Scientists Move Doomsday Clock Close to Midnight, Cite Trump as Major Cause

U.S. President Donald Trump’s “ill-considered” comments about expanding the U.S. nuclear arsenal are among the reasons a group of nuclear scientists on Thursday moved their symbolic doomsday clock 30 seconds closer to midnight.

The scientists, who have been assessing global security for 70 years, said the global security landscape “darkened” last year for a number of reasons, but cited Trump’s statements in particular.

“The president’s intemperate statements, lack of openness to expert advice, and questionable cabinet nominations have already made a bad international security situation worse,” the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said.

Dooms day clock over the years. Courtesy: AFP

Lawrence Krauss, a physicist and member of the bulletin’s board, said moving the clock to two-and-a-half minutes before midnight is historic.

“The clock has not been closer to midnight in 64 years,” he said at a news conference.

In addition they cited his “disturbing comments” about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons for their decision to move the clock and his questioning of climate change.

But the scientists also said the international community failed to “come effectively to grips” with both nuclear weapons and climate change last year.

Beyond the election of Trump the scientists listed a number of other reasons for their assessment, including strains in relations between the U.S. and Russia, which together possess more than 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons, and North Korea’s underground nuclear tests.

The doomsday clock first appeared 70 years ago as a graphic on the first cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists magazine.

Over the decades the scientists have recognised climate change as an additional threat, and in their report said “it could change life on Earth as we know it”.

Nigeria Takes Over Malabu Oil Block

Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja has given an order ceding control of the lucrative oil block, Oil Prospecting License, OPL 245, to the Federal Government pending investigation and prosecution of suspects in the $1.1billion Malabu Oil scam.

The order followed an ex parte motion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, requesting that “ the property known as Oil Prospecting License (OPL 245) be managed by the Department of Petroleum Resources on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria pending the conclusion of investigation and prosecution”, of companies and individuals named in connection with acts of conspiracy bribery, official corruption and money laundering in the Malabu oil scam.

The controversial OPL 245, was said to have been acquired from the Federal Government by Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in hazy circumstances in 1998 and afterwards sold to oil giants, Shell and Agip, in opague transactions.

The EFCC had on December 20, 2016, charged nine suspects, including a former attorney general and minister of justice, Mohammed Adoke, with respect to the $1.1bn scam.

Other accused persons named in the charges filed by the EFCC before a Federal High Court in Abuja, were Dan Etete, Aliyu Abubakar, Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd, Rocky Top Resource Ltd, Imperial Union Ltd, Novel Properties & Dev. Co. Ltd, Group Construction Ltd, Megatech Engineering Ltd.


When Osun Pensioners Lauded Governor Aregbesola, By Inwalomhe Donald

The oppositions in Osun should stop using the name of pensioners to erect camp in the State. They should come out openly and criticize positively. The pensioners numbering about 200, in conjunction with opposition members led by a retired judge in the state Judiciary, who erected a camp, have forgotten that in 2015, Osun committed a total of N5, 426, 720, 195. 68 to pay pensions in spite of the very difficult financial stress the state found itself. In 2016, the state also committed a total of N3, 981, 312, 918.78 to payment of pensions.

However, my joy is that over 3,000 Members of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Osun State under the aegis of Triangular Group of Pensioners have lauded the state governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola for paying the arrears of their pension up to December 2016. The pensioners staged a peaceful procession in Osogbo, the state capital at the weekend to demonstrate their supports to Aregbesola’s administration and assured the governor of their unalloyed loyalty.

The NUP Chairman, Prince Rotimi Adelugba said the pensioners were grateful to Aregbesola for his magnanimity and cautioned other retired civil servants in the state not to play dirty politics with the issue of the payment of the pension by the state government.

He said “The state government set up a committee headed by a veteran labour leader and former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Hassan Sumonu to fine-tune the issue of salary and pension payment in the state and suggest the best approach to the salary and pension issues in the state”.

“The committee comprised leaders of labour unions in the state and after a comprehensive analysis of the financial situation of the state, the committee proffered a way forward and we all saw reasons to accept the recommendation of the committee in the best interest of the generality of the workers, pensioners and the good people of our dear state”.

