By Dipo Olowookere
The sum of N100 million has been donated by BUA Group to the Kebbi State government to support victims of the recent flooding in the northern state of Nigeria.
The conglomerate said the financial assistance was given to the state government as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes.
Chairman of BUA Group, Mr Abdul Samad Rabiu, stated that his company remains committed to its sustainable development obligations as a responsible corporate citizen and will keep supporting various social and humanitarian interventions wherever it can.
He commiserated with the Governor, Mr Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the Kebbi State government, communities and individuals affected by the floods, enjoining all stakeholders to support recovery efforts.
Meanwhile, the organisation has announced the donation of an additional N350 million to the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID).
CACOVID, a private sector-led group led by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was established in March 2020 to assist the government in combating the Coronavirus disease in the country.
When the organisation was set up about six months ago, BUA Group was among the corporate firms which donated N1 billion to support the federal government’s fight against COVID-19.
The announcement of an additional N350 million has brought the total donation of BUA Group to CACOVID to N1.35 billion.
Mr Rabiu, in his remarks, specifically commended the efforts of the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, in coordinating the CACOVID intervention efforts in a transparent and accountable manner.
“I must also commend the efforts of Governor Godwin Emefiele who has brought his astute leadership to bear in the running of CACOVID with Aliko Dangote and other members of the CACOVID steering committee – of which BUA is a pioneer member.
“We intend to keep monitoring the situation in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders and are ready to contribute even more, where necessary,” Mr Rabiu said.
FG Apologises to Nigerians over Poor Electricity Supply
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The federal government has apologised to Nigerians over the poor electricity supply being experienced by them at the moment.
The Minister of Power, Mr Mamma Sale, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Mr Aaron Artimas, said efforts are being made to improve the supply.
He explained that the situation was caused by the breakdown in 13 power generation plants across the country, but assured that engineers were doing everything possible to rectify the issue.
Mr Sale said the faulty power plants affected some National Integrated Power Plants (NIPP) supplying electricity to the national grid.
It was gathered that the Geregu, Sepele, Omotosho, Gbarain, Omuku, Paras and Alaoji integrated power plants are experiencing gas constraints, while the Shiroro plant is experiencing water management issues.
According to reports, the Egbin, Afam, Ibom, Sapele, Ihovbor, Olonrunsogo, Alaoji and Omotosho power plants are down, while the Jebba power plant is currently undergoing annual maintenance.
But Mr Mamman assured that the national grid would be restored to its previous historic distribution peak of about 5,600MW of electricity achieved early this year, so as to relief Nigerians from the current harsh climatic conditions and restore full economic activities.
“The Ministry of Power is not unaware of the current power outages/shortages bedevilling many parts of the country. This unfortunate development has drastically affected Power generation, thus effectively minimizing the national grid.
“In view of this, the Hon Minister of Power, Mr Sale Mamman, regrets this unfortunate situation and offers his sincere apology to all affected Nigerians on the inconveniences the power shortages are causing.
“He assures that the ministry through the appropriate agencies is working assiduously to rectify the technical problems affecting the plants as well as resolving the gas issues to the others,” the statement from Mr Artimas said.
The power situation in the country has been horrible lately, especially in a period the weather has been hot, forcing some residents to run power generating sets.
ITF Signs MoU to Improve Air Force Research
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Industrial Training Fund (ITF) has signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and the Equipment and Protective Application International Limited to boost research and development.
The pact, which will ensure parties work together in an effort to nurture a cooperative relationship among the institutions, is geared towards optimal performance and improved productivity.
Speaking at the NAF headquarters in Abuja, the Director-General of ITF, Mr Joseph Ari, said the MoU will be pursued with vigour and all the seriousness it deserves so that greater success would be the catalyst that will drive their intentions.
He explained that over the years, ITF had redirected its focus on technical, vocational training and education, adding that developed nations are where they are today because of such initiative.
“Even here in Abuja, we have a model of a skills training centre and the model was brought in from the Singaporean experience of the institute for technical education and services of Singapore.
“We brought a semblance of it here to experience with five trade areas, Mechatronics and Autotronics, Computer Networking, ICT, Facility Technology as well as culinary in both African and Western cuisine is right there in the heart of Abuja in the ITF house, it is like a University.
“The ITF is well-positioned to work hand in hand with the Nigerian Air Force,” he said
The ITF boss added that “I must say that the Chief of Air Staff has a lot of foresight with his men to think of this Memorandum of Understanding because indeed, ITF is where you should be.
“The ITF came into contact with the Nigerian Air Force even though a lot of the officers of the Air Force might have participated in its programmes in the past and I have noticed that NAF has not relented in its efforts to equipped its workforce and also upgrade and retrain its people,” the ITF boss added.
He, however, commended men and officers of the NAF for their sacrifice in keeping the nation safe.
