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Chairman, House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating the operational activities of telecommunications’ equipment and service companies/vendors in Nigeria, Hon. Ahmed Abu (APC, Niger), has said investigations will be extended to determine reasons why Etisalat Group exited the Nigerian market in a rather absurd manner.

Noting that companies “can’t just walk in and walk out just like” anywhere in the world, he said Etisalat’s exit could set a dangerous precedent in the telecommunications industry if something was not done.

He disclosed this in an interview yesterday that former Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Hakeem Bello Osagie, has been invited to give evidence before the committee, alongside other telecommunications chief executives at its resumed hearing today.

The committee is probing alleged N143 billion tax invasion by telecoms firms which have been accused of employing delayed tactics to dodge current reconciliation efforts.

Abu had mulled serving bench warrants against the chief executives of major mobile telecommunications companies over their failure to appear before the committee to defend the allegations.

Meanwhile, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) yesterday said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) determined the rate at which royalties paid in dollars are converted to their naira equivalent before remittance into the federation account.

Speaking during an interface with the House Adhoc Committee investigating revenue leakages in the oil and gas sector from January 2016 to January, 2017 which is chaired by Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe (PDP, Cross River) DPR of Head Planning, Mrs. Folasade Odunuga, urged the committee to pressure the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on why its subsidiary, the National Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), has refused to pay royalties on its crude production activities.

She also said: “NPDC remains the worst debtor in the oil and gas industry.”According to some of the receipts made available to the lawmakers, the remitted amount (in naira) into the federation account fell short of its dollar value using current exchange rates, prompting lawmakers to question the transaction which could have been under the supervision of the DPR.

It was observed that the CBN had been converting dollar remittances using about N167 to $1 instead of the current N305 to $1.

Odunuga, however informed the committee that “royalties on crude oil are paid strictly in dollars directly into the federation account in JP Morgan, managed by the CBN.”

She explained that there are other royalties that come in both naira and dollars, adding that payment invoice is based on what currency it was paid in.

The committee further sought clarification on invoices showing DPR converting dollars into naira before remittance to government accounts. But the DPR officials explained that such is never done as the department doesn’t handle cash directly.

She said: “Receipts are always written after we get our statement of account from the CBN. We do not receive any money nor have any interface with any payment. All payments are made directly to the federation account. It’s their obligation to pay before we evaluate because the law allows them to pay within 90 days.”

Asked why they don’t doubt whatever the CBN gives to them, and if it has never occurred to the DPR that the federal government was being short changed by what the CBN allegedly disclosed as paid in naira component, DPR director, Mordecai Baba Ladan, said: “We’ve had a good working relationship with the CBN over the years and we’ve not had any iota of doubt that what the CBN gave to us was inaccurate. So to say that we go and do independent investigation as to the facts given to us by the CBN has never crossed our minds.”

On why the regulator had not been able to liquidate over $158 million owed by OICs from 2000 to 2015, the head of planing said OICs who are indebted to government have been adamant as to the amount they should remit.

She explained that while the OICs have insisted that what they owe was less than what DPR has evaluated, the worst debtor in the industry is the NPDC which is the exploration arm of the NNPC.

Odunuga told the committee: “We may be children of same father and different mother, and it’s what our father instruct that we should do, and in this case, everybody is expected to pay what’s due to the father, but some are not doing that so we need the House to ask why.”

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FIRSTBANK ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF MRS. OLUWANDE MUOYO AS NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, today announced the appointment of Mrs. Oluwande Muoyo as a Non-Executive Director. Mrs. Muoyo joined the board of FirstBank from FBN Holdings Plc., the parent company of First Bank of Nigeria Limited.

Speaking on her appointment, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, FirstBank said, “We are excited to welcome Mrs. Oluwande Muoyo to the FirstBank Board. She brings to the Board her depth of experience which spans over three decades in various leadership and strategic positions across the private and public sectors. I am assured that these rich experiences will have an immediate impact in the board which will transcend the activities of the Bank as a whole.”

“On behalf of the board, management and staff of FirstBank, I congratulate Mrs Muoyo and look forward to working with her,” he concluded.

Oluwande Muoyo was appointed to the Board of First Bank of Nigeria Limited in 2020.  She is a Chartered Accountant, Banker and former Honourable Commissioner for Budget and Planning in Ogun State.

Prior to being appointed an Honourable Commissioner, Oluwande worked with Stanbic IBTC Bank for over 22 years in various parts of the bank, including Financial Control, Treasury and Financial Services, Trade Finance and Corporate Banking. She holds a BSc degree in Accounting from the University of Lagos. She started her professional career with the international firm Price Waterhouse (now PriceWaterhouseCoopers). A Fellow of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Oluwande has, over the years, acquired competencies and skills in public financial management, policy formulation, business development, banking, budgeting, planning, auditing and taxation.

Her past Directorships include the Governing Board of the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics and FBN Holdings Plc. Oluwande has attended many training programmes including Strategic Marketing Management at Harvard Business School, Advanced Strategy at INSEAD and Advanced Management Programme at the Lagos Business School. Oluwande is married with children and enjoys reading and swimming.

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SMART MONEY WOMAN: FIRSTBANK PARTNERS ARESE UGWU, UNVEILS TV SERIES OF THE AWARD WINNING BOOK

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced its partnership with Arese Ugwu for the TV adaptation of her best seller, Smart Money Woman. The weekly show – in its first season – is billed to premiere on Africa Magic Showcase on Wednesday, 23rd September 2020 at 9:30pm.

The Smart Money Woman is a programme that shows the experiences, sacrifices, struggles and vigour of women in society as they carry out their day to day activities in spite of the gender imbalance in the society, especially in Africa.  The series is an adaptation of Smart Money Woman written to tackle debt, providing tips on inculcating the right savings culture of the African middle class (why don’t we say – every individual – as against limiting to African middle class), the fear and misconceptions surrounding money and the lack of it, love, friendships, cultural and societal pressures and the roles they play in success.

