TEF, UNDP seal partnership deal to boost entrepreneurship in Africa

TONY Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at further promoting entrepreneurship in Africa.

The MoU was signed by Tony Elumelu and the Director, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa, Lamin Manneh, in Lagos, at this year’s edition of Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum, an annual gathering of African entrepreneurship ecosystem. With the partnership agreement, UNDP and TEF will work together to equip start-ups and existing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with necessary entrepreneurship skills to enable them grow their businesses.

They believe that this support will help unleash the entrepreneurs’ potential to create wealth and jobs, and contribute to efforts aimed at reducing poverty and inequality across Africa, thereby helping countries achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition, equal attention will be paid to developing systems that will enable the partners to monitor the performance of entrepreneurs and their contribution to Africa’s growth and prosperity.

Speaking on the partnership, Elumelu said: “Since the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme was launched, we have received over 150,000 applications, but every year we are constrained to support only 1,000. We are constantly seeking means to bring help to this much broader universe of deserving entrepreneurs. We want to give this group that we have been unable to select, a chance too and this partnership with UNDP will help us begin to scale our impact.

In his remark, Lamin stated: “Investing in Africa’s emerging entrepreneurs does not just address inequality, but also stimulates innovative thinking and helps in developing local solutions to local development challenges on the continent. It will spur innovation and structural transformation in Africa and bring about shared prosperity across the continent.”

He added that the partnership with TEF will enhance networking among entrepreneurs through UNDP’s Youth Connekt initiative.

With a special focus on young and women entrepreneurs, TEF and UNDP will also undertake initiatives that will enable start-ups and small businesses to access affordable credit and other financial services they require to grow and diversify their businesses. In addition, UNDP and TEF will work together and contribute to efforts aimed at strengthening the enabling environment for private sector development, especially emerging entrepreneurs.

Under the MoU, both parties agree, among others, to promote entrepreneurship development in Africa with focus on Startups and existing SMEs; provide entrepreneurship skills training to start-ups and emerging African entrepreneurs with greater focus on youths and women; and deliver Business Development Services (BDS) necessary for start-ups and existing SMEs across Africa for growth and diversification.

They also agree to promote innovation, technology development, networks and market linkages among African Entrepreneurs; undertake initiatives that promote access to affordable credit, guarantees and other financial services suitable for start-ups and small businesses in Africa; and foster partnerships with State and non-State actors to improve policy and business environment for local enterprises development in Africa.

In addition, they will jointly develop structures for the systematic monitoring and evaluation of the impact on African entrepreneurs; and engage private sector leaders, corporations and businesses to support the development of African entrepreneurs.

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Obong of Calabar urges Nigerians to support President Buhari’s re-positioning strategy

The Obong of Calabar and Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), His Eminence Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu, has urged Nigerians to support President Muhammadu Buhari to reposition Nigeria.

The monarch spoke in Abeokuta on Saturday at the 23rd, 24th and 25th combined convocation ceremonies of the university.

Abasi-Otu said that it was imperative for all and sundry to encourage and support the government in its change project.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the graduating students were those who completed their courses of study between 2013/2014, 2014/2015/and 2015/2016.

The chancellor said that the only way to sustain the economy and truly diversify it, was through agriculture, saying “the way out is to embrace agriculture”.

He said that the Nigerian society would be better off, if government could make research findings from the universities and research centres available to end users to address the country’s specific needs.

The monarch, however, urged the Federal Government to do more by investing in resources and made funds available for researchers to carry out research in the country.

He commended the Federal Government for its timely intervention through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and other special intervention funds, saying that it had helped significantly to drive the universities.

Abasi-Otu said: “The importance of Universities of Agriculture will ever remain relevant in the scheme of things in Nigeria.

“This is because we have learnt a big lesson that overdependence on a single commodity like oil, as the main source of earning, is counterproductive.

“Nigeria should retrace its step by going back to agriculture; the over dependence on oil remained a shame and will continue to fail us as the Africa’s most populous country.

“The efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to diversify the hitherto monolithic economy are appropriate and welcome.

He called on the government to allow the university to run its managerial science courses.

In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of FUNAAB, Prof. Olalade Onikuomoehin said that a total of 1,881 students graduated for the 2013/2014 session.

“For 2014/2015 session, 2,731 graduated and 3, 065 graduated from their various courses of study for the 2015/2016 academic session.

