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Analytic tools democratise data says Nmonwu

ITRealms : The Regional Director for Sage in West Africa, Magnus Nmonwu, has declared that analytic tools nowadays available for the po...

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Analytic tools democratise data says Nmonwu

The Regional Director for Sage in West Africa, Magnus Nmonwu, has declared that analytic tools nowadays available for the populace democratizes data, reports ITRealms.

He as speaking in Lagos recently at the IDC CIO Summit series, saying that analytic tools give managers and leaders access to real-time data about the business’s performance on their mobile devices for strategic decision-making. But they also extend data to everyone in the business.  

At an operational level, he said, the combination of big data and machine learning will allow companies to tailor customer and employee experiences to the needs of different segments to optimise sales and productivity.

Paired with the Internet of Things, Mr. Nmonwu advanced analytics and machine learning are bringing about the fourth industrial revolution. Connected devices and sensors, cloud computing, advanced robotics, intelligent software, and a range of other technologies are enabling companies to produce complex products in a smooth, automated process using specialist robots with very little human input.

“In this environment, analytics is used to forecast issues such as machine errors or supply chain interruptions so that quality levels and uptime remain high,” he said.

ITRealms recalls that the Nigerian CIO’s role is about managing the challenges and opportunities presented by digital transformation and the Internet of Things.

Further, he said that this trend would bring the same level of disruption to old-style industries such as mining, manufacturing and construction as the Internet has already brought to banking, media and retail.

Nonye Dom/GEE
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N2bn defamation: Zinox drags Premium Times to court

The foremost Information and Communications Technology (ICT) company, Zinox Technologies Limited, is seeking the sum of N2B (Two Billion Naira) in a suit filed against PremiumTimes, an online news medium, for alleged defamation, reports ITRealms.

This follows a series of alleged defamatory publications against the Zinox, its chairman, Leo Stan Ekeh and other officials of the company.

Confirming this, the Head, Corporate Communications, Gideon Ayogu, said that in a joint suit filed by the law chambers of Chief Chukwuma Ekomaru (SAN) against Premium Times Services Limited; the medium’s Publisher/Chief Executive Officer, Dapo Olorunyomi; Managing Editor, Musikilu Mojeed and Reporter/Head, Business and Economy Desk, Bassey Udo who authored the publications.

ITRealms recalled that recently, the management of Zinox had threatened Premium Times but offered a seven-day deadline to the publishers to retract the offending publications against the company and its officials or face a legal action.

And faced with the non-compliance of the medium, Zinox had instituted a defamation suit in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, against Premium Times and its management team.

According to the statement of claims filed by the plaintiff, the offending materials include a September 15th 2016 publication titled: EFCC quizzes Zinox Computers Boss, 4 others over alleged 170 million contract fraud; an October 9th 2016 publication titled: Attorney General wades into 170 million contract fraud allegedly involving Zinox Computers and a May 2nd 2017 publication titled: 170 Million contract fraud: Zinox Computers has case to answer, court rules.

Therefore, ITRealms gathered that Zinox held the publications were libelous, malicious and have discredited and damaged the reputation of the company in the eyes of the general public. For instance, in the September 15th, 2016 article titled: EFCC Quizzes Zinox Computers Boss, 4 Others Over Alleged Fraud, Premium Times had stated, “However, bank documents seen by this newspaper showed transfers of monies between FIRS account at the CBN and the fake account as well as approvals by top officials of Zinox Technologies for disbursement from the account to Zinox bank’s accounts and those of the suspects.”