The half hour 13-episode series which is directed by Bunmi Ajakaiye and Co-, produced by Kemi Lala Akindoju, Akin Marinho and Arcadia Tv Africa will have viewers exposed to financial literacy nuggets. Its cast include; Osas Ighodaro, Toni Tones, Ini Dima-Okojie, Eby Eno, Eso Okolocha, Timini Egbuson, Karibi Fubara, Tope Tedela, Seun Ajayi and Temisan Emmanuel.

According to Author and Executive Producer, Smart Tribe Media, Arese Ugwu; “The Smart Money Woman is a love letter to every modern and upwardly mobile African women who are exploring life opportunities and experiences to find that right balance in their day to day activities especially in their career, friendship, relationship and of course, family.”

“We thank First Bank of Nigeria Limited for being the first corporate sponsor to believe in my dream and take a chance on a first-time producer. This is a partnership we are pleased to reckon with, whilst we recognise how they have successfully empowered women across the geo-political zones in Nigeria through its various initiatives, especially the FirstGem product. They have provided mentoring, support and capacity building opportunities for all to create a new generation of financially literate women thereby contributing to the continued growth and development of the country.”

Speaking on the TV show, Folake Ani-Mumuney, the Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said “FirstBank has been at the forefront of promoting female empowerment and we understand the role financial literacy plays in deepening financial inclusion, whilst promoting female independence. The essence of the TV programme is to raise financial awareness to inspire every individual in the society, especially women, to make informed choices and take effective actions for their financial wellbeing, she concluded.”

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Paxful builds fourth school of its 100 school initiative supporting communities in emerging markets

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Global peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace, Paxful (www.Paxful.com), has announced that they will be building a fourth school in its #BuiltwithBitcoin’s (https://BuiltWithBitcoin.org) 100-school initiative which aims to bring quality education centers to emerging countries. Located in Nigeria, the school will come fully equipped with a state-of-the-art solar-powered and water well system.

The new school will be built in the Ankara Nandu community of Sanga Local in Nigeria and will serve an estimated 100-120 children between the ages of three to six years old. Home to roughly 4,000 people, the city currently has only one school facility which is being used for both primary and secondary school purposes.

“We chose this particular community because of the limited resources and school infrastructure,” says Ray Youssef, CEO and co-founder of Paxful. “They are in dire need of quality learning spaces and this school is an honest representation of the impact Bitcoin can have on societies as a whole, and more specifically, how it can enhance education.”

The new school will double as an adult learning space in the evenings assisting in providing hundreds of people with a supplemental education. In response to safety requirements associated with COVID-19, The company will also provide Personal Protective Equipment for all teachers and students including face-masks and hand sanitizers.

Earlier in September, the company revealed (https://bit.ly/35Vrj88) its business expansion into Nigeria, their leading market in Africa in terms of volume and number of users. To strengthen operations and cement a physical presence in the country, Paxful appointed Nena Nwachukwu as Regional Manager for Nigeria.

Movement to empower education in Africa

Supporting over 400 students at present, Paxful’s #BuiltwithBitcoin initiative began in 2017 with partner Zam Zam Water, a humanitarian organisation devoted to eradicating poverty by providing clean, sustainable water and access to quality education to villages across the globe. The first two schools were built in Rwanda and the third school was built in Mukalala Village in Machakos County in Kenya earlier this year.

Through the 100-school plan, the company expects to bring education to nearly 15,000 young people throughout Africa while providing jobs to nearly 300 teachers. All schools, including the newest location in Nigeria, come with water filtration systems, not just to supply the locals, but also to give them an opportunity to sell the water to their local community at a very affordable price.

All the schools are also equipped with solar panels to cut spends on electricity and bypass regular electricity cuts. Paxful covers all fees associated with running a school including teacher and support staff salaries, bills for electricity and water as well as school supplies and uniforms for the students.

Supporting ongoing development and tracking success

All the completed schools under the #BuiltwithBitcoin initiative are progressing and performing very well as the company remains committed in providing the necessary tools and opportunity for the students to succeed. Continuous upgrades are made, and maintenance of the schools are monitored.

The passing rates within these schools have been higher as the confidence of the students are boosted with each child receiving their own textbooks in addition to basic school stationery supplies. Usually students share handbooks and textbooks and leave them at the school for use by other students.

As the communities always have more students than what the schools’ capacity can cater for, the initiative adopted a two-tier class approach, by having all the schools provide classes in four-hour blocks in the mornings and in the afternoons. This helps to support the highest number of students possible and not allow the quality of education to be affected. Desk space has also been limited to two to three students per bench to facilitate a healthy teaching environment.

Understanding the important role, they play in the success of the schools and learning journeys of the students, teachers and educators at these schools are also paid 15% above the national average of their salary, respective to their country.

“Each one of our schools follows the curriculum of their respective ministry of education. All textbooks, guidelines, and calendars fulfill all necessary requirements for testing and progress. Local officials have been supportive of the initiative’s efforts as we simply want the students to be able to succeed and graduate onto higher education by ensuring their educational foundation is strong and capable,” adds Youssef.

Aside from building schools, #Builtwithbitcoin has also supported a number of other philanthropic causes in various countries including Kenya and South Africa.

Donations are accepted on a rolling bases on https://BuiltWithBitcoin.org and will be used to aid in the completion of the new school in Nigeria among additional #BuiltwithBitcoin initiatives including Paxful’s Africa Fund for COVID-19. Paxful will kick off donations for building the school in Nigeria with an initial injection of $35,000 of funds in BTC.

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