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NLNG Signs Contract For Train 7 Project

Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) has signed the Contracts for the construction of its Train 7 Project with the SCD JV Consortium, comprising affiliates of Saipem, Chiyoda and Daewoo.

Speaking on the contracts’ signing, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NLNG, Mr. Tony Attah, was quoted in a statement signed by the General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, Mrs. Eyono Fatai-Williams, as saying that the EPC contracts represented yet another milestone in the company’s journey towards achieving its vision of being a global LNG company, helping to build a better Nigeria.

He said: “With the award of the EPC Contracts to our preferred bidders (SCD JV), we are guaranteeing that our country remains significantly on the global list of LNG suppliers. This singular act clearly demonstrates our shareholders’ determination and resolve to sustain the economic dividends that NLNG’s monetization of our vast natural gas reserves offers our great country Nigeria”.

Attah expressed confidence in SCD JV consortium’s proven competence, adding that the demonstration of an understanding of NLNG’s business philosophy by the consortium will positively influence the execution of the project and ensure zero harm to people, environment and host communities.

The statement also quoted the Group Managing Director of the NNPC and Director on the NLNG Board, Mallam Mele Kyari, as saying that the “Nigeria LNG’s successes, since it started operation in 1999, had continued to prove its unique business model that is profitable to all its stakeholders.

He said: “It is for this reason that our President, Muhammadu Buhari, instructed through the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources that NNPC as a shareholder, it must do everything possible to support all the other shareholders and NLNG’s management to secure the much-needed public confidence from all critical stakeholders, especially the critical agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria and international investors, to pursue the company’s ambition of adding a 7th train to its existing production capacity.

According to the statement, the project was in fulfillment of the NLNG’s vision of being a ‘global company, helping to build a better Nigeria.’

The project upon completion will support the federal government’s drive to generate more revenue from Nigeria’s proven gas reserves of about 200 Trillion Cubic Feet (Tcf) and further reduce gas flaring in the country’s upstream oil and gas industry.

The construction period is expected to last approximately five years with the first LNG rundown expected in 2025.

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Business

Osinbajo Lists Palliative For MSMEs

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the Federal Government has set up palliatives to assist Micro Small and Medium Enterprises(MSMEs) to survive the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Vice President said the palliatives reflected the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s determination to support MSMEs and the priority the Federal Government placed on small businesses.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement, said the vice president performed the virtual launch of palliatives for MSMEs through the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) last Friday in Abuja.

Osinbajo listed the Federal Government’s palliatives as, “E-Registration of MSMEs/ products at 80 percent discounted rate over six months. Zero tariffs for the first 200 micro and small businesses to register on the E-platform. Waiver on administrative charges for overdue late renewal of expired licenses of micro/small businesses products for a period of 90 days.”

According to the vice president, businesses across the world are faced with the disruptions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

He said that the Federal Government would continue to adopt and implement practical measures to ensure that the projected growth in the MSMEs sector was not seriously affected by the development.

“Of importance to the government’s response was to find ways of not just giving succour and assistance to existing MSMEs but also ensuring that there is a practical and active stimulus to new MSMEs. So that the growth of this sector is not discouraged by the current economic trauma. This is our moment, and the government of Nigeria and its regulatory agencies are prepared to back MSMEs and other businesses that are prepared for the innovative and interesting times that lie ahead of us,” he added.

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Business

We Work to Provide Dependable, Comfortable Transport Services- AKTC

Akwa Ibom Transport Company (AKTC) opened over 10 years in
Rivers State, has been providing dependable and comfortable transport services
to commuters between Akwa Ibom and Rivers State, as AKTC buses make daily
shuttles between Port Harcourt in Rivers State, Uyo in Akwa Ibom and Calabar in
Cross Rivers State.

Manager of AKTC Port Harcourt branch, Uduak Johnny spoke with The Vortex service delivery in Nigeria.

According to Jonny AKTC is a pacesetter in the commercial
transportation sector that has become a dependable and comfortable ally to
travelers, stressing that its peculiar services marks it out above its
competitors in Rivers State.

Uduak explained that AKTC was set up at the creation of Akwa
Ibom State by the Ibrahim Babaginda regime in 1986, adding that the company has
made steady progress in the transport sector.

He said the company which is owned by the Akwa Ibom state
government was being managed by the state government until 10years ago when the
government handed over the management of the transport company to a private
firm, Nsuk Motors.

The branch manager attributed the success and growth of the
company to the business touch which the private investor has brought to bear on
the services of Akwa Transport Company.

