AfCFTA: SON Charges Traders To Ensure Their Wares Are Of The Highest Quality Standards

SON DG (middle) flanked by officials of Alaba International Market Electrical Dealers Association of Nigeria (EDAN)
SON DG (middle) flanked by officials of Alaba International Market Electrical Dealers Association of Nigeria (EDAN)

Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has tasked traders to uphold the highest quality standards inorder to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The Director-General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, gave the advice at a sensitisation workshop for Electrical Dealers Association of Nigeria (EDAN) at the Alaba International Market, Lagos on Friday.
Salim said the advice was to ensure the market took its rightful place as the largest market in West Africa, in the AfCFTA and to attract customers globally.
He revealed the agency’s willingness to work with the association in ensuring that the market was free from substandard goods.
“In other for the market to have a good reputation and to have more customers across the world especially with this open border policy in the AfCFTA, it is very important for them to police themselves, find out those people with bad products and report them to us so that we can take them out of the market.
“So far, they have not given us a reason to doubt their commitment towards eradicating substandard goods.
“I commend the association for serving Nigerians with quality products, because if not for you, the country would have been dominated by foreign goods.
“Anybody here with certification or who has genuine products does not have a problem with SON,” he said.
The SON DG advised the association to always insist on quality products, warning that substandard electronics and electrical products were life endangering products capable of causing destruction.
“You are dealing with electronics and electrical products and these goods can cause fire explosion that would destroy lives and property and it is not discriminatory.
“Once you introduce a bad product into the market, you are exposing not just consumers to danger, but also your families.
“We are not here to spoil your business so let us collaborate as we are going all over the country to take the gospel of standardisation nationwide.
“Let’s join hands to ensure no bad products is imported to Nigeria. We would not allow people to bring their problems down to the country and still get away with it,” he said.
Executive Chairman, EDAN, Mr Fabian Ezeorjika, said the market authority in complementing the efforts of SON had constituted internal mechanism to checkmate the efforts of those indulging in manufacturing, importation or exportation of sub-standard products.
He added that the association had also constituted an adhoc committee called Standard and Anti-Adulteration Committees, vested with the responsibilities of standardising and regulating the quality of products in the electrical section.
He stated that the association would continue to work with SON to arrest and punish defaulters according to the association’s constitution and report them when necessary.
“We made it very clear during our inauguration in 2016, that we will continue to partner with governmental agencies to eradicate sub-standard products out of the market.
“We shall uphold and implement government policies formulated to keep sub-standard products totally out of our markets,” he stated.
He assured SON of the association’s resolve to completely abide by its establishment act and regulations to complement already existing cordial relationship between them.

Nigeria’s Infrastructure Must Improve By 5% Annually To Boost Productivity — CBN

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele says the country’s infrastructure must improve by between 5 to 7 per cent for it to stimulate productivity and sustainable growth for businesses.

Emefiele disclosed this in. a keynote address at the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria’s (FICAN) 30th-anniversary conference and awards which had the theme: “Financing Infrastructure & SMEs for inclusive growth in the post-COVID-19 economy”, held in Lagos on Saturday.

He explained that despite being a sector of the economy which has been a major driver of growth, innovation and job creation, the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) potential to spur growth and create jobs has been hampered by lack of access to quality infrastructure.

The CBN Governor who was represented by the apex bank’s Director, Corporate Communications, Mr Osita Nwasinobi, noted that though countries in sub-Saharan Africa have been spending about 6 – 12 per cent of their GDP annually on infrastructure, Nigeria is projected to need US$100 billion investment to fix its infrastructural gap annually for the next 30 years, which is currently estimated to be about 1.2 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“Beyond infrastructure, access to finance remains one of the biggest threats to MSME development in both developed and developing economies alike, with serious implications for productivity, economic development, and job creation,” he added.

Emefiele asserted, “The financing gap for MSMEs in Nigeria is estimated to be about N617.3 billion annually pre-Covid-19 pandemic, as less than 5 percent of these businesses have access to adequate finance to support their working capital and business expansion needs (PwC). Other constraints to MSME development in Nigeria, as noted in the survey, included difficulty in finding customers, infrastructure deficit, insufficient cash flows, multiple taxations, regulatory burden, and sub-optimal implementation of the provisions of the MSME policy.”

