I must Complete 2nd Niger Bridge, for South-East, Nigerians – Buhari

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday inspected the ongoing construction work on the second Niger Bridge in Onitsha and affirmed government’s commitment to early completion of the work. Osinbajo who started the inspection from Asaba axis with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, said that the Niger Bridge was very important for the economy of the South-East and the Nigerian economy as a whole.

The Vice President who was also accompanied by Power, Works and Housing minister Babatunde Raji Fashola said: “I had the privilege of visiting the bridge from the Asaba end.”

“The fascinating thing as we were told by the engineers is how much work goes into just the piling.’’ Osinbajo tweeted his experience during the inspection.

Describing the quality of work, Osinbajo said that “each one of the piers is the equivalent of an 18 storey building in the ground and there are about 1,000 – 1,300 workers hard at work to bring the project to a reality

. It is the firm commitment of President @MBuhari that this project be completed as quickly as it can. The Vice President also visited Eke-Awka market in Anambra where he briefed traders on the prospects of TraderMoni, a component of the four focal project of Social Investment Programme of the government.

The programme, he tweeted, provides credit to small business owners. “Trader Moni is a distinct loan product that seeks to boost the informal sector by enumerating and empowering traders with loans. We are in Eke-Awka market, Anambra State to monitor the progress.’’

Source: Vanguardng

Built Industry: NIOB Charges New Fellows on Selfless Service

The College of Fellows of The Nigeria Institute of Building (NIOB), has charged its newly confirmed members to be selfless and professional in the dispensation of their duties.

Mrs Adebolanle Araba, Chairman College of Fellows, NIOB, made this call at the NIOB Dinner Night/ Admission of Thirty Four New Fellows Held at Ladi Kwali Hall, Abuja on Thursday 2nd of May 2019.

She stressed that the need for new members to selflessly perform their roles as fellows can’t be overemphasized.

“The potential of our role as fellows is to provide the thought and mental leadership, mentorship and advocacy for the current and future generations of professionals,’’ advised.

Also while speaking on the days Theme: ‘Nigerian Artisan Revolution: Standardization, Globalization and Economic Empowerment,’ the Chairman said continuous effort are to be made in sowing the seeds for Artisan revolution in Nigeria to grow and deliver expected results for the benefit of projects, citizens and the Nation.

She therefore enjoined the New Fellows to be committed to the ideals of the profession and be of good ambassadors of the Nigeria Institute of Building.

A new fellow, Mrs. Florence Akinyoade, expressed her delight about the conferment. She revealed that training are ongoing for new artisans and craftsmen through the N-power Programme.

She also added that in June, all female artisans will come together in regard to curbing building collapse in the country.

By Kesiena Omamogho

 

NISH, Family Homes Funds Advice Cooperatives on How to Raise Funds

NISH Affordable Housing Limited and Family Homes Funds have advised cooperatives in Nigeria housing project on how they can raise capital for themselves and ensure corporate governance.

This was made known by the organisations at the first edition of their quarterly workshop on cooperative housing in Nigeria at the Shehu Musa Yaradua Centre, Abuja, from 2nd to 3rd May 2019.

While speaking at the 2-day event, the MD/CEO of Family Homes Funds, Femi Adewole stated that one of the major challenges to affordable housing in Nigeria is shortage of capital, and that it will be impossible for the government to bear alone the task of solving this key problem.

The way forward according to him is for all functional cooperatives in the country to pool themselves together under a bigger national and international platform that will enable them meet their goals and raise their own capital.

‘’Because of shortage of capital, there is need to have a fundraising scheme through social housing. Cooperatives can raise capital through house rule self-help without depending too much on external sources.

‘’They can find means of aggregating resources to meet their joint needs. And one of these means can be through a flexible members’ construction system,’’ he said.

To make this happen, he also mentioned the need for corporate governance among the cooperatives in order to bring about good management that will ensure consumer protection; trust and confidence – both from internal and external stakeholders.

He also stressed on the need for them to come under a parent body. ‘’There should be no fears that cooperatives will lose their power by coming under a parent body, no. the importance of that is that it will help them negotiate better as a collective force and it will be easier for them to navigate through arising legal issues

Some of the representatives of the cooperatives who spoke at the workshop stressed on the need for collective action in order to address age-long problems like land titling, need for unified data, affordable lending rates and general transparency.

To have the best out of cooperatives in Nigeria, Femi Ajulo, Mortgage Bank Consultant, stated that there is need for cooperatives in Nigeria to really define their purpose. ‘’We don’t have real cooperatives, we only have multi-purpose cooperatives where people go to borrow money to pay their children school fees. It shouldn’t be so. Going forward, these structural problems should be addressed,’’ he advised.

