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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

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”.

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


Blast NCDC Boss for Saying All States Will Have Positive Cases
… Says ‘We Were Prepared Even Before a Case Was Recorded in Africa’

Cross River State is one of the two states in Nigeria that is yet to record any case of COVID-19, a development the state government has said, seems not to be welcomed by powers that be in the COVID-19 management in the country.


In this special interview with a TVC News Programme, “COVID-19 MYTHS AND FACTS”, conducted via skype and monitored by rolantimes.com, the Commissioner for Health in Cross River State, Dr. Betta Edu makes some shocking revelations about the undue pressure that the state is subjected to by powers that be, in order to be named amongst the states with COVID-19 positive cases at all cost.


Excerpts:

PRESS: Hon. Commissioner, what is going on in Cross River State as it concerns COVID-19 fight or control?


COMMISSIONER: Cross River State, thankfully is one of the two states left as it concerns states that have not recorded COVID-19. We have had suspected cases in the past, we have send their samples to Ebonyi state and other centers and they have come back negative.
I think a week ago, the boss of NCDC said that every state in Nigeria will have the disease and it gave us some worry, because one would expect, it is the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, not the Nigeria Center for Disease Spread. And so they have that challenge to see that states do not have the disease. I think the thing of pride should be that states do not have cases rather than saying all states must have cases. It should be a challenge to the Federal Government and NCDC to ensure that the states that do no have cases stay clean.
Like I’ve been saying, Cross River state started its preventive strategy very early this year. We were the first state in Nigeria to set up and EOC for Coronavirus, we were the first state to begin sensitization even at rural areas, we were the first state in Nigeria to begin screening of people coming in to our local airport even before Africa or Nigeria recorded any case of coronavirus.


PRESS : Is it indeed true that some Cross Riverians are being promised some millions of naira if they claim being COVID-19 positive and would you want to share that text message with us?


COMMISSIONER : Like I said people have walked up to the team, not once not twice, to show us text messages in their phone that says if you accept to be a COVID-19 patient, you will be given 5million, you will be given 1milion and then they come to ask us if that is true and we tell them It’s not true. Of course the text message is this bulk SMS and we don’t know where it’s coming from, we have given it to our team to check the source and the origin of that message. And of course we have been under immense pressure to take samples from anybody just to beef up the numbers. In fact to be honest with you we’ve had to take samples from two persons who reported at UCTH, they did’t meet NCDC criteria but just to ensure that we continue to take samples and send, we had to take samples.


PRESS: Who is putting pressure on you to test anybody so that you can beef up the numbers?


COMMISSIONER: it’s like a 360 thing, at first the NCDC boss said we are not testing enough that is why we are not having positive cases, WHO is calling every day, telling us to go in to the streets and just test anybody and send them to the lab. I keep saying we need to check the criteria; these testing kits are very limited. And if we continue to test just about anybody, we might get to a point that we truly need to test people who meet the criteria and we may not have kits to test them.


PRESS: Some Nigeriens sneaked into Cross River State from Ikom, one in Obudu, one in Calabar and one in another Local Government Area, but they were not isolated, yet the Calabar team of COVID-19 is insisting that the NCDC team deployed to the state to carry out their duties is being quarantined. So what is your reaction to this?


COMMISSIONER: I think what you need to find out is the truth behind it. There have been a lot of scary messages going on in social media, so you sit today and they say there is one person in Ikom who has COVID-19, the person came in from so place, and then you ask, where in Ikom? Ikom is a big Local Government that has almost close to five hundred thousand people, and then you ask where in Ikom, there is no further information, who in Ikom?, there is no information, nothing. The next day you see a new message saying there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Calabar, you ask, where in Calabar? Nobody knows, who is the person? and what is the contact, nobody knows. And then the next morning you here there is a confirmed case, and so on and on.


PRESS: Alright, so they can’t be substantiated, so to speak?


COMMISSIONER: Exactly


PRESS: Hon. Commissioner Betta Edu thank you so much for talking to us on COVID19 MYTHS AND FACTS.

By Sam Edoho

What, price of Nigeria’s crude oil at $11 per barrel with a further discount of $5? Yet there are still no buyers? This is calamitous and we are truly in dire straits at this time. They say when it rains it pours. It is pouring now and we cannot blame anyone but ourselves for the leaky roof.

We were warned, severally; we had the opportunity, many times to do right when oil was trading comfortably at average $100 a barrel but we conveniently ignored all the warning signals like a stubborn fly following a corpse to the grave. We were just hard headed refusing to see reason or bend to logic or be swayed by critical thinking. Now, like they say, the chicken, we bred, are come home to roost. Unfortunately, nemesis is catching up with us in torrents. Regrettably this is not the time to plan. This is time to act and execute our plans if we had any. What are we planning now that the baby’s head is out? My people say you cannot ask a woman in travail to close her legs when the baby’s head has popped out. Planning period is over. It’s like claiming to have an emergency with no money when your wife is giving birth after 9 months of valid pregnancy. What is the emergency there? That is no emergency because you had 9 complete months to plan, contemplate, review and consider. If that is an emergency, then everything in life is an emergency. Emergency is unforeseen.

