Matters Arising

It is a News and Current Affairs programme that will be beaming searchlights on contemporary issues as it affect us positively or negatively as a corporate entity.

FG inaugurates technical group to monitor women economic empowerment

The federal government is today inaugurating a technical working group for the pilot monitoring and evaluation framework for Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) interventions.

WEE helps women and girls move from limited power, voice, and choice at home and in the economy to having the skills, resources, and opportunities needed to compete equitably in markets as well as the agency to control and benefit from economic gains.

On August 17, the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in collaboration with the Development Research and Project Center (DPRC) had earlier organised a national symposium on the application framework as it relates to the WEE.

It was then participants recommended that a working group be set up to follow up the implementation of the framework.

The group will amongst other things make recommendations to NIPSS, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the DPRC on the development and update of the implementation of WEE policies.

The working group will function under the guidance of these bodies.

At least 10 federal MDAs and 30 WEEs organisations will make up the working group.

The programme is funded by The Gates foundation.

Nigeria Goes for $6.2bn Eurobond Offer, Foreign Borrowings Escalates

17 September, 2021

The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market, ICM, to raise between $3 billion and $6.2 billion.

The Debt Management Office, DMO, said, yesterday, that virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, September 17 and September 20, 2021.

It stated: “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.

“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.

“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3 billion but not more than $6.2 billion.”

According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”

The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.

“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.

“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.

“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.

“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.

“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two exchanges and their respective market capitalization.

“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”

The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo & Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.

Terrorists flees Sambisa forest to Kaduna- DSS to civil defence

15 September, 2021

Satellite Map of Kaduna State

Boko Haram terrorists are fleeing from Sambisa forest to Rijana Forest in the Chikun local government area of Kaduna State, according to a leaked memo.

A memo marked; NSCDC/NHQ/INT&INVST/323/2021 dated September 9, 2021 which was signed by the Acting Deputy Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Intelligence and Investigation, B.O Bassey, civil defence officers were asked to be on the alert.

According to the document titled, ‘Re: Update on Relocation of Boko Haram Terrorist (BHTs) to Rijana General Area in Kaduna State’, the terrorists are planning to team up with one Adamu Yunusu aka Saddiqu and his supporters.

The memo read in part, “Sequel to a memo dated September 2, 2021 received from the Ministry of Interior on the above subject matter, upon an intelligence report from the Office of the Director-General, Department of State Services, National Headquarters, Abuja, dated August 20, 2021 with reference no S.314/31/B/2915.

“It has been uncovered, plans by senior Boko Haram fighter, Ibrahim (FNU) alongside his foot soldiers relocating from ‘Sambisa Forest in Borno State to Rijana Forest in Chikun local government area of Kaduna State with a view to joining their counterpart under the leadership of one Adamu Yunusu (aka Saddiqu).

“In light of the above, you are hereby directed to step up surveillance and intelligence gathering on the aforementioned areas and environs.”

Chikun Local Government Area in Kaduna State is a Christian dominated area which could make it a soft target for terrorists.

Kaduna, which borders Zamfara State, has witnessed a spike in killings and abductions in 2021 with over 545 persons killed and 1, 723 kidnapped between January and June.

Kogi threatens to sue EFCC over alleged diversion of N20bn bailout fund

The Kogi State Government, on Thursday threatened legal action against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over a recent order of court that froze N20billion in its bank account.

Commissioner for Information, Hon. Kingsley Fanwo stated this at a press briefing on the matter.

Fanwo accused the EFCC of having misled the court through presentation of alleged false documents to obtain the court order.

“The EFCC has accused us wrongly and the intent is to drag our image in the mud. We shall challenge the EFCC at the Court to substantiate their blatant allegation.

“We are not fighting the EFCC but we need to test the allegations they have made before a court of competent jurisdiction in the light of verifiable facts at our disposal,” Fanwo said.

The Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on Tuesday ordered the freezing of the Kogi State salary bailout account domiciled in a new generation bank over an alleged N20 billion loan obtained from the bank.

The Presiding Judge, Tijjani Ringim, said the order would subsist pending the conclusion of investigation or possible prosecution by the EFCC.

The Court had based its ruling on an ex-parte application by the EFCC brought pursuant to section 44(2) of the Constitution and section 34(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act and under the court’s jurisdiction.

The EFCC had in its affidavit before the court alleged that the N20 billion loan, meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of Kogi state, was kept in an interest-yielding account with the bank.

Counsel to the EFCC, A. O. Mohammed, had told the Court that instead of using the money for the purpose it was meant for, the bank, while acting on the instruction of the Kogi State Government, transferred the money from the loan account into a fixed deposit account.

FG may consider dropping IPPIS as opposition grows

There were indications on Sunday that the Federal Government might adopt any payment platform developed in universities as an alternative to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.

The spokesman for the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, who gave this indication in an interview, however, gave conditions for adopting any payment platform apart from the IPPIS.

According to him, the platform must be capable of eliminating ghost workers’ syndrome and other forms of corruption in payment of salaries.

Akpan stated this as opposition to the IPPIS grew on Sunday when unions including the Academic Staff Union of Universities, the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) said it was only suitable for the civil service.

Recall that ASUU had on March 23, begun an indefinite strike over the government’s insistence on the IPPIS, among other reasons.

Other university unions, which initially supported the payment system, backed out on the grounds that it contained many irregularities.

As an alternative to the IPPIS, ASUU had presented its University Transparency and Accountability Solution to the Federal Government.  UTAS is currently being tested by the National Information Technology Development Agency, while SSANU and NASU have proposed the University General and Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System.

The President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, in an interview, restated the union’s opposition to the IPPIS, saying the system would localise the university system if adopted.