“We all agree that the state government should not downsize because we didn’t want any worker in the state to be sacked. Therefore, the only option we had was to agree with the modulated salary scheme in which the junior officers from level 01 to level 07 would get their full salary but the senior staff from level 08 and above would be earning half of their salary and the same thing applicable to the pensioners”.

“It was agreed that the modulated salary would be revisited once the economy of the state improves and that was exactly what Governor Aregbesola did recently when the modulated salary scheme was reviewed upward. The governor has never reneged in this arrangement but some retirees allowed politicians to use them to embarrass the state and that was unfortunate”.

“Though, we also need the money but we realised that we must show understanding since we also know the financial status of Osun State government. The state government has paid up our pension up till December 2016. We are aware that the payment of pension gulp N9.4 from the coffers of the state government and this is commendable”.

He said the retirees in the state want more from the state government and urged the governor to sustain the payment of their monthly pension. He also urged the governor to create special units in all state hospital where senior citizens including the pensioners would be attended to when they need medical attention.

“We also commend our dear governor Aregbesola for his love for the workers and the pensioners in the state. The governor paid the backlog of the arrears of 142 per-cent of pension increase to eligible pensioners. We are grateful to Governor Aregbesola for jacking up the monthly pension bill from N200 million to 600 million”, the NUP chairman said.

The retirees terminated the procession at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park and held special prayers in Islamic and Christianity ways. They offered prayers for Osun State and Nigeria and sought the intervention of God on the economic recession that has bedevilled the nation in which Osun state was not exempted.

Speaking on the occasion, Governor Rauf Aregbesola who was invited to the venue by the pensioners as a special guest expressed delight that a huge number of retirees in the state acknowledged his commitment to their welfare and assured them that the New Year would be better than last year. The governor said “we implemented 142 per cent increase in pension which other rich and buoyant states including Lagos has not implemented. No state government has paid as much as we have paid pensioners in Osun. I paid 9.5 billion to pensioners alone.”

Our various governments (past and present) in this country are not wicked and selfish, within the limit of the available resources they have paid gratuities and pension arrears in bulk and some in installments that would help pensioners to build or buy their own houses with their pension arrears paid. Aregbesola has paid Osun pensioners gratuities and pension arrears that, by the grace of God, were still alive to collect and enjoy their pension arrears which may enable them to own their own houses in their life time after working for many years without being able to build houses of their own! In short, Aregbesola’s sensible position was that payment of arrears of pensions and gratuities should never be staggered.

The reasonable thing Aregbesola has done is the payment to the pensioners, a lump sum of the arrears of their pensions and most delayed gratuities at once. As Christmas and the New Year festivities were fast approaching, Osun workers and pensioners had prepared to face the gloom of unpaid salaries and pensions, but in December 2016, thanks to the Paris Club refund that enabled the government clear salary and pension arrears according to agreement, Osun Pensioners enjoyed themselves to no limit with their families

It was based on this that, the group of pensioners, Triangular Pensioners Forum led by Mr. Rotimi Adelugba, organised a big party to thank the governor for paying the pensions and gratuities of retirees in the state. Adelugba said at the event, attended by Aregbesola, that the governor had paid a total sum of N9.4bn as pensions and gratuities. He urged members of the public to ignore the ‘propaganda’ of those trying to discredit the governor.

Inwalomhe Donald wrote in from Benin, Edo State.

Agriculture: Gov. Aregbesola Leads Delegation To Germany

Governor Rauf Aregbesola has led a delegation to Germany in search of new insights on modern agriculture in order to further realise the dream of making Osun the food basket of the South West.

This, the administration believes will help empower citizens and improve the quality of life for residents in the state.

On Saturday, the Ogbeni-led delegation stopped at Lindau, in the district of Anhalt-Bitterfeld, Germany. Ogbeni Aregbesola, came with series of questions about modern agriculture, hoping for new insights from German farmers like Arnold de Vries who the Governor visited on his sheep farm.

Arnold de Vries had taken-in two interns from Osun State for training on his farm in the summer of 2016.

Osun, is an agricultural state and significantly larger than Saxony-Anhalt, but modern agriculture is still a long shot and the Governor’s team is ambitious to close the gap.