He also revealed that the apex bank has put in place several policy measures to stimulate economic growth and reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerians and its intervention efforts represented about 3.5 per cent of the GDP.

The CBN he reiterated has remained committed to fulfilling its developmental mandate by collaborating with stakeholders across infrastructure and MSME segments in order to boost domestic output.

“There is an urgent need for fiscal authorities to collaborate with the Central Bank of Nigeria to change the lenses through which they look at MSMEs and infrastructure development, by developing innovative policy measures to unlock the potential of these enterprises to drive innovation and industrialisation. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, without adequate infrastructure, the Nigerian economy cannot overcome its structural challenges and achieve growth, as well as development,” the CBN Governor opined.

Meanwhile, the Managing Director/CEO, Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo, who was represented by Olusegun Akanji, Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, argued that the government cannot solve the country’s infrastructure challenges, noting that it is the private sector that will deliver the solution.

The government can only provide enabling policies that will support private sector interventions. We need the global private sector intervention to help us achieve a vision of infrastructural development,” he mentioned.

Sekibo noted that until the country developed an identity management system that delivers value to the citizenry, SMEs will continue to grapple with financing challenges.

He explained that though the banking industry has financed a lot of SMEs in terms of count, that it is the sector that has the largest numbers of bad loans and frauds in terms of count.

Bola Koko, Managing Director of FMDQ Group, represented by Yomi Osinubi, Head Private Market, urged Nigeria to conceive a way its domestic capital market could fund the international capital market.

That, he said, was the only way that we could pluck the infrastructure rewards.

“If we want to pluck our infrastructure rewards, first of all we have to conceive of a way our domestic capital market can actually fund capital market.

“But the investors in debt capital market international and debt, money will come into an environment where capital is expected and there is an expectation of good management of those resources and cash flows will come back to it.

“So I think there’s the issue of maybe an underlying structure where we want to put in capital like road infrastructure tax payment.

” If you want SMEs to get the best benefits of infrastructure development in the country, the CBN Governor mentioned the largest areas of course for SMEs which is energy. The second largest is the logistics, movements of cargo around the country,” he said.

Temidayo Obisan, Executive Commissioner representing the Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) advised that the nation connected the right duration of money which according to him would be long-term. “The major thing to identify is that infrastructure is a long-term thing, so it Is essential we connect the right duration of money which is long term capital which is what capital market provides and which sec as a regulator should.

“We have about three surviving infrastructure focus funds in Nigeria now that are totalling almost a 100bn, itching about 90 billion at the moment and there are some that are registered programmes of 200billion,” he said.

More so, the Chairman of FICAN, Titus Chima Nwokoji, said if Nigeria’s infrastructural gap, which is estimated to be N36 trillion annually, is addressed, a lot of the country’s economic challenges will be easily tackled.

“And coming out of COVID-19 pandemic, we know that if the infrastructure is fixed and SMEs thrive, the growth that you see will be faster,” he added.

Lekki Port Delegation Visits NPA

From left: Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko ( Left), presents the authority’s plaque to the Managing Director, Lekki Port, Du Ruogang during a working visit to the NPA’s Marina, Lagos corporate headquarters.
From left: Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko ( Left), presents the authority’s plaque to the Managing Director, Lekki Port, Du Ruogang during a working visit to the NPA’s Marina, Lagos corporate headquarters.

The management of the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA recently played host to the executives of the Lekki Port, who were on a one-day working visit to the agency.

The aim of the visit sims partly to strengthen the already existing synergy between both organisations so as to ensure smooth takeoff of the port.

Acting Managind Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello Koko led other top management staff of the authority to receive the visiting team led by the Managing Director of Lekki Port, Du Ruogang.

NIMASA Commended For Its CSR initiative For Displaced Persons In Kaduna And Gombe State

-R), Secretary to the Kaduna State Government, Balarabe Abbas; DiG NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh;  Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Kaduna State, Lady Aisha Dikko during the presentation of the relief and empowerment materials by the DG to the Kaduna State Government recently.
-R), Secretary to the Kaduna State Government, Balarabe Abbas; DiG NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh; Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Kaduna State, Lady Aisha Dikko during the presentation of the relief and empowerment materials by the DG to the Kaduna State Government recently.

The management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA have been commended for initiating a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative mainly targeted at empowering internally displaced persons across the country.

Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el- Rufai gave the commendation
while receiving the agency’s management team led by the Director General, Dr Bashir Jamoh who were in the state to present relief and empowerment materials to assist internally displaced persons to enhance their resettlement process into the society. 

The governor maintained that the investment by NIMASA in the educational sector through its CSR initiative is considered an investment in the future of Kaduna State.

 “We in kaduna State are very glad for this intervention by NIMASA and your continuous effort to support us particularly in the educational sector . We recognise your role in assisting our administration to deliver quality governance to Kaduna State. We in Kaduna have a worthy ambassador.  Dr jamoh has shown real commitment to the growth of Kaduna State and Nigeria at large. He is an asset to the Nigerian nation”, El-Rufai stated.

The DG, in an earlier speech had explained that the quest to support the efforts of Government in re integrating Internally Displaced Persons into the society was the driving force behind the Agency’s intervention.

“As a responsible Agency of Government, we decided to heed the call for support to state governments to re integrate internally displaced persons into the society.  So far, 26 states have benefitted from the scheme and Kaduna is the 27th. Our aim is to ensure that displaced persons in various states in Nigeria are assisted to begin normal life and attain self-reliance without being a burden on the government.

“Our interventions are in three categories, income generating palliatives to facilitate means of livelihood via self-employment for direct and indirect employment, food items and educational materials. We acknowledge the fact that education is key to capacity development and nation building”, he said .
In the same vein Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Danjuma Goje, has commended NIMASA’s management donation of relief and empowerment materials to displaced persons in Gombe State while acknowledging the timeliness of the intervention.

The empowerment materials donated by NIMASA include tri cycles, sewing machines, grinding machines, sugar cane extractors, vulcanising and welding machines amongst others. Also included in the CSR intervention by NIMASA in both Kaduna and Gombe States were household and food items

NDIC bags FICAN Financial Journalism Support Award

NDIC's Director, Communication & Public Affairs, Mr Bashir Nuhu (Left) receiving Award of Special Recognition for Support to Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) and Financial Journalism in Nigeria on behalf of  NDIC MD/CE from former MD, Bank of Industry, Dr. Waheed Olagunju while FICAN President, Chima Nwokoji watches in admiration yesterday in Lagos.
NDIC’s Director, Communication & Public Affairs, Mr Bashir Nuhu (Left) receiving Award of Special Recognition for Support to Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) and Financial Journalism in Nigeria on behalf of  NDIC MD/CE from former MD, Bank of Industry, Dr. Waheed Olagunju while FICAN President, Chima Nwokoji watches in admiration yesterday in Lagos.

NDIC’s Director, Communication & Public Affairs, Mr Bashir Nuhu (Left) receiving Award of Special Recognition for Support to Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) and Financial Journalism in Nigeria on behalf of  NDIC MD/CE from former MD, Bank of Industry, Dr. Waheed Olagunju while FICAN President, Chima Nwokoji watches in admiration today in Lagos.

Mobile Financial Services Use In Sub-Saharan Africa More Than Triples In Six Years – Ericsson Report

Young Woman Making Payment Withpb
A major new Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) Consumer and Market Insight report titled Mobile Financial Services on the Rise reveals that nearly half of all consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa use mobile financial services in 2021 – a more-than three-fold increase in the last six years.
According to the report, seventy percent consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa believe that faster transactions would encourage them to use mobile money services more in the future
Ericsson’s mobile financial solutions has therefore made financial transaction management as easy as sending a text – conveniently bringing banking to billions worldwide. This is in addition to the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of mobile financial services by about half of all consumers in the region.

