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Nigeria Targets $500m Annually from Gold Mining

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 By Dipo Olowookere

If gold mining operations are improved in Nigeria, not less than $500 million can be generated by the federal government from the sector in taxes and royalties.

This was the submission of President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Abuja when he received the locally mined gold bars presented to him by the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMDI).

A statement issued by the Special Adviser to President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, stated that the President further said the sector could also generate no fewer than 250,000 jobs if the necessary policies and actions are taken.

During the presentation, Mr Buhari was quoted as reaffirming his administration’s commitment to establishing gold refineries in Nigeria.

According to the President, this laudable initiative would support efforts at the creation of jobs for Nigerians, diversifying the revenue base, and improving foreign exchange reserves.

Reiterating the determination of the federal government to combat illegal mining activities, he expressed concern that Nigeria lost close to $3 billion from 2012 – 2018 due to illegal smuggling of gold.

“With the implementation of the PAGDMI scheme which will result in the set-up of accredited gold buying centres across key mining areas, artisanal miners and SMEs engaged in mining will be able to capture the value of their work.

“These operations will help in diversifying our revenue base. The sale of gold by artisanal miners and SMEs at accredited centres will help the government in realizing royalties and taxes from the sale of these assets.

“These developments will also help in improving our foreign reserves by enabling the Central Bank of Nigeria to increase the amount of gold in its reserves.

“These gold assets which will be purchased in Naira, will not only help to bolster our international reserves, it will also provide a hedge against inflation and other economic volatilities associated with foreign currencies that are held in our reserves,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in the statement.

He noted that in addition to the potential revenue gains that will occur from mining operations, efforts are being made to enable the setting up of gold refineries in Nigeria.

Mr Buhari expressed optimism that these measures would lead to the creation of additional job opportunities across the gold value chain and also help the nation capture the additional value created from the gold refining process.

On environmental degradation, the Nigerian leader pledged that the government would pay close attention to safety and environmental measures to protect workers and the environment.

He also used the occasion to commend all stakeholders involved in the PAGMI for their painstaking efforts in developing a programme aimed at improved sourcing and refining of high-quality gold bars, derived from minefields in Nigeria.

President Buhari recalled that the PAGMI, which was launched in 2019, was well-timed, considering the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and indeed on the Nigerian economy.

He said the impact of COVID-19 and the containment measures designed to slow the spread of the virus, had led to a slowdown in global growth, which is projected to decline into negative territory for the first time since the Great Depression.

“It has also led to a 40 per cent drop in crude oil prices. In Nigeria, the drop in crude oil prices has had a significant impact on government revenue, as well as on our foreign exchange earnings.

“In responding to this challenge, it is, therefore, paramount that we strengthen our efforts at implementing policies and programs that will enable a greater diversification of the Nigerian economy.

“Enabling investment in the Solid Mineral sector is a key part of the government’s economic diversification program.

“Given our current estimated gold reserves of over 200m ounces, most of which have not been exploited, developing sustainable programmes that will catalyse increased investment in the extraction and refining of gold sourced from mines in Nigeria, is indeed vital,” he said.

Emphasising the benefits of the PAGMDI, the President explained that it will support job creation efforts particularly for artisanal miners, by providing them with a guaranteed offtake by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Furthermore, he said efforts are being made to support artisanal miners in improving the standard of the gold that will be sold to the apex bank, in order to ensure that they meet international benchmarks.

According to him, the initiative will enable the deployment of financing schemes that will help miners improve on the quality of their mining operations.

“The gold buying program by the Central Bank will ensure that artisanal miners are no longer subjected to the volatility in gold prices that occurs in the absence of credible off-takers, which has often led to a significant loss in the value of gold sold by miners, as well as in encouraging illegal smuggling,” he said.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Ogun Promises Proper Use of World Bank $300m

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Ogun State Security Trust Fund

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Ogun State government has made plans to utilize a financing partnership agreement worth over $300 million signed with World Bank to fund Ogun Economic Transformation projects.

This was disclosed by Governor Dapo Abiodun when the 56th Governing Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), led by its President, Mrs Onome Adewuyi, paid him a courtesy visit at his Oke-Mosan office, Abeokuta.

The Governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Finance and Chief Economic Adviser, Mr Dapo Okubadejo, said the project, when completed, would further place the state as one of the fastest-growing economies in Nigeria.

On her part, the President of ICAN lauded the state Governor for receiving the delegation, noting that the visit would enable the government and other stakeholders to champion ways of sustaining growth and development of the State and the country at large.

The project development objective (Project ID: P164031) is to increase the participation of the private sector in the economy of Ogun State, with a focus on improving the business-enabling environment, strengthening agri-food value-chains and upgrading skills.

The credit from the multilateral lender has a maturity period of 30 years with a grace of five years.

In support of Ogun State’s development objectives, the project has three core areas of implementation, which are the creation of enabling business environment, strategic technical and vocational skills and development as well as agricultural value chain development. These will all rest on a pillar of strengthened governance capabilities as areas such as statistics, procurement, monitoring & evaluation and planning are bolstered through the program.

Efforts were first advanced during the outgoing tenure of Senator Ibikunle Amosun in April 2019, he, however, noted that then the incoming Dapo Abiodun-led administration already has a ready-made support to enhance the delivery and good governance of the project.

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Nigeria Determined to Eradicate Malnutrition—Minister

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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has said the federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has shown a strong commitment to eradicate malnutrition in the country.

She said this was why the government has come up with various policies to drive massive investment in agriculture and boost food security in Nigeria.

“In recent years, Nigeria has shown a clear commitment to the eradication of malnutrition. This is happening through the adoption and domestication of policies and costed strategic plans, which emphasise increased reliance on domestic funding; and a well-coordinated multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach (comprising government, CSOs, private sector and donors); backed by sustained high-level political commitment,” Mrs Ahmed at the dialogue on the United Nations (UN) food systems summit held recently.

She further said the government has also put in place “the national strategic plan of action for nutrition, the national policy on food and nutrition, the innovative national social investment programme (which includes the home-grown school feeding programme), the basic health care provision fund, and the National Council on Nutrition, and the development of various food and nutrition sector plans.”

According to her, the implementation of the National Food Summit Dialogues is critical to the achievement of the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) and the Nigeria Agenda 2050.

The Minister further said that the outputs of the various food summit dialogues would form a critical component for the conclusion of the MTNDP and the Nigeria Agenda 2050, and would, as well, contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Nigeria.

“The NNFSD is required to improve nutrition security, reduce hunger and prevalence of malnutrition in line with the national food and nutrition policy for Nigeria.

“It is envisioned to create more inclusive, healthier food systems and encourage a collaborative approach towards building a sustainable food system,” she added.

“We in Nigeria are at a critical crossroads. While we have seen some improvements in recent years, particularly in the areas of child nutrition and breastfeeding, we know that in order for these improvements to yield results, malnutrition (and other public health issues) must be addressed through the implementation of innovative policies and strategies,” she said further.

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Apapa Gridlock: NPA e-Call-up System Thrills Sanwo-Olu

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NPA e-Call-up System

By Ahmed Rahma

The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has commended the management of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) for using technology to address the traffic logjam at the Apapa area of the state.

Mr Sanwo-Olu, who spoke when the Managing Director of the NPA, Mrs Hadiza Bala Usman, paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House in Alausa, Ikeja, on Tuesday, said he was excited with the introduction of an electronic call-up system.

The system, according to the NPA, would ensure that trucks are allowed on the Apapa corridor via a booking system. The initiative would be launched this Saturday and it is one of the ways put in place to tackle the perennial gridlock in the area.

Governor Sanwo-Olu expressed optimism on the transparent electronic call-up system, saying the move was the beginning of the end of Apapa gridlock.

He said the call-up platform would be complemented with virtual dashboards that will be placed in strategic locations around the seaports, where all stakeholders will monitor the scheduling of container movement.

The Governor praised NPA for the innovative approach towards tackling the truck menace around ports, pledging that the state government would sustain the effort with strict enforcement of traffic regulations along the Apapa corridor.

He said, “This is the beginning of a better journey time for our citizens within the Apapa seaports and environ.

“This electronic system has a limited interface with security operatives and unions, which usually cause the gridlock problem.

“It will be a simple case of possessing electronic clearance. If you don’t have it, you don’t have any reason to be around the seaports.

“In enforcing the new regulations, we are deploying more than enough towing vehicles to impound erring trucks.

