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Comm Minister Inaugurates New Agencies’ Boards, Charges on ICT Development



By Sarauniya G Usman

The Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, on Tuesday, inaugurated members of the boards of agencies and parastatals under the ministry in Abuja.

While inaugurating the board, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communications, charged the members of board to take their assignment with utmost responsibility and achieve the set goals of the Federal Government.

Shittu, also attributed the major problem besetting the ICT sector in government institutions to inadequate synergy, urging members of the boards to collaborate together towards repositioning the sector for better service delivery.

“I urge you to make this synergy a core principle in your various spheres of authority to facilitate seamless development in the sector. “I have no doubt that you are experienced and eminently qualified for the task ahead. “I must remind you however that your new role confers on you both privileges and great responsibilities requiring high level of commitment and urgency,”He said

The Permanent Secretary,communication ministry, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, , said the inauguration would provide accelerated development in the ICT sector in the country.

He noted that access to ICT has become critical for participation in the economic, political and social life both at the national and global levels. “New technologies such as internet f things, cloud computing, mobile money, etc, are also introducing new possibilities and therefore it is crucial that Nigeria annex the potential of these technologies to promote social and economic development in the country”.

“While the ministry is leading the charge in the overall coordination and oversight of the ICT sector, the agencies under it, which boards are being inaugurated today are established to provide special services to the populace.

Earlier on, Postmaster-General of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), Bisi Adegbuyi, said that the newly-inaugurated board of the agency is to ensure effective corporate governance of the organisation.

According to him, the board will play a complementary role for the organisation to achieve its goals of effective service delivery to its teeming customers and revenue generation for the government. “Corporate governance is sin-qua non to effective service delivery and also you have to form policies and general framework of where you are going because we are reforming and repositioning NIPOST.

“For an organisation like NIPOST that belongs to an international organisation like the Universal Postal Union, we must take decisions expeditiously and in businesslike manner. “ We cannot afford to be left behind in what other postal organisations all over the world are doing, that is why the inauguration of the board is coming at the right time so that we hit the ground rolling to leverage on the opportunities we have.

Adegbuyi said NIPOST was undergoing a restructuring and modernisation process aimed at a thriving market-driven entrepreneurial conglomerate focusing on innovation. He said the board was expected to amend all existing Postal Services laws, enact the Postal Reform law, enhance revenue generation, align work performance and support Federal Government in reducing unemployment. He said that the reform process would rejuvenate staff competencies and skills as well as develop sustainable partnerships.

Responding on behalf of other boards’ members, the Chairman of NIGCOMSAT Board, Chief George Moghalu, said members were fully conscious of the enormity of the responsibility before them.

Moghalu, who assured the minister of their unflinching support towards realising the ministry’s goal, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for finding them worthy for the appointments.

The agencies that were inaugurated include National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) and the Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT).

About 36 members were appointed for the three boards. Other chairmen of the boards include Prof Adeolu Akande (NITDA) and Barrister Maimuna Yahaya Abubakar (NIPOST) while the secretaries of the boards are Director General of NITDA, Isa Pantami (NITDA); Postmaster General of NIPOST, Bisi Adegbuyi (NIPOST) and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communications, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, for NIGCOMSAT.

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New minimum wage goes to National Council of State for discussion



Chris Ngige

Chris Ngige

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, says the proposed new National Minimum Wage will be presented to the National Council of State on Jan. 22.

Ngige disclosed this while speaking with State House correspondents after the National Economic Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday.

The minister said work was still ongoing on the figure, frequency of review, those to be exempted and everything about the bill before it would be ready for transmission to the National Assembly.

“The information minister told you the other day after the Federal Executive Council meeting that we are taking our deliberations to the National Economic Council and then we close up on the 22nd (Jan. 22) at the National Council of State.

“After that, we will be able to say where we are going.

“It is not a question of governors saying they cannot pay N30, 000, discussions are still ongoing and will terminate on 22nd when we meet with the National Council of State.

“Governors are part of Nigeria and they are part of the government’s side of the public sector; so do not disengage them or dis-articulate them from the Federal Government.

“The public is the Federal Government and the state government, and even the local government,’’ Ngige said.

The minister, however, said that the plan was to transmit the National Minimum Wage Bill to the National Assembly on or before Jan. 23 in consonance with the agreement with labour.

On his part, Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, said that the governors were after a National Minimum Wage legislation that “could work.’’

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CBN spurs access to banking services



CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has rolled out measures to ensure that at least 80 per cent of Nigerians have access to banking and other financial services.

The apex bank also on Thursday released new policy frameworks on consumer protection, financial literacy and financial education.

The bank unveiled measures in the National Financial Inclusion Strategy released inb Abuja.

Mrs Aisha Ahmad, the CBN Deputy Governor on Financial System Stability, made the presentation at the National Financial Literacy Stakeholders’ Conference in Abuja.