Ericsson’s mobile financial solutions has therefore made financial transaction management as easy as sending a text – conveniently bringing banking to billions worldwide
Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of mobile financial services. About half of all consumers in the region currently use mobile financial services
The Mobile Financial Services on the Rise report also highlights the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on mobile financial services uptake, with 54 percent of consumers saying that they use mobile financial services transactions more now. About 70 percent are more positive towards mobile financial services as a preferred contactless alternate to cash. The report research was conducted by Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab in early 2021. It surveyed 3,200 consumers across six Sub-Saharan African countries – Senegal, Angola, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Ethiopia – to assess the growth of mobile financial services in light of technology and infrastructure gains across the region, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic impact on financial behavior.
The report highlights that users list faster transactions as the number one factor that would encourage them to use mobile money services more often in the near future. About 70 percent believe that faster transactions would encourage them to use mobile money services more while 51 percent highlighted higher security.
Most non-users are now aware of mobile financial services, with as many as 8-in-10 saying they are very interested to start using it.
Lucky La Riccia, Vice President and Head of Digital Services, Ericsson Middle East and Africa, says: “This new research underlines the significant empowering role thatj mobile financial services play in Sub-Saharan Africa, both in combating the impact of the pandemic and in fuelling economic development across Africa through the transformational potential of expanded and affordable access to financial solutions.”
The b adds: “Our aim is to support the digitalization of Africa through technologies such as mobile broadband. Ericsson’s mobile financial solutions support this aim as we accelerate financial inclusion.”
Communications Service dProviders (CSPs) are the most popular mobile financial services supplier, with up to 90 percent of Sub-Saharan African mobile financial services users now using the technology through these companies.
Mobile financial services are currently enabling basic financial services such as withdraw, transfer, storing money, as well as advanced services such as microfinance and insurance.
Ericsson’s mobile financial solutions are aimed at making management of financials as easy as sending a text so that banking can be conveniently brought to billions worldwide.
The Ericsson Wallet Platform is already used by numerous CSPs worldwide to serve nearly 300 million registered users. Ericsson’s Wallet Platform provides secure, reliable, and flexible platforms that help build an interconnected and transparent financial ecosystem, supporting CSPs and countries in the region to fulfil economic growth.
Z:
Mobile factor that would encourage them to use mobile money services more often in the near future. About 70 percent believe that faster transactions would encourage them to use mobile money services more while 51 percent highlighted higher security.
Most non-users are now aware of mobile financial services, with as many as 8-in-10 saying they are very interested to start using it.
Lucky La Riccia, Vice President and Head of Digital Services, Ericsson Middle East and Africa, says: “This new research underlines the significant empowering role that mobile financial services play in Sub-Saharan Africa, both in combating the impact of the pandemic and in fuelling economic development across Africa through the transformational potential of expanded and affordable access to financial solutions.”
He adds: “Our aim is to support the digitalization of Africa through technologies such as mobile broadband. Ericsson’s mobile financial solutions support this aim as we accelerate financial inclusion.”
Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are the most popular mobile financial services supplier, with up to 90 percent of Sub-Saharan African mobile financial services users now using the technology through these companies.
Mobile financial services are currently enabling basic financial services such as withdraw, transfer, storing money, as well as advanced services such as microfinance and insurance.
Ericsson’s mobile financial solutions are aimed at making management of financials as easy as sending a text so that banking can be conveniently brought to billions worldwide.
The Ericsson Wallet Platform is already used by numerous CSPs worldwide to serve nearly 300 million registered users. Ericsson’s Wallet Platform provides secure, reliable, and flexible platforms that help build an interconnected and transparent financial ecosystem, supporting CSPs and countries in the region to fulfil economic growth.

Jobberman Launches Alliance For Better Work Initiative 

        

Jobberman logo
Jobberman logo

The initiative is a commitment for companies to employ from a talent pool of over 180,000 jobseekers

Jobberman, the single largest job placement website in sub-Saharan Africa, has announced its Alliance for Better Work initiative, as part of its longstanding partnership with the Mastercard Foundation. The employer-centred initiative is geared to radically bolster recruitment in Nigeria, with a focus on driving female hires and providing integrated end-to-end support on the easy to use online jobs platform. Large corporations to SMEs in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Kaduna will be able to capitalise on access to over 182,000 pre-vetted jobseekers between the age of 18-35, segmented by industry and qualification level and with a core focus on the agricultural, creative and digital sectors in Nigeria.

The Alliance for Better Work has been designed to improve job retention, workplace productivity, business and, crucially, bridge the gap on gender unemployment which according  to recent data is 35.2% compared to 31.8% for men. To-date, employers have faced challenges such as cost for training new employees, a flood of unfiltered applications and wide skills gap. 

The campaign will run in parallel to Jobberman’s successful soft skills training program, which has already equipped 190,628 young people between the age of 18-35 for the workplace, as well as placing more than 82,600 in dignified employment.  The latest drive will see the pioneering platform draw from its leading expertise in the market to tackle both strands of recruitment with equal volition and on course to reach its target of securing employment for 3 million young people by 2025.

