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Rotary Club of Omole Golden installs Alih new president



By Dada Jackson

It was an atmosphere of goodwill and funfare at the 17th installation of the president and induction of board members of the Rotary Club of Omole Golden in Lagos.

The ceremony witnessed the installation of Rotarian Alih Hassan Ogwu as the 17th President of the Club for 2020/2021, taking over the leadership from Rotarian Babajinmi Ajibola.

Allih who is a multiple Paul Harris fellow and a recipient of the Rotary Youth Leadership Award joined the Omole Rotary Club in 2014 and has served the club in various capacities including the Vice President in 2017/2018 Rotary year.

As a Corporate Member of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) and a registered builder with Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON), Rotarian Alih is currently the Managing Director of Blarkcave Nigeria Limited, a Building and Civil Engineering Company in Lagos.

In his acceptance speech, the new President acknowledged the share dedication and commitment of past Presidents of the club, stating that their labour for humanity will remain memorial.

“The Presidency of our club has passed through the hands of men and women who through dedication and selflessness have kept the club alive. Without them there will be no Omole Golden”, he said.

He said though the year has thrown at human race an unprecedented challenge, Rotary is proud of the feat achieved so far and as people of action and volunteers they will do more to bridge the gap between all the negative things that tend to retard human progress.

While maintaining that the club will continue to build on the foundation laid by its leaders, the President revealed that within the Rotary year, the club has executed several projects in line with the Club’s 6 focus areas some of which were carried out with international partners in conjunction with Rotary 9110.

According to him, one of the projects that is dear to the heart of Rotary Club of Omole is the completion of neonatal clinic at Ifako Ijaiye General Hospital because it has to do with giving people the opportunity to live again. Our commitment with international partners through the global grant to ensure high-tech modern equipment are provided for the centre will give premature babies the opportunity to survive.

“We want to do more on water sanitation, we want to do more on in economic development and empowerment of our people, we want to do more in basic education and literacy, we want to do more on maternal and child health, we want to do more on in peace and conflict prevention, we want to do more in all areas of rotary focus”, Rotarian Alih disclosed.

Speaking on the theme of the year “Rotary opening doors of opportunities”, Rotarian Alih explained that the theme means an opportunity for Rotarians to step up humanitarian works by scanning through the needs of communities and in little ways offer a helping hand to bring relief to most of their needs.

“To those that need our help, the theme will mean different thing based on their need. To parent of a premature baby, it will be an open door to survival and to those who need portable drinking water, it will be an opportunity for a running tap in their community. I hereby call on men and women of high integrity and humanitarian spirit to join the Club”, he stated.

Earlier in his address, the Outgoing President of Rotary Club of Omole Golden, Rotarian Babajinmi Ajibola explained that the club has been able to connect the world in spite of the numerous challenges that faces humanity in recent times.

He pointed out that some of the significant project which the Club were able to execute in the past year include the donation of ICT lab at Ojodu Grammar School, donation of water borehole to Yakoyo Community, donation of a phototherapy machine along with incubator to Ifako Ijaiye General Hospital, peace and conflict resolution in partner with Area F Police Command and Micro Credit empowerment for 15 persons.

“Having connected the world in our year, let me specially welcome you all to the a new dawn of “Rotary Opens Opportunities” as we continue to support our philanthropic mission”, he stated.

The Chairman of the occasion, the Executive Director, Business Development and Operations, Global Accelerex Ltd, Mr. Olukayode Ariyo described the theme of the year as a symbolism of the present reality of the new normal.

According to him, this theme strengthens the ideals of the noble organisation by creating opportunities for a better world and uplifting the hope of the common people in the society.

“We must continue to use our strength for global support in creating changes needed in our community. fighting diseases, projecting peace and conflict resolution, improving education and literacy and above all, building bridges for socio-economic development.

The Executive Secretary, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Mrs. Teju Abisoye who spoke on the recovery programmes of the Lagos State Government for SMEs affirmed that government has activated a bouquet of recovery program to cushion the effect of the pandemic on SMEs across the State.

While highlighting several collaborative efforts which Government has instituted to support SMEs in order to survive the climate, the Executive Secretary revealed that the SMEs are a critical engine for the State economy and the recovery process entails providing access to affordable finance at a single-digit interest rate, enhancing capacity building, fostering market linkages and leveraging business expansion opportunities for SMEs.

“Our economic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have included an array of measures to help people and businesses. The overreaching goal is to provide SMEs with critical support in the immediate term and offer them affordable access to financing”, she added.

Teju emphasised that business owners particularly SMEs should take advantage of these array of intervention programmes like the N5 billion post-COVID-19 economic recovery support for MSMEs, the LSETF W-Initiative, the five billion naira support fund for 2,000 low-cost private schools in the state, and visit the LSETF website to apply.

