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NIDCOM ejection fallout: Abike to Pantami ‘Your disrespect for women is legendary’ - ITREALMS

ITREALMS : The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has accuse...

Monday, May 25, 2020

NIDCOM ejection fallout: Abike to Pantami ‘Your disrespect for women is legendary’ - ITREALMS


The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has accused the Federal Minister of Communications and Digital Economy (CoDE), Dr. Isa Ali Pantami of forcefully injecting her Commission because she is a woman, reports 

She also accused Ali Pantami of notoriety for disrespecting women, declaring that “Your disrespect for women is legendary.”

ITREALMS recalled before now, was housed at the fifth floor of a five-storey building belonging to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which was later renamed Digital Economy Complex, Mbora-Abuja.

Dabiri-Erewa who was replying to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy (CoDE), Dr. Isa Ali Pantami tweet response that she had lied in earlier claim at the weekend which depicted she lied on her earlier video broadcast condemning the Ministers action to forcefully eject NIDCOM.

Also, Pantami had described her video and that of the Secretary to the Commission addressing the staff, saying that its a fat lie from her that he gave any order to that effect.

He also said that the owner of the building, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has replied Mrs. Erewa and in fact, faulted her lies on their social media platforms.

The Minister via his Twitter handle, ⁦@DrIsaPantami, claimed "THIS IS A FAT LIE FROM HER: The owner of the building @NgComCommission has faulted her lies on their social media platforms."

Replying to the above, @Abikedabiri reminded Ali Pantami that "To refresh you Sir. Despite your denial. The Secretary of the Commission seeking for calm after Staff resumed for work and were denied access to the 5th floor office of NIDCOM. Based on your instruction. Turned back by armed men. Haba!!!!”

But in furtherance to clear the air, Dabiri-Erewa noted that as an "Islamic scholar should not lie Hon. Minister (Phd smile, smile). You did that to me cos I am a woman. Your disrespect for women is legendary. Left the ugly incident behind me since Feb. But pls release all our office equipment. Public office is transient. @DrIsaPantami.

Chuks Egbune/Editor

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Blockchain, Fintech and the Future of Banking - ITREALMS


“Customers besiege banks on first day of partial lifting of COVID-19 lockdown: As early as 8 am, bank premises were already full of people seeking to gain entrance into the banking halls for one transaction or the other. And by 11 am, Twitter was filled with so many posts warning Nigerians about the risks of visiting any bank branch due to the mammoth crowd.” This was Dateline May 04, 2020 on Other blogs had similar screaming headlines.

I wrote this article three years ago on May 04, 2017 when Blockchain and Fintechs finally seemed to be gaining traction in filling the gaps left by traditional banks – and surprised that we are still where we are even today. what will we learn from this, and how will we be better prepared not to be caught desperately unawares again?

Even though cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin tend to steal the limelight, it is their underlying blockchain technology that is proving to be of practical benefit. This technology, which goes beyond financial application, is expected to disrupt global supply chains by boosting transaction speed across borders and improving transparency.

Essentially, the blockchain is a shared virtual public ledger where encrypted transactions are confirmed by outside parties. Confirmed transactions are placed in a “block” and added to the chain, hence the name Blockchain. It is this technology that Fintechs are leveraging to disrupt the traditional banks

Here in Nigeria, blockchain can help to unlock the immense capital locked in Land Assets that are not enumerated because of an antiquated system of land administrated, which is very ripe for disruption.

The most disruptive application of Blockchain Technology, however, is in the Financial Sector; and this will form the focus of my discourse. The consistent complaint about banks has reached a crescendo in recent years. Is this justified?
Should Banks be changing?

Dateline, May 04, 2020 on After centuries of conservatism in receiving deposits and making loans, there are two main issues stirring the yearn for change:
The first being that it is a very difficult Club to join as a customer, and hence the large population of unbanked adults.
Secondly, even for the members of this elite club, the relationship is acutely skewed in favour of the banks

They have carried on as protected monopolies with no serious challenge or competition, resulting in very little innovation over the decades.

The biggest threat to the banks has been precisely their seeming success. Centuries of relatively significant higher returns, even during economic downturns that adversely affect the real sectors, has engendered an attitude of invincibility and pomposity, characterized by a loss of touch with their customers.

Considered too big to fail, they take it for granted that they will be bailed out with taxpayers’ money in the event of any missteps – this is a perfect set-up for disruption.
Fintech – the new kid on the block.

Today, there has emerged a powerful force of the challenge from Financial Technology companies or FINTECHs, as they are more popularly referred to. The promise of Fintech is great. It is shaking up a stodgy banking system and helping to build a more efficient one, especially for consumers and small businesses.

Emerging Markets showing the way in Fintech
For years, emerging economies have looked up to developed countries for ideas about how to manage their financial systems. When it comes to Fintech though, the rest of the world will be studying the experience of the emerging markets, embodied by the widely successful MPESA mobile money system, championed by Safaricom in Kenya.

MPESA has made it possible for a large swathe of the population to gain financial inclusion by providing the opportunity to transact financial services via your mobile phone, on a continent where typically 70% of the population is unbanked.

MPESA today has more than 60% of Kenya’s 33 million mobile users and in 2015 transacted $28m on her platform. Similar applications have metamorphosed across Africa, and Mobile Money services are today generating 6.7% of Africa’s GDP.

Nigeria is no exception with Fintechs such as Interswitch, CWG, Paystack and Flutterwave holding sway. Take for instance, Diamond bank with 7m accounts after 23 years was able to add an additional 6m accounts in just one year after the launch of the Diamond Yello Account in collaboration with CWG and MTN.

China is the undisputed World leader in Fintech
By just about any measure of size, China is the world’s leader in Fintech. It is by far the biggest market for digital payments, accounting for half of the global market, according to the Economist Magazine. A ranking of the world’s most innovative Fintech firms gave Chinese companies four of the five top slots in 2016. The largest Chinese Fintech company, Ant Financial, has been valued at about $60b, at par with UBS which is Switzerland’s biggest bank.

Today, digital payments account for nearly two-thirds of non-cash payments in China, far surpassing debit and credit cards. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lenders in China grew from 214 to over 3,000 in 2015, and P2P loans increased 28-fold from 30b yuan in 2014 to 850b yuan in 2016. This shows what is possible in Nigeria.

Austin’s Five Forces Model and the future of Banking
In the face of the fierce challenge facing banks, I developed a model for analyzing the future of banking called the Austin’s Five Forces Model. There are indeed five major forces at play here: 

The banks - traditional and established, best with cash and ancillary instruments:

Fintechs – the new kid on the block, disrupter, mostly telecom roots, best with digital currencies and mobile services.

Regulators - Central Banks, regulating traditional banks; and Communication Commissions, responsible for telecoms regulation (and thus Fintechs)
Currencies - traditional, such as cash and cheques; or Digital, including Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies
Customers, and the weight of their new-found voice. Typically, they clamour for whatever will give them convenience, security and lower costs.

Customers are the most significant force, and represented by the outermost sector of the concentric circles. As they tend more towards a preference for digital currencies, the Fintechs will tend to assume a more prominent role in the new face of banking, and the Regulatory regime will inadvertently tend towards the Communication Commissions under whose purview the Fintechs fall.

This will introduce a regulatory imbroglio, as future ‘Huge Banks’ may fall outside the regulatory ambit of Central Banks as seems to be the case with the MPESA.

Safaricom, the telecoms promoter of MPESA ironically falls under the regulation of the Communications Authority of Kenya rather than the Kenyan Central Bank.