The Alliance will establish a commitment between Jobberman and employers in the agriculture, creative, digital, finance, healthcare, retail/FMCG, advertising and education sectors to #hirebetter and move beyond the inertia of costly recruitment processes. According to Jobberman’s data insights, companies can spend an average of 4-6 weeks on their hiring process and cost an estimated 20-25% of the annual gross salary of a candidate to recruit. 

The Alliance for Better Work is an exclusive  recruitment club that gives employers access to the largest pool of trained quality candidates in the country, innovative end-to-end recruitment and post-hiring support, brand amplification, and exclusive rates, all tailored to companies specific needs.

Speaking on the initiative, Rolake Rosiji, CEO of Jobberman Nigeria said, “The Alliance for Better Work is ultimately about unlocking the competitive advantage of  Nigerian companies, often lost in long and poor cycles of recruitment. By joining forces with Nigeria’s most astute companies we aim to set a standard of progressive recruitment practices that will allow businesses to flourish. Plus, this opens up the opportunity to accelerate our mandate with Young Africa works in placing  trained young people in dignified work. Employees are a company’s greatest asset and Jobberman has the experience, the tools, platform and the resources to make this a reality for employers.”

Country Head Nigeria, Mastercard Foundation, Chidinma Lawanson added, “The Mastercard Foundations Young Africa strategy aims to give 10 million youth, and women  access to dignified and fulfilling work in Nigeria – 70% of which must be women. The  Foundations’ partnership with Jobberman is one of the many ways that we intend to achieve  this. The launch of the Alliance for Better Work Campaign is intentional in filling the gap in the  recruitment process, particularly as it pertains to gender unemployment. We look forward to  seeing its impact.”

With over a decade in the recruitment business, Jobberman has used its platform to develop job seeker skill sets, identify gaps in the labour market and streamlined the hiring processes for employers. The partnership with the Mastercard Foundation is steering transformative change in the issues surrounding unemployment in Nigeria. The partnership aims to train 5 million job seekers and place 3 million in dignified employment over the next five years. 

Companies interested in being a part of the Alliance for Better Work campaign can sign-up here: www.jobberman.com/employer/hirebetter or by sending an email to connect@jobberman.com 

Obateru: Celebrating A Quintessential PR Man at 60

Official Handover of the former Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Dr. Kennie Obateru, to his successor, Mr. Garba Deen Muhammad, held at the NNPC Towers Abuja
Official Handover of the former Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Dr. Kennie Obateru, to his successor, Mr. Garba Deen Muhammad, held at the NNPC Towers, Abuja.

By Obinna Nwachi

The job of managing the image and reputation of a company that many love to hate and others hate to love is no mean task. Very often, one leaves the job inheriting the ‘enemies’ of the company as personal enemies. Very rarely does one leave the job in a gale of accolades as Dr. Kennie Obateru is doing today from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) upon clocking the statutory retirement age of 60.

Obateru assumed office as the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC in March 2020 at a time when various countries across the world, including Nigeria, were going into lockdown to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. He quickly retooled the Division to be able to promptly respond to the challenges of the time. This saw the robust engagement of the Corporation’s publics with the Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari, leading the charge in clarifying the issues around production cuts, decline in crude oil sales and efforts to shore up revenues for the nation.

Apart from ensuring the vigorous implementation of the corporation’s Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE) through timely communication of NNPC’s operations and activities, Obateru maintained an open-door policy which ensured prompt handling of all enquiries. This obviously resulted in a near-zero bad press for the NNPC in the one and half years he held sway as the chief reputation manager.

Speaking on Obateru’s style and professionalism, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, stated that he owed the very cordial relationship his agency enjoys with NNPC to Obateru’s engaging human relations skills. “It is with mixed feelings I learnt about Kennie’s retirement. Kennie Obateru is a very tall man, taller in ideas but tallest in competence and integrity. He’s a man of details, learns lessons from opportunities and from the ups and downs of life. We had a smooth working relationship with the NNPC during his tenure and it was all due to his style,” he declared.