On his part, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal, Mr Oladayo Amao, said the Nigerian Air Force is a highly technical service that places technology as the bedrock of all its operations.
Represented by the Chief of Standards and Evaluation, Air Vice Marshal Olusegun Philip, the air chief noted that in line with the focus of the federal government in promoting indigenous technology, the Nigerian Air Force has been looking inwards to gradually wean itself of overdependence on foreign technology and to become more innovative and resourceful.
“Therefore, in order to advance the Nigerian Air Force’s Research and Development efforts, we have deemed it necessary to formally collaborate with indigenous organizations through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding.
“These collaborative efforts provide pedestals to leapfrog capability as well as a repertoire of capabilities that can be harnessed”.
“The collaborative efforts also provide platforms to synergise ideas for innovations that are key to achieving meaningful results to solve the technological challenges we currently face in a cost-effective manner,” he said.
Also speaking, the Managing Director, Equipment and Protective Application International Limited, Mr Kola Balogun, assured that the deal entered into would be for the overall economic benefit and development of the nation.
FEC Approves N20.1bn to Equip Customs
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a total of N20.1 billion for the procurement of various operating equipment for the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
Mrs Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, disclosed this on Wednesday to State House Correspondents at the end of the weekly FEC meeting held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja and presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The council also approved N539.3 million for the construction of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) building at the Ilupeju Medium and Small Taxpayers’ office, according to the Minister.
The Minister further said that a total of 427 operating vehicles worth N14.55 billion and nine assorted gunboats worth N5.6 billion were all approved for Customs contracts.
“The ministry also presented, on behalf of the Nigerian Customs Service, a memo that was seeking for Council’s approval for the design, construction and supply of two NC36M patrol boats, in favour of Messrs of Boat Plus Limited, in the sum of N5,062,530,400, inclusive of 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) with a delivery period of 12 months and council approved our request.
“We also presented a memo, again on behalf of the Nigerian Customs Service, for the approval of council for the design, construction and supply of seven fast assault patrol boats and seven regular patrol boats, in favour of Messrs Siwa West Africa Limited, in the sum of N501,472,471.08, inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT with a delivery period of eight weeks.
“The purpose of the purchase of these two types of patrol boats is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of operations of the Nigerian Customs Service in its bid to control smuggling and also ensure enhanced efficiency in all customs duty operations in the Marine Unit of the Nigerian Customs Service.
“We also presented, again on behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service, a request for Council’s approval and council approved the procurement of 427 operational vehicles for the Nigerian Customs Service operations in favour of various contractors in the combined sum of N14.55 billion, inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT with a delivery period of four weeks,” she said.
On his part, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, speaking on behalf of Minister of State for Education, Mr Emeka Nwajiuba, also revealed that council approved a project for the extension of the University of Ibadan’s library worth N532 million.
“The Minister of Education also presented a memo for the award of contract for the construction and furnishing of the extension of the library of the University of Ibadan. The memo, which was approved, is at the cost of N532,609,000 and with a completion period of 48 weeks.
“It was a memo that was very well received because of the need to actually extend the library facility in the University. For many years, the library of the University of Ibadan had needed real extension, given a surge of the student population,” he said.
Lagos Charges N1.37m for 2021 Umrah
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Muslims who wish to observe the 2021 Umrah (lesser Hajj) in Saudi Arabia through the Lagos State government will have to pay N1.37 million.
A statement issued by the Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board disclosed that the amount is the least package fees.
“The first package at a cost of N1.37 million includes stay at a 3-star hotel; Sahur (morning meal) and Iftar (evening meal) in Nigerian delicacies; economy class ticket with a reputable airline; executive and convenient local transportation; five days stay in Madinah, including three days isolation period; COVID-19 tests in Makkah and Madinah; visitation to historical sites and two-to-a-room accommodation,” the Executive Secretary of the board, Mr Rahman Ishola, explained.
Mr Ishola further said the Umrah exercise comes up during the last 10 days of the Holy month of Ramadan and has two different packages that the intending pilgrims can choose from.
For the second package, he said pilgrims would be required to pay N2.7 million and comprises accommodation at the 5-star Ajyad Makareem Hotel in Makkah and Coral Hotel in Madinah.
“This is in addition to other benefits contained in the first package like Sahur and Iftar among others,” he added.
The board scribe explained that the increase in fare was due to the strict implementation of the COVID-19 protocols by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health, emphasising that the Umrah exercise will hold between April 27 and May 15, 2021, and urged interested Muslims to seize the opportunity provided by the agency to make their payment as soon as possible.
He also encouraged those who had already made initial deposits to endeavour to pay up the balance for the package of their choice and forward evidence of payment (teller/bank receipt) and international passport to the board on or before April 18, 2021, for further necessary action.
