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FG Plans to Spend N59Bn on Ex-Militants

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The Federal Government plans to spend an estimated N59 billion on ex-militants, according to details of the 2014 Appropriation Bill presented to both arms of the National Assembly last week.

A breakdown of the figure showed that while N23.6 billion will be spent for payment of stipends to 30,000 ex-militants, another N35.4 billion is allocated for transformed ex-militants.

Daily Independent reported that the  Presidency is to spend a total of N33.4 billion within the fiscal year, out of which N25.106 billion represents recurrent expenditure, while capital expenses is estimated at N8.39 billion.

A further breakdown of the Presidency’s budget shows that N320.222 million is for ‘honorarium and sitting allowance,’ N267.775 million for ‘welfare.’

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been allocated N10.245 billion in the budget, comprising N8.838 billion, or 86.26 per cent recurrent expenses and N1.406 billion, or 13.72 per cent as recurrent.

The budget also made provision of N700 million for the proposed National Dialogue.

Allocation proposed for the Education sector increased to N493.45 billion of the total, which represented 10.6 per cent of the total 2014 budget proposal.

The Appropriation Bill, presented by Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, before both arms of the National Assembly, showed that N3.7 trillion, representing 72 per cent of the N4.6 trillion, is to be spent on recurrent expenditure, while N1.1 trillion was earmarked for capital projects.

This, according to analysts, does not tell of any plan for infrastructure development in the coming year. The document, they believe, failed to address critical needs of the country.

On the revenue side, the Bill proposed a Gross Federally Collectible Oil and Gas Revenue of N7.16 trillion while Non-Oil Revenue is projected at N3.29 trillion.

Out of the oil revenue, total deductions, including cost of crude oil production, subsidy payments, and domestic gas development is put at N2.15 trillion, the same amount as in 2013.

The Federal Government budget revenue is estimated at N3.73 trillion. Subsidy payments were maintained at the 2013 level of N971.1 billion.

On the fiscal balance side, the government projected that in the 2014 financial year, fiscal deficit would be about N911.96 billion, representing about 1.90 per cent of the GDP while total borrowing of N571 billion is proposed in the Appropriation Bill, representing a mere N6 billion decrease from the approved 2013 figures.

For Edwin Ikhinmwin, a financial analysts and former bank chief executive, the 2014 budget does not show any sign of helping to create jobs, which would ordinarily come through massive capital investment “needed to rejuvenate our dilapidated infrastructure and build new capacities to support job creating growth.”

Consequently, he told Daily Independent, a “budget document that provides only 27 percent for capital expenditure is a trip in self delusion and propagation of false hood. The weight of recurrent expenditure cannot be supported by the capital budget. This is symptomatic of a rent economy whose long-term growth is not sustainable.

It is like the winner of a lottery who changed his style to expensive consumption without investing in sustaining wealth creation. The money soon got finished and he became poorer than before.”

Olufemi Awoyemi, and analyst and Chief Executive of Proshare Nigerian, an online finance and economy portal, lamented the inequity in the distribution of spending in the budget.

He is particularly concerned that 72 per cent of the spending is earmarked for payment of salaries and wages to about 10 million workers or less than six per cent of the nation’s 174 million people.

Even under in the days of military, he lamented further, “capital expenditure never grew below 40 per cent of total budget… We just bloated the civil service with every many of hangers’ on and political jobber.”

Mallam Garba Kurfi, Managing Director, APT Securities and Funds Limited, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview in Lagos, that the Nigerian economy would not grow with the scant emphasis on capital expenditure.

Allocating a mere N1.1 trillion for capital expenditure is a child’s play, considering the nation’s huge infrastructure challenge, and that Nigeria needs capital expenditure for the economy to experience meaningful growth and development.

Sehinde Adenagbe, Managing Director, Standard Union Securities Limited, however expressed dissatisfaction with the late presentation of the budget, calling for quick passage of the budget, which he regarded as the “road map for economic activities”.

This, he said, would help companies in decision making on investment, since it is a pointer to the direction of the nation’s economy in the new year.

Harrison Owoh, Managing Director, HJ Trust & Investment Limited, also told NAN that the budget proposal failed to address critical sectors of the economy, and that it was indeed disheartening that bulk of the nation’s budget would be used for wage payment instead of capital projects.