Stakeholders from across all sectors of the oil and gas industry who had the good fortune to encounter him in his long career that spanned 29 years across various subsidiaries and the Corporate Headquarters of the Corporation are all agreed about Obateru’s excellent human relations skills. One of such is Sopuruchi Onwuka, the publisher of Oracle News who traced his first encounter with Obateru to his days at the Manager, Public Affairs Department, Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He described Obateru as a thoroughbred public relations professional and a perfect relationship manager who succeeded in getting the public to see NNPC through him.

“He is down to earth in his dealing with people. He is polite and urbane. He doesn’t talk down on you or force you to accept his point of view, he wins you over. Another thing I find particularly fascinating about Dr. Obateru is his ability to listen patiently and respond to issues no matter how busy he is. If his busy schedule makes it difficult to take your call and respond to your questions immediately, he will send a text message that he will get back to you, and he returns with answers,” Onwuka stated.

From colleagues and media practitioners who had to deal with daily in the course of his job, none could think of anything negative to say about Obateru as a person or his style as a reputation manager. A veteran energy journalist, Mr Olusola Bello, who related with him closely for years in the course of his job described Obateru thus: “He is a very competent public relations man, he knows his job. He is very accessible and always reaching out. In fact he has a way of drawing people close and taking them into confidence about developments in the industry. This style made it difficult for a lot of us to do stories that could impact on NNPC and its subsidiaries negatively because it would make you feel guilty that you are betraying your source”.

Bello’s submission holds the secret to the general positive reportage NNPC enjoyed throughout Obateru’s tenure as the corporation’s spokesman, a job for which he came fully prepared by virtue of his vast experience within the NNPC and the oil industry. Before his appointment as the Group General Manger, Group Public Affairs of the NNPC in 2020, he was the General Manager, NNPC London Office.

He joined the services of the Corporation in 1992 as an experienced hire and since then has held several key and strategic positions in the Public Affairs Division.

He was Manager, Public Affairs of the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), a corporate service unit of the NNPC between 2010 and 2015.

Prior to that, he was Manager, Public Affairs Department, Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC) between 2008 and 2010 and was Manager, Media Relations in the Group Public Affairs Division from 2007 to 2008.

Dr. Obateru was Deputy Manager, Media Relations in GPAD between 2006 and 2007, and served as a team member in Project PACE-SMS, CP Core Process Teams between 2005 and 2006.

From 2001 to 2005, he served as Supervisor, Budget & Planning in GPAD. He also doubled as Supervisor, Audio Visual, between 2000 and 2001. His versatility was brought to bear on the print side of the corporate communication business when he diligently served as Editor, NNPC News, a monthly publication of the Group Public Affairs Division from 1998 to 2000.

Between1993 and1998, Dr. Obateru was the Protocol Officer to the then Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources. He cut his teeth in the Corporation as a Protocol and Consular Officer between 1992 and1993.

He is an alumnus of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos; University of Ilorin and University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom, where he obtained a Certificate in News Reporting, a B.A. (Hons) Performing Arts and an M.Sc. in Public Relations respectively.

In 2012, Obateru joined the doctoral club of eggheads when he was awarded a Doctorate Degree in Management (Honoris Causa) by the Commonwealth University, Belize.

He has attended numerous professional courses and conferences at home and abroad which included three (3) International Public Relations Association Conferences, five (5) World Petroleum Congresses (WPCs) and 15 OPEC Ministerial Conferences among others.

Dr. Obateru is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants, a member of the International Public Relations Association, a senior member of the Africa Public Relations Association as well as a member of the Nigeria Institute of Management.

His hobbies include Lawn Tennis, Table Tennis, reading and dancing. Dr. Obateru is happily married and his union is blessed with four children.

Dr. Obateru bows out after 29 years of meritorious service to the NNPC.

Obinna Nwachi, a public commentator and analyst, wrote in from Abuja.

Bello-Koko NPA
Bello-Koko NPA
Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko says the Authority is poised to leverage Nigeria’s status as Africa’s biggest economy to actualize the country’s maritime hub status in the region, through investments in modern deep seaports that would attract very large merchant vessels with the attendant multiple socio-economic benefits, as well as boost port revenue performance.

Bello-Koko made the comment at the first retreat for the reconstituted board of Directors of the Authority, with the theme “Expanding the Frontiers of Service Excellence” which ended last weekend in Abeokuta, Ogun state.

Speaking on the new direction and measures being put in place to actualize the Authority’s aspirations, the NPA acting Managing Director explained that a lot has been done, especially in the last few months to resolve most of the identified constraints to efficient movement of cargoes to and from port locations.