What is happening to the price of crude oil was anticipated and it is here with us now and as always we are caught napping again, seriously unprepared. Well, lest one is accused of laying out a litany of woes with no way out let’s look at the bright side of things. The word at this time is prudence, execution of focused projects.

This is the time for ingenuity at not only management of resources but at resourceful ways to make the best of a very bad situation; this the time to bring our best eleven forward to fashion a way out of this quagmire. Ultimately this time and season will pass and we shall be offered yet another opportunity to make right. That would be the window to disappoint the naysayers and seriously focus on Agriculture to feed ourselves, produce raw materials for our industries and for exports. That would be the opening we need and I hope we shall be wise enough to pay attention to the manufacturing sector to produce what we need and create the badly needed jobs for our people. We have what it takes to be great but we needed this jolt from the novel Coronavirus to get our senses right, i hope.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo,SAN, has shaded more light on the proposed employment of 1000 youths per Local Government in Nigeria.

Keyamo took to his twitter handle to clear the air by faulting a punch Newspaper report “Nigeria to employ 774,000 youths to clear gutters”.

The legal luminary wrote “As the Minister supervising the NDE that is executing this program, this headline is patently misleading. The program is designed to take care of critical services in terms of public works that are peculiar to different LGAs. It’s not strictly designed to ‘clear gutters’, please”.

The President, Major-General Muhamadu Buhari (retd.), has given approval for the withdrawal of $150m from the Sovereign Wealth Fund, SWF, for distribution to the three tiers of government.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this on Monday, in Abuja during a media briefing on the fiscal policy measures to tackle the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

She said the amount would be withdrawn from the stabilisation fund component of the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

The fund is currently being managed by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, The PUNCH reports.

Zainab said the need to withdraw the amount was to cushion the negative impact of the drop in revenue on the federation account.

This amount it is believed will shore up revenue to be shared amongst the tiers of Government.

Popular comic Nollywood actress, Funke Akindele has explained why she held a party at her house with other celebrities despite Government enforcement of social Distancing.

Nigerians on Sunday called for the arrest of the actress and her husband, Abdul Rasheed Bello, better known as JJC Skillz for disobeying the State and the Federal government orders

The actress on Saturday hosted an in-house party in celebration of JJC Skillz’s birthday.

The party was crowded with popular faces such as Naira Marley and Eniola Badmus in attendance.

This led to outrage by Nigerians who called for her arrest on social media.

But reacting, Funke Akindele while responding to a Nigerian who prayed that she lose an endorsement over the act, said everyone who attended the house party were camped in her Estate.

The tweet from one youngfortguru read, “Losing this contract by @funkeakindele in my opinion would not be seen as witch hunt but simply stupidity.”

However, she responded, “Uncle don’t create unnecessary sensation. #omoghettothesaga was to be filmed Before the lockdown and some of us had been camped in Amen estate.

“So we had to stay in there. So we are safe and happy!!! Let’s not be NEGATIVE!!”

She later shared a video apologizing to Nigerians and also explaining that she did not intend to mislead people stating that the people present at the birthday are those that stay in her estate and no outsider was invited.

Popular Nollywood actress, Funke Akindele has given reason she held a party at her house despite the government ban on social gathering.

Nigerians on Sunday called for the arrest of the actress and her husband, Abdul Rasheed Bello, better known as JJC Skillz for disobeying the State and the Federal government orders

The actress on Saturday hosted an in-house party in celebration of JJC Skillz’s birthday.

The party was crowded with popular faces such as Naira Marley and Eniola Badmus in attendance.

This led to outrage by Nigerians who called for her arrest on social media.

But reacting, Funke Akindele while responding to a Nigerian who prayed that she lose an endorsement over the act, said everyone who attended the house party were camped in her Estate.

The tweet from one youngfortguru read, “Losing this contract by @funkeakindele in my opinion would not be seen as witch hunt but simply stupidity.”

However, she responded, “Uncle don’t create unnecessary sensation. #omoghettothesaga was to be filmed Before the lockdown and some of us had been camped in Amen estate.

“So we had to stay in there. So we are safe and happy!!! Let’s not be NEGATIVE!!”

She later shared a video apologizing to Nigerians and also explaining that she did not intend to mislead people stating that the people present at the birthday are those that stay in her estate and no outsider was invited.

Here is the 35 second video of the birthday party that put actress Funke Akindele and husband Abdul Rasheed Bello in trouble.

The actress hosted the in-house party in her home at Amen Estate on Saturday.

It was to mark the birthday of her husband, Abdul Rasheed Bello, known as JJC Skillz.

Celebrities such as Naira Marley attended the party.

Her husband published the video clip on Instagram, it went viral leading to police arrest.