If the customers however, maintain a strong appetite for traditional instruments of financial transactions such as notes & coins, cheques etc. then the current status quo will remain. The face of banking will thus be more of the same, and the regulatory authority will continue to be Central Banks. Between these two positions may be many variants, depending on the appetite and preferences of customers, and the pace at which they are willing to embrace change. 

Retailers are jumping into Financial Services
Fintechs are not the only ones challenging traditional banks for turf. Retailers are also jumping into the financial services fray. For instance, Amazon has launched Amazon Cash, a way to shop its site without a bank card. This product is meant to appeal to the those who get paid in cash, don’t have a bank account or debit card, and who don’t use credit cards.

Google is also rolling out a new integration on mobile called Google Tez, which allows audio QR Codes and thus opens the door for more basic phones other than smartphones. Users of the Gmail app on Android will be able to send or request money with anyone, including those who don’t have a Gmail address, with just a tap.

Banking is going Mobile
In most emerging markets and developing countries, the current formal financial system only reaches a minority of the working-age adult population. Smallholder farmers, self-employed households, and micro-entrepreneurs have to rely on the age-old informal financial mechanisms such as rotating savings clubs (Isusu or Ajoo). These mechanisms can be unreliable and very expensive.

In Nigeria for instance 84.6m people, accounting for 47% of the population are unbanked. In sharp contrast, mobile phone penetration is very high at 94.5 per cent; a perfect set-up for the Fintechs to exploit in their mobile dominated financial services offering.

The digitization of retail payment systems and financial services has become an important economic development priority. It offers the prospect of reaching far more people at far lower costs with the broader range of financial services they need to build resilience and capture opportunities. This speaks to inclusiveness.

What will be the scale of change of the Blockchain technology?The changes coming with Blockchain will be as large as the original invention of the internet, and this may not be overstated. Who would have imagined a decade ago that e-commerce, championed by Amazon and Alibaba will be displacing high street retailers, or that ride-hailing will be dominated by UBER, a technology platform?

There seems to be a seamless change happening in the Financial Sector. According to Anthony Jenkins, former CEO of Barclays, bank branch traffic has halved in the last five years, and bank profitability could collapse by 60% in the same period. A 2015 Goldman Sachs report estimated $4.7tn of financial services revenue was at risk of displacement from Fintech groups.

Regulators are now helping Fintechs
Fintechs are getting a lot of support from Regulators, believing that Fintech firms are small enough for any problems to be manageable, and on the other hand, might produce useful innovation (the sandbox approach). The intention is to lower market entry barriers for fintech companies. For instance, France’s Central Bank has announced opening up a new innovation lab, aiming to collaborate with blockchain startups.

In December 2015, Nasdaq executed its first trade on a blockchain, through its Linq ledger. The exchange said the blockchain promises to expedite trade clearing and settlement – all the steps needed to transfer the asset from seller to buyer including recording the transaction — from three days to as little as 10 minutes. That’s because the trades remove many manual processes and bypass third parties.

As such, “settlement risk exposure can be reduced by over 99%, dramatically lowering capital costs and systemic risk,”. Other stock exchanges tinkering with the blockchain include Australia, Germany, Japan, Korea, London,Toronto and Myanmar.

The Future of Fintechs
The future of Fintech seems bright. Accenture recently released a report which found that investment in Fintech around the world has increased dramatically from $930 million in 2008 to more than $12 billion by early 2015. Fintechs employ Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Machine Learning to glean the credit habits of customers from their mobile usage, and so have mitigated against the risk of default.

The homepage of LendingClub (NYSE: LC) advertises personal loans of up to $40,000. You can "apply online in minutes" and "get funded in as little as a few days,". Another prominent Fintech lender Funding Circle claims that small businesses can get loans from between $25,000 and $500,000 in as little as 10 days.

These are innovative services that seek to fill important niches in the credit markets. They enable people who have historically been shunned by banks to get loans in order to expand their businesses. 

The lucrative Transfer market will be significantly impacted
The lucrative global transfers markets are major targets by Fintechs. International money transfers, which have long been a thorny issue, are getting easier. For smaller transactions, services like PayPal automatically convert currencies, so it’s easy for a customer to purchase goods from anywhere in the world.

More importantly, a service called TransferWise is streamlining international money transfers, significantly disrupting that sector by offering a 90 per cent discount on traditional bank transfer fees. According to the founder, Taavet Hinrikus, the idea was borne out of his personal frustration in money transfers. ‘It typically took 3-4 days to receive transfers, albeit the exchange rate used by banks was exorbitant, leading to a loss of almost 10% of the value of money sent’.

In this exorbitant regime, Western Union and HSBC typically earned $600m and $800m per annum respectively in profits from only transfers. These huge contributions to their bottom-line will be dearly missed when displaced by TransferWise and their co-travellers. In Taavet’s view Fintechs will command about 40% of the global Financial Services market in the next 10 years. 

Banks and Fintechs’ collaboration for mutual benefit
Fintech companies in emerging markets have shown that with blockchain technology, it is possible to leapfrog to new forms of banking.

Truth be told, Banks are best placed to continue to influence the future of Financial Services because of their huge branch network, solid reputations, and risk controls, as well as years of customer cultivation and loyalty. They, however, have to radically change the mindset of ‘we win when you lose’.
The big take awayThe ubiquity of broadband and the pervasiveness of mobile phones, along with breakthrough technology such as Artificial intelligence, Big Data and Blockchain are expanding the frontiers for business models in ways that were hitherto not possible, and levelling the playing field in the process.

Any bank that does not read the signs and join the innovation train will definitely be disrupted and left behind. Remember that there was a time when the Post Office was at the centre of our lives. When was the last time you visited a post office?

*Contributed by Austin Okere, the Founder of CWG Plc, the largest security in the technology sector of the Nigerian Stock Exchange & Entrepreneur in Residence at CBS, New York. Austin also serves on the Advisory Board of the Global Business School Network, and on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Innovation and Intrapreneurship. Austin now runs the Ausso Leadership Academy focused on Business and Entrepreneurial Mentorship

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Sunday, May 24, 2020

NCC denies ejecting Diaspora Commission from Digital Economy Complex - ITREALMS


The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has denied forcefully ejecting the Nigeria Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), reports ITREALMS.

Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Dr. Henry Nkemadu in a press statement available to 
ITREALMS, said their attention has been drawn to a video making the rounds on social media alleging that the Nigeria Diaspora Commission was ignominiously thrown out of the NCC building. 

"It is therefore important that the general public is acquiesced with what really transpired with regard to the incident leading to the evacuation of the Diaspora Commission from the NCC building.

Following the completion of the NCC building at Mbora, Abuja designated as NCC Annex and the acute shortage of accommodation space for the staff of the Commission in the NCC Head Office at Maitama, Abuja, the Board of the Commission directed the decongestion of the Head Office Building. Some of the Departments of the NCC had started moving to the new Office Complex of Five (5) Floors when discussions were held between the NCC and the Diaspora Commission to enable the Diaspora Commission also utilize any free Offices within the Complex. 

"The fifth floor allocated to them had to be used to accommodate other Departments from the NCC Headquarters to ease the congestion. NCC’s offer to house the Nigeria Diaspora Commission was predicated on the long held position of the NCC that agencies of Government will achieve more through strategic collaboration, partnership, synergy and sharing to the extent allowed by relevant laws.

