US Firm To Power 25 Communities With Solar Energy

Two firms have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to power 25 communities in Bayelsa, Ondo, Ogun and Osun states with solar energy.

A Nigerian firm, Community Energy Social Enterprises Limited, on Tuesday, signed a $767,512 MoU with Renewvia Energy Corporation, an American company, to provide solar energy for some communities on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis.

The CESEL Managing Director, Dr. Patrick Tolani, signed the agreement on behalf of his company with Mr. Clay Taber, Managing Director, Renewvia in Abuja.

Tolani said the MoU was for the development of solar microgrids in 25 communities, stating that communities to benefit from the projects were those that had no access to electricity for more than 10 years, including Brass in Bayelsa and  Magboro in  Ogun State.

Others, he said, included Ilaje and Igbokoda in Ondo State, and a community, which was completely cut off from the grid because of isolation in Osun State.

Taber, in his remarks, explained that Renewvia would install and operate microgrid systems with solar photovoltaic generation capacity and battery storage in the 25 benefiting communities.

According to him, the design of the microgrids for the project will include PV panels, string inverters, aluminium racking and energy storage backup power.

He said, “It is expected that the majority of the power off takers for the project would be residential and commercial end-users located within one kilometre of the microgrid generation units that would be connected at the time of project construction.

“Renewvia and CESEL would sell microgrid customers electricity by Kilowatts through a ‘pay-as-you-go’ structure.

“The competitiveness of the system helps to ensure payment as the project will provide consistent and reliable power at a less-expensive price than current rural power generation by diesel.”

He said Renewvia and CESEL also planned to facilitate the transaction through mobile payments, noting that the project would employ local and remote resources to support the needs of the power plant for each microgrid.

The project is supported by Power Africa, a US energy project initiated in 2013 to assist African countries in accessing energy.

The US Trade and Development Agency will provide grant to CESEL for the feasibility study that will access the rollout of 25 solar microgrids in rural and peri-urban communities across Nigeria.

It is expected that the project will provide up to 10 megawatts and connect over 10, 000 households, according to a study by Renewvia.

The MoU signing was witnessed by Power Africa Coordinator, Andrew Herscowitz, and the US Agency for International Development mission director in Nigeria, Michael Harvey.

2017 Budget: Fashola Disowns N2bn

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) has denied knowledge of the N2bn allocated to Regional Housing Scheme in the 2017 budget proposal of the ministry he oversees.

The minister, who appeared before the committee to defend the proposal, suhgested to the lawmakers to invite the Ministry of Finance for clarifications on the disputed item numbered FMOW99934089.

“I know as much of it as you do,” Fashola told members of the committee.

The minister pointed out that he had no explanation on the N2bn allocation as it was discovered in the proposal after it was worked upon by the Ministry of Finance.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Barnabas Gemade, requested that the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, be invited to explain the insertion of the allocation.

The following conversation ensued between Fashola and Gemade:

Gemade: Finally, what is this provision of N2bn for regional housing scheme? What is regional housing scheme? Where is it taking place? What is happening? Have you seen it on Page 18?

Fashola: It is not our project. It came in from, I think, the Budget (Office). It is a Ministry of Finance initiative; saying that they want to do what they called ‘family homes’. It is not from us.

Gemade: Yes, but they have put it here; otherwise, we will not be in the position to accept it.

Fashola: I know as much of it as you do sir.

Gemade: But you are here to defend this budget in totality.

Fashola: That is why I have come. I am explaining to you now, sir, on how it comes into our budget. That is not what we submitted. We didn’t submit that proposal.

Gemade: So, will the ministry be kind enough to tell the people who put this in this budget to come forward and let us know?

Fashola: Please.

Gemade: Let us know what is regional housing programme because government cannot be operated in secrecy.

Fashola: I think the committee, if you permit me to bring this suggestion…

Gemade: …should invite them?

Fashola: Yes, sir.

Gemade: But you know the people; we don’t know them.

Fashola: No, sir. We just said finance sir.