The occasion which witnessed the presentation of award to the General Manager, Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC), Engr. Olufemi Daramola for his outstanding and selfless contribution to the service of humanity, also saw the launching of the Club’s project and induction of new members to the club.

The occasion was graced by the District Governor, represented by his Assistant, Mr. Okechukwu Uche-Ukah, Past Presidents of the Club and Rotarians across District 9110.

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World Bank, FG move to end fuel subsidy



The Federal Government and the World Bank have discussed further reforms to eliminate fuel and electricity subsidies in the country.

The Nigerian government had in March 2020 removed petrol subsidy after reducing the pump price of the product to N125 per litre from N145 on the back of the sharp drop in crude oil prices. But it re-emerged this year following the significant rise in oil prices.

The Federal Government’s removal of petrol subsidy and the increase in electricity tariff were in line with reforms being sought by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

“The recent introduction and implementation of an automatic fuel price formula will ensure fuel subsidies, which we have eliminated, do not reemerge,” the Federal Government told the IMF in the letter of intent dated April 21, 2020 with respect to its request for emergency financial assistance of $3.4bn.

The Minister of State of Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, said in July last year that the Federal Government had reached a conclusion that it could no longer bear the burden of petrol subsidy.

The IMF said in February this year that Nigeria had expressed strong commitment to avoid the return of fuel subsidy and to put an end to electricity tariff shortfalls by June this year.

In a report after the conclusion of its Article IV consultation with Nigeria, the Washington-based fund said the authorities highlighted important recent reforms undertaken despite a difficult macroeconomic environment.

It said, “They expressed strong commitment to prevent fuel subsidies from resurfacing and to fully eliminate electricity tariff shortfalls by mid-2021.

“They believe that lifeline tariffs and other relief measures are adequate to protect poorer households from increases in electricity prices and highlighted the benefits from higher and more predictable availability.”

The President, World Bank Group, Mr David Malpass, met with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, on April 8 and discussed Nigeria’s ongoing COVID-19 response, and the need for fast deployment of vaccines.

The president and the minister ‘also discussed further reforms to phase out energy subsidies, noting the importance of compensatory measures for the poor and vulnerable’, the World Bank said on its website.

The World Bank had said in October that the Nigerian government had ‘taken important steps to reform its subsidy regime’.

It noted that the Nigerian government had eliminated petrol subsidy and established a market-based pricing mechanism with no price ceilings.

“The gasoline (petrol) price is set monthly by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency from market-based costs. When international petroleum product prices start to recover, the PPPRA will allow price increases accordingly,” it said in its Africa’s Pulse report.

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FG suspends Adeboye’s jet over expired documents



The Federal Government through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has grounded a private chopper belonging to Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God at the Lagos airport, investigations by Sunday PUNCH has revealed.

It was learnt that the aircraft, AgustaWestland AW139 chopper, with registration number 5N-EAA, was suspended from flying over two weeks ago, following the expiration of some of its papers and spare parts.

The suspension, officials said, would also allow the regulator to conduct vital safety checks on its safety-critical components, especially some spare parts that are due for replacement.

Adeboye had last Saturday during a special meeting with all ordained ministers of the mission at the RCCG, Region 21, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, called for drastic action against corrupt practices in all facets of Nigeria.

The RCCG leader, who flew a chopper to the venue, said he arrived late for the meeting because someone had requested a bribe from him to fly his chopper.

He said he had decided to embark on the trip via his chopper to avoid a possible gridlock on the busy Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

The 79-year-old mathematician-turned-preacher said, “I don’t give excuses because I have discovered long ago that only failures give excuses. But you must pray for Nigeria.

“Something must be done about corruption in this nation. All I can say is that I am this late because somebody wanted a bribe. And you know if you are expecting a bribe from me, you have to wait forever.

“But the devil has failed. And the devil will continue to fail. I decided to come by helicopter so that there won’t be a traffic jam that would tie me down on the expressway because I know what the devil could do.

“Then, I ran into something else. But by the grace of God, we are here.”

Although Sunday PUNCH could not ascertain who requested the alleged bribe from the revered servant of God, investigations by the paper revealed that the cleric’s chopper was suspended from flying by the regulatory authority over safety issues.

Multiple aviation sources confirmed that Adeboye could not fly his chopper with registration number 5N-EAA to the Ibadan programme but had to fly another aircraft reportedly belonging to Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel).

A top official of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, who is close to the operations of the two choppers belonging to the servants of God, said, “The team relating directly with Daddy G.O. should have told the man of God on time that his chopper had not been cleared by the NCAA and, as such, it couldn’t go on the Ibadan trip. They shouldn’t have waited till the last minute. The NCAA (aviation regulatory agency) that we have now is different from what it used to be. There is a new man in charge who always insists that things must be done properly as far as the safety of lives is concerned. The church’s protocol team should have told him that the NCAA has not cleared the aircraft and it may not clear it within a short time because certain procedure must be followed. As such, an alternative arrangement should have been made.”