The Management of Zinox has consistently denied being involved in any transaction leading to this publication and further denied ever receiving any monies into its accounts as stated by Premium Times. Thus, with the case now filed against them, the onus is on the Management of Premium Times to prove the veracity of their article or be held accountable for same, for which they would likely pay huge compensation as damages suffered by Zinox for the libelous publications.   
Among the reliefs being sought by the plaintiff against Premium Times is the sum of N2B as damages for the libelous and malicious publications; an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants or their agents from further publications of a similar nature; a public apology published in Premium Times for two uninterrupted months as well as retraction of the afore-mentioned articles; an order of the Court directing the removal of all offending publications concerning the plaintiffs or any of its officers online and on social media as well as the sum of N10m being the cost of the court action.
Zinox’s suit against Premium Times arose from the on-going prosecution of Benjamin Joseph, Managing Director of an Ibadan-based firm, Citadel Oracle Concepts before an Abuja High Court, for giving the Nigerian Police false and misleading information after rigorous investigation following his petition in 2013 regarding a business transaction with their authorized representative, Princess Kama and foremost ICT products distributors, Technology Distributions Ltd (TD). A forensic analysis had confirmed that he actually signed certain documents, including a board resolution, which was the basis of his petition, a fact he had suppressed in his petition.
In the words of Gideon Ayogu, Head of Corporate Communications at Zinox, TD is a totally different company from Zinox with different directors, shareholders, management team and a different line of business and Zinox was not in any way involved in the transaction that culminated in Joseph’s arraignment and prosecution by the Nigerian Police for false petitioning and deceit before an Abuja High Court.
“It is important to note that in the entire transaction leading up to this case, in all the above investigations and reports, Zinox Technologies Ltd. was not in any way involved. The transaction only involved Technology Distributions Ltd. and its staff, of whom the reports of the Police Special Fraud Unit (SFU) and other agencies had absolved TD and its staff of any liabilities, after extensive investigations since 2013 that traversed the SFU, the Nigerian Police Headquarters, Abuja; and the EFCC, Abuja. Yet, Premium Times kept spewing out spurious stories as if Technology Distributions and its staff were under investigations or facing criminal charges. Also, Leo Stan Ekeh was not involved in the said transaction and the investigations.
“Leo Stan Ekeh has never met with Mr. Benjamin Joseph, the Managing Director of Citadel Oracle Concepts and neither Ekeh or any other official of Zinox has had any form of business transaction with the said company. This raises questions on the motive behind Premium Times’ continued campaign of calumny against Ekeh which appears a cheap attempt at extortion.
“This is why in the online publications, the photographs of Ekeh is displayed and Zinox is used as the caption, even when the company has no bearing with the story. This is blackmail. There is no other explanation for this other than blackmail.”
Premium Times is expected to appear before the court within eight days after the service of the court processes on them.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE
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Monday, May 22, 2017

Gateway Trade Fair lauds Dangote Group on strides

Organisers of the Gateway Trade Fair, the Ogun State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (OGUNCCIMA) has lauded the pan African conglomerate, Dangote Group for its giant strides in economic development of the country through massive investments in several sectors of the economy describing the feat as worthy of emulation by other Nigerians, reports ITRealms.

President of OGUNCCIMA, Mrs. Adesola Adebutu who made this commendation at the opening ceremony of the 8th Gateway Trade Fair holding in Abeokuta Ogun state said the support given enough by the Dangote Group went a long way in making the staging of the Fair a success.

She explained that the theme of the Fair, “Promoting Agricultural Value Chain through SMES for Nigeria Economic Recovery”, was chosen in line with Ogun state’s policy of Agricultural industrialization which is also in consonance with the national policy of repositioning agriculture as the viable alternative to oil.

Mrs Adebutu stated that OGUNCCIMA was planned to be a clear departure from the past such that this year’s will rekindle the interest of the old investors and introduce new ones in new opportunities for its investments in Ogun State.

Ayo Midele/GEE
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FRSC uncovers Indian hemp in apprehended vehicle

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has uncovered some packs of Indian hemp in apprehended vehicle, reports ITRealms.

Confirming this to ITRealms, the Head, Media Relations and Strategy, FRSC, Bisi Kazeem, said  that its patrol team had apprehended and impounded a vehicle along Seme-Badagry Border for Seatbelt Violation and Driver Licence Violation, only to discover that the said vehicle was conveying  a large quantity of Indian Hemp into Nigeria.

According to Kazeem, the Badagry Unit Command of FRSC on patrol operations  along the route intercepted the vehicle with vehicle number, EPE 237 XC at 0845hrs and had already established the two offences before making the discovery with the collaborative effort of the Nigerian Customs who were equally on the same route with their patrol team.

The Vehicle is presently with the Comptroller Custom Seme for further investigations before it would be handed over to the appropriate drug law authority for contravening the law against drug peddling.

He also stated that it is in view of this great mark of achievement which is targeted at keeping the society sane as a security outfit that the FRSC Corps Marshal, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, continues to call for a stronger collaboration with sister agencies.

He recalled that not long ago, the Corps had intercepted a vehicle convening children (minors) through Kaduna with some suspected child traffickers who were consequently handed over to the relevant authorities. And in the same Kaduna, the FRSC rescue team had equally recovered five locally made AK 47 rifles from a man whose vehicle was involved in a crash.

