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…Says NBS Unemployment rating is laughable

By Aniedi UKOENANG

The upsurge on the influx of investors and investments to Akwa Ibom State has been linked to Governor Udom Emmanuel’s integrity, knowledge of the economy and business savvy.

The Executive Chairman of Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, Hon. Ekanem Brown made this assertion when he paid a working visit to the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Trade and Investments, Barr Prince Akpabio in his office.

Ekanem Brown, known for his drive to domesticate Governor Udom Emmanuel’s completion agenda in his Local Government Area, said that the aim of his visit was to market the economic assets of his Local Government to the Commissioner and in return explore opportunities for collaborations in the Trade and Investment Ministry for the benefit of Mkpat Enin people.

Briefing newsmen shortly after the visit, the council boss also reacted to the recent controversial rating of NBS on Akwa Ibom State, positing that “As a Chairman of the host Local Government to at least four (4) key employment stimulating investments of Akwa Ibom State Government, I find the recent report of Nigeria Bureau of Statistics against Akwa Ibom state as both questionable and laughable”.

He said “I was in the Commissioner’s office on a very official visit. You know that Barr. Prince Akpabio is manning an office that is very vital to the completion agenda of the current administration in the state, so as a follower of that agenda, I came here to market what Mkpat Enin has that might be of interest to him, and to also seek possible frontiers that my administration can explore in form of collaboration, for the benefit of my people.

“I also applauded the Commissioner because his ministry is at the centre of the recent influx of investments into Akwa Ibom State. While we analyzed these goodies, I quickly pointed out that nothing else could be responsible for the flow-in of these investments other than the integrity of the Governor, his knowledge of the economy of this state, his savvy in managing business opportunities and the peace that his administration has ensured.

“ For example, the Federal Government has just approved a Free Trade Zone for the state, Ibom Air is making waves, Ibom Deep Seaport is having headway, an agreement has just been signed for a refinery in the state by BUA Group, many others in the process.
” These things don’t just happen, the Governor is definitely doing a great job” he concluded.

A bride-to-be was reportedly left in shock as her inlaws, especially her to-be Sister inlaw and Mother-Inlaw asked her to wash off her make up to reveal her real face.

The drama which is said to have happened in Ogun state, led to the postponement of the introduction for another day.

According to a Twitter User, simply identified as Donald, a family Introduction was thrown into confusion as the bride showed up wearing heavy makeup, a development that caused the mother inlaw to demand for opportunity to see the “real face” of the woman brought to the family by her son

The lady in question reportedly refused the request, but the daughters of the woman supported their mother by providing medicated face wipes to the bride-to-be for use, but she stood her ground and vehemently rejected the idea of clearing the layers of painting on her face.

This development, is said to have led to the postponement of the event till October, when the lady is expected to show up with her real face.

Many people have however reacted to the development with variance of opinions as so stand for and others against the unusual request.

Rolantimes provides screenshots of the reactions below…

A bride-to-be was reportedly left in shock as her inlaws, especially her to-be Sister inlaw and Mother-Inlaw asked her to wash off her make up to reveal her real face.

The drama which is said to have happened in Ogun state, led to the postponement of the introduction for another day.

According to a Twitter User, simply identified as Donald, a family Introduction was thrown into confusion as the bride showed up wearing heavy makeup, a development that caused the mother inlaw to demand for opportunity to see the “real face” of the woman brought to the family by her son

The lady in question reportedly refused the request, but the daughters of the woman supported their mother by providing medicated face wipes to the bride-to-be for use, but she stood her ground and vehemently rejected the idea of clearing the layers of painting on her face.

This development, is said to have led to the postponement of the event till October, when the lady is expected to show up with her real face.

Many people have however reacted to the development with variance of opinions as so stand for and others against the unusual request.

Rolantimes provides screenshots of the reactions below…

The CEO Median Construction Development Nigerian Limited, said that Ibom Tropicana Mall would be the cheapest in rental price per square meter in Nigeria, with a Square meter going for as low as N5,400 per Square meter.

Median Construction Development Nigerian Limited, the major investors at the Ibom Tropicana Mall has assured the government and people of Akwa Ibom State that the Ibom Tropicana Mall billed to commence business in December 2020, will be of world class standard. The assurance was given by the firm’s Chief Executive Officer, Engr. Olumide Akinsanya, while conducting journalists around the mall in Uyo.

