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Etisalat Loan Issue: CBN, NCC To Intervene …Network Firm Dispels Banks Takeover Rumour

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The Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) yesterday said the Commission and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had moved to intervene in the Etisalat loan issue.
The Director of Public Affairs of NCC, Mr Tony Ojobo said this in a statement issued in Abuja.
“After a meeting yesterday afternoon in Abuja between the Executive Vice Chairman of  NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta and the CBN Governor,  Mr Godwin Emefiele and his team, a decision was reached to intervene in the loan issue between Etisalat Nigeria and a consortium of commercial banks.
“The meeting which was held at the CBN in Abuja was convened by the financial regulator at the instance of NCC and the telecom regulator to further deliberate on how best to stop the attempt by the banks to take over Etisalat.
“At the end of the meeting, the CBN agreed to invite Etisalat management and the banks to a meeting tomorrow, Friday, toward finding an amicable resolution,’’ he said.
Ojobo said that the NCC as a regulator of the telecom industry had moved quickly to intervene earlier in the week by reaching out to the CBN because it was convinced of the negative impact such takeover move would have on the industry.
He added that NCC was worried about the fate of the over 20 million Etisalat subscribers and the wrong signals this might send to potential investors in the Telecom industry.
It was reported that on March 8, Etisalat was had been taken over by three banks because of its N541.8 billion debt.
However, our correspondent who spoke with the Head of Public Relations, Etisalat Nigeria, Ms Oluseyi Osuntedo, dispelled the talk that banks had taken over the company.
Osuntedo told newsmen in Lagos that discussions were still ongoing between the banks and the company.
“Discussions are going on; nobody is taking up the company.
“It is not true that we are being picketed, whoever gave the information is not telling the truth,” she said.
A consortium of some foreign and Nigerian banks, including Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank and Zenith Bank, have been having a running battle with the mobile telephone operator, over a loan facility totalling 1.72 billion dollars (about N541.8 billion) obtained in 2015.
The banks said their attempt to recover the loan by all means, was fuelled by the pressure from the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), demanding immediate cut down on the rate of their non-performing loans.
NCC appears not to be favourably disposed to the takeover proposal as it believed that Etisalat is not only a viable going concern, but also willing and able to negotiate the servicing of its loans.
Etisalat is Nigeria’s fourth largest telecoms operator with about 21 million subscribers as at January 2017, according to the NCC.
Meanwhile, the Head of Public Relations, Etisalat Nigeria, Ms Oluseyi Osuntedo, yesterday dispelled the rumour that banks had taken over the company.
Osuntedo told newsmen in Lagos that talks were still ongoing between the banks and the company.
She said that the company was not being picketed as rumoured by some people, adding that whoever was giving the information was not telling the truth.
“Discussions are going on; nobody is taking up the company.
“It is not true that we are being picketed, whoever gave the information is not telling the truth,” she said.
Our correspondent who visited the company’s Head Office at Banana Island also confirmed that the scenario at the office was calm and business going on as usual.
Reports that Etisalat on March 8 was reported to have been taken over by three banks because of their alleged N541.8 billion debt.
Despite the intervention of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to broker a peaceful resolution between Etisalat Nigeria and a consortium of banks, it appears the effort may not have yielded a truce.
It said that the consortium of some foreign and Nigerian banks, including Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank and Zenith Bank, have been having a running battle with the mobile telephone operator, over a loan facility totalling $1.72 billion (about N541.8 billion) obtained in 2015.
Our correspondent reports that the loan, which involved a foreign-backed guaranty bond, was for Etisalat to finance a major network rehabilitation and the expansion of its operational base in Nigeria.
However, Etisalat failed to meet its debt servicing schedule, agreed since 2016, for which they were reported to the banking sector regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and its communications sector counterpart, the NCC.
Etisalat was said to have blamed its inability to fulfil its obligation to the banks on the current economic recession in Nigeria.
The banks said their attempt to recover the loan by all means, was fuelled by the pressure from the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), demanding an immediate cut down on the rate of their non-performing loans.