By Ojonugwa Felix Ugboja

Government Moves to Check Power Supply Deficit with Franchise Arrangements

In what seems like encouraging a willing-buyer, willing-seller scenario as well as moves to check excesses of distribution companies (Discos), the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, (NERC), has released a consultation paper on the development of a regulatory framework for electricity distribution franchising in Nigeria.

Under the franchising arrangement, any unserved or underserved community have the option of exploring the provisions of NERC’s Regulation on Independent Electricity Distribution Network (IEDN) in finding solutions to their supply challenges as may be applicable.

Already, many housing and industrial estates in Lagos are exploring the option, even though certain percentage of revenue generated are remitted as royalties to the Discos under which they operate, due to the exclusive rights to the distribution area.

To drive the process, NERC is eliciting reactions from Discos, customers and other stakeholders, with a deadline of May 6, 2019.
According to NERC, “The overarching objective of the proposed regulation on distribution franchising is to facilitate the development of favourable business models that would attract third-party investments in the supply of adequate, safe, reliable and prudently priced electricity to customers of Discos.”

NERC explained that the Discos were licensed to connect customers for the purpose of provision of electricity supply, installation, maintenance and reading of meters, billing and collection, among others.“The provision of these services by Discos on a non-discriminatory basis is a fundamental requirement arising from the natural monopoly they enjoy as distribution network service providers.

“The sustainability of this traditional regulatory framework is increasingly becoming difficult due to continued technological improvements and advancement in the capabilities of Distributed Energy Resources.”NERC also explained that since the beginning of the power sector reform in 2005, the DISCOs have failed to meet the expectations of stakeholders in the provision of access to safe and reliable electricity services to all customers within their franchise territories, as well as those areas considered to be economically unviable.

It stated, “Accordingly, introducing sub-franchising of Discos’ operations and coverage areas is expected to improve quality of supply of electricity to customers through investment in metering, billing, collection and network rehabilitation and expansion.

“Sub-franchising (referred to as distribution franchising for this purpose) means the business model applied by a Disco to authorise a third party to provide electric distribution utility services on its behalf in a particular area within the Disco’s area of supply. Proposals for the franchising arrangement can either be initiated by Discos or customer groups (community) within a specified geographical boundary.”

NERC also said, “Additionally, any unserved or underserved community has the option of exploring the provisions of NERC’s Regulation on Independent Electricity Distribution Network in finding solutions to their supply challenges as may be applicable.”

“Consequently, the commission has put forward a consultation paper to elicit comments from stakeholders in the Nigerian electricity supply industry.”

By Femi Adekoya

May Day: Workers Demand Implementation of New Minimum Wage in May

  •  Launches fresh move against casualisation
  • Okowa urges colleagues to pay workers N30,000
  •  Imo govt tasks Ihedioha on salaries, pensions

As workers in the country mark the 2019 May Day today, there have been calls that the government at all levels should begin the implementation of the N30,000 new national minimum wage across the nation.

In an interview with The Guardian yesterday, the General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said the organised labour would today formally ask all employers of labour in the country to begin the payment of the new wage from this month.According to him, getting the new minimum wage law implemented is not a one-off process but one that requires diligence and accuracy.

“A law takes effect from the day it is signed. So, the minimum wage law takes effect from the 18th of April, 2019 when it was signed by the president. The actual implementation, when the money would be paid, including whatever arrears that are there, is a matter for individual employer’s consultations with the relevant unions. That is how that would take place. As such, that sets the stage for actual implementation because while in some sectors there may not be difficulty at all and implementation will just go on unimpeded, we know that, particularly in respect to some states, there would be different levels of struggle that would still have to be executed in order to make the new wage a reality.

“This is because paying the minimum wage would require working out a salary table and how things fit into it. Each state is expected to deal with such situations, likewise at the federal level. So, these are the stages of struggles we are envisaging, but we are insisting that all these need to be sorted out very quickly so that actual implementation can start with the May 2019 salary,” he said.

Zoo-Eson also hinted that the labour movement would continue to take hard stance on casualisation but would be methodological in its approach with a view to getting the best bargain for Nigerian workers.He said the NLC had signed memorandums of understanding with some employers as well as employment agencies to inculcate the spirit of decent work as spelt out by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) relevant conventions.

”We have been engaged on the issue of casualisation for a very long time through a committee. We have even picketed a number of places. Some of those engagements have yielded results. For instance, at the Abuja Environmental Agency, we were able to get a memorandum of understanding signed that ensures casual workers are treated right.

”Apart from that, we are also working with companies that are involved in providing outsourcing services. We have also reached a memorandum of understanding with them such that whoever they employ and supply to places of work will be governed by all the issues of decent work, including guarantee of minimum wage and right to unionise,” he stated.

