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Sokoto Govt, BoI to disburse N2b to small businesses



Sokoto Government and the Bank of Industries (BoI) will disburse the sum of N2b to support small scale businesses in the state.

Already, the state government said it has released its counterpart fund of N1 billion to BoI for the scheme.

Malam Imam Imam, the Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs to Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, stated this while fielding questions from reporters in his office in Sokoto.

“All necessary processes have been concluded and we expect disbursements to start soon after a thorough screening by both the Sokoto State Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency (SOSMEDA) and the BoI.

“We hope to support these entrepreneurs to enable them improve on their businesses. A large section of the beneficiaries will be women. By engaging more female entrepreneurs, government is seeking to enhance their economic status which will have ripple effect on the economy of the state in general.

“As for all the beneficiaries, we believe this support will allow them to be more self-reliant and create additional employment opportunities,” he added.

The media aide noted that the terms of the MoU with the Bank of Industry stipulate that the N2b fund will focus on micro, small and medium scale enterprises.

“This is important because SMEs are critical component in implementing the industrialization policy of this administration.

“Sokoto state government is determined to give the people all the required support to improve their businesses. The government thereby urges our entrepreneurs, businessmen and women to partner with government to ensure the success of this important policy,” he stated.

Malam Imam said the government will continue to explore avenues to support businesses in the state, adding that government’s decision to set up SOSMEDA was done to harness the potential in the sector for the benefit of the citizenry.

“As you are aware, the role of small-scale enterprises in changing the fortune of a given society cannot be over-emphasized. Globally, there has been decisive shift of emphasis from the capital-intensive, large-scale industrial projects to small and medium scale industries because of their enormous potentials for rapid and sustainable development.

“Apart from their prospect of ensuring a self-reliant industrialization, in terms of ability to rely largely on local raw materials, small scale enterprises are also in a better placed to boost employment and guarantee a more even distribution of development in the state, especially the rural areas,” he added.


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Why I Support Restructuring – Dogara  



Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has expressed support for auditing and restructuring the existing federal system to give a sense of belonging to all Nigerians
He said that for true federalism to be achieved in Nigeria, a unique system of federalism that best suits Nigerian people and the local circumstances in the country must be created, in addition to having leaders who are visionary, selfless, prudent, intelligent and indefatigable and having integrity and honour.
He said these while speaking on the topic, “Reforming the Nigerian Federation: Which Way Forward”, at the 3rd annual Political Summit organised by the Save Democracy Africa in Abuja.

The Speaker noted that “The talk of Nigeria’s successor genuine federalism can no longer hold waters giving the state of internal insurgencies, divisiveness, ethnic and religious schism witnessed in several parts of Nigeria. Efforts at wishing away the problem associated with Nigerian federation have only resulted in several tribal, ethnic and religious movements that have even metamorphosed into terrorist syndicates.
“One can, therefore, no longer fold his arms but engage some of the issues that have confronted us as a nation and threatened the Nigerian federation. This forum provides one of the opportunities for such interrogation. Accordingly, I commend the organisers for bringing this issue to the front burner once again.
“That Nigeria could survive despite predictions to the contrary by the World Powers not only portrays a ray of hope but also demonstrate that Nigerian Federation has come to stay.
“It is therefore incumbent on us to fashion out our own type of federalism that is best suited to our people and to local circumstances. There should be genuine efforts to build the nation. Therefore ethnic, religious and sectional agenda should take back place. The essence of federalism is to foster unity and development. This has, however, not been achieved.
Consequently, the recruitment processes of our elective office holders are being re-visited in the Electoral Amendment Bill to ensure that the system is able to recruit the best at all strata of leadership. We need leaders who are visionary, selfless, prudent, intelligent and indefatigable and having integrity and honour.”

He added that the current National Assembly has shown enough determination to ensure that the Federation of Nigeria is managed effectively for the good of every citizen in its several initiatives to address imbalances.
 He also added that to take Nigeria to its pride of place, a reorientation of Nigerians to address the political and economic malaise they face must be addressed, along with every other possible measure to take Nigeria to where it rightly belongs among the comity of Nations given her huge and rich minerals and agricultural resources, and population.
Hon Dogara stated, “There should be massive awareness to change the mindsets of the rulers and the ruled. This is where there is the need for proper education and awareness for both the rulers and the ruled. I challenge our tertiary institutions to break the disconnect between them and the political institutions and industries not only to fashion out the appropriate curriculum to drive this new orientation to confront our political and economic malaise but also to lead cutting-edge research in providing correct local solutions to our diverse of problems.”
He also identified the pedestals upon which Nigerian Federation has thrived over the years as multi-party system that allows wider participation in the political process, equity distributive principles of revenue from the Federation Account, states creation, special intervention programme to address specific problems where there are genuine cases of imbalance, marginalisation and injustice such as NDDC and NEDC,  growing synergy and improved communication between the National Assembly and the Executive, the judiciary, practice of federal character in the composition and conduct of public institutions at state and federal levels.
The speaker also identified some emerging issues in Nigeria’s federation political gerrymandering, corruption and nepotism, state creation and boundary delimitation, electoral boundary manipulation that discriminates against voters on account of tribe, language, religion, or related status.
“The same is also true of boundary adjustments, state creation and Local Governments in Nigeria. The minority tribes have complained of being short-changed. The issue of fiscal federalism and resource control. The allocation of revenue in Nigeria is presently heated as there are always allegations and counter-allegations of manipulations against the federal government by states. There are also allegations of zero allocation to local governments by states despite very clear constitutional provisions. In addition, there has been complaint of total neglect of the states that generate the revenue as such the derivative formula has been very contentious.

