Below are the headlines found on The Guardian Online Newspaper for today, Friday, 2nd February, 2018.

Fri, 02 Feb 2018
The Federal Government’s new policy on cargo palletisation could rob the economy of over N500 billion yearly and send importers to the ports of neighbouring countries.Palletisation is a method of storing and transporting goods stacked on a pallet and shipped as a unit load. It permits standardised ways of handling loads with equipment like forklift trucks.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, had said the new import-export policy, which began on January 1, would aid manual examination of consignment, “while the country awaits the acquisition and installation of functional scanners at the seaports and land borders.”Importers and other stakeholders, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the move, saying it would result in higher costs.

Additional cost incurred on imported goods is expected to deplete the nation’s foreign reserve, given the fact that Nigeria’s import is still higher than its export. Importers and some manufacturers would also be compelled to spread the excess cost on the prices of commodities in the domestic market.

The Guardian learnt that the cheapest pallet (wooden) costs between $5 and $10 apiece and requires special treatment, which could cause delay. The plastic variant costs between $10 and $15 apiece.There had been reports that the policy has been suspended. The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello, however, confirmed: “Palletisation is not suspended. It has already started and there is no going back.” He added: “The concerns of stakeholders would always be noted and we will ensure that some of the issues are addressed.”

But the President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Increase Uche, said the policy posed a threat to importers and the entire industry and therefore needed an urgent reversal.He said: “Palletisation is a global shipping phenomenon. But Nigeria is not ripe to incorporate that in our shipping laws because of the low volume of cargoes. We don’t have vessels. The scanners are not working. You will discover that the ports’ access roads are in a very sorry state and the ports are not efficient. In fact, there are many issues beckoning on the government to have a rethink, because cargoes that are meant for Nigeria are now being diverted to neighbouring countries.

“There will also be reduced use of containers, as people might resort to cars, buses and trucks to bring in cargoes. Nigeria will suffer depletion of foreign reserve, if palletisation is allowed to continue. This is because cargoes to be freighted in one container will now be split into two or three, and importers will need to pay three times the original cost of freight, automatically affecting our foreign reserve.”

The National Publicity Secretary, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kayode Farinto, warned: “This country will lose about N500 billion, if the government continues with the policy. It would lead to an increase in the number of containers required to package goods from abroad, and about 60 per cent of the cargoes would be diverted.”He explained: “Imagine you have a consignment that should enter a 1×40 ft container. Because of palletisation, which reduces space, you will be forced to hire two containers. It means you are paying for two freights. You will pay for two clearance of cargoes. You will need two trailers to evacuate the cargoes. This is contrary to the ease of doing business policy. It will make costs to skyrocket.

“Business-oriented entities will begin to look for shortcuts. They will start diverting cargoes to the nearest alternative, which is the port in Cotonou, and import them through land borders. The policy will reduce the number of cargoes that come through Nigerian seaports. Don’t forget that what you pay as duty at the land border is not the same as what you pay at the seaport, so the Federal Government loses.

“When you quantify the whole thing, over N500 billion will be lost to this policy. I am not even talking about the jobs that would be lost or the shipping companies that are already winding down and threatening to go to Cotonou. Don’t forget that the port of Cotonou has been outsourced to reputable managers for better efficiency.”For Farinto, palletisation is used only in Europe. He said: “Nigeria is a developing country. You cannot compare a child that was born 10 years ago with a child that was born two days ago. That is what is happening in Nigeria. Our policy formulators are not focused. They are not technocrats. You need technocrats who have the technical know-how to formulate policies.”

The President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Customs Licensed Agents (NCMDCLA), Lucky Amiwero, said the extra cost would eat deep into the nation’s foreign reserve and discourage shipment into Nigerian ports.He alleged that the policy was introduced because of non-functional scanners. He urged the Nigeria Customs Service and the Federal Government to fix the equipment and stop frustrating business through physical inspection of cargoes.

Fri, 02 Feb 2018
The nation’s banking industry, yesterday, witnessed the entry of NOVA Merchant Bank Limited, making it the fifth in the country, but with a pledge for fresh thinking and ideas.The acclaimed unique offer from the bank would be channeled specifically into wholesale banking, investment banking and asset management.

