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Economy

In a quest to build on the foundation laid by previous Managements, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) is holding a 4-day Leadership Strategy Retreat in Calabar, Cross Rivers State from February 9 to 12, 2021.

The retreat is aimed at repositioning SON for greater effectiveness and efficiency in delivery of its mandate of setting and enforcing standards for goods, processes and systems in Nigeria.

A statement from the office of the Director General, Mallam Farouk Salim posited that the SON strategy retreat is the first major outing in a series of agenda-setting programmes which are part of measures to set the organisation’s targets for 2021 and beyond, as well as putting her on the path of becoming the foremost standards institution in Africa.

Salim according to the statement is determined to make SON a role model in safeguarding Nigerians from the menace of imported and locally made substandard products by ramping up enforcement of standards nationwide and make Nigeria hostile for producers and distributors of substandard products.

The four-day retreat will deal with issues like goal setting, art and science of execution for regulatory agencies, key performance indicators and stakeholder management, among other issues.

Dr. Dakuku Peterside, a former Director General/Chef Executive of the Nigerian  Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), a leadership Coach will  deliver the keynote speech at the SON Retreat while other facilitators include Mr.  Tony Epelle, Managing Consultant of SAMUELSON, Dr. Eric Ighalo, a renowned Trainer/Facilitator and Dr. Joseph Odumodu, a former Director General of SON.

Others are Elijah Affi, Managing Director, Take-Out Media and Barrister Osuagwu  Sunny Uwanuakwa, Chairman of SON Management Review Committee set up by  Mallam Salim on assumption of office.

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M-I-NA AMBASSADOR

Nigerian born Enoh Titilayo Edong was recently appointed as the acting director of the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) by United States President, Joe Biden.

As Acting Director, Ms. Ebong leads an agency that partners with the U.S. private sector to develop sustainable infrastructure and foster economic growth in emerging economies, while supporting U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services.

A proudly Nigerian, Ebong grew up in Lagos state. Her father, Ime James Ebong, was a Nigerian civil servant who served as permanent secretary.

CAREER

Ms. Ebong had served in a variety of roles, most recently as the Agency’s General Counsel, and Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer.

Ebong had previously served as the head of strategic partnerships at the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream.

She practiced law at the Boston office of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris and Popeo, P.C., representing public and private companies in public offerings, financing transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance issues before joining the agency in 2004.

EDUCATION

Ebong earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School, a Master of Arts in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Arts in History, with Honors, from The University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She is a member of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Bar.

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An inter-agency committee set, up by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, to discuss areas of collaboration between the agencies of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in relation to the Finance Act 2020 has held an interactive session.


L-R: Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami,
Federal Inland Revenue Service and Executive
Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications
Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta
during the interactive session.

Chaired by the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, the membership of the committee is comprised of the Executive Chairman of FIRS and heads of agencies in the ministry.

The Committee was set up to discuss critical areas of synergy for the implementation of key provisions in the amended Finance Act 2020 as they affect the operations of the agencies in the ministry.

On December 31, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Finance Bill 2020 (now Finance Act) into law. The new law which introduced over 80 amendments to 14 different laws took effect from January 1, 2021.

Some of the amendments have implications for agencies under the ministry, especially regarding the provision of information for tax purposes and deployment of technology for tax operations in the country, among others.

Speaking at the interactive session, Danbatta stated that “the objective of the interactive session is to deliberate on areas of collaboration between agencies in the ministry and FIRS for the common good of the economy.”

Also speaking, FIRS Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami, said: “we have come here to emphasize the need for cooperation and collaboration among the various agencies in terms of revenue generation in order to move the nation forward.”

Accordingly, heads of agencies in the ministry in attendance at the meeting made their contributions with respect to the implementation of the new finance law. They are the Post-Master General, Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST), Dr. Ismail Adewusi and the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Abdullahi.

Other contributors during the interactive session include the Managing Director, Galaxy Backbone, Prof. Muhammad Abubakar; Managing Director, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), Dr. Abimbola Alale and the representative of the Director-General, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and Dr. Nonye Nwachukwu, Director, Planning, Research and Statistics at the ministry.

Two sub-committees were later formed to deliberate on specific areas that require further dialogue for effective collaboration towards the implementation of the new tax law as it affects agencies under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

They are the committees on FIRS/NIPOST and on FIRS/NITDA. The two committees are expected to complete their assignment and make recommendations for consideration by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy .

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Government

Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved about N2 billion for the procurement of surveillance equipment for some airports and inland waterways in the country.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the Council meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to him, N1.2 billion of the amount was approved for the purchase of surveillance equipment for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja and the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.

He said: “The Minister sought for council’s approval, which was granted for a contract for the design, supply and installation of a long-range thermal camera surveillance system at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.

“The total sum of the contract is N1,278,594,250. And this is in order to upgrade and provide security and safety for the Nigerian Airports Authority especially to avoid incidents on the airside and runway.”

The Minister further revealed that the council also approved N783.5 million for the procurement of two hydrographic survey boats for National Inland Waterways Authority.

“The Minister of transportation sought and got council’s approval for the award of contract for the procurement of two hydrographic survey boats for National Inland Waterways Authority. In the sum of N753,521,275 inclusive of 7.5% VAT,” he said.

The Minister, who spoke on behalf of his Transportation counterpart, said the contract has a completion period of six months.

Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo , who also spoke on the outcome of the meeting, said the Council approved N35.4 billion for the building of power stations at Calabar and Kano offices of the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority.

He said: “My Ministry presented a memo for the award of contract for building power stations on behalf of Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority in processing zones in Calabar and Kano.

“The authority received proposals from various companies and after all the evaluations were done, they awarded the contract to one of the companies in the sum of N35,411,119,169.47.

“The terms are that the company will finance 75 per cent, which is in the sum of N26,558,339,337.10, while the Export Processing Zones Authority will pay 25 per cent, which translates to N8,852,779,792.37.

“For the 75 per cent of the contractor’s portion, Council approved a pay-back period of ten years.

“The plant will be completed after 11 months and it would be operated by the contractor for five years and during that five years, they will build local capacity so that after five years, the local capacity that had been built will take over the running of the plant.”

According to Adebayo, government’s intention of the upgrade of the two zones is to create zones with world-class standards.

“The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment is desirous of making Nigeria a manufacturing hub, especially now that we have signed on to the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

“So, by putting 24-hour power in the two processing zones, it will make it more attractive to foreign investors to come and set up their manufacturing concerns here in Nigeria,” he said.

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Energy

As part of the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) on Wednesday commenced the official distribution of 10,000 prepaid meters to households across Osun.

The free meters distribution kicked off from Aratumi Community, Ilesa Garage Area of Osogbo.

In his remarks, Mr Adewale Obajemu, IBEDC Head Metering, said the exercise was in consonance with the 2020 free meter distribution (metering programme) of the Federal Government, to non-metered households across the country.

Obajemu, said the distribution/metering was totally free and at no cost to their customers, adding that customers were not expected to pay for meter installation or inherent services.

“The meters are free for customers listed on our billing platform, those collecting estimation billing.

“IBEDC is expected to distribute/install 104,000 meters in the first phase across our franchise.

“But what we are launching now is Phase Zero, where 10,000 meters will be distributed to households across Osun.

“The 10,000 meters distribution (Phase Zero) is what we have started in Osogbo and customers are to know that they are not to pay any money to anybody or pay any charges for the meters.

“What the customers, however, needed to have for the installation of the meters to their houses is their Bank Verification Number (BVN).

“This will help to secure the meters, and as well, serve as insurance that the meters will be protected by the customers they are assigned to and for easy tracing of the meters,” he said.

In his comments, Mr Akin Ogunleye IBEDC Osun Regional Head, said the free metering was the initiative of the Federal Government and the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) and Meter Manufacturers.

Ogunleye said the mass metering programme would help to erase the estimated billing problems, when electricity consumers were all metered.

He said those that had been given the free meters should, however, endeavour to maintain and protect them, as well as vending (buying electricity recharge) on them.

The Osun Regional Head appealed to customers not to bypass or engage in meter tampering or energy theft, saying that anybody caught would be arrested and prosecuted by the law enforcement agents.

A beneficiary of the free meter programme and a Community Head in Aratumi, Mr Faremi Adebayo, thanked the IBEDC and Federal Government for the free meter initiative.

Adebayo said it had really eased the financial burden procuring a prepaid meters would cost them.

He said that over 50 houses in his community had been metered.

The community head thanked IBEDC for the kind gesture in selecting his community as the first set of beneficiaries of the mass metering programme.

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