“We take the lead in safety of customers and that is why we
ensure that our drivers are properly trained and sensitized on customer care
and safety on the roads,” the manager stressed.

Uduak added that AKTC management work in collaboration with
officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), the Rivers State Ministry of
Transport and other relevant bodies, in ensuring total compliance to
appropriate government policies and statutory agencies. 

In AKTC we provide insurance cover for our passengers, in
case of any mishap and we also conduct regular safety on our vehicles and for
our drivers,” the manager explained.

She listed some of the challenges of the transport company
to include the prevalence of bad roads on its major routes, harassment by
security personnel and the activities of task force officials who according to
her make constant demand for all manner of payments.

Uduak said the company has been complying and paying the
approved taxes to the host state government but regretted the menace of double
taxation on transport companies is worrisome. She regretted that multiple
taxation from states and local government and noted that the growth of business
and called on the Rivers State government to address the challenge in order to
attract more investors to the state.

Also speaking with The Vortex, a driver with AKTC, James Jeremiah expressed satisfaction with the operations of the company adding that its policy of safety and comfort of its passengers was commendable.

Akanyele Idoson also a driver with the company who
particularly landed the training programme for drivers, stating that they have
benefited from the training programme of the company.

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Business

Trailers Union Decries Reign of Touts along Aba – PH Road

Members of the Heavy Duty Trailers Union in Onne branch,
Rivers State, have decried the activities of touts who pose as task force
members along the Imo River end of the Aba-Port Harcourt road in the state.

Chairman of the Union, Comrade Mohammed Umar Giwa disclosed
this to newsmen after receiving an award from a Port Harcourt based media
group, the League of South South Media Professionals in his office located at
the Trailer Park in Onne.

Comrade Giwa lamented that the activities of the touts have
caused untold hardship to its members in their efforts to convey goods to the
state.

The union chairman appealed to the media to assist in
informing the state government on the difficulties of their members especially
while crossing the Imo River bridge to the state, alleging that the touts
demand and extort collect all manner of levies from heavy duty vehicles coming
into the state.

He said the Union has met several times with the
commissioner in charge of Transport on the matter but that not much has
changed.

Giwa said “One of our conductors was killed few weeks ago
along the same Imo River axis after a disagreement with the touts who demanded
for money from the driver leading to protests by our members in the area. All
our efforts to get the police to investigate the matter turned out a blame
game.”

Comrade Giwa called on the state government and security
agencies to clear the road of the touts, emphasizing that as a law abiding
Union, its members were willing to pay legally approved taxes to the state
government.

The Chairman commended the League of South South Media
Professionals for the award conferred on him, stressing that it will motivate
him to do more for the Union and humanity.

The event was attended by executives and members of the
union including the General Secretary, Mohammed Lawal.

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BusinessCommentsEconomy

Loan For SMEs:Taming The Shylocks. Ojo Akin-Longe

As the Central Bank new initiatives such as the credit card
facilities to boost the creative industry, is well thought but should be followed
through as loans are issues of concern as many have experienced.

We applied for credit after doing what I thought was a very
thorough feasibility report and confident we had a very good business.  Even at that, I knew one of the ‘Big Men’ at
the top of the bank whom I could reach should the need arise.  The financing proposition was for the bank to
finance part of the equipment purchase, whilst we provide part financing, and
as well bear all installation costs and purchase additional equipment locally.  The bank would in effect also make the fund
transfer and so they were involved in the transaction.

 In all, it would be a
50/50 funding.  We already had the
business going and the additional contribution from the bank would be far less
than the current value of the business. 
Once we got confirmation from the bank that the credit would be
approved, we effected payment of initial 10% deposit amounting to Euro
20,000.  It was our first request for
bank financing so we made everything pretty clear and based on what we really
needed.

After the initial deposit payment, I was to run after the
bank severally.  I followed up, begged
and pushed and was really shocked at the attitude.  With delays setting in, the supplier promptly
wrote to informed us that we would be surcharged for the delayed payments
otherwise they’d cancel the transaction and we forfeit the deposit.  We further begged and pushed and eventually,
the bank ‘graciously’ obliged us the credit, they gave us 65% of what we
requested.  I felt this didn’t connect so
I asked what happened and was told that, that was all the bank could
afford.  Caught between losing our
deposit and having faith that some miracle could happen we trudged on. 

When the equipment arrived, we started installation and
commissioning then I started seeing signs of trouble.  I alerted the bank; they said I should be
grateful I got given in the first place. 
We channelled all funds we had into the commissioning, essentially using
operational funds for capital expenditure. 
It wasn’t long before we got stranded. 
Repayment time was up and the bank promptly demanded that we start
paying.  I took every necessary document
to show to them, tried to talk with that we were actually stranded and couldn’t
run. 