“The huge amount to be paid as fine for flouting the call-up system will be a deterrent for drivers not to repeat it.

“The stakeholders need to understand we are serious about ridding Apapa of the menace that has brought pains to our citizens living and doing businesses along the corridor.”

Mr Sanwo-Olu said the state government would be deploying 500 officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to work collaboratively with NPA and enforce the new call-up regulation, directing the state’s agency not to spare any effort in achieving free flow of traffic in Apapa.

On her part, Mrs Usman reaffirmed that from Saturday, February 27, 2021, the movement of trucks in and out of the Lagos seaports will now be organised through a transparent electronic call-up system that will be based on first-come-first-serve basis.

With the new system, no container-laden truck is expected to go on Apapa corridor without clearance from the call-up platform. Any truck that flouts the electronic roster and park along Apapa corridor will be impounded by the taskforce.

Mrs. Bala Usman said the visit to the State House was to brief the Governor on the status of the electronic call-up platform before it would be fully launched.

The NPA boss said the electronic system had addressed the excuses usually given by truck drivers for parking their vehicles on the highways, stressing that any truck found around the ports without electronic clearance would be impounded.

“The deadline for the commencement of the electronic call-up system is February 27, 2021 and we are here to strengthen collaboration with the Lagos State government on implementation and compliance as we commence the process.

“The new system will be done in collaboration with the State. We have worked seamlessly to ensure Apapa is rid of the menace of trucks,” she said.

“All truck owners and stakeholders have been briefed about the new development over the past months. Any truck found in Apapa corridor without call-up clearance will be impounded and Lagos Government will provide the platform with which any fine payment will be collected,” she added.

Mrs Bala Usman said the era of individuals depositing empty containers in the seaports was over, noting that empty containers must now be deposited with the shipping companies, which are expected to keep the containers in their holding bays at no cost to individuals who own the shipment.

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MSMEs Expert Seye Olurotimi to Speak at THC’s Unscripted Live

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Seye Olurotimi unscripted live

By Dipo Olowookere

An expert in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) space in Africa, Mr Seye Olurotimi, has been invited to speak at the flagship midweek event organised by The Harvestworld Church (THC) tagged Unscripted Live.

THC is a church led by Pastors Yinka and Nike Adesanya. The place of worship, which is located around Charly Boy Bus-Stop on the popular Anthony-Gbagada Expressway, Lagos, is a church for the 21st-century urban dwellers, with the sole purpose of making you a person of influence in our world.

Every last Wednesday of the month, the church brings notable business-oriented persons to inspire its youthful members and others for the Unscripted Live programme.

The event was specially designed to dissect everyday real people, real issues and real solutions of young people in the urban areas in an interactive manner to boost their daily living, elicit wholesomeness (spiritual, emotional, financial, relational, etc.) and get direction critical to their aspirations in the market place.

On Wednesday, February 24, 2021, Mr Olurotimi, who is also a notable business coach and the CEO/Founder of MSME Africa, has been invited to speak on Managing Your Business for Profit from 6pm.

A statement from the organisations disclosed that this edition is intended to share with the young participants, emerging and aspiring entrepreneurs the basics of how to overcome the challenges in the current business space with the sole aim of achieving profitability amidst the changes occasioned by the global pandemic.

Unscripted Live started on July 5, 2017, with the most sought-after Mr Tonye Cole, the co-founder and executive director of Sahara Group.

Since then, several personalities have graced the platform including ace Sports Analyst and former Super Eagles Media Manager, Mr Toyin Ibitoye; the CEO of BudgeIT, Mr Seun Onigbinde; the publisher of The CableNG, Mr Simon Kolawole; the CEO Africa Operations for Inlaks Ltd, Mr Femi Adeoti; gospel singer, Tope Alabi; author, speaker and CEO 5th Gear, Mr Niyi Adesanya, amongst others.

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IITA, SANO Foods Promote Cultivation of Improved Cassava Varieties

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Improved Cassava Varieties

By Ahmed Rahma

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in collaboration with SANO Foods Limited on Monday began a public-private sector initiative to promote the cultivation of improved cassava varieties in Nigeria.

The partnership under the Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II) began with a joint public exhibition of fortified foods and cassava varietal display in IITA, Ibadan.