Engr. Akinsanya said that his company as partners to Akwa Ibom State Government in the development of the Ibom Tropicana Mall, under a Public Private Partnership, ( PPP ) arrangement, is saddled with the responsibilities of redesigning and remodeling the complex into a functional mall with the additional mandate to occupy and manage the facilities. He noted that the State governor had since August 2015, mandated his firm to remodel the mall and bring in an Anchor investor to the mall. Shoprite was then the choice anchor, for which a ground breaking was performed. He, however, hinted that the worsening exchange rage of the Naira made it less attractive for foreign investors, hence the resort to sourcing funds and investors locally.

He announced that Market Square has been selected as the anchor investor based on their experience and track record in mall management.

While commending the investment wizardry of the governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, Engr Akinsanya stated that it was the effort of the governor that made Ibom Tropicana the only mall in Nigeria indexed in Naira. He stated that the indexing of the mall in Naira is a significant signpost of Akwa Ibom, under Gov. Emmanuel achievement in ease of doing business.

The Mall, which is 90 per cent complete, already has 60 per cent of its 55 shops signed up; with 50 per cent of the stores taken up by mainly Akwa Ibom State based organizations. Among notable firms signed up are Choice Mall, Oliver Twist, Jossy International, Quinthall, Shade Cover, Med Plus, etc. The CEO Median Construction Development Nigerian Limited, said that Ibom Tropicana Mall would be the cheapest in rental price per square meter in Nigeria, with a Square meter going for as low as N5,400 per Square meter.

The Mall, which was commissioned by the Akpabio administration at the twilight of the administration was largely uncompleted, with less than 5,000 square meters of space, has been upgraded, remodeled and completed into a 9,800 Square meters of letable space. To achieve this, the investing company went into extensive repairs, restructuring and expansion, with the entire 3,000 square meters of space to be occupied by the anchor tenant, constructed from the scratch.

When fully functional, Engr. Akinsanya said that the mall will provide 600 direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs and help stimulate enormous economic activities in the state.

It could be recalled that Ibom Tropicana Mall is one of the components of a multi-billion naira massive leisure and business complex, which the Akpabio administration started in 2008, with a promised completion period of 12 months. As the time the Akpabio administration ended in 2015, the entertainment center only had the Cineplex functioning. Even though the administration “commissioned” the mall, the facility was far from being completed for occupation and commencement of business.

Cc: David Augustine

“At this point we have surrendered to NCDC, with the opening of interstate borders we no longer have control over who enters our state or not, it is definitely true that we might begin to have a surge in cases across the country and I advise our people that our lockdown should actually begin now.

“By opening our borders and the airways Cross River that is COVID-19 free will have an avalanche… but where the borders are open, our eyes will be open, where the borders are open our medical facilities will remain open. We must prepare for the onslaught. As a state we were the first to close our borders even when the Federal Government was slow in response to COVID-19, as a professor of science I went in to read biology, chemistry, physics and biochemistry books and saw that cloth mask can actually stop particles of the virus from spreading and we were the first state to produce cloth mask for use.

“We are closing the first phase of COVID-19 campaign, I want to specially appreciate my partner (Deputy Governor) for his professorial advice, I wouldn’t succeed without a team that supported our vision, I want to thank everyone in that team and I say congratulations. For the closure of that first phase I want to make a token donation of 30 million naira to our COVID-19 team to share for that sleepless nights, for that difficulty, for that stress that I put you all through in order that our state remain free.

“I like to end by saying Cross River you are the only state that remained strong to the end. I want you all to help me thank God for preserving our lives. Thank you and God bless you “

Those were part of the remarks of Sir Benedict Ayade, Governor of Cross River state as he declared a closure of what he described as the first phase of COVID-19 response in the state, due to the declaration of a resumption of interstate travels both on land and air, across the country.

The federal government says it will evaluate and review the price of domestic gas across the country so as to make it more affordable for ordinary Nigerians.

Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum resources, made this known while inaugurating a committee on the gas sector-wide review of the domestic gas pricing framework.

Sylva emphasised on the need for an appropriate domestic price system, saying it will help improve the use of cooking gas and compressed natural gas to the advantage of the manufacturing industry and Nigerians at large.

Without appropriate pricing, we can’t have it right. We have to ensure that gas becomes affordable. This is the only way our country can strive,” he said on Tuesday.

“It is sad to note that we sell gas cheaply to investors while the price is high in the domestic sector to the extent that some Nigerians sell diesel cheaper than gas.