“Nigeria accounts for about 70 percent of cargoes imported into West and Central Africa and the country controls an impressive stretch of the Atlantic Ocean. Nigeria’s rich aquatic endowments and her border with landlocked nations makes development of deep seaports a huge potential revenue earner for the nation.

The move towards earning the status of hub in the region is in line with our new vision statement which was adopted at the recent NPA Management retreat, “To Be The Maritime Logistics Hub For Sustainable Port System In Africa”, he said.

While describing the board retreat as very timely, he stated that it signposts a unity of purpose and shared vision, where the executive management working closely with every section, unit, department, division and directorate, embrace an all-inclusive strategic outcomes for the Authority with the requisite buy-in of the Board.

“In appreciation of this, I will like to crave the understanding of the Board with regards to executive management’s limitations in actualizing some of our goals and objectives, which I am sure distinguished board members must have noticed in the course of the tour of ports that preceded this retreat” he added.

The acting NPA Boss informed the Board that recent interventions made by the Authority has led to significant improvement in terms of ship and cargo dwell time at the port. He however, explained that “some of the benchmarks we are yet to achieve are dependent on externalities and variables that require concerted inter-agency actions, which the Authority, despite dogged efforts is yet to optimally achieve owing to systemic administrative constraints and red tapism, including conflicting directives from the agencies operating within the port value chain and reporting to different supervising Ministries with jurisdictional overlaps and duplication of functions”, he stressed.

He further informed the Board that concerted efforts are being made to expand the revenue streams of the Authority, in addition to revenue from traditional port operations. According to him, “unlike the practice in our sister francophone countries where government funds dredging of ports, we are responsible for funding ours which put a lot of strain on our resources and capacity to invest in critical port infrastructure.

We are facing decaying port infrastructure, for example sections of the quay aprons or walls at Tin Can Island Port, Onne, Delta and Calabar ports are collapsing and require huge funds to repair them. With the increasing pressure to remit more revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federation, it has become very difficult to have sufficient funds to attend to these decaying facilities, hence the need to explore alternative funding sources outside the traditional port service offerings” he stated.

The NPA acting Managing Director disclosed that the Authority’s Management has began to explore smart ways to boost the revenue performance of the organization.

He explained that the Authority is blessed with prime real estate which could serve as alternative funding sources outside the regular budget. “NPA has a lot of high value landed properties in Onne, Snake Island, and Takwa Bay that are designated free trade zones and mostly allocated but with poor arterial road network and other infrastructure to make them attractive for private investments which would bring good revenue to the Authority and Federal Government.

Management will need the support of the Board to drive the process of alternative revenue sources to actualize the lofty aspirations of the Authority, he posited.

He further said that Management has opened correspondences with some multilateral financial institutions like the French Development Agency (AFD), African Development Bank (AfDB), European Investment Bank (EIB) and Sanlam Infraworks (a Central Bank of Nigeria approved fund manager for InfraCorp), all part of plans to access long term low interest credit, for port infrastructure upgrades and expansion.

Bello-Koko also touched on efforts by the Management to make Nigerian seaports more business friendly. In his words, “ we have been able to deploy technology to address the perennial traffic gridlock that has been frustrating the conduct of business around the Lagos ports corridor. A software application code named “eto” is gradually restoring sanity to trucking business despite the initial teething problems and resistance by vested interests hitherto profiting from the chaos.

The Authority has accredited 33 private truck terminals within the Lagos area, in addition to the Lilypond Truck Transit Park and Tin Can Island Port Truck Transit Park, to ensure trucks do not park indiscriminately on the access roads and would only be allowed to transit to the port after obtaining electronic tickets via the “eto” call-up platform.

The Authority is collaborating with the Lagos State Government to ensure enforcement and compliance with the e-call up system, he said.

Other solutions being implemented is the push to link all seaports to the national rail network as well optimize the use of the inland waterways through the transfer of cargo or containers via barges.

Currently, the Authority is streamlining barge operations to ensure efficiency, safety and cost effective cargo delivery for increased port revenue.

The acting Managing Director in his remarks equally acknowledged recent steps taken by the Ministry of Transportation and the Authority towards the timely execution of the new green-field deep seaport to be domiciled in Bonny, Rivers State.