Against this backdrop, Kazeem stated that the Corps Marshal is pleased to see that the officers and men of the Corps have so far been demonstrating the willingness to make the rules of engagement with sister agencies viable and more diligent in their duties combined with maintenance of security and safety as it relates to the motoring public.

Ayo Midele/GEE
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Ransomware: NITDA urges sustained cybersecurity awareness campaign

The Director General and Chief Executive Officer, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has beckoned on Nigerian Internet stakeholders to sustain the cybersecurity awareness campaign in the country following the recent attacks by a ransomware, also known as WannaCry, reports ITRealms.

Reviewing the situation which affected over 150 countries globally, Pantami said, WannaCript ransomware attack has been contained and Nigeria was largely spared from the attack due to the massive enlightenment campaign, awareness and proactive measures put out to swiftly deal with any reported incident.

“The efforts of all stakeholders in the IT industry are highly commendable and appreciated,” he asserted.

According to him, reports have shown that computer networks in more than 150 countries and more than 200,000 people had been affected by this attack, considered to be one of the biggest cybersecurity attacks in recent history. Traces in Nigeria appeared to be isolated cases as no major incident is reported in the country.

Pantami pointed out that as IT systems have now become part of our lives, the need for all to be vigilant and proactive as far as security is concerned cannot be overemphasized.

For users of Microsoft systems, NITDA boss has suggested some steps including that old operating systems should be upgraded to the latest version ( of Windows 10). This will enable them get the latest protection from Microsoft.

The recent security update released by Microsoft, MS17-010, he said, should be installed as soon as possible, stressing that where necessary, Windows Defender Antivirus should be enabled as it helps in detecting this ransomware and similar attacks.

For systems that have been attacked, tools have been developed to unlock the files locked by this ransomware – the WannaDecrpyt or Wannakey.
“They have been found to have successfully decrypted systems infected with the ransomware,” he said.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE
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Zinox chairman, Ekeh applauds FG over local content executive order

The chairman of Zinox Group, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh has applauded the Federal Government (FG) on the recent signing of an Executive Order compelling its agencies to buy Made-in-Nigeria goods and services, reports ITRealms.

This move, Ekeh noted, would go a long way in boosting indigenous businesses and the local content drive in the country.

Speaking on this at the weekend in Lagos, Ekeh said that the order, signed by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo last Thursday dwelt mostly on the preference for indigenous goods and services as well as the removal of bureaucracies which stall businesses. 

ITRealms recalls that the stipulated Executive Order, as detailed in a document presented by Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, stated that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government shall grant preference to local manufacturers of goods and service providers in their procurement processes for a number of items including food and beverages, motor vehicles, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, furniture and fittings, among others.

Thus reacting, Ekeh commended the FG’s move as a step in the right direction and a potential game-changer for many quality-minded local businesses in Nigeria.

“This announcement alone would have excited an army of 21st Century young Nigerian entrepreneurs who have been facing depression based on rejection of their certified products by government agencies and parastatals. It is a great development in our new Nigeria and I pray the Federal Government demonstrates the will to implement this to the letter in order to activate real and progressive development in the country. As you know, this policy direction will potentially result in massive job creation for our youths.

“Granting preference to local manufacturers is a sure way of igniting the spirit of indigenous entrepreneurship. This is the standard the world over. Nigeria boasts a number of world-class companies whose products can compete favourably with those of their foreign counterparts. The problem has always been the right form of support from the government.

“Zinox, for instance, is patronized by a number of multinationals. Apart from Chevron Nigeria who remain one of our most regular customers, we have also enjoyed consistent patronage from other multinationals such as Total and Shell. Some of these companies – Chevron, Shell, Total have been patronizing Zinox for over 14 years and this is based purely on service quality as we all know the high standards these companies aspire to.

“I must commend the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo for this bold move which will certainly go a long way in strengthening our local industries, provide more employment for our youths and boost our local currency,” Ekeh declared.

Recollecting that Osinbajo had signed three Executive Orders giving specific instructions on a number of policy issues. They include the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment designed to facilitate the ease of doing business in the country; timely submission of annual budgetary estimates by all statutory and non-statutory agencies, including companies owned by the Federal Government and the support for local contents in public procurement by the Federal Government.