“Once we solve the issue of gas in the country we would have solved a lot of problems in Nigeria. Luckily for us gas is something that we have in abundance.”
Sylva said the members of the committee are to review domestic gas price and benchmark, make recommendations for an appropriate gas price for the respective gas sectors, make evaluations and technical suggestions with a turnaround time of 30 days.

He added that the decision to review the domestic gas pricing framework is also to enable the penetration of both cooking gas and compressed natural gas (CNG) which is expected to serve as an alternative to petrol. – TheCable

Minister of Transportation and former Governor of Rivers State has disclosed that he has not been to his state, Rivers state since after 2019 general elections.

He disclosed this during ARISE NEWS TV Interview in Lagos.

Amaechi was called upon to react to threats by some young men who threatened to burn down Rivers state should Amaechi’s faction of All Progressive Congress loss control of the party through the ongoing legal tussle bedevilling the APC in Rivers State.

Amaechi who disowned the supporters refused to react to political developments either in Rivers state or in Nigeria, saying “I am no longer a politician for now, I am focused on development, and my style of politics is not violent, people who support me should not take laws into their hands else I will deny them. I do not want to participate in anything that is happening politically I don’t know and I don’t want to know”.

Not fewer than 180 people contacted coronavirus during a wild celebration on hearing the news that lockdown has been relaxed.

Municipal Commissioner Tukaram Mundhe told BBC Marathi that the person who had organised the party infected 180 people, including 16 from a single family. He says 700 others who had come in contact with those infected have now been quarantined.

A young person organised the gathering for five friends and bought meat from a nearby district where there has been a high level of infections. Afterwards, the host’s health deteriorated and he was admitted to hospital.

He initially said he had contracted the virus while out for a walk in a park but later admitted visiting the virus-hit neighbourhood to buy meat.

Officials told the BBC that people routinely conceal activities that could lead to the virus spreading and this represented the biggest risk to the community.

The development has put local authorities under pressure to contain tyres spread from getting worst.

Our E-Magazine blog, Rolantimes had a very elaborate interview with one of the finest economists in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

Our editor had a very daring interview with Prof. Chris Ekong of University of Uyo, he provides deep insight to a lot of issues ranging from the economy, unemployment, COVID-19, corruption in NDDC, plus other issues plaguing the development of Nigeria and the Niger Delta region.

Excepts:

QUESTION: Can we meet you sir?

PROF EKONG: Christopher Ekong is my name, a Professor of Economics, mainly development and Environmental Economics . I teach in the University of Uyo, department of Economics to be precised. I rose to the position of Director of International programmes, in the same institution. I have had experience in academics and public service. I have been a Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State for so many years, I have held other position in Government.
Currently, I am council member of Nigerian Society of Economic Research and a member Nigeria Economy Society Academy, those are the things that I have done for now.

QUESTION: Please tell us about the Nigeria Society of Economics research.

PROF EKONG: Nigeria Society for Economic and Social Research Institute is a national Institute established by the Federal Government to research on social and economic issues. it is located in Ibadan it has been there for a while and I am a member of that Council working there with other members.

QUESTION: What has the Institute done in situations like this that we are having the COVID 19 pandemic in terms of researches and economy?

PROF EKONG: This is a beautiful question. That shows at this time, this will show and expose our government. First over all, the inability of our government to coordinate and get it’s research institutions to work for the benefits of the nation is regrettable. The total and nonchalant attitude of Government to consider the institute they pay for or to even fund or sponsor research. In the main science are, for instance, I work in the University as the Director of International programmes, since COVID-19 came I try to put together a group of scientists who individually have done so much work on viruses on virology, monocular laboratories do we have in Nigeria? You can finish with the samples that you have but you don’t have funding to carry out the clinical test. So that is the challenge and it affects the development of our country because the quality of research and maximization of the results thereof is equal to the level of development in any Country.

QUESTION: What are the expected economic impacts of COVID-19 on Nigerian?