"During this period, the NCC secured approval for the Commissioning of the Office Complex by the President, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari and the launching of four important projects of the NCC and the renamed Ministry of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMC&DE):

1. Launching and unveiling of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025;

2. Commissioning of the Communications and Digital Economy Complex;

3. Launching of the Emergency Communications Centre and Toll-Free number 112; and

4. Flag off of the Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training

These important projects were a culmination of extensive collaboration between NCC and the other Parastatals of the FMC&DE and fittingly the Complex was renamed the COMMUNICATIONS AND DIGITAL ECONOMY COMPLEX in tandem with the new drive of the Federal Government towards a digital economy.

The NCC has not withdrawn the offer but had hiccups arising from the preparation for the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate the Communications and Digital Economy Complex and launch other projects relating to the mandate of government. The Board and Management of the NCC took a decision to ensure that every activity in the building was in line with the Federal Government’s digital agenda.

Incidentally, after the offer of the office spaces to the Diaspora Commission, the Director General, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa had not visited the Complex to take possession of any of the offices and also the Commission had not started using any of these spaces as offices.

As is usual in ensuring security and accountability before, during and after presidential visits, the building had to be cleared to allow for only known and identifiable persons to have access within the Complex. Therefore the Honourable Minister of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami could not have sent armed men to drive the staff of the Diaspora Commission out of the Communications and Digital Economy Complex.

At this time, only NCC Staff were accredited to have access within this premises as required by the security officials. All the properties belonging to the Diaspora Commission are safely warehoused in some of the Offices in the Complex. This is contrary to the position of the Director General of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa that the removal of her Commission from the building was punitive. This is not the correct position and we agree with her that there are always challenges in every human activity but the unforeseen challenges that arose in this case are not different but require understanding of all concerned.

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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More trouble for NCC, Pantami: NIDCOM lists stolen items over forced ejection - ITREALMS


The management of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has raised another chapter in their alleged forced ejection, saying some of their working tools have been carted away, reports 

ITREALMS gathered may involve attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Presidency to the matter.

NIDCOM in a press statement in response to a similar statement by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) denying claims of forced ejection and even exonerating the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, endorsed by the Head, Media and Public Relations Unit, NIDCOM, Abdur-Rahman Balogun and made available to 
ITREALMS, said their attention has been drawn to a statement signed by Dr. Henry Nkemadu, Director of Public Affairs at NCC dated Sunday May 24, 2020, which described the forced ejection of NIDCOM staff from the occupied fifth floor of NCC Annex Mbora as mere “allegation”.

According to Balogun, the fact of the matter is that the said fifth floor was allocated to NIDCOM by NCC Management since June 2019 and handed over by Mrs Maryam Bayi, its Director, Human Resources.

“But due to lack of basic facilities in the complex, NIDCOM staff could not move in gradually until October 2019.

“But while our Chairman/CEO, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, was on official assignment with Mr President in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the 9th of February, the staff were given one week by the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ali Pantami, to pack out but within 48 hours of the said quit notice, they were forcefully evicted by security operatives attached to the complex on the orders of the Minister on February 11.

“On the allegation that NIDCOM did not move into the offices when allocated, this is untrue, false accusation and contradictory to the statement of NCC to the effect that NIDCOM properties were warehoused and intact in the annex.

He also said that 11th of February when the Secretary of the Commission was addressing the staff during the shock quit notice, a video evidence was made available.

Details of the press statement reads:
“The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) offered its annex office located at Mbora District Abuja to NiDCOM. This offer was made at one of the meetings held with the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta at Maitama, Abuja in June 2019.

Subsequently, directives were given to the Director Human Resources; Mrs Maryam Bayi who liaised with NiDCOM staff and delivered the building to the Commission. Furthermore, as part of its goodwill gesture, NCC then approved and supplied some furniture items to NiDCOM which was received in December, 2019.

The furniture supplied were similar to those supplied to NCC, so as to fit into the design of the building.

Meanwhile, NiDCOM, upon taking delivery of the building, made provision of some furniture, equipment and infrastructure in the building. It proceeded to install workstations for over 140 staff of the Commission which was completed by November, 2019.

It also went ahead to install a PABX supported International Call centre in conjunction with Airtel Nigeria Ltd. Likewise, since the executive offices were not tiled, ceramic tiles that were already bought were installed the same week the evacuation notice was given. That is, the Commission commenced the installation of high-quality ceramic tiles in the offices of the executive’s officers on the 5th floor which was occupied by the Commission. This went on alongside painting works, general plumbing and fixing of doors handles etc.

Prior to this, the Department of Technology Transfer & Innovation of the Commission and some staff of Finance department and administration moved into the building at the end of October 2019 while the other departments followed subsequently.

The executive chairman’s office was also in preparation for her to move by mid-February 2020. This movement into the building required that several computing and electronic devices as well as many sensitive documents and personal belongings were also moved.

On the 9th February, 2020, the Chairman of NiDCOM was notified by the EVC of NCC on the need to evacuate the building within one week without any prior notice. This was said to be on the instruction of the Hon. Minister of Communications & Digital Economy who also want to occupy the same office space & location. The Chairman was at that time on an official Presidential delegation to Ethiopia

By Tuesday 11th February 2020, just two days after the initial notice which gave one-week ultimatum, the staff of NiDCOM were denied access into their offices by armed security men from the NSDC who ordered them not to go into the fifth floor office of the commission.

Thereafter, the Director Special Duties of NCC informed NiDCOM staff that he is acting on the instruction from the Hon Minister Pantami to evacuate / refuse them entry into the building until further directive is given.

The NiDCOM staff obliged on the instruction of the executive chairman of the Commission not to resist the directive and complied on the condition that no items in any of the offices will be tampered with until the management of the two agencies are involved and modus-operandi agreed upon.

Unfortunately, on Friday 14th February after the Chairman returned from Ethiopia a day before, she visited the complex to shockingly find that offices were broken into and all items including the 140 work stations, personal computers, printers, sensitive documents and personal belongings of staff were carted away. The call centre was locked up.

For the avoidance of doubt, the following is the list of some of the items which NiDCOM believes have been carted away.

1. Two units of single face data ports

2. 24 port patch panel

3. 1 Mikrotik RB 750G router

4. 1 Mikrotik cloud router switch

5. 2 Headsets with microphones

6. 2 Digital PABX

7. 1 4u Server racks

8. Patch cables

9. 3 UPS

10. 1 HP desk jet 1012 all in one printer

11. 1 HP desk jet all in one printer (brand-new with the Carton)

12. 1 Mercury UPS (brand-new with the Carton)

13. 1 Ellington extension cable (brand-new)

14. 2 3meter extension boxes

15. Data Antenna

16. 7 HP All in one desktop

17. Camera tripod

18. Cannon 700 digital camera

19. Xenon laptop

20. 144 Work stations & 144 Swivel office chairs

21. 2 Meter mini conference table

22. 6 Conference table chairs

23. 3 Meter executive office furniture set

24. 1 Executive sofa set

25. 4 Executive office furniture set

26. 12 Executive office visitors’ chairs

27. 5 4-seater work stations

28. 2 Reclineable executive chairs

29. 4 Ergonomic executive office chairs with lumbar support

30. Technology Transfer & Innovation department files and documents

31. Legal department files and documents

32. Accounts department files and documents

33. Secretary to the Commission’s office entire files and documents

34. Admin department entire files and documents

35. Diaspora relations department entire files and documents

36. Media department entire files and documents

37. Roll up banners

38. Staff personal belonging such as printers, UPS, extension cables, stationeries (cartons of Chamex papers, staplers, pins, notice board) files & documents & toiletries etc.