“Any document issued by any MDA of government for the solicitation of offers, bids, proposals or quotations for the supply or provision of goods and services shall expressly indicate preference to be granted to domestic manufacturers, contractors and service providers and the information required to establish the eligibility of a bid for such preference.
“All solicitation documents shall require bidders or potential manufacturers, suppliers, contractors and consultants to provide a verifiable statement on the local content of the goods and services to be provided.

“Made in Nigeria shall be given overwhelming preference or at least 40% of the procurement spend on locally manufactured goods and services providers. Some priority items include: uniforms and footwear, food and beverages, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, Information and Communication Technology, furniture and fittings and stationery.

“Within 90 days of this order, the heads of MDAs shall assess the monitoring, enforcement, implementation and compliance with this Executive Order and Local Content stipulations in the Public Procurement Act, or any relevant act within their agencies,” the document had stated.

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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Missed call, voicemail: InstaVoice to rescue

The Kirusa InstaVoice App provides free and unlimited visual missed call alert, voicemail and voice SMS all in one app to connect you with your friends even when you are busy, out of coverage or switched off, in a simple user friendly interface. Moreover, with InstaVoice you can send text, image or voice message to anyone even if they don’t have the InstaVoice App.

With the InstaVoice app, you never miss a call. The App captures and notifies you of missed calls from friends, family and colleagues that happened while you were busy on another call, out of network coverage, on flight mode and even when your phone was turned off entirely. More so, you can call back or respond with a voice or text message, directly from the app.

With the Voicemail feature of the app, your callers can now leave you voicemails after they tried calling when you were unavailable. From the app, you can easily listen to these voicemails and respond with a single tap. The app also allows you send voice messages to any member of your contact list, even those who do not have the app, including feature phone users.  

Additionally, the App allows sent voicemails to be withdrawn at your request, from your mailbox. And to create a better experience for your callers, you can record a personalized welcome messages for them to listen to before leaving their voicemails.

InstaVoice is a valuable tool for every smart phone user, be it the high flying executive, upwardly mobile professional or even the career homemaker. It is suitable for people of all ages; young and old.  It is especially instrumental to busy business executives and frequent travelers who are often away from their local carrier network coverage area.

In addition to receiving notification via SMS, you can also request to receive missed calls alerts and voicemails via your email from the InstaVoice App to suit your preference, thanks to the user-friendly, interactive and flexible App. More so, you can manage missed calls and voicemails on multiple SIMs or phone numbers in the same app, and can use the App on several devices.

The App is easily accessible, it can be downloaded from Google Playstore store, Apple Appstore and BBM at no cost. In Nigeria, the App is available across most of the networks, so the colour themes vary across the networks; for instance red for Airtel, and black for Etisalat.

*Oyedeji Akindele contributed this from MediaCraft Associate, Lagos.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

ICANN now requires email validation system

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has introduced electronic email verification for registration on its website, reports ITRealms.

This, ICANN said is part of an ongoing process to improve the security of its web applications and this new verification process takes effect form Saturday 20 May 2017.
“The ICANN Registration website will now require that all potential meeting participants verify their email address to complete the registration process,” officials told ITRealms.

This, ICANN said added another  layer of security designed to ensure the validity of user email addresses and reduce the amount of malicious and spam email accounts currently being utilized.

Once a user has verified their email address, they will not need to re-verify for future meeting registrations, unless they update their email address or use a new one. Unverified email accounts will be unable to complete the registration process, nor will they be able to receive printed credentials at the meeting.

Users are encouraged to log into https://registration.icann.org after 20 May 2017 to receive a prompt to validate their email address. Users can then utilize the validation link sent to their email address, or they can enter the emailed confirmation code into the registration site confirmation code prompt.

ICANN explained that if users have pre-registered for upcoming meetings, and are unable to visit https://registration.icann.org before the meeting, they will be prompted on-site at the registration kiosks to validate their registration account email address.

“They can simply enter the email confirmation code at the kiosk prompt,” ICANN official said.

ITRealms gathered that registration email validation links and confirmation codes are only valid for 24 hours after they are requested.

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Verve offers N1000 discount to Payporte shoppers

The Africa’s payment card brand household, Verve International, has announced a special offer for all PayPorte shoppers using Verve cards. The offer of N1000 discount on all purchases up to N3, 000 that commenced recently on Payporte.com, reports ITRealms.

According to Verve, the ultimate objective of the offer is to reward loyal customers for the consistent use of their cards on online platforms such as PayPorte; it will also incentivize customers to adopt the cashless policy of the CBN.

