The Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas Company (NLNG) says it has economically empowered over 249 co-operative groups with over N125million under its economic empowerment scheme.
The economic empowerment scheme is a conglomerate of NLNG’s poverty alleviation programme with the key objective of facilitating know-how and competency transfer toward building greater capacity for wealth generation and self reliance.
Speaking at an event tagged “NLNG Economic Empowerment and Development Day in Port Harcourt, NLNG’s General Manager, External Relations, Siene Allwell-Brown said the move was the company’s corporate policy to encourage local enterprise through the mirco-finance scheme (MFS), Business Development Advisory Support Services (BDASS), Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) and NLNG Agro Enterprise Development Programme.
According to Allwell-Brown, the scheme was designed with exceptional level of community participation, adding that the programme addresses the needs of the different segments of the primary host communities populace in skill acquisition for indigent and enterprising youths, agro support for farmers and fishermen and mini to medium scale businesses.
She expressed satisfaction at the turn out of participants, speakers, practitioners and stakeholders who partnered with the company to accomplish the goals of the scheme.
Similarly, whilst giving a detailed account of the high points of the scheme, the Manager, Community Relations and Development, Andy Odeh stated that though economic empowerment was the arrowhead of the company’s sustainable development agenda, it also stood as a component of an integrated development outlook in NLNG /CSR initiatives.
Odeh was quick to add that though the programmes had commenced separately, the over-arching idea was to identify and implement economic development schemes that optimize the utilisation of local resources, skills and expertise in the host communities, to stimulate the initiation and growth of self sustaining economic development activities. It also aimed at promoting economic self reliance through value adding business development, capacity building and management support services to encourage the emergence of entrepreneurs, increased incomes and employment opportunities that would lead to economic independence and social inclusion of the communities.
According to Andy Odeh, the micro-finance scheme was implemented via a three pronged approach, highlighting NLNG partnerships with institutions i.e. CBN/NLNG/FBN Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme, regular NLNG micro credit scheme and the Village Savings and Loans [VSL] approach, which propagates formation of Accumulated Savings and Credit Associations [ASCA’s]. “Thus far, over 249 cooperative groups have been empowered with well over N125 million. Correspondingly, the Youth Empowerment Scheme boasts of over 500 trainees with an approx. 5 batches of training, in 12 trade outlets across Port Harcourt. Successful trainees are immediately equipped with tools or “starter packs” of their vocation of choice and hooked up with the micro-finance scheme if able to form a cooperative. He said “this strategy is responsible for the schemes success with 35 per cent of graduated trainees currently productively engaged at their various businesses”.
The NLNG Agro Enterprise Development Action [N-AGENDA] on the other hand, he said was rooted on agro focus non-financial support services. With strategic partnerships with Songhai Farms in Benin Republic, the National Root Crops Research Institute in Umudike [NRCRI] and the Africa Regional Aqua-cultural Centre [ARAC], trainings and exposure in cultivation, processing and marketing of crops has been made possible for over 300 farmers following a road show and symposia on agriculture that witnessed the attendance of over 5,000 farmers from the host communities.
The Business Development and Advisory Support Services [BDASS], he said was established to support entrepreneurs to improve performance and productivity. It is aimed at assisting current and potential beneficiaries of the micro-finance scheme, set the right and appropriate business priorities to aid accurate business decisions.
Beneficiaries of the NLNG economic empowerment scheme who have been very successful in their businesses and showcased products and services includes Village Savings and Loans Association Champions [VSL]; Juliet E. K. Halliday and Mrs. Emilia Hart both of Bonny, Chief Mman Wosu of Emohua, Nne-Omanugbo Group of Mbuetor and Umu Oma Young Farmers from Idu Obosiukwu in Ogba.
In the Business Development and Advisory Support [BDASS] category, top success stories are of Sunday Ansalemi from Elok in Abua, Nebu Chimezie of Ubeta, Mrs. Sabinah Igwe from Rumuakunde in Emohua. Others are Mr. Luke Ekine Uzorma, Mrs. Fyne Alfred, Jumbo Boma Princewill in the NLNG Agro-Enterprise Development Action [N-AGENDA] category.
Mirco-Finance Scheme [MFS] celebrates the Akugbo Women Farmers Cooperative, Chimenma Mgbuitanwon Cooperative and Omoku Seamstresses Cooperative while the Youth Empowerment Scheme [YES] champions, include Hephzibah Industrious Co-operative Society of Bonny, Ikem Oyenkachi Mercelina from Amadi-Ama community and Ibiere. E. Sokari.
Activities to commemorate the 2010 Economic Empowerment and Development Day featured paper presentations by Mr. Oluwatoyin Alabi, Managing Director/Chief Executive Offcier, The Promise Fast Foods – a rapid growing restaurant and open-door catering outfit in Port Harcourt – on ‘Poverty to Wealth’ and the place of agriculture by Mr. Adekunle Ogunwomoju, Chief Executive Officer of Farm Support Services. Also on the line-up of activities, are award presentations to 19 individuals and groups for excelling in their businesses and exhibitions of wares and services to expose beneficiaries to market opportunities and other funding institutions.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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