All the talks seemed to count for nothing.  I called the ‘big man’ yet again, who
wondered why we were given less than we requested stating that the practice is
that a customer got what is applied for, otherwise they reviewed and agree with
the customer to reduce if there were concerns that the request was frivolous or
padded.

Subsequently, my banker again, ‘graciously’ announced that
the total facility was granted at the first instance and they had deliberately
disbursed the fund short to see if we could survive.  I raised the fact that we had been stranded
for about four months.   That we had had
several meetings with the bank on the situation, and that they mentioned that
we were being surcharged 40% default charges and asked if that meant anything
to him. He just shrugged off. 

The nightmare didn’t end there.  They eventually released the outstanding
funds to us.  Then a new twist, we would
now have to repay in 10 months.   We now
had two concurrent loans running together with repayments falling due first, in
the first week of the month and next by midmonth. It isn’t allthat, the loan
amount had now increased significantly as previous unpaid amounts which earlier
fell due were now charged at 40% interest for default.

I just stared at them. 
I tried having a meeting with them they bluffed me.  The bank resorted to threats and
intimidation.  I felt we borrowed the
money and we must pay back and I was reluctant to make any case or be seen to
be irresponsible, besides we were debtors and some sense of shame, if you know
what I mean! Also, I felt I needed to show gratefulness for this bank’s
‘help’! 

At last, I talked with a Lawyer who was appalled at all
these and suggested that I have to make the officials  understand that it mattered that they
appreciate their culpability and that they couldn’t ride rough-shod over us,
and that we would escalate and seek re-dress if need be.  I told him we owed and needed to pay, he
said, yes, but responsibly so. 

Then I had one more meeting with the bank executives and
very calmly took them through the credit journey showing them e-mails
evidences, reminded them of the original request and letting them know that we
were committed to paying back but it will have to be within responsible
limit.  Expectedly, they backed down.

See my story.  The
question is how do you grow an economy without the SMEs? And how do SMEs grow
and survive without credit? How do small and medium scale enterprises access
credit fairly and easily? How do we get credit within reasonable interest
rates? How can we simplify credit application system and process? What thoughts
do you have for financial security system that makes borrowers pay?

What changes do we need to make to our legal and judicial
system to ensure accelerated judicial and legal process so that the wheel of
justice will move in good time and in good speed? Are there venture capitalists
out there? How do business people access you? Do banks have dedicated SME
funds? What form of social engagement and responsibility can the banks can
engage in to prime business knowledge and awareness to help viable and genuine
business entrepreneurs build knowledge and capacity to help them better able to
access credit? Do you have a successful credit application story? \

 Please tell it.  Is it true that Bank Managers actually own
the loan shack businesses giving credit at up to 25% per month?  That they get the monies to their cronies and
then direct bank customers to them? I heard so but I don’t know. Folks, how do
genuine business people get credit besides getting from some relative or friend
or well-wisher?  By the way, my MBA
thesis is going to be on a comparative analysis of family and friend’s credit
provisions for SME survival against the bank’s effort in this same direction,
looking at the Nigerian example and using a special case study.

And you know, interestingly, it comes back to us all, the
banks, the SMEs and the economy.  It
works well, and we all benefit; a vibrant economy, more jobs, people off the
street and yes, a safer world.

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BusinessEconomy

Seaports Shut As Maritime Workers Begin National Strike

The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, has directed
its members to withdraw their services and commence a nationwide industrial
action over unpaid wages to dockworkers, among other issues.

The action is expected to substantially shut down ports
operations leading to huge losses in terms of revenue to government and
organizations especially in the upstream oil and gas operations.

Addressing officials and a cross section of dockworkers at
the Dockworkers’ Branch of MWUN, Lagos, president general of the union, Adewale
Adeyanju, threatened that the industrial action would not be suspended until
all outstanding payments accumulated for over a year were fully liquidated
along with the resolution of other workers’ welfare issues.

MWUN had on June 11, 2019, issued a 14-day ultimatum to the
Federal Government to compel the International Oil Companies, IOCs, to pay all
outstanding wages to Dockworkers, among other issues or face nationwide
industrial unrest.

 The leaders of the
Union had, last week, set up a strike coordinating committee and directed its
officials in all port formations nationwide to begin a massive mobilization of
members ahead of the planned strike.

Explaining why the Union had resorted to industrial action,
Adeyanju contended that non-payment of government-appointed
stevedores/dockworkers by the IOCs contravened Nigerian Maritime Administration
and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Act 2007.