Gemade: Finance ministry?

Fashola: Yes sir.

Gemade: We will write to the minister.

Fashola: Please do sir.

Gemade: (Pointing to the committee’s secretariat) Write to the minister: We have seen this line, which costs N2bn. Let them send information here for us to know what it is all about.

Edo polls: Tribunal Releases Results Of Recounted Ballot Papers

The Edo State Election Petitions Tribunal has released results of the recounted ballot papers used for the September 28 governorship election.

In its ruling on February 9, 2017, the three-man tribunal headed by Justice Ahmed Badamasi granted the prayers of the People’s Democratic Party and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu by ordering the recount of ballot papers in Egor, Akoko-Edo, Etsako West and Etsako East local government areas.

The APC won in all the four local government areas where the ballot papers were recounted.

However, the ballot papers which held for two days could not be concluded following the expiration of the period given to the petitioners to prove their cases.

From the results released, only eight wards were counted in three local government areas while no ballot papers were recounted in Estako East local government.

In the report signed by the Assistant Secretary to the tribunal, Buhari Sani, and given to parties in the case, the recounting exercise was concluded in Wards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 in Etsako West Local Government Area, Wards 1 and 2 in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area and Ward 1 of Egor Local Government Area.

The recounting from Estako West showed that Ward 1 had 1,281 votes, Ward 2 had 1,542 votes, Ward 3 had 1,490 votes, Ward 4 had 1,994 and Ward 5 had 3,025 votes.

In Akoko-Edo, Ward 1 had a total of 3,206 and Ward 2 had a total of 3,849 votes.

The only ward counted in Egor local government had 3,217 votes.

Sani said the recounting stopped at 1pm by the tribunal on the application of Counsel to the Governor Godwin Obaseki.

The tribunal resumes sitting on Friday with INEC opening its defense of the case.

161 Nigerians Back From Libya After Unsuccessful Stay In North African Country

No fewer than 161 Nigerians yesterday returned to the country through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, after unsuccessful stints in Libya.

The persons, who arrived aboard Airbus 320 Nouvel Air aircraft at about 4pm, were voluntary returnees ferried back by the International Organisation for Immigration (IOM).

They are made up of 101 female adults and 60 males . Among them are seven children and two infants. At least three came with medical issues, with one in fractures and immediately sent to the hospital for care.

Officials of IOM and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) received the returnees at the cargo section of the airport, offering food, water and stipend of £50 (N19,695) for all to return to their communities.

Some, who spoke to reporters, were full of gratitude to IOM for finding them, keeping them in custody with clothings and food for weeks before ensuring their safe return to Nigeria.

Head of Sub-Office, IOM, Nahashon Thuo, said efforts were ongoing to assist other Nigerians willing to return home from various detention camps.

NEMA DG, represented by Deputy Director, Search and Rescue, Dr. Bandele Onimode, said the repatriation effort was the Federal Government’s response to a recent video that went viral on the untold hostilities in Libya.

Onimode said besides getting IOM to bring the stranded Nigerians in, the government had also provided services to ensure that “our children” are well received and catered for.

He added that through the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, some state governors had been contacted and some are present to receive returnees that are from their states.

Head of Protocol, Edo State Laison Office in Lagos, Segun Alabi, said it was regrettable that Nigerians are still falling prey to exploiters promising that the grass is greener overseas, “when that is no longer the case.”

Alabi added that on the part of the Edo State government, the development was a cause for concern, but all machinery are in motion to create about 3000 job opportunities for young Nigerians to discourage them from risking it all overseas.

At least five batches of returnees from Libya were recorded in 2016, totalling over 700 returnees.The Guardian observed that the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) around 7:00 pm deployed mass-transit buses to pick the returnees after profiling, for further care at the Ikotun-based church.



Pro-Buhari Rally Hold In Kano

Thousands of people, including women and youths, on Wednesday in Kano held a rally, organised by group, “I STAND WITH BUHARI’’, in support of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The supporters, who converged on the Shoprite at Zoo Road in Kano metropolis, trekked to the Government House through Maiduguri Road and Emirs Palace through the State Road.