Managing Director, PayPorte, Mr. Eyo Bassey, said, this is a welcome development and a supportive and innovative idea from Verve. “We have our customers at heart, and we will continue to ensure that our customers are satisfied at all time. We have so many more incentives coming up for customers.

“This was part of the reasons we cancelled payment on delivery, so our customers can gain more when they adopt the cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria. As we all know, this kind of benefits can only be enjoyed online using any of our secure payment options, such as Verve Cards,” Eyo added.

Speaking about the special offer, The Marketing Manager, Verve International, Enyioma Anaba said,

“At Verve, we are very passionate about our customers, this is why we have a robust reward system in place to ensure all Verve card users get the best offers each time they use their Verve cards. We have since aligned with the CBN’s cashless policy and we will explore ways to ensure customers benefit from adopting a cashless lifestyle”.

The discount will run for the next 60days until end of June. During this period, PayPorte customers can get N1000 discount off items above N3000 at each checkout using their Verve Card.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Is Content Really King, Asks Tenu Awoonor

Recently I was thinking of the increase in adoption Over-The-Top (OTT) players have gained and the consequent dilemma it’s wrapping around operators who now have to grapple with the concern of who owns and influences the consumer. 

This also got me thinking about something else we tend to hear a lot, that term “Content is king” which has become a catchphrase in telecom parlors. It therefore begs the question of who owns/controls the (mobile) content consumers voraciously consume on a daily basis? 

Certainly not the operators but rather the likes of Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat for user generated content, to Iroko, Apple, Showmax for your movies and TV shows to mention a few.

After all, operators simply provide the pipe much like a highway with a tollbooth giving one access to a destination. Consumers invariably will cease to care which pipes are feeding the content, and would rather, as they should be only interested in making decisions about which show, news or user generated clips they seek. In almost all markets in Africa there are several alternatives available for consumers to pick from and not just with the major operators but also new 4G entrants that are still small, and independent ISPs, all providing access-ways to content.

Is it therefore better to own and manage access to the pipe or control of the content? I believe that ultimately whoever controls the content will own and influence the consumer to pick whichever pipe they want to use as an access point. AT&T by acquiring Time Warner (if approved) will have control of the content and the pipe thereby giving them a stake in both arenas. It is already offering access to premium cable channels for free with certain mobile packages to tie in consumers. Other MNO’s are realizing the shifting consumer behavior and are appointing Digital Officers who will primarily be responsible for developing their content ecosystem.

Now why is mobile content relevant for Africa? If you think about it, most individual’s primary source of entertainment in Africa is their mobile device. Very few have access to flat screen TVs, which is still a luxury by the way, to watch movies and shows. However pretty much everyone has a mobile phone of some sort that is used for listening to music, news, sports, movies etc. As a result, mobile content is fast becoming the channel of choice for consumers that like to access their shows on-demand and not be subjected to TV schedules.

For instance, my son and his friends consume most of the content they like on smartphones. Their smartphones have eclipsed television as the entertainment tool of choice where they can share clips, movies, music and chat amongst themselves through various apps. This group hardly ever uses voice; their preferred mode of communication is chat and video calling. They really do not care which network their friend is on it is irrelevant. For this group it is what content they can consume, access, or share amongst themselves and the service (OTT) that allows them to do it that matters most.

Some operators are beginning to look beyond infrastructure and experiment with digital models, however many are still yet to adapt to the shifting landscape.  Whoever is able to figure it out first and lock in providers and consumers, will leave the rest playing catch-up. Content (in the broader sense), therefore really is king…or is it not?

*Tenu Awoonor is an international business executive with experience in both the private and public sectors. He has proven himself to be a telecommunication and turn-around specialist, specifically in mobile and financial services arena. On twitter, his handle is @TAwoonor and LinkedIn .

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Orange brand in Liberia, continues strong presence in West Africa

In line with its Essentials2020 strategic plan, Orange has launched its brand in Liberia with Cellcom Liberia becoming Orange Liberia, reports ITRealms.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Orange Group and Chairman and CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa, Bruno Mettling, said that following the rebranding of Cellcom, Orange Liberia has joined one of the world’s most powerful brands and stands to benefit from being part of a large international group.

ITRealms gathered that Orange would provide its marketing expertise and world-class technical capability to further strengthen the operator’s established network and enhance customer service in Liberia.

ITRealms reports that with over 1.6 million customers at the end of February 2017, Orange Liberia is the leading mobile operator in Liberia in terms of customers.

