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Agriculture, Economy, Manufacturing

The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) is set to collaborate with the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) to promote export processing in the country.

Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, NEPZA’s Managing Director, on Wednesday said this when a delegation from NACCIMA, led by its National President, Hajiya Saratu Aliyu, visited him in Abuja.

The visit by delegation from NACCIMA, an umbrella body of the organised private sector in Nigeria was to seek NEPZA’s support in export processing and facilitation for its members.

Adesugba, while acknowledging NACCIMA’s pursuit of economic development said to improve functionality of existing Free Trade Zones, private sector collaboration was key to help boost investments and provide infrastructure support.

“This is our focus going forward. A collaborative engagement between NEPZA and NACCIMA is, therefore, very timely in view of NACCIMA’s role as the “Voice of Nigerian business” committed to leading Organised Private Sector (OPS) growth.

“By providing an enabling business environment to promote their business interests, whatever that may be. With over 60 years’ experience under its belt, NACCIMA is more than qualified to support NEPZA in this quest,’’ he said.

He, however, hoped that the organisations would work together towards achieving the industrialisation agenda and the economic development of the country.

Following Nigeria’s ratification of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) late 2020, he said NEPZA sought to leverage on its opportunities to service the African market by increasing exports.

Accordingly, he said the goal of the AfCFTA resonated strongly with the aims and objectives of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in promoting trade and services.

He said that was why NEPZA was currently repositioning its SEZs strategy to support the Agreement.

“The Authority is implementing this by focusing its investment facilitation and capacity expansion on goods and services that the country has high comparative advantages.

“Additionally, there are several additional ongoing reforms aimed at improving efficiency of our zones and boosting exports.

“These include; Review and update of the NEZPA Act to accommodate new initiatives and goals. Realigning the required institutional arrangements and building the capabilities and capacities to deliver.

“It also focuses on overcoming infrastructural and logistics challenges such as access roads and power within zones.

“It seeks to reduce high operating costs within zones to support increased participation of Small and Medium Enterprises in the SEZ’s,’’ he said.

NACCIMA’s president earlier congratulated Adesugba on his well-deserved appointment as NEPZA chief executive officer and hoped that the collaboration would facilitate export in the sector as sought.

Aliyu said that the purpose of the visit by the association was to seek NEPZA’s support in export processing and facilitation for its members across the country.

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Government

The Senate, on Wednesday, screened and confirmed Abdulrasheed Bawa as the substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The nominee who was ushered into the red chamber at 11:48am was accompanied by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and family relatives, and was grilled almost two hours.

Senators who took turns to grill the nominee lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for his choice of Bawa as Chairman of the anti-graft agency, describing him as “competent” and “well qualified” to perform on the job.

Bawa, in his opening remarks before the Committee of the Whole, assured Nigerians that he would deploy his experience as a certified fraud examiner, and anti-money laundering specialist in raising the bar under his watch at the EFCC.

“Let me start by thanking the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for finding me competent and deserving as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and to also assure him and indeed Nigerians, that the confidence he has on me will be proven beyond doubt at the end of my term in office,” Bawa said.

The Deputy Senate President, Ovie-Omo-Agege, who was filled with praise for Bawa described his nomination as one that strikes a ray of hope in the ability of the youths to partake in fundamental decisions on how Nigeria should be governed.

“He is a good product, that is why I’d like to begin by thanking Mr. President for this nomination. This nomination is unique and an aspirational nomination. It is a nomination that generated hope for millions of our youths in this country.

“Mr. President, we all recall the incident which transpired at the Lekki toll gate. Clearly, the youths at that toll gate needed an opportunity to express themselves.

“Mr. President, with this nomination, the youths of this country can now sit in offices and make those very crucial and fundamental decisions on how Nigeria should be governed, and there cannot be a better platform than the office of the Chairman of the EFCC,” Omo-Agege said.

Responding to questions from the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha, Adamu Aliero, and Bala Ibn Na’Allah, Bawa cited Section 6 and 7 of the EFCC Establishment Act clearly defines the functions of the Agency, as well as the laws it is empowered to enforce.

According to him, the duty of repositioning the EFCC entails enforcing the provisions of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004, the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, Failed Bank Recovery of Debt Act, Provisions of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, Miscellaneous Offences Act, as well as Sections of the Penal Code and Criminal Code that relate to economic and financial crimes.

He assured that under his watch, the Management of Forfeited Assets would be subject to strict adherence for transparency and accountability with the digitalization of processes at the Commission.

His words: “What I would do to reposition the EFCC, or what I envisage the EFCC to do is to ensure that we work on our own standard operational procedure to improve on the standard operational procedures, so much so that all that is expected of us is to try as much as possible to try and curtail the usage of discretion from the office of the Executive Chairman down to the ordinary investigator in the EFCC.