PROF EKONG: Obviously, I have always said the world economy is already in recession because of covid19. It has stalled trade, it has reduced global aggregate demand by compulsion because everyone is locked in, the aviation industry and every industry is gone. Excerpt there is going to be so much stimulus from the government, the aviation industry will die. For many countries especially small countries like us in Africa, if we are not careful there will be famine because this is the period to farm in Africa and if in this period we are locked-in and we are not farming there is going to be famine excerpt government does something. There is going to be inadequate food. In Nigeria for instance there is a lot of insurgency in the north east that is supposed to be the food basket, and now COVID19 has come, nobody is going to farm, what are we going to eat? If you look at Africa, the study I did recently has it that 75% of people are in the informal sector, they are artisans, they eat from daily work. And suddenly we lock them in, that informal sector provided the energy for Nigeria to become the biggest economy in Africa. For example you lock in market people, mechanics are no longer repairing cars, so what is going to happen?
Nigeria is a mono-economy, we depend on oil, some people say that oil is going to finish and I laugh, oil is finished and will no longer be relevant soon. In the next 10years oil is till going to dominate the market. The reduction or fall in price is just because of the non use because shops are closed, industries are closed, but now it is moving up again. Oil is still going to dominate because its going to take up to the next 20years to have another source of energy that is efficient and produce at low cost like oil.

Question: Nigeria has continued to defy many economic projections, many times the world bank, IMF would prophesy doom for Nigeria economically, our out of job data is so high out there, but year in year out we seem to be living our normal life. What is responsible for that?


PROF EKONG: In a paper I presented in Africa Union last year, I told them the only trick Nigeria has is the informal sector. The percentage of Nigerians in informal sector is so large. Even if you say 70% of Nigerians are unemployed, Nigerians are still living very well. I will tell you why. You see somebody who has no job but his children are in nursery school and he is paying through. There are a lot of transferred income in Nigeria. There are a lot of flowing helicopter money in the system that people just capture that is not coming from sources were they are earning. They are just getting it from transfer from friends politicians from in-laws and rich elites and just solve a problem and they move on.
Also people are doing some menial jobs. It is only in Nigeria that working in super market is not a job. Being a gateman is not regarded as a job but they are earning salary. When such people are listed as unemployed it swells up the unemployment data. Because 3% unemployment in America, or 7% unemployment data in America could even sack a President but consistently we are on over 30% unemployment data but nobody is feeling it because people are working but anytime they are asked if they are working they say NO, because they are not satisfied. A person earns 18,000 naira working somewhere has many farms. As he comes back the children are farming and they will bring vegetables and people buy from them at the end of the month that family grosses nearly 200, 000 naira but the data you have on him is 18,000 naira.
Another man has no work but he rides tricycle and his net worth daily is 3000 naira and if he rides for 20days in a month, he nets 60, 000 naira but you say the man is unemployed. The informal sector is so big so if we study the informal sector and get data on it we could see how we can locate that informal sector to take care of issues in the informal sector. In Nigeria people are doing one thing or the other, but in that thing they are doing the dignity is not there and makes them think they are unemployed. Because if you ask a mechanic if he is employed he will tell you he is unemployed. Same as these bus drivers we see, they make net of over 150, 000 naira they are richer than many civil servants but they would say they are unemployed. That is the beauty of our country.

QUESTION: There seem to be a serious lack of economic collaboration in the Niger Delta unlike what we have in the South west. What do you think is responsible for that despite our rich natural resources?


PROF EKONG: I beg to say, that contraption called Niger Delta is a marriage of different bedfellows who were initially at war against themselves. The Niger Delta, what brought us together was the Delta, and not even similarity in culture because these are different people, totally different people.
In 2002 the south-South governors decided to have what they called the south south summit groups in attempt to bring the southern states together. What they did not understand or have at the back of their memory was that there is interest and that others are always watching to see how others interest will affect their interest. That is the way the world is, that is why people are fighting all over the world. This is the richest states in Nigeria, if you are Nigeria, would you allow them to come together, because if they integrate like the South-South, one day they can say they have what it takes, and they want to keep their oil. So the country is watching, they are watching you so they are happy the way you are. Because you dont have within you men that think, men of decision that looks into tomorrow, to say if they take certain decisions, their children could be better. So for it to happen they want, they bring selfish people to lead us, so you see the leaders we have are so extremely selfish, they pay allegiance to people outside the Niger Delta region, and their work is to make sure they continually keep us at this level of chaotic existence.
See the NDDC, the amount of budget that goes into Niger Delta Development Commission, if that budget was used well, and in every year we do one major project in a Niger Delta state. Lets say we decide to build a 20megawatts power plant for each state, the money in NDDC would have built those plants.
Or we decide to build a seaport for each state we have one in Rivers, Warri, Cross River, we could say let us develop a deep seaport around the Bakkasi region, with the kind of money we have in the Niger Delta, we could have built a referral hospital that even have the big laboratories that would readily carry out researches. The same with education sector, and we say we are giving one standard university in the Niger Delta 10billion naira yearly to develop, we would have done it. So where is the money? What has the NDDC done with all the monies that goes to it. So Niger Delta is just a contraption. Government does not want to
When we started gathering the heat was so much to destroy us. When we had the first meeting, the second meeting, at the 3rd meeting, the Governors began to fight themselves openly. The Chairman of that meeting was a professor from Delta state, he was the first chairman. Top bright people in Niger Delta were in that summit, good brains but the governors scattered the thing because when Nigerians saw the kind of people that were coming together they became afraid and said NO. We need social reorientation of our people especially our young men because our young men are already worse than the outgoing men because the young men were trained by these outgoing men. They are getting more vicious, they are vicious, they dont care about others, they dont want to know what is happening to the Niger Delta. That is why people could stand up to say that Niger Delta should not be probed. They should not do forensic auditing. I think even if the person who is doing it is a thief let him do. When he finishes also look at him and do his own because this forensic auditing will open a can of worms of the things that is happening to us in the Niger Delta Development Commission. If you know the amount of money that goes into that commission yearly you will marvel.
Just name the projects in Akwa Ibom, they will say roads, one kilometer road, they will go and paint one primary school and say you have done something. Why cant you build a modern secondary school and handover to the states. So we need to reorient ourselves. If we have a good person, the next thing they will say NO. That one will not give someone money. We want cultists, the CV to get a job is to have a gone, that is the CV in the Niger Delta.