Relatedly, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa urged his counterparts in other states to pay the new N30, 000 minimum wage to workers.Okowa, in an Interview with State House correspondents in Abuja yesterday said the new wage was long overdue, arguing that N18, 000 was no longer sustainable.

“We are actually going to pay the N30, 000; we have made our statement long before the new minimum wage was even approved. I actually believe that it’s long overdue because N18, 000 is definitely not sustainable.“I have told my colleagues and the NLC president that this time, we must understand what minimum wage is. It is not supposed to be a general salary increment. Those at the bottom of the rung should actually benefit much more than those at the top and it ought to be so,” he said.

In Imo State, the Secretary to the Government, Mark Uchendu, advised the incoming administration of Emeka Ihedioha to give priority to the payment of salaries and pensions.The workers in the state under the aegis of the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have been at loggerheads with the government over the non-payment of salary and pension arrears for months.

Uchendu told The Guardian in Owerri that soon, the state would suffer a heavy financial setback if efforts were not made to “accommodate the purging number of pensioners as well as regularise salary and pension payment.”

“I will request the incoming administration to take this matter of payment of salaries and pensions seriously,” the SSG promised.The Kaduna NLC called on workers to be more diligent and dedicated in their services to humanity as they await the payment of the N30,000 minimum wage, which it said would commence this month.

The State Chairman of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Sulaiman, made the call at a pre-May Day lecture held in Kaduna with the theme: “‘Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement.”

He said the lecture was organised to mobilise workers towards the celebration of the International Workers Day and also enlighten them on the importance of the event.

“‘During this celebration, we are offering solidarity to the cause of social justice, freedom of expression, human rights and the rule of law, and we are supporting democracy.`On May Day, we present our grievances, our needs, our agitations to the political class for succour, promote our unity and solidarity because strength lies in our unity,” he said.

The lead presenter at the event, Mr. Isah Aremu, commended the NLC for fighting for the new minimum wage.“We must be united so that we can bargain together or be divided and become beggars; we must have unity to create jobs, unity for prosperity against poverty, among others,” he said.

By Collins Olayinka (Abuja), Terhemba Dak and Collins Osuji

Anambra Gov’t to Pull Down Buildings Harboring Criminals

ANAMBRA State government threatened yesterday that it would henceforth demolish buildings accommodating criminals in line with the provisions of the laws of the state.

Chief Willie Obiano Governor Willie Obiano, while addressing a meeting of the State Executive Council at the Government House, Awka, advised landlords to ascertain the backgrounds of their prospective tenants before offering them accommodation. According to him, landlords across the state must be conscious of the kind of tenants they bring into their houses, adding that by so doing, they would be assisting security operatives in reducing crime in the state.

Obiano insisted that Anambra remained the safest state in Nigeria despite isolated cases of criminal activities in some parts of the state and commended security agencies for arresting the suspects that assassinated the President-General of Nimo Town Unon, Chief Anthony Igboka a fortnight ago.

He said that N5million reward he promised earlier had since been paid to the informant that disclosed the identities of those that assassinated Igboka, adding that the additional N5million bounty per head of the rest three suspects was still up for grab for those that would give information leading to their arrest.

The governor regretted that cultism had become a challenge in the country, explaining that a special police anti-cult squad had been dedicated to tackle the menace. He warned youths in the state to either desist from criminal activities or leave the state for good.

By Vincent Ujumadu Awka

Breaking: Senate Passes 2019 Budget

The Nigerian Senate, Tuesday passed the 2019 Appropriation bill. The decision of the house was sequel to the presentation of the bill by the Senate Committee on Appropriation.

The chairman of the Committee, Danjuma Goje, announced an increase in the budget to 8.91 trillion.

N10billion be provided to assist victims of Zamfara State crises and should be added to the total figures.

However, the figure is higher than what Buhari presented to the joint session of the national assembly on December 19 by N86 billion.

In his remarks, the senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki said “I want to thank our colleagues, particularly for their understanding and for us to be able to meet today’s deadline in passing the Bill and thank the committee on appropriation too.

“I hope that with this Budget passed, the Executive will also ensure the full implementation of the Budget for the benefit of Nigerians as a whole”.

By Nwafor Sunday
  

Nigeria’s Life Expectancy in 2019 Third Lowest in the World — UN

Nigeria has the world’s third lowest life expectancy rate of 55 years, the United Nations has said.

In its new report Monday, the United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA) said the life expectancy of an average Nigerian in 2019 is only better than those of people in Sierra Leone, Chad and the Central African Republic.

The three countries have respectively 53, 54, 54 years as their life expectancy rates, the report states.

War-torn Afghanistan has 65 years; Somalia has 58; and Syria has 73.

The report puts Nigeria’s current population at 201 million.