There is over concentration of powers and responsibilities on the federal government. There are several responsibilities that can better be handled by the states. The power sharing between the Federal Government and the states will have to be revisited and the issue of the autonomy of local governments in Nigeria which state Houses of Assembly keep voting against,” he further stated.

Hon Dogara, therefore, stressed the need to fashion out our own type of federalism that is best suited to our people and to local circumstances, with genuine efforts to build the nation, the need for proper education and awareness for both the rulers and the ruled, awareness and re-orientation on the issue of political gerrymandering, and vesting the responsibility of delaminating constituencies to the Boundary Commission as is the case in several countries like Britain.
He added, “The issue of resource control must be properly addressed. The communities where those resources are found should be adequately compensated. The Host Community Bill initiated by the House of Representatives on the Oil and Gas industry will be a test case. The call for resource control may by implication have a semblance of territorial devolution.”

The speaker noted that since assumption of the 8th House of Representatives, they have engaged the executive (mostly ministers and heads of parastatals) in several sectoral debates at plenary and have enacted cutting edge legislations in emerging, reviewed over 300 laws with the hope of bringing them in tune with modern realities and has been guided by the need to adjust our political, social and economic system to meet local circumstances and engraft the existing laws to conform.

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Man arrested with 16 cartons of fake food seasoning product



The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Abia State Office, has arrested one Samuel Akin Chukwu for faking a food seasoning product owned by another importer.

The Abia State Coordinator of NAFDAC, Mr Olisa Okeke, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Aba.

Okeke said that Chukwu claimed in his preliminary statement that he was not the importer but only an agent to an importer in Onitsha, Anambra, who brought in the fake products.

He said that the original product was imported from South Africa by a Nigerian, who had been the sole distributor until the fakers went to China to produce the adulterated version.

He said that the importer of the spice registered it with NAFDAC and had been renewing the registration with a record of good business until the fakers went to reproduce it in China.

“After surveillance, we were able to isolate the warehouse and with the support of the Nigerian army, the warehouse was stormed and we arrested Samuel Akin Chukwu and confiscated about 16 cartoons of the product.

“We were also able to retrieve some cartons from two persons who had bought the fake products and were leaving the shop on our arrival,” he said.

According to the NAFDAC Coordinator, the agency confiscated a total of 26 cartons of the fake product from Chukwu and his customers.

Okeke descried the Eziukwu Market in Aba as the centre for high volume of trade in food items, adding that some dubious persons used the opportunity to manufacture fake food products.

“Eziukwu is a market that NAFDAC Abia office has its eyes on because of the activities of nefarious individuals in from time to time.”

He said that NAFDAC would continue to raid the market until producers of fake products were thrown out of business to eradicate the menace of poisoning of citizens for the sake of monetary gains.

Okeke thanked the residents who gave NAFDAC the tip-off and urged them to always inform the agency of suspicious activities around them.

NAN reports that the product is named “Benny Powdered Chicken Stock” with the image of the head of a cockerel in front of the pack.

The original product has a set of three sachets joined horizontally with the expiry date written on a black patch but the fake version has a set of five joined vertically and without a black patch. (NAN)

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Alleged N4.7bn fraud: Witness’ absence stalls Ladoja, aide’s trial



The absence of a prosecution witness yesterday stalled further hearing in the trial of a former Oyo State Governor, Senator Rashidi Ladoja and one of his aides, Waheed Akanbi, over alleged N4.7 billion before Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos.

The duo were on December 14, 2016, re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before the court on an 8-count charge of money laundering, contrary to Section 17(a) and punishable under Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Monday, EFCC’s lawyer, Oluyinka Olabisi, told the court that the witness, who is a Director in Oyo State civil service, is currently leading a team in discussion with some officials of the World Bank somewhere in Lagos.

While seeking an adjournment till today, the lawyer assured of the witness’ presence in court.

In the absence of any opposition from defence lawyers; Bolaji Onilenla and Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, the judge adjourned further hearing in the trial till today.

The anti-graft agency had earlier in November 2008 arraigned the accused persons on a 10-count charge over the alleged offence before Justice Ramat Mohammed, who was then serving at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.

Some of the counts against the accused persons read as thus:

“That you Chief Rasheed Ladoja and Waheed Akanbi, sometimes in 2007, at Ibadan Oyo State within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court converted the sum of N1, 932,940,032.48, property of Oyo State Government, through the account of Heritage Apartments Limited at GTB, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of crime with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said crime and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.

“That you, Chief Rasheed Ladoja sometimes in 2007, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court used the sum of N728, 600,000.00 knowing that the money represented the proceeds of a criminal conduct with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said crime and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 16(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.

“That you Chief Rasheed Ladoja, sometimes in 2007, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court removed the sum of £600,000 from Nigeria and gave same to one, Bimpe Ladoja, in London knowing that the amount represented proceeds of a criminal conduct with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said crime and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 16(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004”.

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