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Shell Donates Subsea Training Facilities To UNIPORT

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The Nigeria deep-water arm of global energy giant, Shell, has donated multimillion naira laboratory equipment and software packages to the Offshore Technology Institute of the University of Port Harcourt as part of the company’s Nigerian content human capital development programme delivered in collaboration with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Speaking at a ceremony to hand over the facilities to the university, last Thursday, Managing Director, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo), Mrs. Elohor Aiboni, said, “The donations are aimed at strengthening advanced practical teaching and research in subsea engineering to give the students the required skills and competences for entry level jobs in the oil and gas industry”.
The facilities, valued at over $700,000, are in alignment with the Human Capacity Development Guideline of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
Aiboni, represented by SNEPCo’s Social Investment Manager, Dr. Gloria Udoh, expressed optimism that with the level of investment by NNPC and SNEPCo in deep-water training via the establishment centres of excellence and donation of cutting-edge information and communication technology centres, among others, Nigerian oil and gas industry would surpass its local content aspiration earlier than projected.
“This investment anchored on the maintenance of subsea infrastructure on Nigeria’s pioneer deep offshore field, Bonga, is expected to develop and upskill the cognitive and technical abilities of students who pass through the Offshore Technology Institute for the ultimate benefit of our industry and of our country,” Aiboni added.
With the new laboratory and software packages, according to Aiboni, the Offshore Technology Institute is positioned to deliver effective training in engineering design; construction and installation of offshore and subsea structures; computer simulations; civil and construction tests; 3D printing/engravement capability; Measurement/Metering Technology and Robotics; Alternative Energy Technologies; and Data Acquisition Learning System.
In his remarks, Vice Chancellor, University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Onwunari Georgewill, commended NNPC and SNEPCo with its co-venture partners for their goodwill to the university and particularly to OTI, and canvassed more areas of collaboration between the university and its industry partners.
Georgewell said, “This project’s completion is timely because it latches on to the university’s leadership philosophy, which focuses on advancing education through an integrated learning environment to produce industry-ready university graduates and workforce.
“The current administration of the university places a lot of emphasis on university and industry collaboration and partnership. This donation will therefore enhance the achievement of the postgraduate degree-awarding Offshore Technological Institute in the practical context.”
Also speaking, Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr. Simbi Wabote, described the human capital initiatives of SNEPCo as commendable.
Wabote added, “I commend your remarkable and consistent collaboration and partnership with the NCDMB towards the development of in-country capacities and capabilities.”
Represented by NCDMB General Manager, Corporate Service and Logistics, Mr Halilu Abdulmalik, Wabote said, “Your Nigerian content initiatives are consistent with the objectives and aspirations of NCDMB’s 10-year strategic roadmap, and we hope that necessary adjustments will be made to the curriculum to ensure optimal utilization by students in the university community.”

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Obasanjo, Osinbajo, Wike, Others Bag CAN Awards