The NAMA official, who chose to speak on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, further said, “On that last Saturday morning, when it later became obvious that the jet was not cleared to fly, they had to make an alternative arrangement with Bishop Oyedepo’s chopper. They had to quickly begin that process by filing the flight plan, etc. It was Bishop’s aircraft that Pastor Adeboye later flew to the event. He could not use his own.”

A top official of Omni-Blu Aviation, the airline operating the chopper for Adeboye, confirmed the development.

The official, who chose to speak on condition of anonymity, said a letter from Italy-based Leonardo, the manufacturer of Adeboye’s AW 139 helicopter, requesting the NCAA to grant a time extension on some spare parts that are due for replacement came late.

The spare parts due for replacement have been ordered from the manufacturer but they have yet to be shipped into Nigeria because they are usually produced on demand, according to Omni-Blu Aviation.

As such, the NCAA could not immediately grant the requested extension. Instead, the regulatory agency requested that comprehensive safety checks be conducted on the aircraft in line with standard aviation safety practice.

He said, “The NCAA that we have now is different from what it used to be. It always insists on standard. We don’t want any disappointing situation for anybody, especially for a globally reputed servant of God like Daddy G.O. It appears the man of God was not properly briefed. But we thank God an alternative arrangement was made to rescue the situation. Safety is first and paramount. No life is worth toying with, how much more that of a servant of God like Daddy G.O. As an airline, we won’t compromise safety no matter the pressure.”

The Omni-Blu official denied knowledge of any bribe request, either by the airline or aviation officials.

He, however, said it was not impossible that some people might have cashed in on the situation to demand a bribe.

“You know some people don’t fear God no matter what. They can even go to the extent of asking a servant of God for a bribe. So, it is not impossible. But on our part, I am not aware of such.”

As it stands, it is uncertain when Adeboye’s chopper will be allowed to fly.

However, findings revealed that NCAA had directed maintenance and safety checks to be conducted on the aircraft.

As such, the operator has secured a date for this at Aero’s maintenance hangar.

When contacted for comments, the Director-General, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, confirmed that the regulatory agency had suspended flights on the aircraft for safety reasons.

According to him, the NCAA does not often deal directly with individuals or owners of aircraft but the operator.

In this case, he said the NCAA only had business with the operator of the aircraft, Omni-Blu Aviation.

Nuhu said, “There are safety-related issues that must be resolved before the aircraft will be approved for resumption of flights. Safety is the paramount consideration in all approvals given by the NCAA. No matter what, we must not sacrifice safety for flights; that is the whole idea.”

When contacted, the spokesperson for RCCG, Pastor Olaitan Olubiyi, said the matter was being resolved already.

On the bribery allegation, he said the church would not want to take issue with the aviation authorities on the matter.

Olubiyi said, “We will not want to take issue with the aviation authorities but I can assure you that an amicable solution is being found to the issue.”

-Sunday PUNCH

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Uber, Bolt drivers want fares increased, threaten strike



The e-cab operators, under the aegis of Professional E-hailing Drivers and Private Owners Association (PEDPA), have threatened to embark on an industrial action from Monday April 19 over low fares and condition of service.

National President of PEDPA, Idris Shonuga, who spoke at a news conference in Lagos, called for immediate upward review of e-cab fares to reflect the current economic reality in the country.

He also demanded adequate welfare package for drivers and compensation for the families of those that lost their lives or are permanently disabled in the line of duty.

He said over 95 per cent of e-hailing transactions were done through Uber and Bolt platforms.

Shonuga also said that more than 15 drivers had lost their lives, while some had been permanently disabled in accidents in the course of the service.

More than 20 others had also lost their lives through kidnapping or killed by ritualists without any compensation from the operators, the association said.

Shonuga said that the association was considering taking legal action to seek remedies against the e-hailing companies if their demands were not met.

He said that the companies had refused to review its pricing despite unprecedented increases in the price of fuel, vehicles spare parts, food items, and other essential commodities in the country.

“In a quest to work and harmoniously at resolving some issues, the association wrote several letters to the companies which were not attended to, showing nonchalant attitude towards our plight.

“Your companies have failed, refused and neglected to honour our request for a meeting to discuss issues beneficial to all e-hailing drivers in Nigeria.”

“Instead of fixing a new and reasonable fare in line with inflation, the companies have recklessly continued to maintain the low fare, thereby, impoverishing hard-working young Nigerians who are diligently and lawfully trying to make a decent living,” Shonuga said.

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