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Security Man Found Dead At NNPC Headquarters

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The story making the rounds in several parts of Port Harcourt is the death of a security, guard two weeks ago at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) headquarters along Moscow Road in Port Harcourt.

Small Talks gathered that the security man who was hale and hearty the day before the incident was found dead the following morning.

According to the gist, several residents of the city and beyond who learnt of the untimely demise of the security man have been wondering why he died in the presence of his colleagues who allegedly refused to raise an alarm.

Small Talks learnt that the untimely death of the securityman who hails from Akwa Ibom State had left several persons contemplating about the likely cause of his death.

It was also gathered that there were no signs that the security man encountered danger in the night which would have been the likely cause of his death even as there were no indications that criminals invaded the premises of the company.

As security agents make frantic efforts to unravel the circumstances that led to the death of the security man, Small Talks learnt that his death has remained a mystery.

He was said to be married with children even as his corpse was said to be discovered at the gate of the company by workers that early morning.

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Small Talk

SMEs And Loan Opportunities

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Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are critical to the development of any economy as they possess great potentials for employment generation and diversification of development of indigenous entrepreneurship.
In Nigeria, there has been gross under performance of the SMEs sub-sector which has impacted negatively on economic growth and development. This low output among other factors can be largely attributed to poor business financing.
To solve this problem, federal and state governments mapped out loans and grants to help the sector which, if achieved, would go a long way in boosting the economy.
The Tide went to town to examine the accessibility of loans by SMEs.
The Managing Director of Franco Bookshop, Mrs Franca Kalu, said she has heard and even filled different forms at different times without any tangible results.
Franco Bookshop boss noted that, “after COVID-19 last year, the news of the mapped out loans was a relief to many of us. I filled the different forms from different groups, thinking that I will use it to revive my business and overcome the terrible effect of the pandemic.
“Can you believe that up till now nothing has been done. We even paid some money to collect and return some of the forms. It is by the grace of God that my business is surviving”.
Mrs Kalu noted that she needed the loan to grow/expand her business, saying that there is need for the loan to be given to those it is meant for, in order to achieve the purpose of the loan, which is to grow SMEs.
“I heard that some people have received the money and many others whom the loan are meant for, are yet to see it.
“The best thing for government to do is to use people’s Bank Verification Number(BVN) which contains detailed information about everyone, to push the loans into business hands to avoid diversion of this fund.
“My business needs money and I know that if I am given loan l will do better than l am doing. It will be wrong for those in charge of the loans to do man know man”, she added.
To the Managing Director KAIEUN Concept, Mr Kenneth I. Akoma, the said business loans to the lock up shops owners around Mile 1 only exist in camera.
Akoma noted that he had applied both for federal and state government loans from different angles and wondered why the loans were difficult to come by here, while those in other geopolitical zones access the same loans with ease.
The MD said, “if not for God’s grace and intervention, it would have been difficult for me to continue after the lockdown; because l spent 98 percent of my business money on feeding and payment of shop rents.
“Government knows where the SMEs are. They should send delegates to the people to sensitise them and ensure that the loans are given to the people it is meant for and not the other way round.
“Many business men and women don’t even know that such loans exist and so the need for sensitisation. Many business men and women operate from hand to mouth”, he said.
He reiterated the need for the loans to be given to SMEs, saying that “business capitals are the problem of many businesses. If government shows concern and ensures that the problem is solved, the money would not go back to the hands of politicians and others.
“There is also the need for mentorship in the sector to ensure proper management and utilisation of the loans, when it would comes.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NENOG Farms Nigeria Limited, Mr Nnadi Emmanuel Nwogu, said there was the need for SMEs to work with institutions to grow their businesses.
The CEO, who said the farm has the largest export demand for cassava produce, noted the need for government to support SMEs with business loans to enable enhanced performance in the sector.
This he said, would have multiple effect on Nigerian economy and also contribute meaningfully to the nation’s GDP.
“If Rivers State will take advantage of what the company has, it would drive away hunger from the state”, adding that SMEs are the life wire of every economy.
He also advised SMEs to leverage on the current available loans in the federal and state systems to help their businesses and also stressed the need to form co-operatives for easy access to business loans.
The CEO noted the need for business owners to partner with mega establishments for mentorship, which he said resulted to speedy development.

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Small Talk

2020 Xmas: What Preparations?

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The Christmas season is fast approaching. As usual, preparations towards the Yuletide are on top gear. But with the harrowing experience had by many Nigerians this year, will this year’s Christmas celebration be able to measure up to the previous ones in terms of buying and selling?
In this week’s edition of ‘My Business’, our senior correspondent, Lilian Peters, went to town to find answers to this question and these are what she came back with.