“In all the three sessions, 203 students bagged First Class, while 2, 878 got Second Class Upper, while 3,602 and 828 others got Second Class Lower and Third Class respectively, with only 32 made ordinary pass.

Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, in his goodwill message, assured the university of the state government’s continued support and cooperation.

NAN

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Africa’s problem not planning but implementation – Osinbajo

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the problem with Africa as a continent and her nations has never been planning but in implementation, and not in debating but in doing, adding that in executive offices and legislative chambers you would easily encounter brilliantly drafted documents and initiatives, but implementation has been the problem.

President Buhari who was represented by the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo made the mark while declaring open the 48th Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Africa Region, held at Imo Trade and Investment Owerri on Saturday, October 21, 2017, adding that, “what we need to Consistently do now is to put action behind our visions and missions as time is no longer on our side as the countdown to 2063 has long started”.

He Continued “The theme of this 48th CPA Conference, African Agenda 2063: Vision Master Plan, presents yet another crucial reflection point for those who today have the privilege of being Africa political elite. The Agenda 2063 spelt out a vision of an Africa that is prosperous, integrated, peaceful, secured and a continent that recognizes the full potential of its human capital and as a respected player on the global stage”.

Prof. Osinbajo stressed “The Africa we want is an Africa that works for its people, one that ensures that Africans can enjoy decent standard of living and security, freedom and one where men and women have equal assets and treatment, with respect to all economic, political and social good”.

He added “Distinguished legislators, the Power and the responsibility for rewriting the story of Africa lies in our hands; the people of our various Countries have elected us to chart a course to the Africa that they want and desire. Our democracy serves no purpose if it does not advance the well-being of our people because we were elected to think, plan and act for the interest of the majority. We will be charlatans of the greatest order if our leadership does not provide for the present and secure the future of those that elected us”.

The Vice-President further remarked “I must commend His Excellency, the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha for the leadership he has shown and for the great work he is doing in Imo State, and for his excellent hospitality always. In the true spirit of African brotherhood and spirit, Imo State has in the past two weeks hosted not less than 3 African Centred international gatherings including the visit of two African heads of State”.

One day Africa will sing a new song – Okorocha

Governor Rochas Okorocha in his Speech at the event said, “one day Africa will sing a new song and we believe one day, we shall occupy our rightful place in the comity of nations. Therefore your meeting this time is apt and timely. It is a struggle to find the way forward for the African nations”.

Governor Okorocha Continued “But one thing I have come to realize is that there is nothing wrong with Africa but there is something slightly wrong with Africans in our attitude and the way we do things. But I’m further worried by the fact that if we do not act quick under the present ugly situation which our condition points out to us, we might be destroying the psyche of the generations of Africans yet unborn”.

For him “We are passing through a very difficult moment which many great nations of the world have passed through and we are not an exemption but we will one day in this our lifetime take our rightful place. My concern is about the youths of Africa. It might be shocking to all of you to know that African youths are so frustrated. We have not lived up to expectation of what we can do for the African Child. That will also anchor on my feelings that education must be given it’s rightful place if the youths of Africa must find and take up their positions”.

He added “I therefore appeal to you the lawmakers when you go home that you legislate on the issues that will impact positively on the youths of Africa. Legislate for free education so that the children of the poorest of the poor can go to School. The essence of democracy is good governance and to equip our people for a better future. Every President of a place in Africa should see himself as a father and every first lady as a mother to be instruments to provide education to their children”.

President of CPA and Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Acho Ihim said, “A well established strategy is crucial to the development and performance of any Organization because it is a plan that integrates its major goals, policies and actions into a cohesive whole. I am sure that if we are able to match our vision with actions our vision plan can be achieved”.

His words, “We, as parliaments must do our best to move beyond conferences and ensure that some of the laudable outcome of the numerous conference have direct impact on the development of the African Continent”.

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Buhari challenges African leaders on peace, development agenda

President Muhammadu Buhari says African leaders must speak with one voice, independent of foreign influence to achieve economic integration, development, peace and security on the continent.

Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity made this known in a statement issued in Abuja on Saturday.

Buhari was speaking at a bilateral meeting with President Alpha Conde of Guinea on Friday night in Istanbul, Turkey.

The presidential aide said that the two presidents, who met on the margins of the 9th D8 Summit in Istanbul, exchanged views on bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Buhari said that leaders should learn from history to effectively tackle conflicts, violent extremism, and proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

He assured his Guinean counterpart, who is also the current Chairman of AU that Nigeria would continue to strengthen its engagement with all AU member states to address current security challenges in restive areas such as South Sudan and Libya, and the political crisis in Togo.