“Adequate consumer protection is critical to sustaining the long term viability of the financial sector because consumer protection is a necessary precursor to building and maintaining trust in the formal financial sector.

“An essential pillar of any consumer protection regime is consumer education, which is founded on financial literacy.

“The benefits of a financially literate population are immense. Consumers are better equipped to make optimal choices in the use of financial products, pose lower credit and default risk.

“In addition constitute a market for sustainable financial services and promote Financial System Stability by increasing market demand and responsible use of financial services,” she said.

Ahmad said the CBN recently introduced regulations and guidelines for the licensing and operations of Payment Service Banks in furtherance of its efforts to leverage technology to enhance access to financial services for the unbanked.

She said the move was expected to drive down exclusion rates by leveraging wider variety of multiple channels to enhance access to deposit products, payments and remittance services to small businesses and low income households.

Meanwhile, the Director, Consumer Protection Department, CBN, Mr Kofo Salam-Alada, harped on the importance of promoting sound financial system in the country to ensure that consumers continue to have confidence in the sector.

“As we seek to boost the number of consumers in the financial industry through the Financial Inclusion Strategy, it is important that we establish policies, structures and programmes that would engender confidence among the general public.

“This is even more imperative considering the fact that we are only just recovering from a financial crisis that brought the financial system on the brink of collapse.

“All the efforts at strengthening the financial system would be fruitless if there are no concerted efforts to restore trust and confidence among consumers,” he said.

Salam-Alada revealed that since the consumer protection department was set up, it had successfully recovered more than N68 billion in favour of customers who have been shortchanged by their banks.

Also, the Managing Director, Jaiz Bank, Mr Hassan Usman said that the bank was committed to deepening financial services in the country through its non-interest banking strategy.

He said that the bank was currently engaging with women entrepreneurs in rural areas and giving them small loans to grow their businesses while encouraging them to open accounts.

According to him, the aim is to expose them to bank facilities that will grow their businesses in the near future.

The newly released National Financial Inclusion Strategy proposes roles and responsibilities for key stakeholders in the financial sector to reduce financial exclusion rate from the present 36.8 per cent to 20 per cent by 2020.

The key stakeholders are the Federal Government, the Deposit Money Bank’s, Development Finance Institutions, National Insurance Commission, National Pension Commission, National Communication Commission and Nigeria Postal Service among others.

The priority areas identified for the success of the strategy includes “Tiered Know-Your-Customer” regulations, agent banking regulations, national financial literacy strategy and consumer protection.

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Northern Investment Companies, Perform Bellow Expectations- Sanusi II



Emir of Kano, Malam Muhammad Sanusi II

Emir of Kano, Malam Muhammad Sanusi II

By Yakubu Salisu, Kano

The Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, has decried the inability of state owned Northern Investment Companies to meet up with the purpose for which they were set up for.

Sanusi made the remarks yesterday, (Wednesday) in Kano during the maiden conference of state-owned Investment Companies of Northern Nigeria, organized by Kano State Investment and Properties Limited (KSIP).

The Emir, represented by the Dan-Adalan Kano, Isyaku Umar Tofa, said it is sad to note that, the Kano Investment Company which was the key element in the movement of the economy of the state in the past has been crippled by avoidable circumstances due to failure on the part of stakeholders to do the needful in order to salvage the situation

According To him, the Company inherited quite a number of industries back in 1972, which has eventually folded up forcing one to ask where have such industries gone too and what has happened to them.

He said, “ the occasion is not for praises but a time to rethink, a time to re-energize and re-strategize, to ensure that we bring out policies that would really move the Northern Economy forward.

“ I think one of the fundamental thing for the Kano state Investment is to ensure the revival of such industries.

We know all of them, they are there lingering, closed, doing nothing. I would advise the State Investment and property Company to put their search light into the manufacturing sector.

All the manufacturing industries they have inherited should be revived, the money is there is only for us to create the opportunity and tap into them.

He charged them to use their use their connections with great people in the financial sectors with well known names in the capital market, to raise huge capital that would be used in the development of the economy especially in the agricultural, manufacturing and other sectors that are important to the Northern Economy, such as solid minerals, commerce and others.

Chairman of the occasion, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu Wazirin Dutse, revealed that it is sad that the 19 Northern states that owned NNDC have no single banks as against its initial properties of 9 banks.

According to him, as important as banks are to the development of modern economy, it is sad to note that the 19 norther states presently owns no bank as theirs, when compared to the initial state in the late 70s and early 80s when the north has 9 banks.

He added that in most cases government policies are in themselves responsible for the folding of such investment, as bottlenecks and harsh terms aligned as requirement, wouldn’t allow new investments to thrive or at worst wouldn’t allow investment to sprang at all.

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