The report also states that the total fertility rate among Nigerian women has dropped from 6.4 in 1969 to 5.3 in 2019, this means an average Nigerian woman gives birth to at least five children.

The UN agency’s report shows that Nigeria’s population moved from 54.7 million in 1969 to 105.4 million in 1994. It grew to 201.0 million in 2019.

Of this number, 44 per cent are between the ages of 0 and 14, while 32 per cent are within the ages of 10 and 24.

The report differs slightly from the estimate of the National Bureau of Statistics, which reported in 2018 that Nigeria’s population was 198 million.

It is not clear whether the two reports relied on different data, or the country recorded the additional 3 million in the last 12 months.

The report also reveals that “child marriage” in Nigeria by the age of 18 years is 44 per cent, while the adolescent birth rate at age 15-19 per 1000 girls in the country is 145.

The report also says contraceptive prevalence rate by any method among Nigerian women aged 15-49 is only 19 per cent, while contraceptive prevalence by modern method among Nigerian women by the same age bracket 15 per cent.

Sanni Kunle

Building Collapse: Firm Advocates Preventive Safety Management

Global power management company, Eaton, says preventive safety management in building construction can help reduce the menace of building collapse and also save lives.

The firm said in a statement that the recent Ita-Faaji building collapse that resulted in the loss of lives, including those of school children, had once again emphasised the need for building safety to be a key priority for all stakeholders in the construction process, from architectural planning to final project completion.

The Product Manager for Light and Safety Division, Eaton, Mr Dean Gopal, said building safety systems were often bypassed or substandard equipment chosen based on costs.

Gopal said, “We also see that fire, voice and evacuation systems are left out or not serviced correctly, which contribute to the large number of fatalities we hear about in the media. If these are done and specified in the planning phase of construction, they come at a lower cost compared to having changes made during and after the construction is complete.

“Over the past few years, we have seen several cases reported about buildings collapsing due to fire. It is extremely important that fire risk assessments be carried out safely, and evacuation procedures put in place and monitored by the relevant building authorities to ensure the safety of people and buildings.”

According to Eaton, statistics show that from 2015, the Federal Fire Service recorded over 900 fire incidents in which over 200 lives were lost as well as the loss of business continuity, which amounted to about N11bn in revenue.

It added that effective building safety management should include experts doing a risk assessment of a building, identifying possible risks, selecting the appropriate design and installations to address these risks, and ensuring regular testing and maintenance of these solutions.

“Recent trends reveal increased construction of larger commercial buildings that are less traditional and more like multi-functional hotels in order to offer a high level of service and comfort.

These multi-functional buildings, which include residential and commercial premises, restaurants and shops, are far more vulnerable to hazards such as fire that could lead to a mass evacuation. This underscores the need for having a robust evacuation strategy in place,” Gopal said.

He added that fire safety could also be advanced by having the appropriate quality materials and resources to be installed in a building from the early construction stages through to installation.

He added, “With recent innovation and technological advancements, today’s building owners have the choice of a plethora of new products that comply with the latest industry codes and standards, offering flexibility to choose the required level of safety.

“Building owners, engineers, and the regulatory authority have a critical role to play and must collaborate to work towards constructing sustainable communities. Importantly, Nigeria’s safety regulations must begin to reference regulations that are now seen as standard in other developed countries.

For instance, UK regulations enforce incorporation of evacuation procedures into business continuity and disaster response plans.

“Preventive safety management is the most sustainable and long-term solution to avoid tragedy, save on costs and ensure that our cities are aligned with globally-recognised standards.”

We’ll Support Law Criminalizing Building Collapse – NIS

National president of the Nigerian Institute of Surveyors (NIS) Charles Alabo has said the institute will back any law making building collapse in the country a criminal offence. He said this is to ensure that anybody embarking on a building project must use the correct materials and expertise.

He also said henceforth, the institute will monitor building constructions from foundation to completion to check faulty start. Alabo, who spoke in Owerri at the investiture on five members of the body as fellows, said such checks would help in curbing the menace of frequent building collapse in the country.

“When a building collapses they would include surveyors; we can only test the loamy soil. We are not the geo-technical engineers, it does not concern us. Where I think we should come in is the monitoring aspect of it. We are going to urge the National Assembly to pass the law for building monitoring, this way it would be checked,” he said.

Alabo added that surveyors should be completely exonerated from the incidents because they were not responsible for materials used in the construction of the buildings.

However, he pointed out that if the monitoring bill is passed, it will become the responsibility of the surveyors to monitor the construction of building from its sand texture level to its completion.

The newly inaugurated fellows were Gertrude Njar, Dupe Olayinka, Solomon Olukotun, Babatunde Oluwasunkanmi and O. B. Ogunlami.

By Jude Aguguo Owuamanam

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