39. 140 work stations.

It is our humble opinion that an agency of government ought not to be shabbily treated in a dehumanising manner.

The Hon. Minister should have acknowledged the fact that the aim of NiDCOM for using the office spaces was not for personal functions but rather for governmental functions with regards to Diaspora engagements.

The Hon. Minister should have seen the need to give the Chairman of the Commission audience so as to let the Commission staff evacuate their belongings by themselves rather than breaking into the offices without their consent.

The Commission still has no access to all equipment, furniture and other items carted away on the instructions of the Minister.

The Hon Minister’s claim that the space was allocated for years is definitely false as NIDCOM is just one year in existence.

We must, however, thank the Chairman/CEO of NIDCOM, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who despite all these was determined to ensure that the work of the Commission did not suffer in any way through her doggedness and dynamism.

As stated in the Chairman’s remarks as the commission marked its one year in office, the Hon. Minister’s arrogance and utmost humiliation of a government agency is totally unwarranted.

However, the commission has since moved on and put the ugly incident behind it as it looks forward to settling into any available office space after the Covid-19 lockdown."

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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Task force rates Ekiti high on Covid-19 response, management - ITREALMS


Ekiti State Taskforce on Covid-19 has hinged the low prevalence of the pandemic in the state to the prompt response and proactive nature of the state governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi in combating the disease in the state.

The Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr (Mrs) Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, who stated this during the 48-hourly briefing of the Taskforce on Friday, said the molecular laboratory recently purchased by the state government was ready for use. She added that the laboratory would still be useful after the covid-19 pandemic.

She hailed the leadership of Governor Fayemi in curtailing the spread of the pandemic in the state as well as the support of the state’s Covid-19 Response Resource Mobilisation Committee. She said the prompt response of the state government has helped to curtail the coronavirus in the state.

Dr Yaya-Kolade, said the last fatality recorded in the state was a referral from a General Hospital in Omuaran, Kwara State, adding that the 75 years old woman died of an underlying ailment.

Giving the background story of the woman, the health commissioner explained further that the deceased’s test result came out positive on 20th May while the woman died earlier on the 19th with no contact in the state. She therefore ruled out community spread of the disease through her.

According to her, “The woman was an elderly woman, 75 years old that lived in Kwara State, she actually lived in Ayedun in Kwara State, went to General Hospital in Omuaran, after receiving some treatment in Omuaran for her medical condition which is called congestive cardiac failure, she was referred to the Federal Teaching Hospital, Ido-Ekiti.

“She came straight from Omuaran to Ido on the 14th, two days after her admission, the doctor suspected a possibility of Covid-19, the state was informed, we collected specimen, unfortunately, the test came back on the 20th, the 75year old woman died on the 19th. We know where she came from and we know she did not get infected in Ekiti State. We are still ruling out community spread.

“As of today, our patients are stable, I don’t know if you would remember an older man that I said was in a teaching hospital, we managed the patient in collaboration with the teaching hospital, he has since turned negative, he is no more Covid-19 positive.

“Our success rate in treating and getting people negative is high, we are getting good result. The only concerns and issues that we have had are those cases that come into Ekiti State un-announce. They have underlying issues and when they come, they usually come because of something.”

The commissioner also restated that efforts were in top gear to launch the molecular laboratory situated in the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti. She added that the new Isolation centre of 120 beds would also be open along the launch of the laboratory.

Dr Yaya-Kolade said the laboratory would be useful in testing for some other viral diseases like Lassa fever as well as useful for training.

The state coordinator of the taskforce, Prof. Mobolaji Aluko hinted that the security situation in the state was stable as there was no new incursions and hoped that at the end of the day, all the quarantine centres would not have any inmates.

Prof. Aluko, who is also the Director General, Office of Transformation and Service Delivery (OTSD) urged the residents of the state to make proper use of the face mask , adding that the state would intensify creating more awareness on the use of masks at all nooks and crannies of the state.

He assured the people of the state that government would ensure proper de-congestion of markets in the state by moving them to other markets with less congestion.

Ayo Midele/Editor

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COVID-19: Curfew now 8pm to 5am in Oyo - ITREALMS

… Mass testing to commence weekend—Task Force

The Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force, on Sunday, relaxed the existing curfew imposed on the state in respect of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic to between 8.p.m. and 5 a.m.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, confirmed that the decision was reached at the COVID-19 Task Force meeting presided over by the governor on Sunday.

According to the statement, the state has so far recorded 233 COVID-19 positive cases, while 171 of them are active cases.

It stated that a number of creative measures were approved for implementation by the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), which coordinates the operations of the thematic segments of the containment drives.

One of such is the approval of a facility in Ibadan for use as observation and isolation centre for a category of patients after thorough reviews.

“The Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force headed by His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde has approved that the curfew currently in force in the state runs from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. The new directive replaces the initial order which pegs the curfew at between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m.

“Agreement has been struck with the management of a facility in Ibadan to provide bed spaces for a number of positive cases, whose status have been well considered by the experts,” the statement read.

It advised farmers in the state to take advantage of the decision to stop the curfew at 5 a.m. to enhance their farming activities.

According to the statement, the state government is also wrapping up further renovation and face-lifting activities at its Isolation centres located at Agbami, Jericho, Ibadan, Igbo-Ora, Ogbomoso, Saki and Aawe, near Oyo town.

Besides, the statement also indicated that the planned community testing, which could not be kickstarted at the weekend owing to the festivities and public holidays, would commence by the end of the week.

The Task Force stated that training of health workers who will participate in the exercise will commence in the 10 locations after the holidays.


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COVID–19: Don Pedro Aganbi donates face masks, sanitisers to market leaders - ITREALMS

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), TechTV Nigeria, Don Pedro Aganbi, has donated face masks and hand sanitizers to aid the fight against the novel Coronavirus pandemic as part of his birthday celebration, reports ITREALMS.

Don Pedro Aganbi who made the donation to the Iya Oloja of Bariga Market, Princess Abiodun Jagunmolu said that the idea is also in support of the #MaskLagos campaign by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

“If you follow my yearly birthday celebration, you know we always empower the less privileged people in our society but this year is special and different. We are in the midst of a global pandemic and we have decided to donate face masks and hand sanitisers to market leaders because the market is a very important segment in the fight against community spread of the virus and we are by this initiative engaging the market leaders to further create awareness among their members.

"All you need is pay a visit to our markets, the use of face mask, washing of hands regularly, social distancing and even sanitization is almost non-existence and the government can’t create this awareness alone, it has to be a collective effort and responsibility and this is our modest contribution" Aganbi said.

Receiving the donation, the Iya Oloja of Bariga market markets thank Don Pedro and his team for the kind gesture. “If I remember correctly, this is the first time an individual or organization will make this kind of donation and this would certainly go a long way to help spread the awareness because coronavirus is real. I will distribute these sanitisers and face masks immediately. If the sellers have the sanitisers by their sides it will help them to always sanitise their hands at intervals. I am happy you thought of Bariga market because it is one of the most important markets in Lagos" elated Iya Oloja said.

Don Pedro Aganbi also used the medium to thank the Chairman, Ojez Group of Companies, Engr. Joseph Odobeatu, High Chief Nosa Obakpolo, CEO, Global Shipping & Gas Investments Limited, Chief Mrs. Onos Nakpodia, Chairman, Bluehills International and Mallam Dahatu Ishaq for supporting and donating over 5000 face masks and hand sanitisers toward this initiative to fight COVID-19.