That is why the project “Support for Capacity Building in Food Production” was launched in 2012 between States of Saxony-Anhalt in Germany and Osun in Nigeria, for youths of the state to undergo internships in modern agricultural enterprises in Saxony-Anhalt. Well over 40 Nigerians from the state of Osun have already benefited from this scheme.

This was confirmed by Ogbeni Aregbesola during his visit to Bauer de Vries in Lindau. “We have to feed our population somehow, and effective agriculture, as it is done here in Germany, can help us,” he says. His visit to Saxony-Anhalt is a kind of educational trip. However, the trip is also intended to thank the farmers who took interns in for hands-on training.

The administration has invested heavily in laying the foundations for modern agriculture in the state, and lies in wait for bountiful harvest. Recall that Ogbeni Aregbesola recently ordered the planting of 5 million plantain suckers in the state of Osun as a means of providing food for the citizenry.

Governor Rauf Aregbesola was accompanied by Speaker of the State of Osun House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Najeem Saleem, amongst other top government officials.

Nigeria Should Approach Trump From a Position of Strength By SKC Ogbonnia

Donald John Trump is finally the president of the United States of America. Expectedly, there is a palpable tension around the world. The Americans themselves have remained apprehensive. Countries in the East and the West are gripped in fervent fear. Even those in Africa are not left behind, all quivering as if though they have never encountered an American horror movie before. Nigeria, however, must not expose itself to the flitting phobia. As Mr. Trump himself would say, what the hell do we have to lose?

Actually, Nigeria may as well gain more under Donald Trump than under any other American president before him. But the path behooves a paradigm shift. Instead of maintaining subservient profile, Nigeria ought to approach Trump from a position of

The American president, remember, has begun his reign on a gratuitous promise of radical nationalism. The implication is that Trump may finally dump Nigeria’s oil for good and, of course, care less about our internal affairs. The United States may also no longer appropriate funds for humanitarian aids and petty loans to Africa. Moreover, America’s relationships with foreign countries, according to Trump, will be on mutually beneficial terms. These, to most, portend a troubling future for Nigeria-US relations.

Predicting Donald Trump, an enigma, has never been a cakewalk. Though the man is well known, everything about him is largely unknown. Therefore, even as he is set to make bold changes, the extent remains unknown. Even where known, it is difficult to figure out the cause and its course.

But I had seen the movie first hand in full glare of the main characters and their convictions. It may also interest you to know that I have been a Republican for three decades. Although I vigorously campaigned against Trump, the dissent did not stop me from penning series of articles perfectly predicting his victory, including one with the title, “Why the Weird Trump Can Win”.

Of course, campaigning against the Republican, contrary to my gut instincts and conservative values, was a difficult decision. But any attempt to stop Trump was worth the effort. His labile character remains a threat to world peace. More relatively, his fiercest venoms were directed towards the people of colour and developing nations, my native country of Nigeria well included.

Now that he is president, here is a strikingly different perspective rooted on the genius of the old saying: every disappointment is a blessing. To that end, Trump’s doctrine might turn out to be the right tonic for Nigeria after all.

His style notwithstanding, the New Yorker believes that many nations are not doing their part to sustain global peace and stability. Donald Trump is of the opinion, and rightly so, that every country must demonstrate a true sense of independence by maximizing the resources within its local environment for the good of their people. He claims to despise corruption in government and is amazed, as the ordinary folks, why those in positions of power exploit the masses.

Such concerns have every merit. In fact, one would think that Donald has Nigeria in mind in his idea of impenitent nations. But that is only half of the story.

Mr. Trump also sees anything foreign as a bad omen for America, the nation of immigrants. Even the US NATO allies, the Pope, and the Queen have suddenly become suspects. His increasingly strident rhetoric towards nations associated with Islam does not need to be rehashed here.

Now, under immense pressure to turn his quixotic worldview into a reality, Trump is desirous to make any weak country the ultimate fall guy. His recent verbal salvo on Boko Haram is a preview. But Nigeria should not fall into the open trap.