Headquartered in Victoria Island, Lagos, the bank’s pledge means that it is a new way to sourcing and unlocking long term finances needed in the infrastructure investment and end to capital flight due to outsourcing of advisory services in the country.At the inauguration of the bank that attracted business leaders and industrialists, the bank reiterated its objective to re-establish merchant banking as a key economic driver by exploring local and international sources for long-term funds.

The promoter and Chairman of the bank, Phillips Oduoza, said banking is changing globally with the emergence of new entrants and the infusion of non-traditional business models leveraging advances in technology.“We believe Nigeria should not be left behind. Therefore, NOVA is here to bring a new experience in the banking industry. That was why we selected the name, NOVA, which means new. We want to do new things.

“The major international financial institutions involved in investment banking are doing very well. Today, we do not have any of such institutions in Nigeria and this is the space NOVA plans to occupy not only in Nigeria but across Africa,” he said.Oduoza assured that NOVA is equipped with talented people and cutting-edge technology, necessary to deliver its mandate as a merchant bank.

“We are the first ‘green field’ licence in merchant banking. We didn’t convert from being a representative office or from being a discount house. So, from day one, we have been licenced to operate as a merchant bank.“We are the first merchant bank that does not have any legacy history associated with it, as we are a greenfield merchant bank. In essence, we don’t have to deal with issues of carrying-over staff and technology from a legacy operator.

Declaring the bank open, the Special Guest of Honour, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, commended the promoter of the bank, describing him as a thoroughbred professional, with a strong track record of achievements in the banking industry.He also expressed confidence in the quality of the board and the senior management team.

The Managing Director of the bank, Chinedu Ikwudinma, who explained the strategic direction of the financial institution, said offering of trade services, project financing, cash management, corporate solutions and advisory services will be focused on.Similarly, in investment banking, it would be looking at mergers and acquisition, advisory services, securities and trading, wealth and asset management as well as debt and equity capital management.

Listing the bank’s uniqueness, he said that its products and business model were specifically designed around merchant banking, while top notch and seasoned bankers adorned its board for best practices in corporate governance.“There are three executive directors and six non-executive directors. So, we have twice the number of non-executive directors as executive directors. “Out of those six directors, we have four independent directors. These board members are well accomplished and capable of independent opinion.”

Fri, 02 Feb 2018
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will leverage public private partnership to address the gap in pipeline infrastructure in the country, Group Managing of the company, Maikanti Baru, has said.
Speaking while inaugurating a new board for one of its downstream subsidiaries- the Nigerian Pipeline Storage Company (NPSC), in Abuja, Baru was optimistic that the private sector could help the industry build more pipelines parallel to the corporation’s existing ones.

“Your work also is to look at refurbishing these pipelines and storage along a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement by getting willing private companies to invest in these pipelines. NNPC Management is very much disposed to supporting your efforts in this regard,” he said.Baru, who insisted that such partnership would enhance the company’s profitabilit, urged the company to double its pipeline network in the next 10 years, stressing that such a target was “absolutely necessary.”

According to him, pipelines are the arteries of the nation’s oil and gas Industry, saying that part of the reform process embarked upon by the corporation was to birth an NPSC with clear focus that regards pipeline storage and distribution as real business.“I have a passion for this company and I believe this firm will be a leader in that segment of our operations. That is why we focused our energy on refurbishing, repairing and re-streaming of our storage facilities and pipelines over the last few months,” Baru noted.

He charged them to also integrate, through their pipelines resources, the various butanisation depots which are used as reception points for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).“We have a lot of LPG that is being exported. This could be utilized domestically in line with our vision of providing alternative energy sources for domestic and industrial use nationwide,” he stressed.

Baru tasked the NPSC management to engage the various host state governments towards the restoration of the Products Right of Way (PRoW) to ensure the safety of the citizens and products.He added that most of the state governments were ever-willing to support the corporation in preventing infringements on its PRoW.
He expressed NNPC Management’s readiness to engage security agencies against any act of economic sabotage towards the pipelines.

Responding, the Chairman of the NPSC Board and Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services, NNPC, Isa Inuwa, pledged the readiness of the Board to support the NPSC Management towards achieving its set targets.“It is our vision to transit NPSC to a market-phasing, competitive and profit-making organisation. We are committed as a board to deliver on this mandate,” Inuwa stated.