Uj. N. Dominic/Editor

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Eid-el-Fitri: Makinde felicitates Muslims, calls for national prayers - ITREALMS


The Oyo State governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, has congratulated Muslims in the state and beyond on the successful completion of the month-long Ramadan fasting.

He expressed gratitude to Muslims and residents of the state for remaining steadfast despite the situation imposed on the state by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor equally rallied them to use the auspicious occasion of the Eid-el-Fitri to make supplications for themselves, the state and Nigeria.

A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted Governor Makinde as saying that it was regrettable that Muslims in the state and across the country cannot observe Eid-el-Fitri prayer at the Eid Praying Grounds, due to restrictions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He, however, charged them to see the situation as “part of the sacrifice we all have to make at this time,” saying: “It is gratifying to note that we are concluding this year’s Ramadan on a good note.

“Despite the current COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the whole world, the Almighty Allah allowed Muslims in Oyo State to join the Muslim Ummah in making supplications for the forgiveness of our sins.

“I remain grateful to my Muslim brothers and sisters and residents of the state for remaining steadfast despite the situation imposed on us by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Governor Makinde sought for the continued support and cooperation of the Muslim Ummah and all residents of the state in adhering to the COVID-19 protocol such as wearing of face masks, observing social distancing, regular washing of hands and eating of immune-boosting foods and others, as directed by the Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force.

He promised to continue to make life more meaningful to all residents of the state, reiterating his administration’s commitment to the socio-economic transformation and the infrastructural revolution currently going on in the state.

“On the part of this pacesetter government, I solemnly promise that we shall continue to make life more meaningful to all the people of Oyo State through policies and programmes that are godly and humane.

“As we look forward to an end to the current gloom and a return to normalcy, let us continue to work together for the safety, wellbeing and prosperity of our state.

“Once again, I felicitate our Muslim brothers and sisters and our community,” the governor said.

Ayo Midele/Editor

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Frequently asked questions on Internet data consumption, depletion usage - ITREALMS


In view of recent developments pertaining to the unfortunate spread of the Corona Virus (Covid-19), the Federal Government directed a total lockdown of some States from the 30t​h of March 2020, while some State Governors also directed total lockdowns in their respective States. Due to the aforementioned, consumers are staying at home and making use of more telecommunications services than ever before, to stay in touch with friends, family, colleagues, work and the world at large. As a result, the Commission has observed a surge in the number of complaints from consumers regarding Data Depletion and Poor Quality of Data services.

In line with our (PIE) mandate of Protecting, Informing and Educating consumers, the Commission immediately investigated the complaints and ensured resolution as necessary. However, we also believe that it is necessary to empower consumers with information on data consumption and usage to enable them get better value from their data subscriptions and to get prompt redress where necessary. To achieve these objectives, we have developed the following ​Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)​ with regards to data consumption and usage:

1. What is Internet Data Usage?

Internet data is a service provided by telecom service operators to the end users to enable them access the internet. The speed of the access and the nature of activities which the consumer can carry out often depends on the nature of the technology in use. Access technologies are usually classified into “Generations” to denote their age and characteristics, as follows:

a) 2​nd Generation Technology (i.e. 2G) is circuit switched technology which is relatively low-speed GPRS, EDGE mode or their equivalents;

b) 3​rd Generation Technology (3G) is packet and circuit switched and is in HSPA, HSPA​+ m​ ode or their equivalents;

c) whilst, 4​th Generation Technology (4G) is packet switched technology, that is, LTE, LTE-A mode or their equivalents.

Each of these technologies provides different speeds and protocols for using the internet. Newer generations of phones are usually designed ​to be backward-compatible, so a 4G phone can communicate through a 3G or even 2G network.

2. What does G stand for?

As explained above, "G" stands for "GENERATION". When you connect to internet, the speed of your internet access is dependent upon the signal strength and the access technology. The technology is shown in alphabets like 2G, 3G, and 4G etc. right next to the signal bar on your mobile phone’s home screen.

3. Does the usage of 2G, 3G or 4G have impact on data usage? Can this also lead to depletion of data?

Absolutely, Yes. The higher the generation, the higher the speed, and consequently the faster your mobile data is consumed.

4. What is Mobile Data?

Mobile data is internet content accessed by, or delivered to your phone over a wireless/cellular (i.e. mobile) connection. When you purchase mobile data plans, you are entitled to a certain amount of data over a fixed period of time. You can also access the internet through Wi-Fi connections depending on whether you have access to that particular Wi-Fi network. With mobile data however, you can use the internet as long as your phone can detect your network’s data signals, and you have an active data plan on that network. Therefore, the mobile data is what allows your phone to get online when you are away from Wi-Fi.

5. What causes Data Consumption/Usage/Depletion?

Your data is used whenever your phone connects to the internet. The following activities are the most common uses that reduce your data:

● Sending and receiving emails,

● Downloading and uploading files (pictures, documents, videos, etc.) –

the larger the file, the more the data consumption,

● Browsing the internet – the more pictures, videos or graphics on the

websites visited, the more data is used,

● Instant Messaging – like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, etc.

● Streaming music/ videos on YouTube, Hulu, Netflix and other channels,

● Games – games use a lot more data than most people imagine, due to

the intense graphics and algorithms that power them,

● Social media applications such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter,

Instagram, etc.

● Video-chatting and conferencing applications like Zoom, Skype,

WhatsApp Video, etc.

6. How do Internet Service Providers (ISPs) estimate data usage?

Your data consumption depends on a large number of factors. As mentioned above, the nature of technology (2G, 3G, 4G or 5G), the quality of the network, the speed of download, the type of websites you visit, the specifications of your handset, and so many other factors contribute to your data consumption.

For instance, two handsets can use different amounts of data to download or stream the same video on YouTube!

The following ​approximations give an estimation of data usage. ​Please note that these are mere estimations provided by an operator based on typical/average file sizes​.

1 Hour of Social Media = 200mb

1 Hour of Browsing = 60mb

1 Hour of Instant Messaging with video calls = 140mb

1 Hour of streaming music = 60mb

1 Hour of Streaming Videos = 350mb (Non HD) and 1GB (HD) 1 Email sent or received with attachments = 500kb

1 minute of connected game play = 60mb

7. What activities use up the most data?

As you will notice from the answer to question 6 above, the most common activities (inclusive of uploads and downloads) that use large amounts of data are as follows:

● Downloading and watching videos online especially on sites Like Netflix and YouTube.

● Sending and receiving emails with large attachments

● Software updates and virus​ definition u​ pdates

● Going on Social Media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram,

Twitter, Tik Tok etc.

● Playing Games on a website or via a downloaded app

● Remote security cameras

● Data sent between sites on a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

● Mobile App online Notifications from social media, social marketing

sites etc.

8. How can I use my mobile Data wisely or avoid Data wastage?

There are number of things you can do to manage your mobile data usage so that it does not deplete quickly, but instead last longer. The following are examples:

● Disable mobile data when it is not needed

● Use data compression in your browser

● By reducing video streaming quality from video sites such as YouTube,

Netflix, Hulu, Showtime – you can use from 1080p or default/ auto setting to 240p for optimal viewing and lower data consumption. This may however affect the quality of your experience.

● By deactivating all cloud storages except when / where necessary.

● By not breaking or interrupting downloads in-between video sessions.

● Turn off automatic updates for apps for mobile devices, laptops and

personal computer.