He lamented that several efforts made to get the IOCs to
comply including the stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Nigerian Ports
Authority, NPA, failed. 

 He stated: “Some of
the affected dockworkers have passed on prematurely due to economic hardship,
while those that are alive have been forced to live like destitute. As a
responsible union, we cannot continue to hold our arm and watch our members die
prematurely because of the nonchalant attitude of the IOCs toward the welfare
of our members.

In view of the foregoing, we gave a 14-day ultimatum/notice
to the Federal Government, through the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of
Transportation to prevail on the IOCs to do the needful by paying our members.
Ahead of the expiration of the ultimatum, which was Friday, June 28, 2019, we
issued a reminder letter dated June 27, 2019.

\”The three days’ reminder elapsed and we are, therefore,
directing that all ports operations nationwide should be shut and our members
should begin an indefinite strike until all payments are made and other issues
resolved. That is, if at the close of work today, (yesterday) no evidence of
payment is seen, our members shall withdraw services in all the nation’s
seaports until all issues in contention are resolved.”

Part of the complaints of the Union in the letter to the
government says, “It is on record that on June 1, 2018, the NPA appointed
stevedoring contractors to provide stevedoring services at various off-shore
jetties and on-shore locations to the International Oil Services and other
operators. It will be necessary to inform you that NPA had held several
meetings with these operators to grant access to the government appointed
stevedoring contractors, process their invoices and effect payment.
Unfortunately, the operators have refused to comply with the NPA directive
after one year that the stevedoring contractors were appointed.

 “We commend the
managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority for the NPA management has made
to compel the IOCs to engage the services of appointed stevedoring and
registered dockworkers in their stevedores and registered dockworkers in their
stevedoring operators.

In fact, at stakeholders meeting held on February 28, 2018,
organised by the NPA at Victoria Island, Lagos, to sensitise stakeholders,
i.e., IOCs, jetty owners and terminal owners, that the NPA appointed stevedores
and registered dockworkers are empowered by law to solely handle discharged and
loading operations at the ports, jetties and oil platforms.

“The position of the operators on NPA directive is worrisome
and very surprising because the same operators had processed and paid the
former stevedoring contractors since 2010 through a foremost terminal operator.
So, why are they refusing to cooperate with the newly appointed stevedoring
contractors since the modus operandi remains the same?

 “The Maritime Workers
Union of Nigeria, MWUN, has been monitoring the chain of events on this matter
since last one year, and noted that the implication of the operators defiant
attitude amongst others is untimely death of some dockworkers while awaiting the
payment of their wages, because they could not meet their family obligations
like payment of house rent, children school fees and hospital bills, to mention
but few. We can no longer continue to watch our members die prematurely because
of the defiant attitude of the IOCs.

“Consequently, we are constrained to give the Ministry of
Transportation that superintends the appointment of stevedores two weeks (14
days) to prevail on the management of the IOCs to pay all outstanding bills to
our members, failing which we will be compelled to withdraw our services and
shut down operations in all the Nations Sea Ports.”

Although the  NPA,
yesterday claimed it was holding a meeting with the union leadership in the bid
to avert the strike, President General of MWUN,   Adeyanju denied knowledge of such meeting.

The General Manager, Corporate Communications of NPA, Mr
Adams Jatto, said the Authority had called the Union for dialogue earlier
yesterday morning. He stated: “There was a meeting, the meeting is not over, but
even if the Union decide to go ahead, NPAs operations will not be affected
because the issue is with the IOC, and I believe the strike will only affect
the upstream. This ultimatum has been hanging and those directly involved have
failed to respond. It is not the Authority’s problem in the actual sense, we
are only trying to mediate.”

 But Adeyanju denied
any meeting, insisting that only evidence of payment of the outstanding wages
would stop the strike, saying all four branches of the Union, comprising of
Dockworkers, Seamen, Ship Chandelling and NPA would comply fully as they had
been mobilised for an effective nationwide strike from today.

 In the reminder
letter addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of
Transportation, the Union lamented that there was no evidence that the issues
raised were being addressed.

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Business

CBN Reveals Five-Year Strategic Plan …Eyes Double-Digit Growth, Single-Digit Inflation

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin
Emefiele, disclosed this in Abuja, Monday, while briefing the media on his
agenda for the next five years. According to him, the 2004 recapitalisation
undertaken by former CBN Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo has weakened,
substantially.

His words, “In the next five years, we intend to pursue a
program of recapitalising the Banking Industry so as to position Nigerian banks
among the top 500 in the world. Banks will therefore be required to maintain
higher level of capital, as well as, liquid assets in order to reduce the
impact of an economic crisis on the financial system.