In his remarks, Conde praised Nigeria’s leadership on the continent, particularly Buhari’s great job on anti-corruption and his strong voice on African issues at the international stage.

The Guinean leader stressed the need for Guinea and Nigeria to accelerate economic cooperation, particularly in the natural resources sector, where Guinea boasts of 25 per cent or more of the world’s known bauxite reserves.

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NFF confirm Super Eagles Vs Argentina November friendly in Russia

Nigeria will take on Argentina in a high-profile international friendly in the Russian city of Krasnodar on Tuesday, 14 November, the Nigeria Football Federation have announced.

The match will take place at the Krasnodar Arena Stadium.

NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, confirmed on Saturday that nearly all arrangements have been concluded with regards to the big match, subject to approval by world football-ruling body FIFA and agreeable flight arrangements.

“We have had long and fruitful talks, and we can say that we have an agreement. We await the approval by FIFA and also, we have to agree on the flight arrangements that would be comfortable for the players and crew,” Sanusi said in an NFF press release.

“The match will come up on 14th November, four days after the Super Eagles’ final 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match away to Algeria. We had offers from teams like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Morocco but we have opted for the Argentines.”

The Eagles, who have already qualified for the 2018 World Cup, face Algeria’s Fennecs at the Stade Mohamed Hamlaoui in Constantine on Friday, 10 Novembe

Nigeria and Argentina played two friendly matches in 2011, the first in Abuja in June ending 4-1 in favour of the Super Eagles. The Albiceleste trumped the second encounter 3-1 in Dhaka, Bangladesh three months later.

NFF’s FIFA Match Agent Jairo Pachon of Eurodata Sport, who also organised the friendly matches with the Argentines in 2011, told thenff.com: “We are very pleased to be able to deliver such a high-profile game to celebrate the Super Eagles’ 2018 World Cup qualification.

“It was a lot of work over the past week but we are happy this has become reality. We will, in due course, reveal the Nigerian sponsor of the match who will have the match rights in Nigeria.”

Nigeria have played Argentina in four of the Super Eagles’ previous five FIFA World Cup appearances, starting with a 2-1 defeat in Boston, USA in the African team’s debut in 1994. Argentina won another group phase clash 1-0 in Ibaraki, Japan in 2002, and with the same margin in Johannesburg, South Africa eight years later and then edged the Eagles 3-2 in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2014.

Other famous encounters between both nations include two final matches of the Olympic Men’s Football Tournament – Nigeria edging it in 1996 in America and the Argies winning by the odd goal in China 12 years later.

Argentina will clash will take on World Cup hosts Russia in a friendly on 10th November while the Eagles are playing the Fennecs on 14th November.

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Adamawa APC endorse Buhari, Bindow for second term

Stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Adamawa on Saturday passed vote of confidence on President Muhammadu Buhari and Gov. Muhammadu Bindow, urging them to go for second term in 2019.

The stakeholders made the call at a meeting attended by party elders, members of National Assembly, State Assembly, elected council chairmen and party executives from all levels in the state.

According to them, the progress recorded in the fight against insurgency, corruption and infrastructural development at the state and national levels were laudable.

Addressing the meeting on behalf of the state government, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abba-Jimeta said Adamawa Government is interested in seeing that Buhari contested for second time in office to fully deliver on his transformation programmes.

“As far as Adamawa is concern, Buhari and Osinbajo are our candidates for 2019.

“The standard practice worldwide is for a performing president to serve his two-term in office.”

Abba-Jimeta, who noted the representation of people from Adamawa in Buhari government, urged Buhari to look into the panel report on suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr David Babacir and reinstate him if he is not found wanting.

Abba-Jimeta lamented what he described as desperate moves by some APC members in the state to create problem between the state government and the Federal Government just to score cheap point.

He said the state APC government has been working in line with the party manifesto and has so far delivered in areas of infrastructure, healthcare, education and agriculture.

Sen. Binta Masi, Rep. Abdulrahman Shuaibu and Adamawa Assembly Deputy Speaker, Mr Emmanuel Tsamdu, who spoke on behalf of Senators, House of Representatives members and Adamawa Assembly members, said they were okay with the resolutions at the stakeholders meeting and would work towards its actualization.