Instead, here is the silver lining in the Trump horizon. Being a cavalier personality, who acts and talks anyhow, it is not difficult to grasp his open disdain for weak leaders as well as beggarly nations. But the rationale is not exclusive. Revering the strong and bold rather than the meek has always been the American way and a vital principle of her foreign policy. However, unlike other presidents before him, Trump is only being Trump to vouchsafe the obvious. This scoop is profoundly instructive, and every developing nation has to be better for the inherent frankness.

It is incumbent upon Nigeria, therefore, to present and demonstrate a can-do outlook moving forward. For instance, rather than grappling to visit the new American leader, as in the past, the first logical bold step is to turn a blind eye to Mr. Trump—for now. Of course, there is the need to still maintain cordial relationships with the United States through the standard diplomatic missions, but it has become imperative to discard the type of master-servant mentality that did nothing but turn the African nation into a sorry spectacle.

Further, at the opportune time, Nigeria has to be proactive and demand to renegotiate relations with the United States purely from a position of strength. The requisite strengths to compel Trump to see mutual benefits are not difficult to fathom.

Start with the latent truth that Nigeria is the African “super power”, whatever that means. Combine it with the fact that the 7th largest country in the world is not only the most powerful black nation on earth, but also endowed with overflowing resources well envied worldwide. Cap off the argument with the reality that Nigeria is a bastion of exceptional talents and qualified manpower as exemplified by her citizens in the United States and other large economies. Finally, demonstrate the capacity and willingness to replicate such feat within Nigeria. If strategically presented, America will crave for Nigeria instead of the other way round. Similar to Trump’s inauguration decree, yes, it can be done. The name of the game is a new Nigerian independence. It entails maximizing the abundant resources within our local environment for the public good and promoting local goods. The rebirth also calls for Nigeria to lead Africa to solemnly demand a slot in the UN Security Council or else explore to leave the union entirely.

Frankly, Trump’s xenophobic doctrine might have finally provided Nigeria a unique opportunity to critically look inward to unleash her strengths both at home and in the world stage. In event the approach fails, there is really nothing to lose. The African nation has endured fifty-six years of passive diplomatic relation with the United States but has nothing to show besides a façade of petty aids basically designed to further the American interests. The next four years under Trump is only a pint in the ocean.

SKC Ogbonnia writes from Houston, US.

Osun Lawmaker Urges Air Force to Avoid Further Errors

A member of Osun House of Assembly, Mr Olatunbosun Oyintiloye, has condoled with families of victims involved in the accidental bombing of a civilian community in Rann IDP camp in Borno state by the Air Force.

Oyintiloye, in a statement in Osogbo said that the death of the innocent civilians in the accidental bombing was painful and regrettable.

While wishing those who were wounded in the bombing quick recovery, he commiserated with the Government and people of Borno state over the sad development.

Oyintiloye, who is the House Committee Chairman on Information and Strategy, urged the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and the military not to allow the sad incident to weaken their morale in the fight against the insurgency.

According to him, the fact still remains that everybody is pained with the loss of innocent lives at the camp but the fight against the terror group, Boko Haram should be sustained.

Oyintiloye, (Obokun-APC) said that the victory of the Nigerian Army in clearing the Sambisa forest, which is the hideout of the Boko Haram, was a strong signal that the end of the terror group had come.

While commending the NAF and Military for their sacrifices in protecting the territorial integrity of the nation, he urged them not to allow the mistake of accidental bombing to occur again.

“The accidental bombing of IDP camp in Rann in which innocent civilians lost their lives is regrettable and it is my prayer that God will console the families of the victims.

“I want to commend the NAF and the Military for their effort in bringing lasting peace to the nation but they should please always coordinate their operational strategy well to avoid this kind of sad occurrence again,” he said.

Oyintiloye also called on Federal Government to provide all the necessary help to those who were injured and the families of those who lost their lives.

A fighter jet involved in the counter-insurgency operation in the North-East on Tuesday fired at aid workers, soldiers and displaced persons in error, during which many people were killed.

Aregbesola: Saint Or Sinner?

State of Osun has come off the perennial phase of delayed salary payment at the tail of last year. It was a cheering news for the people of the state and the government. That the Governor of the state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola cleared all the outstanding salaries and arrears owed to the state workforce in the face of economic downtown and recession after a protracted union faceoff with the government is worthy of note.