 “It was Governor
(Chukwuma) Soludo, in 2004 who did the last recapitalisation we had. Moving the
capitalisation from N2 billion to N 25 billion. “I must commend that effort
because it resulted in positioning Nigerian banks, not only in Africa, but to
become among top banks in the world, in terms of capitalisation.”It also
increased helped the strengthen the banks to take on large transactions and
those are the things they badly needed. The wrong way to defend the naira(Opens
in a new browser tab)

 “Today, when you
relate N25 billion in 2001 exchange rate, which was about N100/$1, N25 billion
was about $200 million . Today if you relate N25 billion at N360/$1, you can
see that it substantially lower than $75 million . “What we are trying to say
is that the capitalisation has weakened quite substantially and there is need
for us to say it is time for us to recapitalise Nigerian banks again.
‘Kudimoney’ gets CBN license, rebrands to ‘Kuda’(Opens in a new browser tab).

 “It is a policy
thrust which will be discussed at the Committee of Governors’ Meeting and of
course the frame work for the recapitalization of Nigerian banks would be
unfolded for the whole world to know.”

 . The governor said
that in the next five years, his team would work closely with the fiscal
authorities to ensure a stable macro-economic stability, double-digit growth,
single-digit inflation and greater access to finance for businesses.

Emefiele said, “Working closely with our fiscal authorities,
we pledge to target a double digit growth by the next five years and at the
CBN, we commit to working assiduously to bringing down inflation to single
digit; while accelerating the rate of employment.

 “Put succinctly, our
priorities at the CBN over the next 5 years are the following; First, preserve
domestic macroeconomic and financial stability; Second, foster the development
of a robust payments system infrastructure that will increase access to finance
for all Nigerians thereby raising the financial inclusion rate in the country;
Third, continue to work with the Deposit Money Banks to improve access to
credit for not only small holder farmers and MSMEs but also Consumer credit and
mortgage facilities for bank customers.

 “Our intervention
support shall also be extended to our youth population who possess
entrepreneurship skills in the creative industry.” On the management of the
foreign exchange, he said , “We will continue to operate a managed- float
exchange rate regime in order to reduce the impact which continuous volatility
in the exchange rate could have on our economy”

The CBN, the governor said, he would support measures that
would increase and diversify Nigeria’s exports base and ultimately help in
shoring up our reserves, particularly by supporting domestic industries and
creating jobs on a mass scale for Nigerians.

The Governor said, “We intend to aggressively implement our
N500bn facility aimed at supporting the growth of our non-oil exports, which
will help to improve non-oil export earnings. “Will launch a Trade Monitoring
System(TRMS) in October 2019, which is an automated system that will reduce the
length of time required to process export documents from 1 week to 1 day. This
measure will help support our efforts at improving our non-oil exports of goods
and services.

“We will also work with our counterparts in the fiscal arm
in supporting improved FDI flows to various sectors such as agriculture,
manufacturing, insurance and infrastructure. These measures while supporting
improved inflows into the country, will help to stabilise our exchange rate and
build our external reserves.”

Mr. Emefiele said that his team would boost productivity
growth through the provision of improved seedlings, as well as access to
finance for rural farmers in the agricultural sector, across 10 different
commodities namely: Rice, Maize, Cassava, Cocoa, Tomato, Cotton, Oil-palm,
Poultry, Fish, and Livestock/Dairy.

He said, “Our choice of these 10 crops is driven by the
amount spent on the importation of these items into the country, and the over
10 million jobs that could be created over the next 5 years if efforts are made
to expand cultivation and processing of these items in Nigeria. So far, we have
held series of engagements with importers and producers of these products.

“Most of them have committed that they would install or
expand their production capacities in Nigeria. We believe these measures will
help to boost not only our domestic outputs but also improve our annual non-oil
exports receipts from $2 billion in 2018 to $12 billion by 2023.”

He added that CBN would support an aggressive embroilment of
prospective banking customers in the informal sector on to the BVN system and
move the current enrolment of 38 million unique banking customers to 100
million over the next 5 years.

Emefiele said that the consumer credit programme would be pursued
more vigorously, including mortgage at 9 per cent interest.

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BusinessEntrepreneurship

‘Online Kitchen, Innovation In Catering Services’

The Vortex features correspondent Manasseh F. Paul-Worika
speaks with Clinton Treasure Diseye. Diseye, an indigene of Sagbama in Bayelsa
State and a 400 level student of Sociology at the Niger Delta University,
Amassoma, Bayelsa State, is the Chief Executive, Tee’s Kitchen.

