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CACOVID unfolds N150bn youth devt project, four million jobs

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  • Okays N100bn to equip police, destroyed stations

The Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) says it has set aside N150 billion for a youth development programme to support the Federal Government’s job creation initiative.

The private sector-led coalition also said it planned to spend N100 billion in the next two years to renovate and buy rifles as well as other security gadgets for the Nigeria Police Force, with special focus on the 44 police stations destroyed by hoodlums in the wake of the #EndSARS protest against police brutality.

Co-Chair, CACOVID and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, gave the detailed projects at a media briefing in Lagos on Wedneday.

He spoke in the company with the President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Chairman, United Bank for Africa Plc, Mr. Tony Elumelu; and Group Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Chief Herbert Wigwe.

Emefiele said, “As a result, CACOVID has committed to creating a high impact youth development programme that will provide technical and vocational education to over four million Nigerian youths over the next five years.

“Students will be trained on craftwork, plumbing, masonry, carpentry, and other artisanal related skills for which sufficient demand exist in Nigeria.”

According to him, selected students on the conclusion of the programme will be certified by the appropriate standards board and will be eligible to receive loans to support their entrepreneurial pursuits.

“So far, over N25 billion will be domiciled in a fund to support these entrepreneurial pursuits, which would also include acquisition of related equipment to conduct business activities.

“The ultimate objective is to provide young Nigerians with employable skill sets that will enable them to live a gainful life. We believe this initiative can lead to the creation of over four million jobs over the next five years,” he added.

For the out-of-school graduates that possess certain entrepreneurial skills, Emefiele also said CACOVID would be working with the Bankers’ Committee to complete the creative centre at the National Arts Theatre, Lagos in four select areas namely: ICT and software design / development, fashion, music, and movies.

The project is expected to cost the Bankers’ Committee over N40 billion, he said.

“Given the impact, the unrest had on the conduct of business activities, members of CACOVID has committed to developing a business continuity plan that will enable businesses and firms to share timely information and resources to forestall physical or cyber-attacks, which could derail the smooth functioning of business activities in the country,” he stated.

However, Emefiele while rendering account of the activities of the private sector-led initiative, said the group received a total of N39.64 billion as donations from members of the private sector and spent N43.272 billion on various interventions, including N28.7 billion on food relief, as palliatives to 1.7 million households translating to eight million Nigerians.

He explained that the ultimate objective of CACOVID is to work with the government in providing support in areas that would result in improved health and societal outcomes.

He said the group sought to aid the government in improving testing capability, and management of positive cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

In addition, CACOVID was expected to provide palliatives to vulnerable members of the society, particularly those who earn daily incomes, and had been severely affected by the lockdown.

He thanked Nigerians and businesses that supported CACOVID in its efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria, as well as in catering for vulnerable Nigerians.

He said banks and financial institutions would extend reliefs through concessionary loans to affected businesses and firms, to enable them to rebuild and restock their stores and continue to conduct their business activities.

 

Emefiele said to further strengthen the security apparatus in the country, CACOVID has committed to providing over N100 billion to procure equipment and gadgets for the Nigerian Police Force over the next two years as its contribution to fully modernise the Nigerian police.

“Providing adequate security is not only the task before the government but also that of the private sector,” he said.

The CBN governor said owners of business premises desire a secure environment to conduct their legitimate businesses.

“We, therefore, seize this opportunity to once again, appeal to members of the private sector, who we will be calling on again, to rally round CACOVID to secure not only our businesses but also our country,” he said.

Speaking at the briefing, Dangote explained that training the youths on technical and vocational jobs would also enable the federal government to draw a database on various skills for vocational jobs.

He said: “We would have a database so that you don’t just call an armed robber to your house. You can go into that data and call someone. We all have repairs, and with that data, you can know who to call for repairs.

“What we are doing is that we are providing them with money to buy tools. So as soon as they get the training which is free, which we are paying for, then they have the guarantee that they would get jobs.

“We have about 30,000 workers at our (Dangote) site, which we are planning to get to 50,000. Only 25 to 28 per cent of that would be foreign workers and the rest will be Nigerians who would be trained.”

Elumelu assured Nigerians that CACOVID will support the federal government.

He said: “The CBN governor has done extremely well. We used to be in banking together, but I didn’t realise his level of passion for the country until we started CACOVID.

“With the level of passion, every day since March this year, we spent several hours discussing how to intervene in the economy through CACOVID.

“So, at times when you hear things outside, you begin to shake your head and say if only people knew the efforts being made by the CACOVID leadership. We had people stay awake throughout the night.”

He noted that it was not easy to reopen the economy, adding that to get the airlines to start flying they had to assure the government that things would happen in certain ways and that they provided money for certain things.

“All I will say is that let’s have a bit of patience. The private sector in Nigeria is committed to poverty alleviation because poverty anywhere affects any of us. So, let’s work together to create more jobs,” he said.

Wigwe said: “Every transformation comes with its own pain and hitches. CACOVID right from inception came to help with the issue that came with COVID-19 and also to protect the livelihoods of people.

“Obviously in that process, there would be hitches from time to time. As we share more information, people will have a clear picture of what we are trying to do. The most important thing has to do with issues of employment.”

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VAT claim is about fiscal federalism- Lagos State

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Lagos State government on Thursday said it has a strong case in its demand to collect the Value Added Tax (VAT).

It said its claims were also about fiscal federalism.

The state said VAT collection would neither impoverish other states nor would the process be cumbersome.

Commissioner for Information Strategy Gbenga Omotoso, who spoke on ‘Your View’ on TVC, said: “Lagos has a solid case in the ongoing legal dispute as the crux of the disagreement is about equity, justice and fairness.

