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AfDB Deepens Partnership with Enugu Govt on Investment

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) has reiterated its commitment to partnering with the Enugu State Government in the areas of investment, infrastructure, and other projects that would attract development and transform the lives of the citizens in the state.

This was even as the President of Skipper Seil Group, a globally renowned engineering, power and infrastructure company, Jitender Sachdeva, lauded Enugu State governor, Dr. Peter Mbah, over the positive steps taken in the energy sector, assuring that the company would partner to assist the state in developing its infrastructure.

Speaking at the Government House, Enugu, on Thursday, during a meeting with the governor at the Government House, Enugu, the Director-General of AfDB’s Nigeria Country Department, Lamin Barrow, said Nigeria was strategic to the development bank’s programmes.

He said that phase one of some of the programmes, especially in the area of Special Agro-Processing Zone (SAPZ) which was worth about $18 million had been approved.

He explained that the African foremost development and financial bank was in the process of rolling out the second phase, which would integrate the needs of Enugu State Government.

Barrow further said the phase two of the programme would support the implementation of the SAPZ project, which the state had already undertaken, pointing to agro-allied crops such as cassava, maize, among other strategic staples where the state commands competitive advantage.

“What the SAPZ is doing is to help develop value chains for these crops, adding value to primary crops, help in reducing post-harvest losses, develop strong linkages with stakeholder farmers, training and creating financial support for the farmers’ activities, but  most importantly, driven by anchor private-sector investors”, he stated.

The DG of the AfDB also said the bank would assist the state in de-risking investment flow in its efforts to strengthen and enhance production, and drive agricultural produce beyond food security to export for the state and Nigeria in general.

On his part, Skipper Group President, Jitender Sachdeva, said his company had already concluded plans with the governor to construct the green special agro-allied industry zone, which also falls within the AfDB’s programme.

He said the infrastructure, which the company was collaborating with AfDB to step up, would facilitate the ease of doing business in the state and ensure self-sustained green electricity for each factory operating in the state.

“We are here for you in terms of infrastructure, power, agro-processing zones, among other projects. With the kind of energy, positivity, simplicity I have seen in you, around you, I can assure you we are going to start immediately,” he concluded.

Reacting, Governor Mbah expressed excitement over the choosing of Enugu State by the AfDB and other development partners for the second phase of the Special Agro-Processing Zone, saying his administration had already committed huge capital in the sector and would be ready to explore the opportunities AfDB presented to the state.

He assured the AfDB that Enugu had fulfilled all the pre-conditions for the project to take off.

“I want to inform you that Enugu State is ready and we have prepared all the prerequisite documentations, and all the surveys you need to be able to get started with this project.

“We have done the environmental and social impact assessments. We have identified a sizeable land that will host a Special Agro-Processing Zone, putting aside over 1000 hectares very close to the city that would be used for the Special Agro-Processing Zone. We have also done the feasibility studies”.

While underscoring that the state has a fertile land, almost performing better than other states in the cultivation and production of soya beans, cassava, rice, maize, cashew nuts, pineapple, among other food crops, the governor reiterated the effort of his administration to continue to make the state attractive to investors and tourists.

He explained that the state was full of economic and investment opportunities, calling on investors to see Enugu as their first choice for investment in the country, and promised that the ongoing state of emergency declared on the health sector would guarantee a healthy workforce.

The governor equally expressed interest in working with the bodies in the power sector to drive the state’s industrial revolution, insisting that Enugu was being positioned to play leadership role in the power industry given the recent enactment of the Enugu State Electricity Law.

“We’re now ready to play the role of a regulator in the electricity value chain, whether it’s generation, transmission or distribution. So in terms of the ease of obtaining your operating license, your construction licenses, you do not need to go beyond the state when we are in the position to provide those licenses, generating license, transmitting license and distributing license.

“We now have the regulatory commission to provide those licenses. In terms of the demand, you also have a huge demand for electricity. We have quite a number of industries here and we’re also even on the verge of bringing more because we’re already talking to some prospective investors,” he concluded.


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Students Loans’ Beneficiaries to Start Repayment 2 Years after Graduation-  NELFUND:

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Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) has said that students in tertiary institutions and approved vocational centres would start repayment of the loan two years after graduation.

Students Loans’ Beneficiaries to Start Repayment 2 Years after Graduation-  NELFUND:

However, NELFUND management specifically stated that the repayment of the loan would commence if the students secured a job or went into business.