Tell us about your
outfit, Tee’s Kitchen.

Tee’s kitchen is an online kitchen that offers professional
catering services for busy individuals, corporate organizations and families.
Irrespective of your location, you can place an order and we have your meal
delivered to you on time and at affordable rates. We also render outdoor
catering services for occasions such as, birthdays, weddings, matriculations,
convocations, etc.

Inspiration behind
Tee’s Kitchen

Tee’s kitchen was birthed out of my passion for cooking.
Growing up, I had always loved cooking and trying out new things in the
kitchen. Things weren’t smooth after I lost my parents and I said to myself
instead of depending on people or engaging in illegal businesses, why not start
up something. At first, I started with selling Zobo, making doughnuts and chin
chin with capital I got from my savings.

It got to a point I needed to expand my business and the
idea of Tee’s kitchen came. Initially I started alone, but now, I have about 8
persons working with me and it has been awesome. No matter where individuals
are, once we receive their orders, we deliver right on time. Recently, we had a
job to cook for over 100 persons in a child naming ceremony in Benin.

One other thing that inspired me into starting up Tee’s
kitchen is the economic situation in Nigeria. The spate of unemployment and
poverty is alarming and we can’t depend on the government anymore to provide
jobs for the teeming youths.

What can the
government do to tackle unemployment?

Truth remains that the spate of unemployment has led to many
vices in the country like, armed robbery, kidnapping, etc. The government
should focus on building industries that would employ graduates.  They should also create conducive
environments that will make businesses thrive.

How does Tee’s
Kitchen operate?

Due to academic activities, I advertise Tee’s kitchen on
social media platforms particularly on my Whatsapp Status indicating the meals
for a particular day and what time we are open to receiving orders. And we do
just home delivery for now since we don’t have a physical restaurant. Although
there are plans for that. Tee’s Kitchen also organizes online and offline
cooking classes. We’ve put up seven online cooking classes where interested
individuals pay a token to get full practical training to boost their cooking
skills.

We’ve also organized about five offline classes free of
charge. But in this case, we ask individuals to just provide the ingredients
needed and we teach them how to cook.

What challenges do
you encounter?

Well, my biggest challenge has been turning down customers
demand because of academic work. It’s really a big challenge.

How do you manage
business and academics?

It hasn’t been easy I’d say; but in all I give thanks to God
for the wisdom and direction. I’ve learnt to manage my time effectively and
even if academic work seems to be a challenge, it doesn’t affect me badly.
There are days I assign my workers to handle some jobs when I’m too occupied
and they still deliver perfectly.

How has your business
helped you?     

It has helped me financially.  At least I can now assist myself academically
and not depend on anyone for livelihood. It has made me bold and confident and
has also made me stand out.

What are your
projections?

I’m working on having branches of my businesses in many
cities with competent hands to manage them. The idea is to make Tee’s Kitchen a
household name within Nigeria in the short and medium term and the world in the
long term.

How has competition
from others influenced you?

I wouldn’t say I have been in any form of competition with
any business owner or those in my line of business. I know what I can offer and
consistently make customer satisfaction my priority. I ensure that what I give
my customers is healthy, nutritious, delicious and superb. So each day, I make
conscious attempts to improve and work on my delivery and the packages I have
for my customers.

Advice to youths
waiting for white collar jobs

For those talented in different areas, don’t sit idly. Get
something doing. You can learn painting, designing, hair braiding, or any other
thing that can earn you a living. Relate with people who are professionals in a
skill and learn from them.

With this, you’ll have something to fall back to instead of
engaging in criminal acts in the name of waiting for white collar jobs. Start
from somewhere; don’t fold your hands anymore.

Advice to young
entrepreneurs?

So many persons tend to give up once they notice their
business seem to be generating returns. They allow complacency creep in and at
the end of the day, they end up shutting down the business. There will be
challenges.  All you need is to stay
strong, hold on and believe that it won’t end there. Keep doing what you love
doing and always seek the wisdom of God to lead you.

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Business

Nigeria Spends $4 Billion On Textile Imports Yearly …Imports 47% Of LPG From US, Others

The Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association (NTMA) has
said the country spends $4 billion annually to import textiles and readymade
cloths.

The Director-General of the Association, Mr Hamma Kwajaffa,
said in Abuja that most of the imported textiles could be found at Kantin and
Kwari in Kano and Balogun and Oshodi in Lagos.

According to Kwajaffa, “Influx of smuggled goods continues
to flood major textile markets in Lagos and Kano states; textile importation do
not only undermine the local Industry but steal our jobs. It deprives
government of revenue; it is a drain on Nigeria’s precarious foreign exchange
reserves,” he said.