Also speaking, the Managing Director of the company, Luke Anele thanked the NNPC Management, saying that although the task before his team was huge, it would nonetheless leave up to expectations.Aside Inuwa, who is the Chairman, the new board also has Henry Ikem-Obi, Luke Anele, Mr. Umar Ajiya, Mr. Ahmadu Sambo, Mr. Abdullahi Gunda, Mr. Ahmed Danladi, Mrs. Betty A. Ugonna as members and Mr. Victor Omoluabi as Secretary.

Fri, 02 Feb 2018
The Federal Government has set up a team to mediate with the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) with a view to ending herdsmen’s attacks on farmers in the country.Headed by Ebony State Governor Dave Umahi, the team’s other members are: Governors Simon Lalong (Plateau), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Jibrilla Bindo (Adamawa) and Abdullaziz Yari (Zamfara).

The move followed a three-hour meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, yesterday. At the closed-door session were the Minister of Interior General Abdulrahman Danbazau (rtd), his counterpart in the Ministry of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, and Deputy Governors Benson Abounu (Benue) and Moses Adeyemo (Oyo).

Osinbajo had, recently, stressed President Muhammadu Buhari’s resolve to bring the crisis to a stop. “Much damage has been done, not just security-wise, but also to the psyche of the people. Due to the series of attacks, people are afraid. We are looking at repairing the damage that has been done to the infrastructure of the communities and rehabilitating the people,” he had stated.

The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari told State House correspondents that the meeting, held at the instance of the National Economic Council (NEC), sought solutions to the problem.”As a government, we have to take all measures, despite the fact that the army, police and other security agents are on the field at the respective places. Still, we have to form this committee to interface with those actors, so that this matter can be reduced to the barest and possibly wiped off,” Yari said, adding: “Other people will be brought in to join the committee from the hotspot states of Benue, Taraba, Adamawa and Zamfara.”

The Nigerian Army, meanwhile, has dispatched troops to the streets of Gboko town, Benue State, sparking fear among residents that an attack by the soldiers was imminent.The deployment followed the killing, last week, of seven persons in a mob action.But Major Olabisi Olalekan Ayeni, spokesman for 707 Special Forces Brigade, Makurdi, refuted the insinuation.

He said via telephone: “Yes, soldiers are in Gboko. But what happened was that when they got there, they went round in about seven Hilux vans to register their presence, to scare away criminals and lawbreakers who may want to cause disturbance in the area.”The people were merely afraid, seeing the movement of the soldiers. We have heard about the insinuation. But it is not true. The army’s presence in Gboko is to maintain peace, not kill or burn houses. The army is for all Nigerians and not for a single set of people. It is against our ethics; it is against our profession to take sides.”

It came as the state government rolled out new security measures. It ordered security agencies to impound vehicles with concealed number plates, giving traditional rulers a reprieve until the end of February. It also banned the use of sirens by individuals.The government further denied it had been sponsoring militias and warned livestock guards not to bear arms. It regretted the Gboko killings and increased the ransom for wanted criminal, Terwase Akwasza (alias Ghana), from N10 million to N50 million.

Also in Makurdi, Benue State, the President General of Mzough u Tiv, Chief Edward Ujege, in a statement, yesterday, called on the international community to stop the “deliberate move by Fulani herdsmen to annihilate the Tiv nation.”His appeal followed the alleged killing of 12 people in Kadarko in Nasarawa State and similar incidents in Taraba and Benue States.He said: “The leaders of Miyetti Allah have made it abundantly clear that the crisis in these states is a struggle for resources in the Benue Valley and that they will invite Fulani from across the world to annihilate the current inhabitants and take over.

“Let’s be informed that while the killings in Benue continue, thousands of Tiv people whose ancestral homes are in Awe, Doma, Keana and Obi Local Government Areas of Nasarawa State are being displaced.”In a related development, the Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi, and the Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Adeyemi, yesterday, voiced their disapproval of the Federal Government’s plan to set up cattle colonies across the country. They spoke when the monarch led a delegation of traditional rulers to Government House, Ibadan.