Founded in 2004, the mobile operator has been a driving force in democratizing access to telecommunication services across the country, despite difficult market conditions. It has always been a precursor in terms of network deployment and in 2012 was the first operator in Liberia to launch 3G (HSPA+) services following by 4G-LTE services in 2016. Orange will pursue this strategy and will continue to invest in the development of its network where the company is already a market leader.

With a population of 4.6 million people and relatively low mobile penetration rate (70% of the population) the country has a high growth potential for Orange. To support this development, the Group will work to reinforce the quality of access in several areas:

Chuks Egbune/GEE 
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Friday, May 19, 2017

FG integrates entrepreneurship studies in tertiary institutions

The Federal Government of Nigeria has integrated Entrepreneurship Studies in most of the nation’s tertiary institutions, reports ITRealms.

According to the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Federal and State Governments have established hundreds of specialized Vocational and Technical Secondary Schools.

In addition, Nigeria, the Ministry said, has scores of Polytechnics and Monotechnics with the curricula geared towards training students in various trades and vocations.

Director of Information at the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Salisu Na’Inna Dambatta disclosed to ITRealms in a press statement that the recently launched Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, contains a section on the training and equipping youth with vocational and entrepreneurship skills.

The Federal Ministry of Finance, he further said, through its YouWinConnect programme has launched Enterprise Education outreach in newspapers which it plans to take to the Internet, radio and television stations for wider reach.

The outreach, Dambatta told ITRealms, is aimed at imparting basic business management skills for running existing and start-ups enterprises profitably and narrating the experiences of successful entrepreneurs to inspire enterprising youth in the country.

Meanwhile Nigeria is among the participants at the maiden Islamic Development Bank Youth Summit (IsDBY) held on the sidelines of the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Ayo Midele/GEE
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DMO: Mobilising grassroots for national development

Financial literacy is abysmally low in Nigeria, and I am sure, as well as other African countries. It can never be taken for granted that an average Nigerian with some extra cash knows what to do beyond buying stuff or just throwing it in some bank accounts. The average Nigerian hardly knows how to invest in the financial market.

That is why I am impressed with what the Debt Management Office, DMO, is doing with the Federal Government Savings Bond, FGSB.  The Savings Bond is an Investment Product issued by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the DMO. It is an addition to the FGN Securities Market and is a retail savings product accessible to all income group.

 The purpose of the bond is to encourage national savings culture and create an avenue for investors to benefit from the favourable returns available in the capital market. The minimum subscription amount is N5000, with additional subscriptions in multiples of N1, 000.00, subject to a maximum of N50, 000,000.00.

Like all FGN Bonds, the Savings Bond is backed by the full faith and credit of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Investors are to subscribe through Dealing Member Firms of the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) who have been duly accredited by the DMO to act as Distribution Agents. And there are up to one hundred of them.

Interest on investment, which is announced by the DMO every month, will be paid directly into investors’ bank accounts every quarter.

Since it was first rolled out in March, the scheme has created such buzz in the investment community that it has been successfully embraced by the target groups, especially those on the low income level. At its first listing on March 13, N2, 067,961,000 was raised from the retail market at 13.01 percent coupon. About 2.067 billion units were allotted to 2,575 people, and 75 percent of these are ordinary Nigerians.

A major reason more Nigerians are embracing the Savings Bond is the passion with which the DMO under Dr Abraham Nwankwo has carried on its advocacy. Before the roll out in March, Dr Nwankwo never spared any air time to talk about it on television and radio. He also talked and has been talking to the press on the uniqueness of this product and why Nigerians must embrace.

Recently, the DMO and Nwankwo have embarked on nationwide tours to sensitise Nigerians, especially those at the grassroots about this new produce, which seeks inclusiveness of our national economic growth. The DMO has been traveling to all the corners of the country, organising workshops and town hall meetings to sell the idea of the FGSB.

While in Ibadan a few days ago on a one-day advocacy and sensitisation workshop on the Bond to talk to representatives of major interest groups, including market association, labour unions and many cooperatives in Nigeria, Nwankwo noted: “We are here in Ibadan to enlighten the public about the Federal Government of Nigeria Savings Bond. 