He said that the Federal Government should be bothered about the sufferings of the masses and ensure the provision of basic social amenities.


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Verve Rewards 600 Customers in Good Life Promo

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Africa’s leading payment technology and card brand, Verve International, has rewarded 600 customers so far after the third weekly draws in the ongoing Verve ‘Good Life’ Promo.

Verve rewarded the lucky cardholders at prize presentation ceremonies held in various locations across the country recently.

Amongst the 300 lucky cardholders that emerged winners of the N10,000 cash prize in the weekly raffle draws that have held three times were: Adeleke Moshood, a student from Oyo State; Adeogun Shakiru, an automobile specialist and Rashidat Abolaji, a businesswoman, both from Lagos State.

Another set of 300 Verve cardholders emerged winners of airtime worth N5,000, bringing the total amount won so far to N4.5 million Naira.

Speaking during the draws, Cherry Eromosele, Group Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Interswitch Group, expressed her delight about the number of cardholders that have been rewarded lately.

Eromosele reiterated Verve’s resolve to continue to provide secure, convenient and reliable payment solutions for its cardholders.

She said: “Because our cardholders are of priority to us at Verve, beyond providing them brilliant payment solutions, we are rewarding them for their loyalty with the expectation that the reward helps them achieve the good life, whatever the good life means to them”.

Verve recently launched a nationwide promo tagged The Verve ‘Good Life’ Promo which kicked off on September 1, 2020 and will run till November 29, 2020.

The promo seeks to enable Verve’s loyal cardholders to live the good life, whatever the ‘good life’ means to them.

The promo is targeted at rewarding over 2,500 Verve cardholders nationwide, with over N27million Naira in cash and airtime, during the course of 12 weeks duration of the promo.

With three weeks concluded out of the twelve weeks of the promo, Verve cardholders have eight more weeks to keep transacting with their cards and standing the chance to win.

Other Nigerians presently without Verve cards but have the desire to enjoy the good life, can take advantage of this eight-week window to ask their respective banks for a Verve card in order to start transacting, to qualify to win from an array of exciting prizes.

The prizes have been categorized into four segments, with their respective qualification requirements as follows:

Weekly Prize category 1 – N10,000 cash for 100 winners weekly, requires at least 3 transactions weekly. Weekly Prize category 2 – N5,000 for 100 airtime every week, requires at least 3 transactions weekly.

Monthly Prize category – N50,000 cash for 50 winners every month, requires at least 12 times monthly Grand Prize category – N1,000,000 cash for 2 winners, requires at least 36 transactions from now till the end of the promo.

Prospective winners of the Verve ‘Good Life’ promo should consistently use their Verve cards within the next eight weeks, across payment channels such as Point of Sale (POS) terminals, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Web and agent banking centers.


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World Cleanup Day: Coca-Cola Partners NGOs, Recovers Over 900kg of Plastic Waste

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World Cleanup Day, celebrated globally on September 19, 2020, saw diverse people come together to combat the solid waste problem through numerous community cleanup activities.

 

To mark this day, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited partnered with two local NGOs – African Cleanup Initiative and Mental and Environmental Development Initiative for Children (MEDIC), on cleanup activities across Lagos and Ibadan.

African Cleanup Initiative held cleanup activities across numerous locations in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states. This outreach saw more than 200 volunteers gather to collect over 1,500kg of solid waste materials and about 300kg of recyclable waste materials.

 

At the Lagos event, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Mrs Belinda Aderonke Odeneye, applauded the programme.

 

She expressed the Lagos State Government’s delight at being part of the cleanup activity. Odeneye, who was represented by the Assistant Director, Sanitation Services Department of the Ministry, Mrs Toyin Oguntola, went further to encourage citizens to be environmentally responsible.

She stated, “The government can only perform excellently with law-abiding citizens. We all have a role to play in waste management and ignoring those responsibilities will make all the efforts of the government futile”. 

 

Similarly, the International Coastal Cleanup held at Bonny Camp Coastline by Mental and Environmental Development Initiative for Children (MEDIC) also produced outstanding results with about 600kg of marine plastic waste materials recovered and over 250kg of marine debris sent to the landfill. The outreach saw participation from over 100 volunteers.