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How we tackled recession – Okowa

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa spoke on how Delta State rose above recession in his 2018 Budget speech to Delta State House of Assembly. Excerpts:

The positive economic indices emerging from the National Bureau of Statistics for the second quarter of this year may have signalled an end to perhaps what has been the longest running recession in the country.

In addition, peace has returned to the Niger Delta and oil export from Forcados trunk has commenced. We are hopeful that the Federal Government will put measures in place to enforce its directive to oil companies to locate their head offices in their areas of operation. If implemented, this will not only enhance our internal revenue generating capacity, it will also create employment opportunities, engender trade and commerce and give the needed fillip to the State’s economy.

Overall, the fiscal outlook is promising and Nigeria may well be on the path of economic recovery and growth, with all the favourable implications that this has for us to fully realise our vision as encapsulated in the S.M.A.R.T agenda. As you are well aware, the vision and values of the S.M.A.R.T agenda form the building blocks of the Delta State Medium Term Development Plan (2016-2019) with the following policy priority areas:

Combat the perennial problem of youth restiveness by adopting cross-sectoral, multi-pronged approach to job and wealth creation with strong emphasis on raising entrepreneurial leaders to drive the economic diversification of the State;

Promote civic engagement in our communities and create the peaceful atmosphere necessary for development to take place;

Make agriculture regain its pride of place in the economy through specific policies and programmes geared at making farming more attractive to the youth, stimulate and boost farm yields, and develop the agricultural value chain;

Lead in the provision of universal healthcare coverage and cutting edge technology for broad-based and excellent service delivery essential for a healthy and productive populace;

Build an educational system that will raise products whose educational advantage will help them to become thinkers, innovators, leaders, and managers that will excel globally;

Partner with relevant stakeholders/investors to attract infrastructural funding to build liveable cities and towns for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations;

Develop leadership skills across all strata of the civil service establishment and among the political class; and Build organisational capacity through good governance structures in the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government for efficient, effective and timely service delivery.

Rising above Recession: One of the major achievements of our administration is stabilising the ship of state in the wake of the recession that swept through the country. Confronted with dwindling receipts from the Federation Account and Internally Generated Revenue vis-à-vis inherited contractual obligations, the first challenge we faced was the payment of salaries to the huge workforce.

To put it in context, the total staff strength of the Federal Civil Service is about 89,000. As at the time we assumed office on May 29, 2015, Delta State had over 60,000 workers on its payroll. However, we were able to meet our obligations to the workers through debt payment re-scheduling, cutting waste, contracts reviews, and prudent management. As part of the on-going biometric exercise to weed out ghost workers, the State has been able to prune the size of the workforce to 55,000, which is still very high compared to that of peer States.

Considering the recessionary shocks that reverberated through the economy, it is no mean feat that we have not defaulted in paying our staff since the inception of this administration. We have paid all salaries to date and supported Local Government Councils in their constitutional responsibility of the payment of salaries in excess of N5b. We have also consistently made monthly provision towards the payment of the State’s obligation to the Contributory Pension Scheme and, indeed, paid out the sum of N2.5b in two tranches to cushion arrears. All other outstanding liabilities are being given priority attention even as we proactively engage with organised labour to reconcile whatever discrepancies may exist in terms of actual outstanding liabilities.

Wealth Creation: Job and wealth creation is the centrepiece of the S.M.A.R.T agenda, and the critical point of reference on which this administration will be assessed now and in the future. As a Special Purpose Vehicle, the Job Creation Office was created to design programmes to equip unemployed youths (graduates and school leavers) with the vocational skills, mind-set and resources to become self-employed and employers of labour. The design and implementation of the Job Creation Scheme is trainee-centred, service-oriented and results-based. The Scheme is being implemented along four paths namely:

– Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP)

– Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP)

– Special Programme for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs)

– Graduate Employment Enhancement Programme (GEEP)

So far, a total of two thousand three hundred and twenty four (2,324) unemployed youths including fifty one (51) Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) have been trained and established in enterprises of their choice. Another 4,000 youths were trained in vocational centres across the State. Under the State Employment and Expenditure For Results (SEEFOR) project to which the State has contributed N600m as counterpart fund, 5,312 youths were employed and trained on building their self-esteem, savings culture and entrepreneurship to sustain their livelihood. When we add these figures to the over 42,000 private sector jobs that were created by programmes and projects of the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies, we can clearly see that a new era beckons in Delta State.