The government of Muhammadu Buhari has an economic philosophy of making sure that the economic process is inclusive. As Nigeria recovers from recession and grows, nobody should be left behind. Which means every Nigerian, no matter their income level will have an opportunity to participate in the process of re-activating the economy, and also benefit from the progress that is being made.“

At a similar gathering in Onitsha, where the DMO met leaders of market unions and middle income earning organisation, Nwankwo said the FGSB was designed purposely to favour the poor and give them a stake in government.

Before now, bond issuance, like the monthly locally auctioned FGN Bond and the just concluded $1 billion Eurobond, were restricted to institutional investors and high net-worth individuals. The Savings Bond is expected to help develop and introduce new debt instruments into the fixed income securities’ market to accommodate low income individuals and groups.

Financial market operators have also hailed the bond as innovative. Many believe the product will stimulate savings, especially because of the high returns on it, and give the government the opportunity to fund critical projects with cheaper funds. It is cheaper for government, especially at this period of recession, to borrow cheap funds domestically since it will pay in Naira. Domestic debts do not react to exchange rates.

While there are fears that the interest paid on the Savings Bond (as announced by DMO monthly) could divert savings away from banks which pay a meagre 5 percent, such possibilities are remote. The volume and value of the Savings Bond is not large enough to threaten the banking sector. The DMO is not unaware of this fear, and appeared to have doused it. That perhaps explains why financial institutions in the country are lining up behind the DMO.

The savings bond will no doubt help the government get access to funds available for investment in the economy, thereby facilitating gross capital formation and economic growth. It equally enables the individual investors enjoy those benefits which accrue to big investors in the capital market.

The Savings Bonds are protected because they are secured by the government, and tax on the interest is usually waived while the principal and earned interest is registered with the DMO.

Nwankwo, who has lauded the Federal Executive Council’s approval of the Debt Management Strategy (2016 – 2019), is positive that the strategy would be implemented in such a way as to guide against unsustainable foreign exchange exposure. This is why the Savings Bond is an innovative product from the stable of the DMO.

Nigeria’s low debt to GDP ratio has cleared the road for the country to borrow more to fund its budget, infrastructure and other essential projects that will stimulate the economy and create jobs for the citizenry.

As Nwankwo said during a recent interview: “Sovereign borrowing from the domestic debt market encourages the development of a functional bond market, with the scope to introduce different instruments, which will encourage the habit of domestic saving, intermediation and investment. Such a functional domestic bond market will be tapped by the private sector to raise long-term funds for investment in the real sector and infrastructure projects. Nigeria has developed a deep and liquid domestic bond market where funds of up to 20 years tenor can be raised.”

While investment in the FGN Saving Bond gives personal benefits, it also mobilises the people for national development. This, to me, is why the DMO is mobilising all Nigerians to join and participate in this administration’s philosophy of shared prosperity that the FGN Savings Bond symbolises.

*Isaac Olutaya contributed this from Ibadan

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Osinbajo applauds DFID’s J4a Programme, says 'its well thought out'

The Nigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has applauded the United Kingdom Government for sustaining its support to the country, saying that the implementation of the Justice For All (J4A) programme, has shaped the Justice Sector reforms of the country, reports ITRealms.

Osinbajo, who stated this while delivering a Keynote speech at a Close-out and Valedictory Programme of the Justice For All, held in Abuja Thursday, also described the programme as well thought-out and impactful.

The Acting President who spoke through his Chief of Staff, Ade Ipaye, urged the United Kingdom government’s Department for International Development (DFID) not to relent in its support to good governance and justice sector reforms in Nigeria.

“The J4a programme is well-thought out. Its effects are being felt. What we are working on now is to ensure that the initiatives of the programme are institutionalized in our systems. The J4a model is what we are following in our Police reforms today. The Case Management and Information Communication Technology (ICT) in use today in the Justice sector is a J4a initiative. We need to ensure that it is adopted in every part of the country. J4a supported the Police Complaint Response Unit and today, they are achieving results.”

Speaking on sustainability, the Vice President stressed: “I hope the closure of the J4a will not be the end of support to the laudable initiatives.”

He commended the J4a team, led by Dr. Bob Arnot for what he described as their outstanding performance, urging them not to relent in their service to the nation.

Adding his voice, Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye was full of praises for the J4A programme, describing it as exemplary.

“It supported a whole range of measures in the area of economic justice, notably the improvement of service delivery in commercial courts. Starting with a baseline survey on the progress of cases in commercial courts, needs assessment of those courts, capacity building for judges who preside over the courts, infrastructure support to improve service delivery such as the furnishing of the Fast Track Court Registry and the monthly progress monitoring, Lagos Judiciary improved incrementally from one level to another.”