Mr Ishola stated that it is mandatory for all the intending pilgrims to get the COVID-19 vaccine before embarking on the pilgrimage, stressing that without the vaccination, they would be denied entry into Saudi Arabia.
FG to Use Gas to Lift Nigerians Out of Poverty
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has revealed that it plans to use the implementation of the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) to lift no fewer than 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, was quoted as saying in a statement issued on Monday that this would be achieved by creating jobs for millions of young Nigerians.
“Counting the impacts of the programme on our socioeconomic space within the first year of its launching, the administration further stepped up its commitment to industrialising Nigeria through gas utilisation by declaring the year 2021 to 2030 as the Decade of Gas.
“With proven gas reserves of over 200 million cubic feet and natural gas presents an opportunity for the nation to use gas as the catalyst for its socio-economic renaissance,” the Minister stated.
The federal government rolled out the NGEP last year and it involves the conversion of fuel-powered cars and generators from petrol to gas.
Aimed at deepening domestic usage of natural gas in its various forms, the programme aligns with the federal government’s plan to make gas the first-choice source for cheaper and cleaner energy and is expected to deliver at least one million vehicle conversions by the end of 2021.
The Minister oversaw the physical launch of the policy as President Muhammadu Buhari virtually conducted the rollout.
The NGEP seeks to deepen the penetration of gas as a cheaper alternative to petrol for powering automobiles.
The Minister stated that the induction of gas to power automobiles and other engines represented a step in the right direction, as the NGEP is set to create two million jobs annually for the country.
It was revealed that under the directives of the President, Nigeria will continue to strengthen the gas value chain, as a vital tool for transforming the economy.
Gas products to be widely pushed for adoption include Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) also pledged support to the effort of the NGEP, the national oil corporation has established designated NNPC retail filling stations offering free petrol-to-gas conversion services for some cars to enable vehicles to run on LPG or CNG.
There are currently 80 locations in the country capable of fueling the vehicles, and the price of CNG is expected to cost N97 per litre.
Nigerian Navy Acquires Tools to Fight Crude Oil Theft
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Navy has acquired 172 patrol boats, four helicopters, four ships and 14 unmanned aerial vehicles to aid its fight against crude oil theft and sea piracy within the country’s territorial waters.
This was disclosed by the Navy spokesperson, Mr Suleman Dahun, who noted that the agency has made significant progress in the recapitalisation of its fleet, with dozens of vessels commissioned since 2020 and more on the way.
These acquisitions, according to the Nigerian Navy, came as the service attempts to deal with a continued spate of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as oil thieves and other criminals in the Niger Delta region.
Mr Dahun, in a statement, said that France’s Ocea shipped the third and fourth C-Falcon interceptors (P273 and P274) to Nigeria via cargo ship earlier this month, explaining that the first two (P271 and P272) were delivered at the end of 2020.
“Over the last eight years, Ocea has supplied one FPB 98 Mk I patrol vessel, eight FPB 72 Mk II and two FPB 110 Mk II patrol vessels to Nigeria. Ocea also won three tenders for two additional FPB 110, one OSV 190 SC-WB and four C-Falcon vessels.
“The two additional 35-metre FPB 110 boats were delivered by the end of 2020. In September last year, Ocea launched a new hydrographic survey ship, the Lana, which is expected to be delivered later in April 2021.
“The Nigerian Navy is also expecting four 17 metre Suncraft Manta boats from Malaysia (these were built in 2020) while Damen is set to deliver two 40 metre fast patrol boats. The Damen boats are being built at its facilities in Vietnam.
“On the smaller end of the scale, Suncraft has supplied 25 of its 9.5 metre long rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) and 15 of its 8.5-metre RHIBS. Another 90 small boats are either expected or have been delivered to the Nigerian Navy,” he stated.
The Nigerian Navy said acquisitions include locally manufactured vessels, as indigenous construction of a third 43-metre Seaward Defence Boat and two logistic supply houseboats at the Naval Dockyard Limited and Naval Shipyard Limited, were in progress.
“These vessels were expected to join the service in the first quarter of 2021. In addition, about 170 riverine patrol boats were built in Nigeria and more acquisitions are planned.
“On the aerial side, the Nigerian Navy has taken delivery of a single AW139 helicopter from Leonardo Helicopters and is in the process of procuring 14 unmanned aerial vehicles, to enhance response capability, through South Africa’s Epsilon and CACTIC in China.
“These are expected to be delivered within the current year. Over the last six years, the Nigerian Navy has acquired a total of 378 platforms, including 172 patrol boats, 114 RHIBs, two Seaward Defence Boats, 12 Manta class boats, three Whaler boats, three tugs and two barges.
“Other platforms acquired included 22 fast attack boats, 14 UAVs, four helicopters, 14 River Town class boats, 12 houseboats and four capital ships,” he said.
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