“Whichever way it goes, it will also enrich our jurisprudence and enhance the way we see and relate to the law.

“No matter what, Lagos will always stand for true fiscal federalism.”

The commissioner noted that the volume of air, sea and road transport activities in Lagos puts pressure on the state’s infrastructure.

He added that additional revenue from VAT would facilitate infrastructure development for faster movement of goods and services, as well as economic growth for the benefit of Lagos and other states since prices will fall.

On the demand for a special status for Lagos, Omotoso described Lagos as a ‘giant that carries most of the burden of Nigeria on its shoulders and the engine-room of the nation’s financial and business activities.

“Lagos must be empowered to play this role to the benefit of Nigerians”, he insisted.

Omotoso noted that other states can partner with Lagos to generate more revenue or resources by taking advantage of its huge population and massive market to sell their agricultural produce and other products, while profits realised therefrom would be repatriated to create more wealth for farmers and other producers in such states.

According to him, Lagos almost became an orphan following the movement of the Federal Capital Territory to Abuja in 1991, resulting in modest support from the Federal Government.

He was confident there would be resources for more infrastructure and facilities in transportation, health, education, e.t.c, that will benefit Lagosians and others who troop in every day if the state is allowed to collect VAT.

Omotoso added that the state will sensitise residents concerning its position on the debate.

Also yesterday, Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel said states were entitled to collect VAT.

He was a guest on Arise TV News ‘Morning Show’ aired to mark the state’s 34th anniversary.

According to him, it was wrong for the Federal Government to collect and share revenue from VAT because it is generated from businesses and activities in states.

Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, yesterday asked all taxpayers to continue remitting VAT to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

She said in an advertorial: “The ruling of the Court of Appeal employs all taxpayers in all the states to continue to collect VAT on behalf of the government in compliance with the VAT Act.”

But, Emmanuel said despite the huge oil and gas investments in the state, Akwa Ibom receives a paltry N2 billion from VAT.

He backed his Rivers and Lagos states counterparts, Nyesom Wike and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, both of whom have signed their VAT bills.

Emmanuel said: “If my brother state has gone to court, it is the same principle that we stand on. I think we are all in the same bucket, the same basket.

“All the 36 states do not need to join at the same time. Today my brother in Rivers State has gone far enough.

“I think the case has gone to the Appeal Court and there is also a stay of execution.

“Let me allow the rule of law. But for states saying they do not need VAT, maybe they do not know the hidden treasure in VAT.

“If today I sell a house in Uyo, or any other person sells a property, the value is enhanced because of the good roads, electricity, security and water I have created, and the value I have added to the property. Why should the VAT on the property not come to me 100 per cent?

“Just look at the money I have spent on capital projects in the first quarter put at N143 billion, if you take 7.5 per cent of that, why should all not come to me?”

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No going back on mega protest at UN Headquarters – Yoruba Nation, others

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Self-determination agitators operating on the platform of Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS) have vowed to go ahead with the grand finale of its one-million-man freedom march at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the United States on Friday.

The grand finale of the march coincides with the ongoing UN Assembly where President, Muhammadu Buhari, is expected to address the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on Friday.

Akintoye in a statement, on Thursday, made available to The Nation by NINAS Director of Communications, Maxwell Adeleye, accused the Federal Government of sponsoring a counter-protest at the United Nations Headquarters tomorrow.

He alleged that the Nigerian Government has started hiring black foreigners living in the United States of America with $500 per head to stage a Pro-Buhari and One Nigeria March opposite the United Nations Headquarters.

Akintoye vowed that the will of the people would prevail no matter how the Federal Government tries to scuttle the NINAS Grand Finale March.

Apart from Akintoye, the Secretary-General, Tony Nnadi, who represents the Lower Niger Congress and Prof. Yusuf Turaki, who represent the Middle-Belt Movement at NINAS have also jointly called on the UN to take urgent step to prevent Nigeria from descending into chaos.

NINAS, which described the 1999 Constitution as a fraud against the people of South and Middle-Belt, having been “enacted without the consent of the people,” demanded the conduct of a regional referendum so that the indigenous people can decide on their nationhood, among others.

All the indigenous people of the South and Middle-Belt in the United States and Canada have been urged to troop out in large number tomorrow.

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TCN lost N1.7bn to Borno vandal activities in nine months – Minister

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The Transmission Company of Nigeria says it has lost N1.7 billion in nine months owing to the destruction of electricity infrastructure in Maiduguri, Borno State. Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, stated this on Thursday at a town hall meeting in Maiduguri.
He said the TCN made the revenue loss from January to September this year.
Aliyu, who was represented by TCN Chairman, Sule Abdulazeez, said the loss recorded was on vandalised electricity lines at an average of 740 megawatts per day.
The minister added that in one month, TCN lost an average of N139 million on the wheeling charges and energy lost in the area.
He said a total number of eight 330Kv towers had been brought down by insurgents in Damaturu and Maiduguri within the period.
The minister said an average cost of reconstructing each tower is about N110 million, translating to about N880 million.
“Five towers were successfully erected and stringing completed on Sept. 17, awaiting energisation before the insurgents brought down another two sets of tower (1193 and 1194) at Auna village the next day September.
“Six towers in Oronta village in Abia state were brought down by vandals in Umuahia, while ten drums of aluminium conductors were carted away disrupting erection of a new tower.
“Also, the Escravos to Lagos pipeline was blasted by vandals disrupting gas supply to over six power generating stations in the western part of the country in 2016.”
As a way forward, the minister recommended executing embedded generation such as the proposed NNPC 50MW gas plant, solar farm, and wind farm in Maiduguri.
Maiduguri and environs have been cut off from public power supply since January as a result of the destruction of power infrastructure by terrorists.

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