IPPIS won’t allow non-pensionable appointments needed in universities – ASUU

He stated, “With the IPPIS, lecturers cannot move freely across campuses; across countries.  It is a system that will not allow you to employ people from outside the country, people who are not on pensionable appointments because the IPPIS focuses only on people with pensionable appointments. Contract staff who are needed in scarce areas are shut out. Our colleagues in the Diaspora who could come and give international flavour and enrich our programmes are shut out.   If you have a system that will not allow you to fit into global practices, that system cannot fit into a university.”

He explained further that the IPPIS would erode the autonomy of the university system which was established by an Act in 2003.

Ogunyemi added, “The IPPIS was designed for the civil service, which has a uniform approach to payroll. In the civil service, they have to take permission from the head of civil service before they can employ.  That is not possible in university education because a university operates a flexible payroll system by the virtue that lecturers can come for short employment and sabbaticals.”

IPPIS has many irregularities, it gives the salary of a cleaner to a registrar – SSANU

In the same vein, the newly elected vice president of SSANU, Mr Abdulsobur Salam, explained that the union initially thought the IPPIS would solve some problems in the university system, but it later found out that it added more problems.

He stated, “At the outset, we did not oppose the IPPIS because we have had issues of corruption in the university system which we thought the IPPIS would solve. Government made a request that we should key into the IPPIS and they demonstrated to us that the IPPIS had captured everything on salaries.

“But we have witnessed a lot of irregularities; salaries are not paid, the salary of a cleaner given to a registrar and  outright non-payment of staff salaries when staff have been working for 10 months. It is against this background we are now having a second thought. The IPPIS has created a lot of problems than it has resolved.”

Efforts to speak to the National General Secretary, Mr Peter Adeyemi, NASU, proved abortive as he did not to pick calls to his mobile phone nor replied an SMS sent to him.

However, the Chairman of the University of Lagos’ NASU, Mr Kehinde Ajibade explained that the union found out a lot of irregularities in the IPPIS.

These, he said, included arbitrary deductions, high taxation, high pension rate and delay in payments.

Ajibade stated, “What the Federal Government promised us as university workers is contrary to what we are experiencing now.  It’s like the Federal Government deceived us to join the IPPIS. Our salaries were being paid on a platform before we migrated to the IPPIS. Unfortunately, when we got to the IPPIS, we discovered it was a scam.  It was full of inconsistencies and irregularities that we are still battling with now.

“That is the reason we are opposing the IPPIS . Some of these irregularities are high taxation, non-remittance of some of the deductions and cooperative issues. We have submitted our list for payment. It is either it is delayed or we have to send an emissary to their office before they release our money. All these make it difficult for us.  We embarked on a two-week warning strike and the Federal Government invited our leaders. Our national bodies proposed another platform as ASUU did.  The government accepted our new platform and said they would look into it. That’s where we are now.

Our allowances won’t be paid if IPPIS is adopted – PENGASSAN

On his part, the General Secretary of PENGASSAN, Lumumba Okugbawa, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said,  “We are opposed to the IPPIS for the same reason that ASUU is opposed to it.

“Everything that you think is good must be tested. Now if you test it and there are issues with it, of course, you won’t accept it. So there are issues with the IPPIS. It is not a perfect document.”

“For oil workers, we are also not just the regular civil servants and so all the issues about the system must be cleared before we can accept it.

“Another thing is that if you apply the IPPIS, for instance, some of your allowances as  oil workers  will not be paid.”

We are encouraging research; we will adopt any platform better than IPPIS – FG

On Sunday, the spokesman for the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Akpan, said the Federal Government would settle for the best payment platform in universities

He explained that the government wished to save money and would adopt any platform that could help in achieving its goal.

He said, “The aim of the IPPIS is to monitor government finances and salaries of workers and also to eliminate ghost workers’ syndrome. The government is looking to save money and remove corruption from the system.

“So, if an organisation comes up and says it have something that could help you to achieve this purpose, I’m sure government would surely consider it. So, all options are still open to the government.”

Akpan noted that the government would settle for any payment platform that is better than the IPPIS, adding that it was encouraging research and development in the tertiary institutions in the country.

Asked if the government had taken a position on the UTAS developed by ASUU, Akpan stated, “What government has done so far is to evaluate that of ASUU which is going through integrity test.

“But for the ones of NASU and SSANU, they said they just informed the government about it without presenting anything. They are working on their own. What the minister said is that if anyone had what the government could use, the government would always adopt it.

“The government is looking for the very best; if there is something that is better than IPPIS, the government would definitely fall back on it. Government is encouraging research and development in the academia.”

In a related development, a statement on Sunday by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige’s Media Office, titled, ‘SSANU extols labour minister.’ quoted SSANU as saying it would reconsider its position if the IPPIS was updated to accommodate the peculiarities captured by the UGPPPS.

The immediate past President of SSANU, Samson Ugwoke, said this on Saturday while presenting his successor, Mohammed Ibrahim, to Ngige.

In response to Ugwoke, the minister said the Federal Government would look into the payment system as demanded by SSANU.

He, however, pointed out that any of such systems must have  “a handshake with the IPPIS and other payment systems  in use by the Federal Government.”

According to the statement, Ugwoke commended Ngige for “his understanding of various challenges facing Nigerian  workers operating under different unions, the  patience and transparency with which you mediate, reawaken  hope in us  that government is committed to the welfare of workers.”

Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, said only one issue remained to be resolved between the government and ASUU.

Echono who stated this in Abuja on Saturday during the professional examination for teachers, said, “The government is working very closely. We are very concerned and the President is very concerned about this protracted (ASUU) strike which, to so many of us, is unnecessary. We believe there are other ways of getting things done.

“There’s a shared acceptance of so many of the issues and we are at a point that very quickly and soon, it (the strike) will be resolved. There’s only one issue in contention.”