“We are looking forward to an EFCC, whereby if I give an instruction to a junior officer, he would look at my face and say, sir, I have understood your instruction but I won’t be able to do it, because of certain section of the rules or regulations governing the EFCC.

“We hope that if confirmed by this Senate, we are going to be more transparent and accountable.

“We have, of course, the lingering problem or issues bothering on management of Assets. We hope if given the opportunity, my colleagues and I will embark on the digitalization of the process in the EFCC.

“In essence, what I’m saying is that we are going to embrace technology to enable us keep our records properly, so that as at when due, when Nigerians ask questions, it’s just a matter of pressing a button.”

The new EFCC Chairman also underscored the need for appropriation by the National Assembly, specifically for building the capacity of staff at the EFCC to enable the agency deal with the new faces and challenges of financial crime.

“The backbone of every organization is in its Human Resource. I hope and pray that we would still come back to this chamber, of course, for proper Appropriation to enable us build the capacity of our staff at the EFCC to meet up with the current challenges of new topologies of crimes as well as strains in money laundering etc., so that at the end of the day, over vision of getting this country rid of economic and financial crimes is actualized”, he added.

 

 

 

Bawa further stressed that the Commission under his Chairmanship would place premium on inter-agency partnership with sister security agencies, through a proactive approach that fosters good governance, as against deploying reactive antics aimed at witch-hunting individuals or demonizing institutions.

“I’ve talked about the issue of synergy between the EFCC and sister security and law enforcement agencies in the country, as well as the work I envisage to do together with our own foreign strategic partners.

“We are going to work on that, we are going to strengthen it. EFCC is not a lone ranger, we are going to reach out in the job of fighting economic and financial crimes for everybody to be on board.

“The EFCC under my watch and if confirmed by this hallowed chamber will work on proactive approach rather than reactive approach in the process of good governance in this country rather than fighting wars of corruption.

“We understood at the Commission that there is difference between fighting corrupt people and fighting corruption.

“Fighting corruption is about good governance, it is about working on the institutions of government to tell them areas where they need to work to avoid leakages,” the EFCC Chairman said.

Senator Ike Ekweremadu on his part advised the newly confirmed Chairman to learn from the mistakes of his predecessors, so as to be able to avoid the many pitfalls which in some cases interfered with their ability to deliver on the job.

“You’re not going to be the first Chairman of EFCC, you know the circumstances how others came, you know how they managed the Afam fairs, you know how they ended.

“You know that they came out of the EFCC and became like ordinary citizens. And of course, you know that at the end of their lives they’ll meet their creator to account for their actions.

“So, I’m going to advice you to rather learn from those mistakes those ones made, because ultimately your tenure would end and then you’ll be like any of us.

“I’d like to advise you, because you’ve been there, to check those mistakes they made, in both the operations, their human relations, the way they did their job, how they responded to people, and of course how they carried their responsibilities,” Ekweremadu said.

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Energy, Government

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Major General Lucky Irabor has pledged the support of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), in the protection of the Corporation’s critical national assets and operational personnel spread across the country against criminality within the oil sector.

The CDS gave this assurance today while playing host to the Group Managing Director (GMD), NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari who was on an official visit to the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Abuja.

The CDS noted that the AFN and NNPC over the years had long standing engagements with respect to protection of critical national assets and infrastructure.

Maj Gen Irabor added that the relationship of the two agencies of government would be advanced further with the visit of the GMD.

Highlighting the operational benefits of NNPC to the sustainance of the nation’s economy,  the Defence chief disclosed that AFN under his leadership will  cooperate fully with the NNPC management towards providing the necessary framework that will enable the military support NNPC to operate optimally.

The GMD, NNPC earlier in his remarks, reiterated that the NNPC would continue to seek the support and assistance of the AFN in order to protect its critical national assets and personnel across the country against oil theft, pipeline vandalism, economic sabotage and other sundry crimes.

Mallam Kyari who congratulated the CDS and the Service Chiefs on their recent appointment, described the development as a turning point and new vista of opportAunities for the NNPC and AFN.

He maintained that NNPC will further engage with the AFN in order to further enhance the security of critical national assets for the economic wellbeing of the country.

The meeting had in attendance, top NNPC Directors, the Chief of Defence Policy and Plans, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Charles Oghomwen, Chief of Defence Training and Operations, Maj Gen Chikezie Ude and Chief of Defence Civil Military Cooperation, Rear Admiral Obed Ngalabak.

Also at the event were the Chief of Training and Operations, Nigerian Air Force  Headquarters, AVM James Gwani and Chief of Training and Operations, Headquarters Nigerian Army, who was represented by Brig Gen A Abubakar.