It is more so because Osun is not the only state in Nigeria plagued by delayed salary occasioned by low price of crude oil, but it has become the most violently attacked government and governor. At the last count a few hours ago, 15 states out of 32 have trouble sorting out their wage obligation. That Osun has been singled out for vitriolic media attacks and constant labour unrest gives the impression that there could be other motives behind the unnecessary focus on Ogbeni or pure politics of bitterness.

The reason might not be unconnected with the personality of the governor in question whose political ideas and ideologies stance on tripod: the people, development and institution building. The trouble began for Ogbeni in 2010, when he inherited virtually a dead state with an empty treasury. Osun was one of the most indebted state in Nigeria at the time he assumed office.

The arithmetic is simple. Since allocation does not come to the state in sacks, all the borrower banks easily deduct their money at source. Sometimes they clear off the entire allocation due the state because the loan is hinged on the allocations from the federal government as
collateral! This is how Ogbeni was caught in the bind. Having subscribed to socialist democracy and welfarism and a buffer for progressive governance in the current administration across the country, there was no doubt that Nigerians wanted in Ogbeni a miracle worker in the real sense of the word.

Political ideologies shape the way individuals understand the world and how thought and action are connected directly to actual governance process in the life of any nation or state. If borrowing money from financial institutions to service the wage bill of a few civil servants in the face of economic crunch is viewed as failure of government, then the unschooled thrift collector knows a thing we do not know about financial management. If the wage bill of a few civil servants have to erase the monthly federal allocation and the internally generated revenue of the state, then the government has failed in its other contractual obligations to people, like roads and hospitals and schools and agriculture and human capital developments.

Straddling between wage commitment and other compulsory demands on his government, Ogbeni struck the bull’s eye when he said: “just last month, we spent N6.5billion out of N10 billion on salary. The human management science says that the cost of mobilizing workers to work which is called running or operation cost is one and half the cost of labour but because that is the ideal cost for mobilizing workers, if you understand what that means. Mobilization of workers means if you are engaged to take care of this place. Let’s not go very far, your salary is your salary, it is your income.

“The tools we need to work here must be provided by your employer and everything pertaining to your work here. The only aspect of your wage that is related to your work that will not be reimbursed or that is assumed to be included in your wage is the cost of movement from your house to your place of work, when you get to your place of work, every other things that the job requires of you is at the cost of the employer.

“It is this that the human management science says that one and a half the cost of labour is the ideal and our own material condition could not permit us to operate at the ideal level. Let’s now say you want to operate at the sub-ideal level, half the cost of ideal of labour is one and a half times the cost of labour in the ideal form.

“You know in the normal natural form it is not half the cost of labour that you need to spend to get labour to do the work for which labour is employed. It is a science, I’m not giving you anything extraordinary but lets now say its half, half the cost of labour of N6.5billion would be N3.25billion, add N3.25billion to N6.5billion is N9.75billion, you can say it’s N10billion. It is that the people for which the workers are actually employed have. So, we must review therefore our wage structure – the number of people that must be employed to work for the state.

“If you take out the critical mass, this state must not and cannot afford the number of staff that is costing N3.6billion, N3.7billion at the same time, I am saying all of these because I know you are a thinker and don’t let anybody bamboozle you whether they can pay or not. The question you must ask is can that state even support this wage bill and then sustained it?

“It’s crazy because at the end of the day, the civil servants have to serve the people when the resources of the people cannot even sustain the civil servants, where do we have the money to serve the people and by the way, I have just picked the financial aspect, lets now go to the human aspect and proportion of the human resource. How many people take this huge money, 40,000? Lets now for the purpose of extended consideration say that each of the 40,000 have ten dependants and you must factor it in because those dependants are citizens of Osun, 10 x 40,000 is 400,000, 400,000 divided by 4,000,000 × 100 is 10%.

“What logic as human consideration will accept a situation where 10% of the population takes everything. So am not in anyway embarrassed or perplexed by the uninformed condemnation or accusation or denigration on the basis of not been able to pay. Look we are simply an unserious,
unproductive, clearly backward nation and people. Otherwise there is no justification on the basis of reasonable human assessment of performance and development to reduce a government evaluation of an administration to payment or non-payment of salary.