“To ensure this worked seamlessly and is sustainable, the judiciary created a separate registry for fast track cases with the encouragement and financial support of J4A.”

Continuing, he gave credit of the early achievements recorded by the PACAC Committee to the support it got from the J4a Project.

“J4A recognized the importance of co-ordination and co-operation amongst justice sector institutions. It thus supported the creation of a platform through which regular engagement and interaction could talk place. This initiative in my view is a major legacy. I can say this now because PACAC borrowed from this model by recommending to government a high level inter agency platform for conversation on the anti-corruption issue. J4A, without doubt, has been of immense benefit to Nigeria in all of the thematic areas of focus.”

In his presentation on: J4a: The Journey, Achievements, Experiences, Lessons and Legacy, Portfolio Lead for Justice Security and Conflict in Sub Saharan Africa for the British Council, Dr. Bob Arnot explained that the programme was organized around four components: Policing and Security; Justice, Anti-Corruption and Cross-Sector Coordination.

Speaking on the scope and methodology of the project, Arnot explained: “the programme worked at federal level plus five focal states (Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Enugu, Jigawa) & FCT. Models based upon best practice were to be replicated, disseminated and sustained; working in the formal and informal sectors.”

He further explained that the ultimate aim of the programme was to create: “a more capable, accountable, responsive and integrated justice sector that is fair, equitable and accessible with sustainable reform momentum creating growing user confidence and respect amongst Nigerians.”

On successes recorded by the Policing component, Arnot, a former National Programme Manager of the J4a, enumerated them to include: “Work in 7 states affected 44.8 million people by introducing Community-based Policing (CBP) in Model Police Stations (MPS); introduced 12 modern police stations with 177 interventions and 645 replications; engaged with more than 100 police divisions and trained over 5000 Police officers.”

J4A states citizen’s satisfaction with police up from 40% in 2011 to 59% in 2012; a total of 776 VPS leaders trained in leadership skills and over 1000 operatives have been trained in conflict management skills”

In the Justice component, Arnot explains: J4A worked with 26 pilot Magistrates, Sharia and Customary Courts in 3 states (disposal time reduced by 30%) equal to saving over 900,000 days in court. Since 2012, nearly 1,400 Traditional Rulers in two states have been trained on human rights, dispute resolution and record keeping. It is estimated that over 400,000 citizens will have benefited from the traditional rulers’ enhanced skills.”

Speaking on achievements by the anti-corruption component, he says: “The EFCC, ICPC and CCB now have strategic plans being implemented to direct their longer term work; J4A supported the EFCC and ICPC to investigate, prosecute and recover the assets of corrupt persons. By March 2016, assets worth over 210 Billion Naira had been recovered. Over 700 anti-corruption agency operatives have been trained in investigative and prosecutorial skills. J4A training modules now delivered by anti-corruption agencies (ACA) Trainers and key anti-corruption legislation developed.”

Continuing, he stressed that: “Reformed Anti-Corruption Transparency Units (ACTUs) are now in 427 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); Inter-agency cooperation and exchange of intelligence have been improved. Civil society groups and coalitions have been supported to increase oversight of the anti-corruption agencies and the government’s work on anti-corruption, as well as increased advocacy on stalled high profile corruption cases by Media/Civil Society actors through the Reporting Until Something Happens (RUSH) initiative.

Also speaking, J4a National Programme Manager, Danladi Plang outlined the programme’s achievements in providing justice for victims of sexual violence in the country.

“What we have tried to do is to provide justice for victims of sexual violence and their families. We did three major things in this regard. One is to provide facilities where victims can go and be treated; either by providing medication or counselling. The treatment is free of charge. Second, we increased the level of awareness of people on sexual violence. Next is in the area of training and capacity development for all stakeholders.”

The Programme’s anti-corruption Manager, Emmanuel Uche also expressed satisfaction with the achievements of the programme, describing them as remarkable.

“I am happy that the programme is a huge success. We have made the anti-corruption agencies more responsive and capable. Their level of engagement is back to the early days of their existence. We have supported government by strengthening institutional mechanisms of the anti-corruption agencies. We also strengthened the voice of the citizens. The J4a approach is holistic and has left a mark in the sands of history.”

The J4a Close-out event was attended by stakeholders from public institutions, Civil Society organisations and the media.  

*Walter Duru/GEE

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