These job creation programmes are transforming the lives of previously unemployed youths. Across the State, there are testimonies of successful start-ups and viable small businesses by those who were trained and established under the programmes. Some have grown to become employers of labour and are training other youths to become self-employed. Others have innovatively diversified into other businesses and trades to enhance their incomes and survival.

In addition, through GEEP, the State Government has created the first-ever electronic database of unemployed youths in Delta State. This database is now accessed by private sector organizations and employers of labour on an on-going basis. All of these developments have immense potentials for improved living standards for a substantial number of Deltans. As further testimony of the success of the Job Creation Scheme, it has been validated for partnership with the World Bank European Union funded SEEFOR project.

The Philosophy and Thrust of 2018 Budget:

Mr Speaker, the proposed 2018 Budget is formulated within the context of the successes – and challenges – of the past two years. It seeks to essentially consolidate the gains of the past as we strive to build an economy that works for everyone. As I did say in my inaugural address, people have very high expectations from this government. That has sometimes exerted serious pressure on political office holders and other top government functionaries.

We are determined to make good our commitments to the people of Delta State. That should never be in doubt. However, we can only do that within the limits of available resources. Therefore, not being swayed by sentiments or emotion, the proposed 2018 Budget is derived from the Fiscal Strategy Paper projections for years 2018 to 2020 and in compliance with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). It is a Budget of Hope and Consolidation. I am confident that in the unlikely event of any internal or external shocks, we will be fine as long as we continue in our tradition of fiscal discipline, prudence and accountability.

2018 BUDGET ESTIMATES

I wish to announce a budget proposal of N298.078bn for the services of Delta State Government in 2018. This amount comprises the sum of N147.5bn or 49.48% for recurrent expenditure, and N150.5 or 50.52% for capital expenditure.

INTERNALLY GENERATED REVENUE

The reforms we are undertaking in revenue collection, the plugging of leakages in all revenue sources, as well as the anticipated return of oil producing companies to Delta State is expected to impact positively on our IGR in the forthcoming year. It is, therefore, our projection to generate the sum of N71.3bn as internally generated revenue in 2018, representing 23.94% of the total projected revenues. The IGR estimates for 2018 is higher than the 2017 approved estimates by N1.1b or 1.67%.

STATUTORY ALLOCATION

Using the forecast derived from the State’s Fiscal Strategy Paper as a guide, the sum of N178.1bn or 59.73% of projected total revenue for the 2018 fiscal year is expected to come from Statutory Allocation. This amount is more than the sum of N148.9bn projected for the 2017 fiscal year by N29.1bn or 16.35%.

The increase is based on the optimism that the current peaceful atmosphere in the Niger Delta region will be sustained and that, with the relative peace being experienced, some of the oil companies who vacated the region will return to the State. It is also our realistic expectation that the gradual improvements the Federal Government has recorded in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors will continue to impact positively on the overall expected returns in the 2018 fiscal year.

OTHER CAPITAL RECEIPTS/MISCELLANEOUS

The proposal for Capital Receipts for the 2018 budget has been scaled down from the sum of N64.8bn in the 2017 budget to N37.9bn or 71.09% in 2018. The reduction is hinged on the overriding objective to reduce the loan burden on the State.

RECURRENT EXPENDITURE

The proposed recurrent expenditure estimates for 2018 of N147.5bn is made up of personnel costs of N64.3bn or 43.36%, and overhead costs of N46.8bn or 31.56%. The Consolidated Revenue Fund Charges has a proposed sum of N37.23bn or 25.09%.

The proposed capital expenditure estimates for 2018 is N150.6bn. The proposal is N14.1bn or 9.39% higher than the 2017 capital budget of N136.4bn.

Conclusion

In concluding, Mr Speaker, I wish to reiterate that we are determined to build a State anchored on inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. This administration has not wavered from its promises to the people of Delta State. In line with those promises, many programmes/projects have been executed; several are on-going while few need urgent attention and follow up.

As we celebrate the notable achievements in the last two-and-half years, we are also mindful of the fact that there is still plenty of work to be done. Many families are still reeling from the harsh effects of the recession. Many of our youths are leaving school without the skills they need for the 21st century marketplace. Many small scale businesses are struggling to stay afloat.

Therefore, we must give serious attention to putting our people to work and providing the enabling environment for small enterprises to thrive. This administration is determined to build a more prosperous, inclusive and secure Delta State.

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