“What will happen to the 90% of unserviced people who do not have relationship with the workers? Finally, will even the workers not use the roads we are constructing with the money. Will they not use the schools. Will they not use all the other facilities like the ambulance that was provided to the extent the workers are still part of those that will benefit from the programmes of government, fiscal capital or service. What we must do is find a balance between the reasonable cost of labour and provision for development”?

One thing Ogbeni traducers can’t confiscate away from him or have accepted as the Gospel Truth is his landmark achievements which Osun citizens and many farsighted Nigerians described as thirty-years of development in a period of eight-years. Comrade Amitolu Shittu known for his bluntness and forthrightness and citizen of Osun says Ogbeni is a generational leader who is mandated to fill the void of absence of governance in the state and nation.

Comrade Shittu listed some of the achievements of the governor to include: 40,000 Youths Employed under the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme; 5,000 Youths trained and empowered in information communication technology under the Osun Youth Empowerment Technology
(OYESTECH), over N2.4 billion injected to the economy as allowances for the OYES Volunteers, 123 kilometres of waterways (streams, arteries, canals) dredged to keep the state flood-free, 750,000 school students provided with school uniform coupled with empowerment of 3,000 tailors, 150,000 students provided with computer tablets (oponimo), an electronic learning tool preloaded with 17 subjects, 54 textbooks, and past questions of JAMB, WAEC AND NECO of the past 10 years, introduction of bi-monthly environmental sanitation exercise under the O’CLEAN Initiative to keep the state clean.

There is the beautification of the 185 km Oyo Boundary (Asejire) to Osun-Ondo Boundary (Owena), trucks provided for a Public-Private Partnership waste management model in the state, Primary School Funding Grants increased from N7.4 million to N424 million a year, 240,000 children feed daily with nutritious meals under the Osun Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme coupled with empowerment of over 3,000 caterers.

Also, Secondary School basic funding grants from N171 million to N427 million per year, Tuition Fees in State-owned Tertiary Institutions reduced by 30%, security of lives and properties being guaranteed with provision of 25 Armoured Personnel Carrier, over 100 security patrol vehicles and one helicopter for surveillance, 2 state of the art police stations built, Internally Generated Revenue(IGR) increased from N300 million to N700 million without increasing tax payable by citizens, setting up of Omoluabi Conservation Fund with a N4.2 Billion reserve, Osun Debt Management Office established.

Others are building of the largest commercial apiary in Sub-Saharan Africa for refined honey production, over 1,765 hectares of land cleared and prepared to support farmers, Rehabilitation of farm settlements in the state Over N1 billion committed to support farmers, Building of super highways to connect Osun to Lagos and Osun to Kwara States, 81 township roads covering 128km have been upgraded all over the state.

Again, there is the Ede Water Works capacity increased from 13% to 100% capacity, over 3,000 permanent teachers employed into the state education sector, 300 km roads have been built across the 30 Local Government Areas and Ife East Area Office, Modakeke, Osun Ambulance Service Authority Established with 400 youths trained as paramedics, 9 State Hospitals and 12 comprehensive health centers have been rehabilitated in the state; 74 Primary Health Centers built, Osogbo Railway Station undergoing massive rehabilitation.

That is the quintessential unusual governor of Osun. He is of the view that balance of governance and spread of its dividend supersedes parochial mindset of a few who judge/evaluate governance performance on the basis of delayed wages or otherwise.

Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) Issues US$150 Million Maiden Sukuk

Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), a pan-African multilateral development finance institution and project developer, has issued its maiden Sukuk, the highest-rated ever Sukuk issuance from an African institution and in 2017, the first Sukuk to be issued by an African supranational entity.

Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC, commented on the announcement: “The core values of Islamic finance, the need to invest ethically in assets that have a tangible positive social impact, made a Sukuk issuance a natural choice for us. We offer global investors the chance to be involved in high-impact infrastructure projects that not only promote social and economic development across Africa but also generate economic returns for our investors.