The Bonny seaport project, boosted by two major railway projects, would massively transform the economic landscape of the country, particularly the South South and South Eastern regions.

Meanwhile, on the South Western axis is the Lekki Deep Seaport which should be operational next year.

The two port projects will usher a new vista of economic prosperity and further consolidate the country’s status as gateway to the African economy, he noted.

Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of the Board, Mr.Emmanuel Adesoye FCA, described the retreat as an opportunity for the Board and Management “not just to rethink our strategies, structures and systems for effective service delivery, but also to unwind, reconnect and strengthen our bonds as team players committed to upholding excellence”, he remarked.

The Chairman called for clear and deliberate efforts by the NPA towards efficient operations, competitive and diversified export driven economy; a strong and incentive based system aligned with win-win relationships to enhance profitability and productivity for the concessionaires, NPA, and the Nigerian State; increase in alternative revenue streams; and effective collaboration based on transparency and constant communication with all relevant stakeholders across the port value chain.

The three day event, attended by all board members, attracted seasoned experts in port administration, strategic and creative thinking, stress management, among other relevant subjects. Two former NPA’s Chief Executives namely Chief Adebayo Sarumi CON, and Mr. Felix Ovbude, gave presentations on their experiences and ideas as port administrators. Former General Manager Operations, Mr. Joshua Asanga gave a presentation on “Ways To Improve Port Operations Towards A World Class Port Administration”.

Modular Floating Dockyard:ICRC Delivers Busimess Compliance Certificate To NIMASA

NIMASA DG , Dr. Bashir Jamoh
NIMASA DG, Dr. Bashir Jamoh

The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has presente1d a Certificate of Compliance for an outline Business Case (OBC) for the operation of the Modular Floating Dockyard acquired by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

Acting Director General of the commission, Mr. Michael Ohiani, led a team of ICRC officers to the NIMASA headquarters in Lagos to present the certificate.

Ohiani said the Agency’s outline business case for the Modular Floating Dockyard’s management contract to be operated, maintained, and transferred under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement was in compliance with the ICRC Act 2005 and the National Policy on Public Private Partnership.

Speaking while receiving the Certificate of Compliance, Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said the Modular Floating Dockyard was a national asset. Dr. Jamoh assured that the Agency was committed to the careful deployment of the dry dock in line with relevant regulatory instruments to ensure wealth creation, job creation, and revenue generation for the Federal Government.

He also said issues, such as security, accessibility, and existing complimentary infrastructure on ground, were considered in the development of a business case for the dockyard, which will be managed on a PPP basis with NIMASA and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), on the one hand, and a management company, on the other. ICRC would closely monitor the entire implementation process to ensure equity, fairness, and profitability for the Federal Government.

Dr. Jamoh stated, “It is one thing to have the Modular Dockyard, and another for it to enjoy patronage and be a profitable venture for government. So many funds have been invested in the project and it cannot serve just as a workshop for an institution of learning, as being inferred in some quarters.

“Detailed investigation has also confirmed that the dockyard cannot berth at an area earlier proposed for it. We got approval from our supervising ministry to deploy the asset on a PPP basis and we are working in conjunction with the Nigerian Ports Authority. Our arrangement to utilise facilities at the Continental Shipyard in Apapa is still very much on course.”

The Director General stated that the seeming delay in the deployment of the Floating Dockyard was due basically to the fact that attention was being paid to details to ensure due diligence, compliance with due process and the eventual durability of the project when it becomes operational.

“The floating dockyard is a national asset and we consulted the ICRC, which is the regulatory agency of government, to review the process of deployment to confirm that it is a worthwhile investment on a PPP arrangement, and today they have confirmed to us that we are on the right path,” Jamoh added.

Ohiani also described the Floating Dockyard as a profitable investment by government. He, however, noted that only deployment based on due diligence and effective implementation of the approved business case would ensure the durability of the project.

He stated, “The project is bankable and sustainable. The Nigerian government will get value for money in the project.  The next step is to get the best concessioner to provide the services and a full business case will be prepared and taken to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval.

“ICRC will continue to manage the process and we hope to conclude the entire process before the end of the year. We will also ensure that the concessioner does not charge arbitrary fees when it becomes operational. It is a total package we are delivering to Nigerians and we seek their understanding and patience.”