The supporters chanted solidarity songs, ‘Sai Buhari’ meaning up Buhari.”

They also carried placards with various inscriptions some of which read: “100 per cent support to EFCC, “We support Buhari’’, ‘’One Nigeria, and We stand with Buhari’’ among others.

Addressing journalists at the Emir’s Palace, the Northern Media Coordinator for the group, Mr. Ibrahim Garba-iceman, said the rally was organised to show solidarity to Buhari for doing good work for the country.

He said that the group was particularly appreciative of the Buahri-led administration’s fight against corruption and insecurity in the country.

He said, “The decision by our group, I STAND WITH BUHARI, to organise the mega rally is to express our support for what Buhari is doing for the country.

“This rally is coming on the heels of the recent revelations on the recovery of billions of dollars and naira by the EFCC.

“It is very unfortunate that by the recent revelations, very few Nigerians are controlling our economy.”

According to him, the group also find it necessary to come en masse and show to the world that Nigerians are solidly behind President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said, “We are not going back until good governance prevails in the country. We will also support Buhari come 2019.”

Garba-iceman said the group would hold similar rally in Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Abuja and Lagos.

He also said that the group hold a special prayer for speedy recovery of Buhari and his return to the country.

The rally was characterized by tight security with armed policemen providing guarding the group in all the places the supporters went.

Credit: Todays News

Court Returns Seun Egbegbe To Prison Over Fraud

A Federal High Court judge in Lagos today refused to hear the bail application of Nollywood film marketer, Seun Egbegbe, and his co-accused, Oyekan Ayomide, who are alleged to have defrauded some Bureau De Change (BDC) operators of millions of naira.

Egbegbe, whose real name is Olajide Oluwaseun Kareem, along with Ayomide, were arraigned before the court by the police last Friday on a 36 count-charge of conspiracy and fraud.

At the resumed hearing today, their lawyer, A. O. Gbadamoshi told the court that she started the process of filing their bail applications last Friday, but only succeeded in completing the processes yesterday when they were served on the police.

She further informed the court that she called the prosecutor, Innocent Anyigor, that she had served his office.

In response, Mr. Anyigor informed the court that he was unable to file a counter to the applications as they were only given to him in the office this morning and that he would need time to study the contents before filing a response.

Judge Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, presiding, then extended the remand order on the suspects till Tuesday, when their bail application will be entertained, and ordered that they be taken back to prison.

The two men are alleged to have defrauded the BDC Operators at various places in Lagos State between 2016 and February 2 this year, of N40.647 million; $29,800; and £4,815 pounds sterling.

The offenses are contrary to the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2006.

Among the BDC operators allegedly defrauded are: Issa Adamu, Mohammed Sanni, Jubril Ado, Hassan Amodu, Bala Mohammed, Sanni Hassan, Abdullahi Mumuni, Suraju Garuba, Mutairu Shuaibu, Sanusi Muhammad, Kabiru Jubril.

South African Investor Increasing Stake in Nigerian Banks

Allan Gray Ltd., the largest manager of non-government investment funds in Africa, has increased its stake in Nigerian Zenith and Access banks.

The South African investor, based in Cape Town, is betting on Nigeria’s banking industry despite poor performances by the oil companies it depends on and widespread calls for the naira to be further devalued.

Allan Gray Chief Investment Officer Andrew Lapping disclosed the investment move in a Feb. 10 interview in Cape Town. He didn’t say how big the holdings are or how many shares his company is buying.

“We see a lot of value in Nigerian banks,” Lapping said. “Most people think they’re all going to zero because of the bad debts. We think they will survive” because high interest rates make the banks profitable and they have less debt to equity compared with European lenders, he said.

Access Bank Chief Executive Officer Herbert Wigwe said last month that the bank’s non-performing loans are expected to climb to “slightly below” 3 percent of total loans by the end of 2017. That compares with 2.1 percent for the nine months through September.