● Use Wi-Fi hotspots wherever you can to save your mobile data – you

should however note that there are data security risks to using open/free Wi-Fi connections. Your passwords and personal data are often exposed on such connections.

● Limit sending and receiving files and push notifications

● Delete email messages that won’t send and are no longer required.​

● Send big files when connected via Wi-Fi or use Wi-Fi for big files

● Monitor time spent on Social Media

● Closing apps when you’re done using them can also reduce data usage

● Set up usage alerts

9. How can I use my phone to manage my data usage to avoid Data wastage?

Your smartphone’s default settings are typically configured to get the best possible experience, which comes at the cost of your data usage. You can change those settings to manage your data usage in the following ways:

By Manually Capping Mobile Data: To do this,

Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Data Usage > Billing Cycle

By Manually setting Data Saver

Activate data saver: Locate “Data Usage” on your device and activate

“Data Saver”. This will help cut down your data usage by

preventing apps from using data in the background. Disable auto-update on your App store

Disable multimedia auto-download on your social media apps Turn off your data when it’s not in use.

Stop Apps from automatically Synching: to do this,

Go to Setting > Apps & notifications > Select App > Select Disable Background Data

Don’t Stream it, Download It.

It is more advisable to download video or audio content to save

data than to stream it online.

● Set data alert notifications on your mobile phone.

● Avoid multiple configuration of the same email address on your

mobile phone. For instance, do not configure your Gmail address on your email app as well as Gmail app at the same time on the same mobile phone.

10. How to monitor and limit data usage on an Android phone:


If you have Android 8.0 or later, your phone should come equipped with Data Saver mode, which kicks in when you are not on Wi-Fi and ensures that apps and services that are not being actively used won’t be able to stream data in the background.

It is very easy to turn Data Saver mode on and off. To do this,

● Go to Settings

● Go to “Network & internet” > “Data usage”

● Select “Data Saver.” Toggle “Use Data Saver” on.

There may be specific apps that you want to allow to use background data, even when Data Saver mode is on. For example, you may want to get Twitter notifications no matter where you are. To do this,

▪ Go to the “Data Saver” page (see above)

▪ Tap on “Unrestricted data”

▪Scroll down to any apps that you want to enable for background data use even when Data Saver mode is on. Toggle them on.


You can set your phone to issue a warning if you’re nearing your data limit before the end of your monthly billing cycle. You can even set a limit beyond which your phone will not use any data. To do this,

▪ Go to Settings

▪ Go to “Network & internet” > “Data usage” > “Data warning &


▪ Tap on “App data usage cycle.” This will let you set the day that your account starts it’s monthly cycle.

▪ Back up and toggle “Set data warning” on. You can then enter the data limit - say, 4GB — that you want for your


11. How do I Limit Data Usage on Apps?

A. YouTube:

● Open the YouTube App.

● Tap on the profile icon at the top right corner

● Select Settings.

● Click on General.

● Turn on “Limit Mobile Data Usage”.

B. Play Store (Android):

● Go to the Google Play store.

● Click on Menu & go to Settings.

● Click on Auto-update apps.

● Select “Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only”.

● You also have the option to choose “Do not auto-update apps

C. IOS (Apple: I-Phone) :

● Go to settings on the I-phone

● Click on iTunes and App Store

● Got to Mobile Data Option

● Turn off ‘Automatic Updates’

● Or you can turn off the apps that you don’t want automatic


● You can also click on App downloads and select the preferred

option in regards to app downloads.

D​. ​Instagram:

● Open Instagram options.

● Go to Accounts.

● Go to Settings.

● Select Cellular Data Use.

● Then tick Use Less Data

E.​ W​hatsApp – Deactivate Auto-download

● Go to the “settings” section in your WhatsApp APP.

● Click on “Data and Storage Usage”.

● Select Media Auto Download option.

● Deselect all options under “When Using Mobile Data”.

● You can also enable low data usage for WhatsApp Calls

F. F​acebook – Switch Off Auto Play

● Go to your Facebook option icon (the three horizontal bars at the top right corner).

● Click on App Settings (Under help & settings).

● Click on AutoPlay.

● Select never auto play videos.

● In addition, you can activate the “Data Saver” option.

● Navigate to the option icon.

● Then go to settings & Privacy.

● Select Data Saver.

● Toggle the data saver on.

12. Why does my data drop significantly while watching Videos?

Video naturally uses more data. However, if you are downloading, select “medium resolution” to manage your data usage as their sizes are significantly lower than “high definition” videos. Also live streaming video uses more data. Therefore it is preferable to download the video on your local device and watch afterwards.

13. Why does my data disappear even when I am not online?

Data consumption can occur on your account with or without your knowledge.

● With your Knowledge​: Data is consumed when you open web pages, when you browse, while downloading/uploading files, streaming videos or doing any of the other activities mentioned above.

● ​Without your Knowledge​: Most smartphones are configured to automatically search for, and download software updates, app synching, uploads, updates, etc. Your data is therefore consumed by your phone without your knowledge when there are software upgrades and updates to apps on your device. To stop this from happening, you have to disable automatic updates as demonstrated in Question 11 (above).

14. Since I migrated to 4G network, my data doesn’t last for long?

4G networks are generally faster than 3G. This increased speed brings about usage of more applications making the data to deplete faster. 4G is configured for fast transfers of heavy amounts of data – OS updates, synching of photos and videos, streaming on high definition all take place much faster than on earlier generation networks. Also, most of the popular media platforms are designed to provide you with the best user experience, so they would automatically present you with the highest quality videos (HD) once they recognise that you are on a fast connection.

15. Is it possible that someone is stealing my data?

This could be because your hotspot or Wi-Fi password might have been compromised​. You should therefore ensure that your password is secure at all times. ​You should also be careful of who has access to your phone since data can be shared or transferred without your knowledge.

16. Can I Check my Data if I Suspect that Something is wrong?

Yes. Most smartphones allow you to check your usage – you can even set a cap as explained in Question 9 (above). Also, there are some free applications that monitor your usage – these are however approximations and may record significantly different amounts from your actual usage.

17. Why do data plans with “unlimited access plan” get exhausted before the end of the month/plan period?

Unlimited data plans usually have restrictions embedded in the terms and conditions of service. It is advisable to check terms and conditions relevant to your specific data plan. Thus, if you encounter such problem, you need to check the terms and conditions of service. However, if what you experience is contrary to the terms and conditions of service applicable to your data plan, you should contact your service providers for prompt resolution within 24-48hrs. If you are not satisfied with the resolution, then contact NCC for necessary assistance.

18. Why should network service provider display pop up messages to ask if the recharge is to be used for data or voice?

The pop up message is basically a method of easing the process of converting your airtime to data or leaving it for voice services. This is intended to empower you to decide how you wish to use your recharge. This should be ignored or cancelled by consumers who are not interested.

19. Why is it that additional data given to subscribers after making subscription to data promos, get easily exhausted?

The terms and conditions of the promo data must be noted and understood

by the consumers before subscribing for any such promo.

20. What brings about fluctuation in internet access after making data subscription?

This may be due to network problem and/or settings of your phone. For example if there is no network in your location or the strength of network is weak or unstable, then there will be fluctuation. Also, if your data SIM is off you may not be able to use the internet unless you are connected to Wi-Fi.

21. Does speed or time contribute to depletion of data?

Yes, it does. The faster the speeds, the more data bundles will be utilised. Logically, the faster the speed, the quicker you can complete a task such as downloading or uploading a file. That means that you’re able to do more, and consume more data, in the same amount of time if you have fast speeds. You naturally do more and probably use higher quality while streaming videos.

