Once we wrap up, the law will take its course. The anti-graft agency, being a creation of law, would not go contrary to law.

“Everything we’ve done is within the ambit of the law. The former governor is cooperating with us and we’re making good progress following rules of law. As I speak, he’s with his lawyer, a SAN; he attends to everyone who comes to see him, and he has a doctor who has attended to him. He eats what he wants to eat. I urge us to allow the law take its course. We’re not partisan nor prompted by anybody. This body is solely sponsored by the Federal Government,” Nzekwe said.

 

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