He said that Nigeria had the potential to produce for the
local market and to export to the ECOWAS market of 175 million people.

He said that Nigeria also have the potential to produce for
the United States under AGOA and EU GSP scheme which Kenya, Ethiopia, Lesotho,
Madagascar and a numbers of African countries are already exploiting.

Kwajaffa said that textiles used to be Nigeria’s foremost
industry, being the second largest Employer after government and utilizing
indigenous raw materials such as cotton.

However, he said that despite government’s intention to
revive the sector, the reality on ground continues to be worrisome.

“The prevailing unprecedented harsh environment has dealt
serious on the already fragile industry. Unless government takes urgent steps
to address key issues raised by the industry, the ray of hope that had arisen
from the recent government Initiatives may get extinguished.

“Other developing countries are helping their textile
industry in many ways due to its high employment potential. Nigeria’s huge
population of over 165 million people represents a large natural market for
textiles.’’

According to him, India, which is the second largest textile
producer in the world after China, recently announced 1 bn dollars incentive
package for the textile and apparel industry to create 10 million jobs in three
years.

“We commend the interest shown by the government in reviving
the Nigerian textile industry in the past 6 months.’’

He said the industry has listed eight specific issues to the
notice of government to intervene within the ambit of existing policy framework
whereas some require new initiatives.

“ Re-scheduling of the CTG loan facility by the Bank of
Industry to 10+2 years was agreed by the government and for this to be
effective, a notification is still awaited.’’

He called on government to review the tariff on gas supplied
to the industry in Naira to make it affordable.

He said that scarcity of black oil has crippled the
operations of the textile mills in the North, adding that there is need to
ensure availability of the oil to the textile mills through direct allocation
from Kaduna and other refineries.

He also called for consistent supply of certified seeds to
ensure adequate supply of cotton to local textile industry.

Under the dual exchange rate policy being currently pursued
by the industry, the director general called on CBN to allocate forex at
official rate for the industry to import of essential raw materials by the
textile mills.

He charged the government to persuade its MDA’s to source
all their uniforms from the local textile mills.

He also called on government to checking the influx of
smuggled goods and action against counterfeit textiles which fake the Nigerian
trade marks in an effective manner.

According to Mr. Jaiyeola Olarewaju, the former Director
General of NTMA, said the benefits from a competitive textile industry in
Nigeria are numerous.

Olarewaju said that greater demand for cotton would boost
the income of Nigerian farmers.

“Government needs to walk the talk and fulfill the
assurances given to the sector.’’

Meanwhile nearly half of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas, also
known as cooking gas, consumed in Nigeria in the first three months of the year
was imported from India and five other countries.

The country, which is home to the largest natural gas
reserves in Africa and the ninth largest in the world, has continued to suffer
supply shortage over the years.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that 47
per cent (146.14 million litres) of the LPG supply in the country in the first
quarter of this year was imported while 53 per cent (164.71 million litres) was
produced locally.

The United States accounted for 46 per cent (67.10 million
litres) of Nigeria’s LPG imports in the period, while India, Trinidad and
Tobago, Algeria, Argentina, and Equatorial Guinea supplied the remaining one
per cent.

Nigeria imported 61.39 million litres of LPG in January,
while 33.22 million litres were produced locally. The country imported 26.60
million litres and 58.15 million litres in February and March respectively
while 55.72 million litres and 75.77 million litres were produced locally in
February and March respectively.

It bought 12.95 million litres of LPG from India in January;
12.95 million litres from Algeria in January; 14.64 million litres from
Argentina in February; 21.74 million litres and 4.69 million litres from
Equatorial Guinea in January and February respectively; and 17.59 million
litres from Trinidad and Tobago in March.

The US exported 19.29 million litres, 7.26 million litres
and 40.55 million litres of LPG to Nigeria in January, February and March
respectively.

According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation,
the country has around 202 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves plus
about 600 trillion cubic feet unproven gas reserves.

“Out of 8.5bscfd of natural gas production in Nigeria, only
18 per cent of natural gas produced is being utilised by the domestic market. A
large percentage of the gas produced is used for the export market.
Re-injection is 32 per cent and flared gas stands at seven per cent,” the Group
Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, NNPC, Mr Saidu
Mohammed, said at an industry event last month.

Last month, the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum
Gas Marketers commended the Federal Government for the removal of Value Added
Tax on locally produced LPG.

The marketers and other industry stakeholders had over the
years complained about the VAT being charged on locally sourced LPG, saying the
tax made the cost of buying the locally produced LPG high, compared to imported
cooking gas.