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and Mummy Esther Ajayi, were among prominent Nigerians who received awards at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Sapphire awards in Abuja, last weekend.
Others, including Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, and Chief Arthur Eze, also received awards at the event; while the kidnapped Dapchi school, Leah Sharibu, won in the Young Christian Achiever award category.
Former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, and Goodluck Jonathan, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustafa, and some Christian governors, serving and past National Assembly members bagged awards.
The awards were part of activities for CAN’s 45th Anniversary Sapphire Celebration Dinner and Award Night.
Earlier in his welcome address, CAN National President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, had said that the gathering was to celebrate 45 years of the church in Nigeria.
He said that Governance Category awards were for Christians in politics who had shown excellent and remarkable services.
“These include past presidents, serving governors and senators in our assessment that deserve such award.
“An award ceremony is applause of vision, personal discipline and determination; it is an event like this that makes people feel that their works are valued.
“The award is a catalyst that is expected to reinforce the awardees to serve humanity more and more,’’ he said.
The CAN president said it was heart breaking that majority of those in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps were Christians who were displaced by religious fanatics, bandits and gunmen in their territories.
He solicited the awardees’ financial support in fulfilling some of CAN’s obligations to fellow Christians and bringing to fruition the association’s projects.
Obasanjo, who was represented by the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, was the special guest of honour at the awards.
Obasanjo said that the award was significant in that it would encourage other citizens to serve humanity, adding “I will continue to do the best I can to uphold the principles of justice, love, equity, mutual respect, industry and the fear of God which epitomise the church of Christ until there’s no breath left in me.”
While showing appreciation to CAN on behalf of all the award recipients, VP Osinbajo said Nigerians needed to be more tolerant of other people’s views.
The vice president dedicated the award to those who, daily in different locations, distant and near, propagated the message of the love and reconciliation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, sometimes in difficult and life-threatening situations.
He said that the awardees were not necessarily the most deserving of Christians to be given any recognition but by the special grace of God which placed them in the high capacity they served.
He said, “As we have seen in the past few years, there’s a growing ethnic and religious chauvinism, and almost intemperate, vehement and violent dismissal of the views of people of other persuasions and faith without adequate consideration.
“At the same time, there is also the rise of cultural and identity politics. The answer to hate and intolerance and conflicts is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must believe enough in it, to live it out as our article of faith.
“The gospel commands consideration of the views of others, treating them we would wish to be treated. Our words must be of grace, seasoned with salt.
“We must remain constant and relentless advocates of freedom of worship, respect for human rights, fairness, justice, rule of law because they are fundamental to peace and security. We cannot talk of peace and security without fairness and justice, and compliance with the rule of law.
“We are in the advantageous position that our contribution will be more easily noticed.
“So, this award is dedicated to the men who, daily in different locations, distant and near propagate this message of the love and reconciliation of the gospel of Jesus Christ in sometimes even difficult and life-threatening situations.
“And to many who have suffered deprivations, the families of those who have lost their lives by reason of their belief.
“And we are deeply grateful to the Almighty God for the opportunity and enablement to serve in the positions to which we have been referred.
“I bring, also, the very warm felicitations of the President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government of Nigeria on the 45th anniversary of the birth of this foremost association of Nigerian Christians.
“CAN was formed to, among other objectives, nurture the unity of the church in Nigeria and to work with the leaders of other faith and persuasions to build bridges and forge understanding, peace and unity among the various people and faith in our nation.
“CAN has not only been continually faithful to its founding vision, it has become a veritable force for peace, for unity and for social justice.
“Pursuant to the gospel, CAN has consistently spoken up on behalf of the least of those in our society,’’ he said.
He said that the current and past leaderships of CAN had acted in full realiasation and recognition of their roles as pivotal stakeholders alongside the government and private sector in nation building.
Earlier, Senator Rochas Okorocha, who noted the dire financial condition of the umbrella Christian organisation in the country, advised clerics to tone down their criticism of those in authority.
He said, “I just want to caution some Christian pastors concerning the way we use our pulpit and the kind of fire of insults and abuses that comes from there. When you abuse those who will give you money where will you get the money.
“The Bible says to pray for those in authority. You need to draw your leaders close. When you draw us closer and tell us what your problems are, it will energise us to help. Money will flow more than you need.”
Also, Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, who sheltered no fewer than 200 Christians in Barkin Ladi, Plateau, during an attack, was presented with the Special Recognition award.
The late Obadiah Mailafia, former CBN Deputy Governor, was given a post-humous award of Spokesperson for Oppressed alongside Matthew Kukah, Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto and Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana.
Awards were also given to best candidates in the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and Senior School Certificate Examination.
Highlight of the event was the cutting of the anniversary cake.

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Bandits Free 10 More Kaduna Baptist Students, Keep 11

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The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), yesterday, confirmed that 10 more students of Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna State have been released.
The Vice President of CAN (19 Northern States and Abuja) and its Chairman in Kaduna State, Rev. Joseph John Hayab, said this in a short WhatsApp message to newsmen.
He said, “Ten more students of Baptist High School were released this afternoon. We have 11 now with bandits.
“We are thanking all Nigerians for their prayers and support.
“We are trusting God that the rest will be released very soon. All have been reunited with their parents.”
Earlier, 10 students of Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna were released on Saturday, September 18, after spending 74 days captivity of terrorists, with 22 others still being held.
Hayab had said, “10 students were released this (Saturday) evening and have reunited with their parents. We are now hoping for the remaining 21 who are still with the bandits.”

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