The IITA Deputy Director-General (Partnerships for Delivery), Dr Kenton Dashiell, noted that the partnership was to promote consumption of locally produced products in Nigeria.

He said part of the deal was to create awareness on the newly released cassava varieties as a means of bridging the current cassava productivity gap on the continent, adding that it was also to draw consumers’ attention to the availability of locally made and nutritious foods designed to tackle malnutrition.

Mr Dashiell said breeders were making great progress in the development of crop varieties but needed the inputs of other stakeholders like the government and processors, who would add value to the research products.

According to him, the final development needed partnerships and collaborations with the private sector to add value to these crops.

“I believe that is what SANO is doing and I’m sure we’ll get to learn more from them,” he said.

On the part of the Director of Development and Delivery Office of IITA, Dr Alfred Dixon, he described the SANO-BASICS-II partnership as a “win-win collaboration.”

Dr Dixon stressed that private sector-led cassava development in Nigeria was essential for the transformational change of cassava in the country.

“Together, we will create an economically sustainable cassava value chain where every actor will have a space and benefit from cassava.

“We will raise awareness and trigger the adoption of these varieties by farmers,” he said.

He harped on the need to harness the potentials of cassava as a poverty fighter to create jobs, fight food insecurity and boost the nation’s economy.

Similarly, Prof. Lateef Sanni, IITA BASICS-II Project Manager, said the collaboration with Sano Foods would advance the Cassava value chain.

In his remarks, the Acting General Manager of Sano Foods, Mr Solomon Ojeleye, pointed out that SANO’s vision was to provide foods that are healthy and rich in vitamins.

He identified Turmeric garri (cassava flakes) and OSFP garri as two products the company developed through research to add nutritional value to cassava.

“We have over 39 products in the market and all of them are organic because we put the health of our consumers first.

“We use puree, flour and roots of yellow cassava, Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato, yellow maize and other crops for the production of several confectioneries which includes varieties of bread, cookies, cakes, and baby food,” he said.

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NDPHC to Export 70MW Power to Togo

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NDPHC

By Ahmed Rahma

The Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) is working to export 70 Megawatts (MW) of power to the Republic of Togo.

The executive director of the organisation, Mr Kassim Abdullahi, disclosed this on Monday via a statement signed by the NDPHC’s Head of Communication and Public Relations, Mrs Olufunke Nwankwo.

Mr Abdullahi revealed that the power would be exported through the Calabar Power Plant.

Speaking at an inspection of the Calabar Power Plant in Odukpani, Cross River State recently, the executive director said the company already had a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to supply 70 Megawatt (MW) of power to Togo, a West African nation from the power plant.

While stating that the firm was also in discussion to supply another 100MW to Paradise City in Calabar, he assured Nigerians of improved power supply through the eligible customer framework.

“This is the way to go; we are working tirelessly in getting more eligible customers to ensure that this available stranded power that we have in most of the power stations are dispatched.

“More especially, most of the power stations that we have in NDPHC today are limited in their operations because of the dispatch challenges.

“We are hardly doing the full capacity because of grid constraints but with the eligible customers’ framework we are able to commence some serious drive and engagements with willing buyers of our power,” he said.

The NDPHC boss said that the plant, wholly owned by NDPHC under the Nigerian National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) programme, had five units Gas Turbines with a total designed capacity of about 600MW.

He described the plant as one of the best amongst NDPHC plants with uninterruptible gas availability and a good dispatch network.

The executive director explained that the inspection was part of the routine maintenance done on all power stations.

He said when all three units are firing, the Calabar power plant has a total capacity of 560MW available power for dispatch.

Also speaking, Mr John Oyewale, Chief Operating Officer of Calabar Power Plant explained that the plant had remained the best through the support of NDPHC management and the operation and maintenance team.

“Even though there are lots of challenges, we are able to surmount them because of the cooperation between NDPHC and us.

“With the experience, we have gained over time from other power plants, we are able to keep the plant going because of the existing cooperation in the Operations and Maintenance team,” he said.

He thanked the company’s management for supporting the team, saying “each time we want something from them they quickly get it to us and allow us to progress”.

Mr Oyewale said that at the time of the inspection when two units were working, the plant was sending 225MW to the national grid due to frequency control.

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