The President of the association, Mr Nosa Ogieva-Okunbor,
said, “The clamour for VAT removal from domestically produced Liquefied
Petroleum Gas has been of perennial concern to members of our association. The
good news received by our association and the LPG industry is that the Federal
Government has finally signed the approval of VAT removal on LPG and gazetted
same which makes it an official pronouncement.”

He said the increased awareness of LPG usage had seen
consumption in Nigeria grow from 50,000 metric tonnes in 2007 to over 600,000MT
in 2018 with more indigenous investments in LPG bottling plants.

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Business

Changing To Fit A Changing World

The world is changing. 
That’s not the issue.  It is the
pace of change, too rapid, pushing so many things into obsolescence too
quickly.  Chaos is fast becoming the
order and norm of living.  To gain
foothold on the razor thin margin of profitability, businesses are changing the
way things are done.  Processes are
reviewed all too frequently.  New
technologies are introduced. 
Optimisation is the word. 
Companies are squeezing the last drop so nothing is wasted.  Innovation is cutting across hardware and on
to soft issues, and there is so much innovation in business processes and
systems.  Research and technology
companies are building on new innovations, adding new features, and new
capabilities and at cheaper cost.

Change is good but can be inconveniencing.  Change can be costly at the initial instance
but tends to give overall benefit in the long run.  Change adds variety and spice to people and
business lives.  I think change helps
efficiency and effectiveness.  To be
oblivious of change or to ignore it can leave destruction in its wake, remember
the dinosaurs! For businesses, change is the constant.  Constant adaptability to changing
technologies and businesses processes has to be the norm.  We usually get designs from clients by e-mail
or on some saving device but I just got a 2 terabyte storage device with server
capability and web access.  It came quite
cheap, at least by my consideration.  My
clients can log on to it, drop their design and we pick locally and go to
press.  I wouldn’t need to open my mail
to access their designs.   It is out
there for them to access and right here with me, like one of my local drives.

The changing world makes things smarter and faster.  I don’t have to make all my designs from the
scratch anymore.  In the new innovative
world and global village we now live in, I buy into several freelance designs,
pick, amend and bingo! I get an exquisite design, my clients says it’s cool.
But I really didn’t do too much.

The new world of change has a wider reach.  Social networking sites like facebook,
MySpace and others are building a whole new community of virtual residents who
are alive at all times.  Talking!
Sharing! Exchanging pictures and videos! Selling! Advertising! And
blogging!  The virtual community without
boundaries are redefining our sense of communal living where we all have a say
and we all get heard.  I have had to put
up my advert on facebook and direct same to a particular region for the effect
I wanted.

A vey hype world, the new world ensures you aren’t bored any
moment.  Music, video and entertainment
on demand, no letting up on any dull moment. 
The new world is making news available up to the minute and on-demand
too.  I track news on my phone. I use my
ipod to bits on music and on the go! Waiting times at airports are occupied
with one activity or the other, Ipod, laptop, games on phone, wirelessly logon
to office network and may be work while waiting. 

The world has now changed the way we trace our locations.
They ensure we never really get lost. Google map! And several route maps.  I find this interesting honestly.  You know how we look at things here, like
they won’t work.  I travelled eastwards,
on the outward journey, we took a rather long route.  Our friend advised we take another route on
return. Somewhere we got confused and I took out my phone went for the ‘drive’
route map, you bet, it worked in the remote east of Nigeria. We didn’t ask
anyone for guide and direction we just drove through.  Folks, it is a changing world.  I saw it, I used it!

We hear the statement ‘global village’ every now and then,
but we really have gone global.  The
earth hasn’t shrunk but we have brought everything closer together with new
tools. Lots of product information on table tops and palm tops.  Inquiries on the go. The consumer is more
empowered and can ‘talk’ with the seller thousands of miles away, can even see
him or her.  Ebay, Amazon, you-tube,
facebook have become real phenomena. I buy online.  I have an abode online ‘cos I’m on
facebook.  Feels like a global citizen in
a new world that confers citizenship to all who will log on!

The new world is also changing the way we consume.  Yes the way we consume nature’s own.  It has become imperative that we think of the
generation unborn, so we have to think about how we use water. Our carbon
footprints! Better and more efficient way to generate power. Recycling! Harness
nature’s own better and so on and so forth. 
For me, I don’t know, but I am considering alternative power generation
system that could power our offices while side-stepping the power service
providers.  It helps me considering the
fact that they are inefficient anyway.  I
am considering using solar energy in the very near future.  I am fitting into a new world. 

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