Ajimobi said the cattle colony initiative amounted to modern slavery, because the concept of colony is synonymous with colonisation. He said Oyo State would not accept the idea, which according to him “is a pointer to the fact that federalism is not working in Nigeria.”He noted: “If poultry farmers or owners of piggeries are not being offered colonies for their livestock, why should herdsmen? Our position is to support controlled ranching, under which we will provide land and other basic modern facilities for good cattle business, as well as breeding. Those wishing to rear cattle will use the facilities at moderate cost. No more, no less.”

The Alaafin expressed support for the governor’s “forthrightness on the issue and for standing for the rights of the downtrodden, especially the people of his state,” stressing: “The Federal Government does not own land; it belongs to the state.”

Fri, 02 Feb 2018
The House of Representatives yesterday summoned the Director General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms. Patience Oniha, over alleged abuses in the subscription of the $300 million Diaspora bond. 
Chairman, House Committee on the Diaspora, Mrs. Rita, explained that its decision to summon Oniha was to ascertain the claim by members of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) that they were not carried along when the bond was subscribed in the international capital market.

An official of the DMO, Usiade Monday, who appeared before the committee maintained that the DMO was not bound to render account of how the bond was subscribed to the group.

His response did not, however, go down well with members of the committee like Rotimi Agunsoye (Lagos: APC) and Okon Archibong (Akwa Ibom: PDP) who argued that since it was the National Assembly that approved the bond, it reserved the right to probe how the deal was consumated.

Orji, who recalled how she took the pains to traverse various countries across the world to woo NIDO to buy into the bond without much success, said there was the need to investigate the matter after she was inundated with claims that NIDO members were excluded in the exercise.   

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She said: “The DG would have to appear before the committee to give us key information on those that subscribed to the bond, the nationality of those involved and their addresses and whether the procedure followed was in line with the law.”

The bond, raised at a coupon rate of 5.625 per cent for a tenor of five years, was targeted principally at Nigerians abroad to give them the opportunity of contributing to national development.

The committee also directed the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to provide details of how the N79 million so far released to it to cater for the needs of Nigerians in the Diaspora was spent.

NAPTIP’s Director of Finance and Accounts, Hassan James, who appeared before the committee to defend the agency’s 2017 budget, explained that of the N120 million appropriated, NAPTIP got N79 million between December last year and now. He, however, failed to satisfactorily explain how the fund so far released was expended.

Fri, 02 Feb 2018
The National Chairman of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, and a group, Reformation Movement of Nigeria have called on the Federal Government to rejig the nation's security architecture to meet the security challenges of the time. 

Fri, 02 Feb 2018
Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has commenced the evacuation of abandoned aircraft at the air-side of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) in Lagos.At least 13 aircraft belonging to different airlines have been abandoned at the air-side of the airport for years with their owners..... 

Fri, 02 Feb 2018
One of the issues we've had with the INTELS is the non-compliance to TSA, as you are aware, the Nigerian Government instituted the Treasury Single account which is the one account that all revenues needs to be paid into. The INTELS collects revenues on behalf of the Nigerian Ports Authority.... 

Fri, 02 Feb 2018
As part of efforts to strengthen religious harmony, some Christian clerics yesterday donated praying materials to mosques in Kaduna.The move was in line with the World International Interfaith Week declared by the United Nations (UN).The General Overseer of Christ Evangelical Intercessory 

Fri, 02 Feb 2018
The Oyo/Osun command of the Nigeria Customs yesterday claimed it has made seizures worth N215 million in duty paid value and has generated more than N17 billion, which represents 85 per cent of its target in the outgone year. 

Fri, 02 Feb 2018
The European Union (EU) yesterday launched '26.5million initiative to promote transparent, inclusive and credible elections in Nigeria.The EU head of delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS 

Fri, 02 Feb 2018
Seven persons have been feared killed and several homes razed at Kaguru village of Udawa ward in Birnin Gwari Local Council of Kaduna during a midnight raid by suspected herdsmen. 

Fri, 02 Feb 2018
Here is a typical instance of the pathetic case of Nigerian politics and politicians. For months, PDP and other fellow travellers in the rickety political bandwagon, pressurised APC and President Muhammadu Buhari to make their views known on matters of the moment such as the devolution of powers,.... 

Fri, 02 Feb 2018
Recently, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, disclosed that the number of out-of-school children (OOSC) in the country had dropped from 10.5 million to 8.6 million in the last three years. 
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