Mr. Akintunde Sawyerr, managing director, NELFUND, said the Act specify a moratorium of two years after graduation for the students to begin repayment of the loan.

Sawyerr said if the students start work, his employer would be expected to remit 10 percent into NELFUND dedicated account.

He added: “The loan does not have a specified repayment tenure. It makes it easy for students to apply for the loan. NELFUND would pay according to the documents provided by the institutions. We cannot put tenure on the loan; some will die, drop out, ‘Japa’ or refuse to pay. While those who went into business would pay into same account.

“It is a revolving a loan. We will not put students under pressure to get the loan and we are not going to state a tenure because it is not a commercial loan.’’

According to him, the loan is meant for students in public universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and vocational institutes, who apply via NELFUND portal and are expected to present their JAMB admission letter, NIN and BVN.

He explained that non-students would not have access to the loan and that NELFUND has put the necessary machinery in place to ensure that beneficiaries can be reached when the need arises.

His words: “We are using technology to run the new system. The process of application is online through our dedicated portal and we are limiting human contact as much as possible. Once you have a Bank Verification Number (BVN) and National Identification Number (NIN), which are parts of the requirements, we will have access to your data and all your accounts. This will also help us to know if you are qualified or not,” Sawyerr stated.

The MD disclosed that students already in institution are eligible to apply for the loan at any level of their study and must be at the beginning of each academic session.

He noted that such students would have to provide their admission and matriculation details in addition to BVN and NIN.

Sawyerr added that about 1.2 million Nigerian students in tertiary institutions and government-recognized vocational centres would be among the first batch of beneficiaries and that the figure would increase as time goes on.

The NELFUND boss disclosed that the scheme would be funded from one per cent of the total annual revenue by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which would amount to N194 billion if the agency meets its projection.

Sawyerr observed that the loan would be paid in two segments, the first, being the school fees, which would be paid directly to the institutions while stipend would be paid into students’ account for their day-to-day upkeep.

He added that the amount individual students would access varies because of the course of study, school fees and geographical location of the institutions.

“You don’t start paying back the loan until two years after your National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme and you have secured a job or business. A beneficiary can defer repayment if he has not secured a job, but if after due diligence, he/she defaulted, then the student becomes a criminal and we will work with government agency that can help us get the money back, for example, EFCC, ICPC,” Sawyerr stated.


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GPA Raises Alarm, Says Malaria Vaccine Can Cause Meningitis

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Global Prolife Alliance (GPA), global health organization, has told the National Assembly that the intended malaria vaccine currently proposed by Bill Gates, American billionaire, for Nigeria can trigger meningitis in the populace.

GPA Raises Alarm, Says Malaria Vaccine Can Cause Meningitis

Dr. Philip Njemanze, chairman of GPA, gave the warning in a statement released to newsmen in Owerri, the Imo state capital.

Njemanze, known for being pro-health in the Catholic church, charged the national assembly not to be in a hurry to succumb to the pressure of the bill currently before the house.

He said the vaccine may trigger the deaths of millions of Nigerian children prone to cerebral meningitis, especially in the northern part of the country.

Part of the letter read “Among the side effects is a tenfold increase in cerebral meningitis. Nigeria is endemic for cerebral meningitis. A tenfold increase could cause the deaths of millions of children, especially in northern Nigeria.

“Please intervene and call for a public hearing, for an open public discussion on the pros and cons with expert opinions from both sides. This will help the Nigerian people to be better informed about granting or withholding consent for the vaccination.

“Your intervention could save millions of lives, especially in northern Nigeria, where meningitis is most endemic, particularly at this time of serious insecurity,” Njemanze warned.

 

 


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NERC Cedes Regulatory Oversight of Enugu Electricity Market to State Government Agency

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The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has ceded the regulatory oversight of the Enugu electricity market to the Enugu Electricity Regulatory Commission (EERC), which is owned by the state government with effect from May 1, 2024.

This is the first-ever transfer of regulatory powers from the NERC to a state government electricity regulator.

“On completion of the Transfers under subsections (2) and (3), whichever occurs later in time, the Commission shall have no further regulatory responsibility whatsoever for electricity market activities carried on entirely within the State to which regulatory responsibility has been transferred and for which the Additional Successor Company has been incorporated and conferred with assets, liabilities, employees, rights and obligations,” NERC said in a statement signed by Sanusi Garba and Dafe Akpeneye.


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