The banking industry is under stress in Nigeria, where the economy was in a recession during 2016. Non-performing loans escalated to almost three times the regulatory maximum and foreign investors are calling for authorities to boost flexible trading of the naira before putting more money into the country. An oil price at half its 2014 levels, combined with sabotage and attacks on oil installations that have cut output, has limited dollar supplies in the country, which vies with Angola as Africa’s largest crude-oil producer.

Problem Loans

The bad-debt ratio at Nigerian banks rose to 13.4 percent last year. The naira was devalued in June and traded at 315.50 to the dollar by 6:53 a.m. in Lagos on Wednesday, while the unofficial, black-market rate was 507 naira to the dollar. The official exchange rate should fall to 370 by the end of the year, Craig Metherell, an analyst at Avior Capital Markets Ltd. in Cape Town, said in a Feb. 10 note to investors. Investors are frustrated by central-bank policies, he said.

“Dollar illiquidity and the inability to predict the central bank’s decisions remains a constant deterrent to dollar-based investors,” Metherell said. “While we argue that valuations look cheap, we find it difficult to justify investing new money given the current status quo.”

Allan Gray isn’t the only investor that’s interested in local lenders.

Laurie Dippenaar, chairman of Johannesburg-based FirstRand Ltd., Africa’s largest bank by market value, said last month that it’s looking to buy a mid-sized bank.

Diamond Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc and Wema Bank Plc were among mid-sized Nigerian lenders that plummeted more than 40 percent last year as the domestic economy performed the worst since the 1980s.
“Everyone thinks the naira is going to weaken, but I’m not so sure,” Lapping said. “The bad-debt problem can cure itself over time.”

Oil Exposure

Nigerian banks are also attractive because their small size — in an economy that vies with South Africa as the continent’s largest — adds to their growth potential, while lending as a proportion of equity remains low at 3.5 times, Lapping said. Still, the industry’s exposure to oil remains a concern, he said.

Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Nigeria’s biggest bank by value, has a market capitalization of 715 billion naira ($2.3 billion), Access Bank is valued at about 194 billion naira and Zenith at about 475 billion naira.

FirstRand, Africa’s largest bank, has a market value of 293 billion rand ($22 billion).

The Nigerian Stock Exchange Banking 10 Index has climbed 0.7 percent this year as gains by Access Bank, Zenith, United Bank for Africa Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc helped compensate for losses in the other six members of the gauge.

“Maybe we’ve dug ourselves into a hole” by investing in Nigerian banks, Lapping said. “Even if it’s 50-50, going bust or going up, the upside is so much that it’s worth the risk.”


Nigeria’s Inflation Grows to 18.72% in January – NBS

The National Bureau of Statistics says the Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation, increased by 18.72 per cent (year-on-year) in January from 18.55 per cent recorded in December, 2016.

The CPI, which measures the average change over time in prices of goods and services consumed by people for day to-day living, is 0.17 per cent points higher from the points recorded in December.

A report released by the NBS in Abuja on Wednesday noted that increases recorded in all Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose divisions that yielded the Headline Index.

It said, “Communication, Restaurants and Hotels again recorded the slowest pace of growth in January, growing at 5.1 per cent and 8.4 per cent (year-on-year) respectively.

“However, the faster pace of growth in headline inflation, year -on- year, were bread and cereals, meat, fish, oils and fats, potatoes, yams and other tubers as well as and wine and spirits.

“Also, clothing materials and accessories, electricity, cooking gas, liquid and solid fuels, motor cars and maintenance, vehicle spare parts and fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, passenger transport by road.’’

On a month on month basis, the report stated that headline inflation was driven by passenger transport by air, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment and liquid fuels.

The report also stated that the headline inflation was driven by cooking gas, oils and fats, fruits, Mike cheese and eggs, fish, meat and bread as well as cereals.

“The Food Index increased by 17.82 per cent (year-on-year) in January, up by 0.43 per cent points from rate recorded in December 2016 (17.39) per cent.