A food and vegetable dealer at the Port Harcourt Fruit Garden Market,  Mrs Goodness Halim, said that the level of sales in the market was yet to reflect the season’s sales.
“The demand, this period, is still very low when compared to the previous years when you saw different groups organising end of the year parties.
“There is no money in circulation and we, the dealers, do not even see money to stock our shops with goods. We buy small quantities, which makes it more expensive”, she said.
Mrs Halim attributed the low patronage to the effect of COVID-19, EndSARS protest and the economic recession in the country.
“A carton of sweet corn which cost N2,800 before is now N4,500; a basket of fresh tomatoes before EndSARS cost N2,800, it is now sold at N4,300, while a sachet of tomatoes now sells at N150 as against N50 before now.
“A kilo of carrots which was N200 before is now N400. A five litre of groundnut oil has risen from N4,500 to N5,500”, he said.
She noted that people only picked their daily needs instead of buying in quantity to stock their houses for the season.

Another market dealer in foodstuffs and vegetables, Stella Nwaigwe, noted that the level of sales has never been the same after COVID-19.
She said the purchasing power of the masses had remained low due to the ravaging effect of the shutdown occasioned by Coronavirus pandemic.
Nwaigwe noted that some of the companies that used to buy foodstuffs in bulk had not started operations since the shutdown.
“It is affecting my business. Even the companies that have opened have reduced their purchasing rate. Fast food joints and restaurants are no longer having customers like before”, she stated.
She blamed the high cost of foodstuffs on the levies demanded by Customs, high cost of transportation due to bad road network and increase in the prices of petroleum products.
“If the levies on the goods are reduced, the prices will definitely reduce. Let the leaders of this nation help the poor masses, especially during this Christmas season.
“We cannot compare this year to the previous years. Before now, you would have seen many trucks loaded with bags of rice and other gift items for their clients and customers. We are believing God that we will make season’s sales before the Christmas Day”, she said.

The Managing Director, Megjey Resources, Port Harcourt, Mrs. Mercy Egbichi, said, “2020 is a different year altogether. By this time in the previous years, we were very busy, selling, supplying and replacing our stock as soon they got depleted, but nothing is happening this period”.
She also attributed the lull in economic activities to poor economy in the country, COVID-19 pandemic and the EndSARS protest across the country.
Egbichi noted that many people were passing through difficult times, with some even finding it difficult to feed, not to talk of shopping for the season.
According to her, “Money is not flowing in this country and remember, many people lost their jobs during the Coronavirus period; so what would they use to buy things in the market?
“Another challenge is that things are extremely expensive and the cost is rising on daily basis. Go round the shops in Port Harcourt, you will see that shops are virtually empty”.
Mrs Egbichi, who has a foodstuff shop at Elekahia Market, also lamented the high cost of purchase in the market due to high exchange rate.
“My neighbour went to buy drinks for sales on Monday and came back with her money because the prices were so high. A bag of local rice by this time last year was between N18,000 and N19,000, but now, a bag of Nigerian rice is N26,000. Foreign rice is N38,000.
“A bag of beans is now N40,000 as against N25,000 sold by this period last year. One rubber of iron beans is N1,800. One tuber of yam that cost N600 last year now goes for N1,700, while a carton of tin tomatoes by 48 is sold at N13,000 as against N4,500 the previous year.
“Government at all levels should do something about the situation of the country.
“Those in the North are fully supported by their government in accessing loans and grants, but here, those in charge will even extort money from the poor masses and still use people’s names to get the money for their personal use”, she alleged.

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Small Talk

SMEDAN Unveils Grants For 600 Micro Enterprises In FCT

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The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) has empowered 600 micro businesses in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under its Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS).
The Director General of SMEDAN, Dr Dikko Radda, presented letters of award to the beneficiaries at the inauguration of the scheme on Friday in Abuja.
While addressing participants, Radda said the micro enterprises sub-sector needed to be strengthened because it was a critical area in the Nigerian enterprise development space.
According to him, the sector collectively accounts for a vast majority of businesses in Nigeria and also accounts for the highest number of jobs created in the economy.
“It is important to note that over 90 per cent of the micro enterprises are informal and populated by people at the bottom of the pyramid.
“Hence, the need for the agency to conceptualise a flagship programme referred to as Conditional Grant Scheme for micro enterprises in Nigeria.
“The justification for a special entrepreneurship and vocational development intervention for entrepreneurs at the bottom of the pyramid cannot be overemphasised .
“This is to graduate the informal enterprises to the formal sector, industrialise the nation, develop rural economy, stem youth restiveness and unemployment, and create the platform for sustainable economic growth and development in Nigeria.”
Radda said that the CGS initiative was geared toward promoting the activities of micro enterprises across the country in the areas of capacity building.
He said that the scheme was also for the delivery of post-intervention services such as access to finance, markets, workplace and technology, among others.
The SMEDAN chief said that the pilot phase of the project was conducted in 2017 in the six geo-political zones in Katsina, Gombe, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom and Benue states.
He said that the scheme was currently taking place in Kaduna, Yobe, Abia and Delta States and the FCT.
He said in achieving the objectives of the programme, SMEDAN would be working in partnership with other stakeholders including Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), business development service providers, state and local governments and the Corporate Affairs Commision.(CAC)
“Considering the socio-economic impact on the enterprises of the beneficiaries, the agency wishes to extend the programme to other states of the federation, subject to availability of project funds,” Radda said.

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