“This Sukuk represents a milestone in our financing activities, a milestone that will enable us to further diversify our funding sources, to build new relationships with key investors in international markets and help us diversify our portfolio of projects to continue delivering real impact across the continent.”

Following high levels of investor interest, the initial target of US$100 million was more than twice oversubscribed, resulting in the transaction being upsized to US$150 million and a final order book of approximately US$230 million.

The Sukuk is AFC’s second foray into Islamic finance; the corporation accepted a US$50 million 15 year line of financing from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in 2015 to finance Islamic Finance-compliant projects located across the numerous African IDB member countries. The privately placed 100% Murabaha Sukuk, which has been awarded an A3 senior unsecured rating by Moody’s Investors Service, has a three year tenor and will mature on 24 January 2020.

Last year the corporation issued its debut Swiss Franc denominated long three-year bond, raising CHF 100 million, and accepted a US$150 million 15 year loan facility from KfW Development Bank. In 2015 AFC’s inaugural 144A/Reg S, US$750 million 5-year international bond was more than six times oversubscribed at over US$4.7 billion, attracting institutional investors from across Asia, Europe, Middle East and the United States.

Buhari Hale and Hearty, Ignore Scary Messages- Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has urged Nigerians to disregard the subversive messages being circulated via text messaging and the Social Media, saying the fabricated messages are being orchestrated by those who feel threatened by the emerging order.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said there is no iota of truth in the messages being circulated on the health of the President, who is hale and hearty, and the purported emergency meetings of the State Governors in Abuja or anywhere.

He said the naysayers have also resorted to the use of ethnicity and religion as tools to divide Nigerians, overheat the polity and cause panic among the citizenry, in addition to using fake news and disinformation to distort government activities.

Alhaji Mohammed said while opposition and criticism are all part of democracy, the crafting and circulation of subversive materials and scare-mongering are not, hence the full wrath of the law will be brought to bear on those who are bent on subverting the state.

”The source/sources of the fabricated messages are already being investigated and the authors should prepare to face the consequences of their actions.

”The emerging trend of resorting to destabilisation and scare-mongering is not unexpected, considering this government’s clamp-down on the corrupt elements in the society, the plugging of all financial leaks which has derailed the gravy train of the looters of public treasury and the enthronement of probity and transparency in the polity.

”While we will neither stifle press freedom nor abridge the citizens’ right to express themselves freely, whether through criticism or protests, the security agencies will neither allow any resort to violence nor a willful subversion of the state for whatever reason,” he warned.

GEMS4 Backed KASMO Black Soap Begins Production

Kasmo Black Soap, a product line backed by Growth and Employments in States 4 (GEMS4) – A DFID funded programme, has begun production in the state of Osun.

GEMS4 is a DFID funded programme that will link and expand market for unique wholesale and retail products from Osun into larger local and international markets.

Recall, Governor Rauf Aregbesola had in October 2016, signed a memorandum of understanding with GEMS4 to help local producers of wholesale and retail product access larger markets.

Black soap, main raw material for Kasmo soap, is popularly known as Oshe-dudu. It is a key market activity for women in south-western Nigeria. However, the women are unable to take full advantage of the market opportunity as they are only able to sell their products twice a week on traditional market days.

Last year, GEMS4 began negotiations with giant soap manufacturers KASMO while also visiting the women in the major black soap producing communities in the state to get their buy-in as well as introduce KASMO to them.

By September, KASMO had invested funds to retrofit the production line dedicated to the production of black soaps and packaging. The new black soap production line at full capacity created 44 new jobs at different stages of the production process including sorting, packing, mixing and loading of equipment with raw black soaps.

Also, GEMS4, facilitated access to other market opportunities for the women producing the black soap, through the identification of alternative markets, as well as capacity building for the black soap suppliers. So far, 300 women have been signed on. GEMS4 plans to sign 3000 black soap makers in the state of Osun by the end of 2017.

About N500,000 worth of black soap from women soap producers has already been purchased by KASMO to test run the market with its own DUDU KASMO SOAP

With GEMS4 support, Kasmo is expected to increase its capacity for raw material uptake from the rural women, thereby increasing women’s ability to produce more and by effect increasing their turnover/incomes. The programme will continue to track impact and improvement to the livelihoods of women soap makers in the state of Osun.