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ICT

The Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria’s leading innovative telecoms company, 9mobile, Alan Sinfield, has affirmed the company’s support for the ‘Smart City’ initiative of the Lagos State Government.

Sinfield gave the affirmation at a panel session of the Lagos State Economic Summit – Ehingbeti 2021 themed ‘For a Greater Lagos: Setting the Tone for the Next Decade.’

Speaking at the panel session on ‘Digital Transformation Solutions for Smart Cities’, Sinfield noted the significance of the Smart City Masterplan of Lagos State and how 9mobile would facilitate its realization.

“At 9mobile, we are continually innovating, and smart city and smart building and other IoT solutions will be delivered through the deployment of technologies, infrastructure and by collaborating with stakeholders to provide seamless access. Telecommunications is the foundation and the critical building block for the delivery of a smart city. It supports the delivery of digital transformation and inclusion and underpins how the goals of full financial inclusion for everyone will be realized,” he said.

Sinfield added that “one additional critical element will be the service management element. We should never lose sight that once envisioned, developed, and implemented, nothing ever works well or is sustainable without the necessary support teams to maintain and keep things working. There is a real need to focus on developing the skills and support framework and not just the appealing AI/ML and technology aspects.”

Sinfield, who highlighted the telco’s outstanding service quality, further noted that digital and tech hubs are crucial for building talent. “At 9mobile, we have plans to further support an environment that enables creativity and visions to be realized by using our resources to build ICT development areas and sandboxes for entrepreneurs to develop their ideas for the future.”

He also highlighted the importance of big data and data mining as the lifeline of a smart city. “Data is the building block of the digital revolution, storing and profiling this for various use cases will support achieve the necessary smart city automation. While discussions continue as to the extent to which humans can participate and provide real-time data input to the collective data feeding automated machine learning, first steps in this journey will rely on sensors and machine-based data which is much more reliable.”

Sinfield commended the Lagos State Government for sustaining the Ehingbeti Summit over the years while highlighting its economic impacts.

Other speakers on the panel were the West Africa Consulting Leader, Deloitte, Yemi Saka, CEO, Future Software Resources, Nkemdilim Uwaje-Begho, and CEO, Civic Consulting, USA, Alexander Shermansong.

Saka noted that “there must be an investment in human and social capital which is key to actualizing a smart city eco-system.”

Uwaje-Bengho focused on building a sustainable knowledge pipeline while using data to track and enhance capacity development for a smart city eco-system and building communal integration for an improved urban lifestyle.

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ICT

M-I-NA Blog- The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Abdulahhi on Wednesday announced that to achieve Digital Transformation in Nigeria, there is need to efficiently use of the vast opportunities embedded in the space technology ecosystem, according to

Speaking at the corporate headquarters of the agency when he met with delegates from the Nigerian Institute of Space Engineers (NISEng) led by its National Chairman, Engr Dr. Okpanachi George, who came to seek for possible collaboration with the agency, the NITDA boss said  that it was a good development for Federal Government agencies to partner with private organizations, adding that NITDA as the regulator of IT in the country had put in place, policies and created an enabling environment for producers and professionals to come in and create innovations which will sustain a digital Nigeria.

He further stated that contrary to beliefs that satellites were obsolete, “emerging technologies is now transforming the Space technology ecosystem which will evolve a new chapter and give rise to enormous transformation in the industry.”

Abdullahi said that the agency was excited to partner with the NISEng because he believed the collaboration will drive innovations, as the “space technology ecosystem is everywhere and encompasses different sectors like the Communications, Agriculture and Security.”

He said that the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics “play a key role in the digital space and NITDA through its National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) will collaborate with the NISEng in coming up with ideas which will transform the country through initiatives such as the Research and Development, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and Innovations.”

The DG added that capacity building “is an important factor in research and development and the agency will give its support in capturing all demography especially the young start-ups in order to create a robust local content which will prepare and position the country for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

He said the agency was really looking forward to the collaboration because he believes the two organizations will exploit all possible innovations, ideas and commercialize them which in turn will consequently transform NISEng into a competitive, globally standard institute and sustain a digital Nigeria as a whole.

Earlier in his remarks,  Engr Dr. Okpanachi thanked the NITDA DG and management staff for taking time out of their busy schedule to receive them.

He said he had been following NITDA’s activities for some time and was greatly marveled at the agency’s dynamism and passion in sustaining a digital Nigeria.

He particularly thanked the DG for sending a representative to the institute’s 10th National Conference and Annual General Meeting in the previous year and seeks a further and deeper collaboration with NITDA on programmes that are insightfully valuable for national and professional development.

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