22. Why is it that monthly subscriptions do not last a whole month?

The monthly subscription usually comes with a data size or value and once the value is exhausted before the month end, you would be unable to access the internet. So, what it means is that the data allowance can be used over one month, but it can be finished before one month, depending on how you

use it.

23. What is the reason behind getting a deducted data value when you subscribe for data?

This could happen where the Consumer has borrowed airtime or data from the network service provider. It is important to read and understand the terms and conditions of the services rendered before you start using it. However, if you have any issues, be sure to complain to your service providers immediately and escalate to the NCC for redress if the matter is not satisfactorily resolved.

24. Why do Network Service Providers usually deduct from the normal data subscription while leaving the bonus data untouched?

Again, you need to check the terms and conditions of your package. Bonuses are usually given to stimulate usage and the network may specify the terms on which you can access the bonus. If your experience is different from what was promised, then lodge a complaint to your service providers and escalate to the NCC for redress if the matter is not satisfactorily resolved.

25. Why does the shared data among consumers exhaust quickly unlike the direct subscription?

The shared data and individual data are usually charged at the same rate. You must note that you cannot control usage of data you share with others.

26. Apart from the fact that network quality unlocks the full functionality of applications on a device, download rate is also very fast, what can be done to avert this?

This can be averted by reducing activating data saver to reduce the speed of the data or step down the technology from higher generation with high speed or throughput to lower generation with low speed or throughput.

27. What brings about decreases in the balance of data when all that is done is mere internet surfing without downloading heavy files?

Many websites are very interactive, and logging on to these sites often results in data being unknowingly consumed by video adverts running on the page while one is browsing a specific article. This is another reason that accounts for faster data depletion.

28. Why should data deplete when the network doesn’t permit usage and it expires at the end of the month?

If you experience this type of problem, please check the terms and conditions

of your service and contact your Service Provider for prompt solution.

29. How do I Seek Redress if I am not satisfied with my

Data Usage?

● Your first point of call is your service provider. The NCC has mandated all service providers to provide multiple channels for their consumers to complain, and that they should ensure prompt resolution of complaints within specific timelines. NCC sanctions operators who fail to meet these timelines.

● The service providers can be reached on their free 24/7 customer service short codes: ​9mobile – 200; Airtel – 111; Globacom – 121; and MTN – 180​.

● When you complain to your service provider, demand a "trouble ticket": the ticket provides evidence of the time/date/nature and timeline for the resolution of your complaint.

● If your complaint is not resolved within the stated timeline, or if you are not satisfied with the resolution, then please report to the NCC using any of the following channels:

● Call toll free – 622

● Email -

● Twitter - @consumersNCC

● Instagram - @ngrcomcommission

● Facebook –

● Be sure to include your trouble ticket - NCC will then take the matter up with the network service provider to ensure speedy resolution.


Dr. Henry Nkemadu

Director, Public Affairs

Nigerian Communications Commission

22 May 2020

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Friday, May 22, 2020

Made in Nigeria goods and senior govt officials - ITREALMS


Executive Order 3 Rejected:
There are concerns that more Nigeria manufacturers will close shop before the end of October this year not because of COVID-19, but rather the refusal of most senior government officials to respect a subsisting presidential directive to patronize quality made in Nigeria products.

Executive Order Number 3 of 2017 signed by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo on May 18, 2017, among other things, directs that all Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must grant preference to local manufacturers of goods and services in their procurement of such items. Further, any document issued by any MDA for the solicitation of offers, bids, proposals or quotations for the supply of goods and services must expressly indicate the preference to be granted domestic manufacturers or service providers. 

Equally, made in Nigeria must be given preference and at least 40 per cent of the procurement of certain listed items in all MDAs must be locally manufactured goods or from local service providers. They include uniforms and footwear, food and beverages, furniture and fittings, stationery, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals, construction materials and ICT goods.

EFCC ignored:
However, it appears the Bureau of Public Procurement and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are handicapped as this Executive Order has been largely ignored by many government agencies and personnel.

For years, Nigeria has struggled to correct its poor trade deficit profile. Nevertheless, the problem has mainly been concentrated in the overwhelming appetite for imported goods among Nigerians. Indeed, the propensity to import virtually everything, even down to the basic items available locally, has been behind the shabby state of Nigeria’s local content narrative.

No one is exempted from this sad reality. Worse still, Nigerian government officials are also complicit. Many of them only pay lip service to the clarion calls to patronise made in Nigeria goods to grow the local currency. In reality, these government functionaries who should be leading the local content charge are most at fault for relying on imported items at the detriment of indigenous enterprise.

Even the National Assembly made the news recently when members of the House of Representatives reportedly took delivery of brand-new 2020 Toyota Camry cars as utility vehicles. Each of the exotic cars, the V6 Limited edition, depending on the variant, has a price tag of between US$75,000 to US $135,000. This excludes the cost of shipping and custom duties, which is about 100 per cent of the actual cost of each unit. The foregoing is based on checks on the website of Toyota as the lawmakers bluntly refused to disclose the cost of the 400 vehicles which were purchased with taxpayers’ money.

Patronage of Made in Nigeria, a must:
Also much recently, President Muhammadu Buhari directed that only made in Nigeria goods and products must be patronized henceforth to save the nation’s foreign exchange and help grow the economy. Equally important, the directive came as a reaction to the impact of the rampaging Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the economy which has affected the 2020 budgetary provisions.

Communicating this laudable directive from the President was the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed. Specifically, the Minister made this disclosure while responding to a question at the end of a virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Buhari.

Ahmed had stated: “On prioritization of made in Nigeria products, as you know the president has set up an economic stimulus committee chaired by the Vice President. The work of the committee is to develop a 12 months’ economic stimulus plan and we are at the final stage of that work.

‘‘We have prioritized spending in that plan to use and consume made in Nigeria. For example, some of the public works projects that will employ a lot of our youths is to be done using strictly our raw materials, so we don’t have to import bitumen for example to build our roads.”

A commendable initiative from the Presidency but one which sadly, as is the case with most policy pronouncements in Nigeria, is only implemented on paper.

Mr. President’s directives, came at a time when Nigeria is facing a tough time of it with the COVID-19 pandemic hobbling revenues from crude oil, the mainstay of the economy, ought to have gone a long way in bringing relief to Nigerian manufacturers and other local entrepreneurs. But this is hardly the case.

Deaf ears to Executive Order 3:
Feelers indicate that several top and senior government functionaries, especially in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAS) have paid deaf ears to the decision to patronize made in Nigeria. Indeed, it is a case of business as usual as many of these government establishments have continued to fritter away scarce foreign exchange by relying on foreign goods in their procurement activities, thereby enriching the economies of other more advanced countries at the detriment of a bleeding Nigerian economy.

For a fact, Nigeria is not short of credible local manufacturers making waves in their respective areas of endeavour and doing the country proud.

Aliko Dangote is a very good example of an indigenous power-house who has put Nigeria on the global map. The richest man in Africa has, to a large extent re-written the story of Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in essential commodities such as cement, sugar and salt. Were it not for his entrenched tentacles in government circles, Dangote will probably be struggling to get any Nigerian government big-wig or even the ordinary man in the street to patronize any of his products.

What of our heavy reliance on imported vehicles?

In Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Limited, Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Ltd., Globe Motors Ltd. and many other local assemblers, Nigeria has a strong cast of players who can conveniently meet the needs of millions of Nigerians desirous of purchasing quality vehicles. But what we see is a situation in which the National Assembly members, as highlighted in the earlier part of this piece and several serving government functionaries thumb their nose at these locally made, cheaper yet reliable options in favour of foreign made vehicles. Worse still, these vehicles are mainly used for very short distance movements, mainly from their residences to their offices or assembly complex or to the airports to catch their numerous flights.

In the area of technological devices such as laptops and computers, Nigeria can boast of a Zinox which today, has represented the country creditably well even in the international space. Zinox computers was the first internationally certified brand in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the Zinox Group which has over 30 years of outstanding innovations to its name and arguably one of the leading technology conglomerates in Africa, has bailed out Nigeria in the area of the conduct of credible elections through its sterling work with INEC in creating a reliable database of voters for the country even when foreign players failed abysmally. Currently, our leaders and top government functionaries choose to patronize foreign laptops or computer brands.

The story is the same across a very critical vertical such as pharmaceuticals. Nigerian pharmaceutical companies have found it tough swimming against the overwhelming tide of government’s preference for importation of basic medical supplies and equipment. Same sad tale is the fate of several local manufacturers of furniture, beverages, construction materials, stationery and even basics like footwear/uniforms, of which Nigeria is sufficiently blessed with skilful artisans.

In October 2016, Eric Umeofia, founder of Erisco Foods, a top tomato paste manufacturer, announced plans to shut down operations and sack some 1,500 workers at his expansive factory in Oregun, an industrial area of Lagos.

Hear his reasons: ‘‘This appears to be the only reasonable thing for me to do since my cries appear to have no meaning for those stifling our operations.

‘‘I brought my manufacturing concerns worth about $150 million in Dubai and Angola to Nigeria in 2009 in my patriotic zeal to contribute to the growth of Nigeria. But dumping of sub-standard tomato pastes from mainly Asian nations has resulted to Erisco Foods losing up to N3.5 billion in recent years. More so, our products worth about N6 billion remain unsold, due to the flooding of our markets with sub-standard tomato pastes from foreign countries.

“If we don’t leave Nigeria now we’ll go bankrupt and I believe that my leaving will open up the environment for government to understand the dilemma facing Nigerian manufacturers like me,’’ he stated.

Undue favourtism to Lebanese, Indian & Chinese:
Further, the businessman declared that undue favouritism to Lebanese, Indian and Chinese businessmen in the allocation of foreign exchange to import tomato pastes and other items, including frozen fish, has dealt serious blow to his company, Erisco Foods Ltd. and also to other Nigerian companies involved in manufacturing. Erisco Foods, which has had dominant presence in Liberia and Angola over the years, was listed as Africa’s top tomato paste manufacturer, and the company is the fourth largest of its type in the world, according to records.

But policy inconsistencies and alleged connivance of officials of some key government agencies to deny foreign exchange allocation to indigenous companies in preference for foreigners have left many Nigerian companies struggling or closing shops in recent times.

The same scenario exists today but the situation is even more critical now.

Latest figures show that the rate of unemployment in Nigeria is heading towards a record 33 per cent. Equally, nearly 3.8 million Nigerians have lost their jobs since the beginning of the year. And with COVID-19 hobbling businesses and virtually every segment of the economy, that figure is only going to rise further. Every year, Nigeria’s numerous tertiary institutions churn out graduates who continue to swell the ranks of the unemployed – a factor that holds dire implications for the future of the country.

Yet, Nigerian government functionaries have adamantly failed to wake up and smell the coffee. The day of reckoning is not a far-off vista. It is certainly here...

Reversing 2020 budget:
Today, the Federal Government has had no choice than to revise the 2020 budget, even as it goes cap-in-hand borrowing from lender agencies to fund the current fiscal year, yet the constituent members of the current administration who should be aiding the President correct the sad state of affairs are the same ones robbing Peter to pay Paul!

Below are the exact words of the Finance Minister who reeled out the amendments to the Medium Term Expenditure Framework for 2020-2022 as well as amendment to the 2020 budget.

“The crude oil price is approved at $25 per barrel, crude oil production is at 1.94 million barrels per day and then an exchange rate of N360 to $1. The revised budget is now in the total sum of N10.523 trillion, a difference of about N71.5 billion when compared to the approved budget. This is because, as we cut down the size of the budget, we also have to bring in new expenditure previously not budgeted, to enable us adequately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The federal government in this budget will have direct revenue of funding the budget of N5.158 billion. The deficit to this budget is N5.365 trillion and this will be financed by both domestic as well as foreign borrowing. The foreign borrowing we are doing for 2020 are all concessionary loans from the IMF which has already been approved and has crystallized, from the World Bank, Islamic Development as well as Afro EXIM bank…’’

Nigerians face bleak future:
Millions of poor, needy, unemployed Nigerians face a bleak future as the government, which is unarguably the biggest spender, struggles to keep the ship of state afloat. But its occupants seem hell-bent on carrying on with making fresh holes in the ship while expecting it to stay afloat.

A school of thought has even queried President Buhari’s seeming silence or inaction on the on-going flouting of the presidential directive to patronize made in Nigeria; even as some have insinuated that the president’s silence may mean acquiescence.

Be that as it may, now is the time for the President to act in order to avert the doomsday that is staring Nigeria in the face!

*Contributed by Dr. Wole Abijoko is a policy expert and public commentator who writes from Nasarawa

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Merck partners African First Ladies on Postgraduate programmes - ITREALMS

The philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, Merck Foundation, in partnership with African First Ladies and Ministries of Health, continue their strategy to provide one-year diploma and two-year master degree in both Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine and Diabetes for medical postgraduates from more than 35 African and Asian countries, reports ITREALMS.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and One of 100 Most Influential Africans emphasized, “Amidst the pandemic that has rocked the world, we must not forget people living with other health conditions such as Diabetes and Hypertension because they are the Coronavirus risk groups therefore Merck Foundation continues to build Hypertension and Diabetes care training to doctors, in partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health and Academia. Moreover, we also provide training to doctors from Asian countries”.

Merck Foundation has so far enrolled and trained over 183 Medical postgraduates from over 35 countries. As a part of their efforts to build hypertension and diabetes care capacity, Merck Foundation enroll medical postgraduates for One Year Online Diploma and Two Year online master degree in Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine and Diabetes from reputable university in UK. Additionally, they also enroll doctors for a three-month Diabetes Master course from English, French and Portuguese speaking African countries to advance their clinical knowledge in tackling these non-communicable conditions.

Merck Foundation started capacity building of Coronavirus healthcare through providing online one-year diplomas and two year master degree in both Respiratory Medicine and Acute Medicine from UK University, for African doctors.

Dr. Sofia Jarombwereni Natshikare Nepembe, Merck Foundation alumnus from Namibia says, “I feel fortunate to be a part of this program and receive the Postgraduate one-year Diploma in Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine as part of Merck Foundation capacity advancement program. The course has enabled me to learn the advanced scientific developments for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. The course has helped me to serve my patients better. Merck Foundation is doing a great job by providing postgraduate degrees for doctors like me who are eager to specialize to better serve their communities.”

“We are committed to enroll more doctors for these courses to be able to build a platform of hypertension and diabetes experts in underserved communities. These online courses is the right strategy to scale up our efforts to improve access to quality healthcare solutions widely and effectively especially during Coronavirus lockdown”, explained Dr. Rasha Kelej.

The program started in 35 countries such as: Bangladesh, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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