As the Centre Goes Osun Way

The Roman Emperor Pliny is often quoted to have observed that “out of Africa, there is always something new”. We can take liberties with this position and say that out of the Osun State in Nigeria’s south west we have seen a host of policy thrusts and initiatives now being adopted at the centre.

Recent examples include the launch nationwide of the conditional cash transfer which is aimed at tackling long term structural poverty. We also have the free schools feeding program through which the state government has provided nutritious school meals to thousands of its students. In the case of the school meals program there is a clear economic synergy. The program is interwoven to increase food production and thereby elevate living standards in the rural economy. These programs represent a fundamental social advance. They are also one of the few evidence available of the provision of “ a dividend of democracy”. For a change, to paraphrase a lyric from the sixties rock band The Christians, there is now the making of a harvest for the people. And about time too!

Much of the policy thrusts came out of the seven point’s agenda, the manifesto upon which the present governor of the state Rauf Aregbesola was elected. However, in the implementation of the agenda, the fingerprints of a coordinating agency of the state government – The Bureau of Social Services (BOSS) which the Aregbesola government specifically set up as a special purpose vehicle can be detected in these path breaking social intervention thrusts.

The eponymous BOSS is in itself coordinated by a Director- General, Femi Ifaturoti, a lawyer who is propelled by an philosophical belief in social intervention policies as a decisive element in the execution of the social contract which binds government with the people.

Under his beady eye, the agency has developed the framework to carry out its overarching responsibility to supervise, monitor, evaluate and report the performance of all the heads of Ministries,Departments and Agencies (MDA’S). A key mechanism used by the coordinating bureau has been the design and implementation of a framework for public value assurance.

The task requires paying meticulous attention to details. They have set the parameters for determining good governance which includes embracing democratic principles, developing apparatus and implementation, and finally ensuring that all the components stay on course to guarantee public service delivery which can only be measured by its impact on the off- takers which is defined as the citizens.

The quasi- independent agency of government is not just involved in project monitoring, but also measures the social impact of the activities of government. Its evaluation unit for example, can apply its performance measurement templates as evaluation parameters.

In the process they have developed the framework for the federal government to use as a prototype for its social intervention programmes.

A good example here is the federal government’s conditional cash transfer which is aimed at tackling long term poverty and is just taking off. The BOSS model pioneered in the state of OSUN has a prototype which drives the beneficiary. This is achieved by the design of a targeting mechanism in conjunction with the custody of a Beneficiary register for all the social safety net programs in the state.With the country belatedly developing social safety net programs, the data base is crucial for effectiveness, efficiency and transparency. The work of BOSS in OSUN state has provided for the federal government a veritable framework.

As the federal government commences the disbursements of N5000 stipends to poor and vulnerable households in nine states the BOSS model has been pressed into play. The pioneering work done in the state of OSUN is now the operating model. Of note is the development of the community- based targeting (CBT) mechanism.

The CBT exploits the personal knowledge that community members have of each other, so that the community itself takes responsibility for identifying vulnerable household’s and individuals. The CBT approach is a combination of three major actions (a) geographic targeting (b) community sensitisation (c) data collection and validation (proxy means and testing) exercise and entry into the database.

The same data driven methodology propels other initiatives such as the much admired school meals program.Apart from the federal government, Kaduna state is also using this mechanism as a social intervention programme.

The BOSS himself(the pun is intended) Femi Ifaturoti through this agency has demonstrated, not least to donors such as the World Bank that a social intervention agency can effective in delivering on its mated objectives, but that it can also be transparent. It is a testimony to the ongoing debate in economic circles about government as social entrepreneur and innovator.

From this perspective, Femi Ifaturoti is adamant that government can be both innovator and social entrepreneur, “Governance after all, is about the welfare of the generality of the public. We are acquiring appropriate world class software to complement our process flow which has been designed as a hybrid, borrowing from the western, oriental and African democracies to evolve our own unique forms”.

As the country initiates more social programs BOSS will continue to be pivoted having initiated and pioneered so many schemes. It deserves a credit in the evolution of Nigeria’s social safety nets.