“During the month, all major food sub-indexes increased, with Soft Drinks recording the slowest pace of increase at 7.8 per cent (year on year).

“Price movements recorded by All items less farm produce or Core sub-index rose by 17.90 per cent (year-on-year) in January, down by 0.20 per cent points from rates recorded in December 2016 (18.10) per cent.

“During the month, the highest increases were seen in Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels, Education and Transport growing at 27.2, 21.0 and 17.2 per cent respectively.’’

On a month-on-month basis, the report further stated that the Headline index increased albeit, at a slower pace in January 2017.

It stated that the index increased by 1.01 per cent points in January, 0.05 per cent points from 1.06 per cent rate recorded in December 2016.

It said, “It should be noted that the Headline Index is made up of the Core Index and Farm Produce items. As Processed Foods are included in both the Core and Food sub-indices; this implies that these sub-indices are not mutually-exclusive.’’

Meanwhile, the report stated that Urban index rose by 20.31 per cent (year-on-year) in January from 20.12 per cent recorded in December, and the Rural index increased by 17.34 per cent in January from 17.20 per cent in December.

It said, “On month-on-month basis, the urban index rose by 1.03 per cent in January from 1.08 per cent recorded in December, while the rural index rose by 1.00 per cent in January from 1.04 per cent in December.”

The construction of the CPI combines economic theory, sampling and other statistical techniques using data from other surveys to produce a weighted measure of average price changes in the Nigerian economy.

Key in the construction of the price index is the selection of the market basket of goods and services.

Every month, 10,534 informants spread across the country provide price data for the computation of the CPI and the market items currently comprise of 740 goods and services regularly priced.


Nigerian Returnees from Libya Recount Tales of Tape, Torture

1 Nigerians returned voluntarily from Libya, assisted by the International Organisation for Migration after being detained for several months in Libya.

They said they travelled to the North African country with the hope of crossing to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea in search of jobs.

Although they arrived Lagos thanking their Creator for bringing them home safely, several of them confessed to the News Agency of Nigeria that their quest for greener pastures abroad had left them scarred.

One of the returnees, Miss Bridget Akeamo, an indigene of Anambra State, said her parents decided to send her to Italy when all hopes of securing a job after graduation faded.

Bridget, who said she left Nigeria August last year, was four months pregnant when she returned.

She said she was arrested by immigration officials while trying to cross to Italy from Libya.

Bridget said, “Ever since then, I have been moved from one prison to another until I was taken to a detention camp in Tripoli.

“We were subjected to inhuman treatment while in prison, from the food we ate to the water we drank.

“Most of the young ladies in detention camp were repeatedly raped by Libyan officials; and if you refused their advances, it would be hell for you.

“Thank God I am back in Nigeria. I know all hope is not lost, but it is painful that I will begin from scratch again with my unborn child.”

Stanley Iduh, a 34-year-old indigene of Delta State, told NAN that he was tricked by an agent popularly known as “Burger,” who promised to facilitate his journey to Spain through Libya.

He said that when his hope of crossing into Spain was dashed in Libya, he decided to stay back and work there.

He said, “I worked in a tile producing company and their salary was good, but unfortunately, I cannot save my money in the bank. I lived with other Nigerians. I dug a hole in the ground and hid my money in it.

“Unfortunately, one day, some Libyans came, kidnapped us and inflicted punishment on us. They asked us to call our relations back in Nigeria and tell them to send N300,000 as our ransom.

“The $200,000 that I saved disappeared; they moved us to another place until we got to detention camp.

“Nigerians should be discouraged from travelling to Libya because they don’t see us as human beings. Our ladies were dehumanised by Libyan officials. It is very painful.”

Iduh, who said he sold the house left by his late father before travelling to Libya, urged the federal and state governments as well as wealthy Nigerians to create job for the youths.

“It was because I was jobless for three years that I was cajoled to travel abroad to look for greener pasture. I am back in the country after eight months, devastated and humiliated. I have gone to look for greener pasture, but here I am today; I have brought nothing green back home,” he said; with tears running down his cheeks.