QUESTION: there is a growing sentiment in the Niger Delta, people are saying if the Niger Delta states are getting 13% derivation fund, and NDDC get huge budgetary allocation plus the 3% of the profits of IOCs go to NDDC, and the Niger Delta states continue to be in this porous state, is it fair for the Niger Delta states to keep complaining that there are no federal projects in their states?


PROF EKONG: Well, do you know what each of the Niger Delta states take from the Federal Government? Especially when we realized about 600billion dollars from oil? Nobody goes home with anything less than 15billion naira. So what is their wage structure?
What is their wage bill, do we have up to 1million workers? Are we being fair to ourselves? What about the Local Governments? What are they doing, if they have a joint account there should be more money. How are they managing it, do they have a budget or they are just doing things without plans. Our governments in the Niger Delta must sit up they are not doing well. They should look at themselves. If they say they are doing well, they should publish their budgets. What did they say they will do and what are they doing?


QUESTION: But Niger Delta Governors are also crying no funds?


PROF EKONG: Ebonyi state is one of the states with the least allocation from the Federal Government, go there and see the quality of developmental projects in that state. Not just road infrastructure, go and see the schools, hospitals.
In my inaugural lecture I dedicated a chapter to Akwa Ibom state, to give my own unpaid advice to Akwa Ibom. The problem in Akwa Ibom is that there is so small amount of money in circulation in the state. But we have so much money, I mean since 1999. In Attahs time he worked more with Local contractors. 70% of our money goes to capital expenditures. Capital expenditure includes building of roads and this our economy does not have the capacity to keep that kind of money. If I have 10billion naira to build roads for example, at the end of the day, they will go to Dangote in Lagos for example and order 10,000 trucks of cement, he buys his rods in Lagos, so the only money that stays here will be the labour and may be sand so 95% of the money goes to outside this state. The only small money in circulation in the state is the 30% recurrent expenditure. In that 30% government House and the legislature keeps 20% and you know they dont spend their money here, it is Lagos, Calabar, Abuja and so on. So the small money going round is the one that was paid as salary to workers.


QUESTION: What is your take on the economic team recently set by the Akwa Ibom state government, if you were in the team what would be your contribution?


PROF EKONG: I want to hear from the economic team before I give my own inputs.
I want them at this point to look at the informal sector and to also look at agriculture, and not to say that agriculture is for the private sector, at this time we need government investments in the private sector. Government should take over agriculture and partner the private sector; I also want to see them creating entrepreneurs because if you go to China, the Chinese government are the ones creating entrepreneurs. For example, how are we engaging Exxon Mobil? So cant we have two or three people who supply diesel to Exxon Mobil? It is government that must create those kind of people because they must have capacity to own a tank farm. So cant government do that? The south eastern Government created Dr. Pepper, created Dr. Ime Umanah, and many more, gave those grants so that they can drive entrepreneurship. That team is a very strong team.

Rolantimes: Thank you Prof

PROF EKONG: You are welcome