 

These activities are in line with Coca-Cola’s vision for a World Without Waste and the company’s commitment to doing business sustainably.

 

Speaking on its World Without Waste initiatives, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability Manager, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, explained, “We all have a responsibility to keep our environment clean and Coca-Cola is not left out as we remain committed to promoting a sustainable environment through our plastic recycling and recovery activities, as well as other environmental initiatives”. 

With the award of grants of over $800,000 by The Coca-Cola Foundation to multiple local NGOs, several recycling and women empowerment programs are being implemented to help address the issue of environmental protection while simultaneously empowering women who remain significant pillars of the environment.

 


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TETFund Seeks Increased Annual Research Funding of $1bn

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The Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, Thursday, urged the federal to increase its yearly funding for Research and Development (R&D) to $1 billion. This was as it hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for his recent increase of the research grant from N5 billion to N7.5 billion.

Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, executive secretary of TETFund, speaking at the inauguration of TETFund’s R&D Standing Committee in Abuja, said massive investment in research would bring about the much-needed development in the country.

Bogoro also said it was time for the promulgation of a law that will bring into full place what he referred to as the “National R&D Foundation (NRDF)” to deepen research in the country.

Hear him:”To galvanize our vision towards making R&D the ace and game changer in our national development agenda, the need for an appropriate law to support the establishment of a National R&D Foundation (NRDF) cannot be overstated.

“We need a robust institutional framework and arrangement for the NRDF. I am recommending a minimum annual budgetary threshold of 1billion dollars as the funding portfolio for this Foundation.

“When we consider the inevitable benefits of R&D and the inevitable benefits of R&D and the socio-economic challenges in Nigeria, this amount begins to look like a drop of water in the ocean-population of 200 million people in 2020 and projected to become double in 10 years for now.”

Prof. Bogoro, who said the TETFund’s R&D Standing Committee is expected to come up with its own recommendation on the required amount that is suitable for efficient research activities in the country, called for a robust collaboration between researchers and the private sector to bring about all-round development in the country.

“It is envisaged that the private sector of the economy should pick the gauntlet to steamroll the lofty initiative by taking ownership of it,” he said.

Prof. Bogoro lauded the recent performance of Nigerian universities in the world’s ranking, saying TETFund intervention projects have continued to encourage such feats.

On his side, Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, while inaugurating the committee, called on members to put their best to the work he described as ‘national assignment.’

Represented by the Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukuemeka Nwajuiba, Adamu said that continued investment in research would herald a rebirth of Nigeria.

“Nigeria voted us into power predicated on our being able to transform our national aspirations and make them a national achievement.

“It is in recognition of this direction that the Executive Secretary, TETFund, presented his vision of a research-driven nation and how to finance that ambition through the Board of Trustees (BOT).

“To a large extent, Nigeria’s future depends on you. You have been summoned to a national service that is not available to the rest of the 200 million population. It is a national calling that requires almost all of you,” he said.

On his part, the Chairman, House Committee on Tertiary Education and Services, Hon. Aminu Suleiman said the work of the committee would open the windows of opportunities to tackle various developmental challenges confronting the country.

Suleiman, represented by Hon. Ikenna Elezieanya, lamented the way Nigeria has shown less concern to research, saying that many developed countries invested in research and development and thus helped to improve on their economy.

He said, “Research is the gateway of innovation. It is said that while countries like the USA, Korea, and the like have been investing in research and development, we seem to show less concern.”

He encouraged beneficiaries to take good advantage of the initiative to solve problems for the betterment of the country.

Responding, the Chairman of the over 160-member TETFund’s R & D Committee, Prof. Njidda M. Gadzama, said the epoch-making event will transform the socio-economic sector by ensuring the robust promotion of cutting-edge innovations.

“We promise to carry out our assignment with commitment and diligence and this will result in the R & D Culture and R&D Foundation to drive industrialization of the country,” he said.

The standing committee whose membership is drawn from the academic, industry, and private sector, has the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Mansur Ahmed, as one of the three Vice Presidents.


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