Paul and Marvellous Isikhuemhen are twin brothers who travelled to Libya in March and May 2016 respectively in search of better life.

Marvellous told NAN that they regretted travelling out of the country because of the bitter encounter they had in Libya.

He said though they secured good jobs in a publishing house in Libya, “it was a case of suffering and smiling’’ until they were given the opportunity to return home through the IOM.

The brothers urged the Nigerian government to stop young ladies from travelling to Libya, saying they were molested by Libyan immigration officials.

They said most Nigerian ladies bribe Nigerian immigration officers to secure travel documents to travel to Libya, adding that most of the children brought back home by these ladies have no fathers.

“I can boldly tell you that the children you are seeing in their hands and those pregnant ladies are products of Libyan immigration officers,” one of them said.


Nokia 3310 is Coming Back

Nokia will re-launch its popular 3310 mobile phone, perhaps the best-loved and most resilient phone in history.

It will be revealed at Mobile World Congress later this month, according to leaker Evan Blass who first revealed the details.

The phone was originally released in 2000 and in many ways beginning the modern age of mobiles.

According to Independent , it will be sold as a way of getting lots of battery life in a nearly indestructible body.

The new incarnation of the old 3310 will be sold for just €59 (about N23,000), and so likely be pitched as a reliable second phone to people who fondly remember it the first time around.

It’s still possible to buy the 3310 on Amazon, though only through its marketplace and not directly from the company itself.

The Amazon listing describes a range of features, including a clock, calculator, the ability to store up to ten reminders and four games: Snake II, Pairs II, Space Impact, and Bantumi.

Snake was so well-loved that it’s currently available for iPhone, Android and Windows phone users to download.

That collection of features has led to it being branded as perhaps the most resilient and long-lasting phone ever made. The reputation has let it become the star of hundreds of memes, and even led people to crush it in a hydraulic press.

Nokia struggled to bring its brand into the smartphone era and ended up being sold to Microsoft.

But since then it has targeted success by making new versions of old phones, including the Nokia 215, which costs $29 and lasts for 29 days.

Phones made under the Nokia brand are now sold by HMD Global, a Finnish company that bought the rights to the name. HMD will reveal other new mobiles – the Nokia 3, 5 and 6 – at the same MWC event.

Those other new phones wll be more like smartphones, but will retain much of the same low price.

Daily Independent UK

Osun Student Wins End Female Genital Mutilation Poster Competition

A student of Phoebestat Royalty school, Osogbo, Adetunji Tosin, has emerged the winner of a Poster Design competition to end Female Genital Mutilation.

The competition organised by Value Reorientation for Community Enhancement, VARCE.

At the grand finale which held in Osogbo, the State of Osun capital, Miss Adetunji Tosin emerged first, whilst, Adedoyin Mercy and Adedunmoye Zainab took second and third respectively.

In his welcome address, the coordinator of VARCE, Ademola Adebisi stated that the reason for their NGO engaging in the campaign was due to the fact that in the south west of Nigeria, Osun was the state with the highest case of female genital mutilation and the Art competition was a type of a wake up call to the reality of FGM prevalent in the state.

He called on all the stakeholders to pull their resources together in ensuring that female genital mutilation was indeed a thing of the past.

In relation to the art competition, the VARCE coordinator hinted that over 350 entries were received from female secondary school students round the state out of which the 3 finalists were arrived at.

According to him, “all three finalists were then screened at the state ministry of health from which the second and first runner ups and the first position was arrived at.

The three finalist apart from going home with generous financial gifts also attracted projects to their schools.

Meanwhile, the first lady of the state of Osun, Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola the founder of Sherifat Care Foundation (SCARF) through her representative Mr. Rotimi Ajayi pledged some financial rewards for the three finalists and inba separate interview revealed that another spelling bee competition would be organised for students in the state and the three finalist at the end female genital mutilation art competition were qualified automatically.