Bishop Oyedope In Rage As U.S Denies Him Visa

Bishop David Oyedepo, founder Living Faith Church Worldwide, otherwise known as Winners’ Chapel International, went ballistic on Thursday after he was denied visa by the US Embassy.

A THISDAY report said the embassy did not give any other reason to the bishop, except the standard default explanation that the Bishop did not qualify for visa renewal in its assessment and urged him to try again.

According to the paper, Heaven was let loose, when the obviously flustered preacher and businessman, created scene whilst querying the grounds for his refusal.

Oyedepo reportedly protested he had been traveling to the states as far back as 1980s and had not violated any rules or committed any crime to have warranted being denied a renewal of his visa.

He immediately sent for his bodyguards to get his phones so he could make some calls, but the embassy allegedly told him he could not make calls within the precincts of the visa-issuing section of the embassy.

The paper also reported that while ace comedian, Abovi Ugboma, popularly known as Bovi was issued a visa, his wife, Kris Asimonye, was denied.

Australia fires: State of Emergency Declared For Canberra Region

Authorities in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) have declared a state of emergency as massive bushfires rage south of Canberra.

It is the worst fire threat to the territory in nearly two decades, officials said.

The main blaze, in the territory’s south, is burning over more than 18,500 hectares.

Residents in suburbs of Canberra have been urged to “remain alert” for potential evacuations.

“The ACT is now facing the worst bushfire threat since the devastating fires of 2003,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr told reporters on Friday.

“There’s now no higher priority for the ACT government at this time than the bushfire threat.”

Media captionBBC Weather’s Matt Taylor says cooler weather is expected next week
The small territory, located between Sydney and Melbourne, has about 400,000 residents.

In 2003, bushfires in the suburbs of Canberra killed four people, injured another 500 and destroyed or damaged 470 homes.

Similar weather conditions were being recorded on Friday, authorities said.

US firefighters killed in plane crash
Watch: Canberra engulfed in smoke
Mr Barr warned the fires “may become uncontrollable” as temperatures climbed to 40C and were fuelled by strong winds.

He said the worst blaze was just south of the district of Tuggeranong, a 20-minute drive south of Parliament House in Canberra.

He added the state of emergency – which gives extra power and resources to fire authorities – would be in place for “as long as Canberra is at risk”.

Fires have raged near the city for weeks. Last Thursday, Canberra’s airport was shut down when a blaze threatened to breach its perimeter.

Three US firefighters died on the same day after their aircraft crashed over a fire zone near the city, in the Snowy Mountains region.

What’s Australia doing to fight the bushfires?
A visual guide to Australia’s bushfire crisis
Earlier this week, photos of bushfires in the area turning skies red were shared widely on social media.

It prompted authorities to issue warnings against “disaster tourism”, following several reports of people driving near active fire zones to take pictures.

“I want to reinforce the message to disaster tourists they’re not welcome as this fire approaches,” Mr Barr said.

Since September, bushfires in Australia have killed at least 33 people and destroyed thousands of homes. More than 11 million hectares of land has been scorched.

BBC
Nicaragua: Six Indigenous People Reportedly Killed In Attack

Armed men have attacked an indigenous community in Nicaragua, killing at least six people and kidnapping another 10, rights groups say.

Police confirmed two deaths and said they were investigating. The reason for the difference in the toll is unclear.

The attack on the Mayagna group took place in a protected nature reserve in the north of the country.

The Bosawás Biosphere Reserve has been the focus of land disputes between indigenous groups and new settlers.

A Mayagna leader last year accused the government of doing nothing while his community was gradually “exterminated”.

The men reportedly attacked the Mayagna commune deep inside the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve, the second-largest rainforest in the Americas after the Amazon.

Mayagna lawyer Larry Salomon told the Reuters news agency that the raiders were part of a group of non-indigenous “settlers” in the area.

“This is a land conflict. They want our lands for cattle farming and to destroy our forests,” he added.

Environmental group the Rio Foundation called the attack a “massacre”.

Tensions have been rising in recent years between Nicaragua’s indigenous communities and newcomers who move to the region in search of fertile land, timber and gold. There have been reports of armed groups seizing indigenous land.

Gustavo Lino, the highest-ranking Mayagna leader, said last year: “They’re exterminating us little by little and the state is doing nothing.”

The 30,000-strong Mayagna make up around 0.5% of Nicaragua’s population.

BBC

A Michigan family removed from an American Airlines flight in Miami when staff claimed they had body odour are suing the airline.

Yehuda Yosef Adler, his wife Jennie and their young daughter were removed from the flight to Detroit last January.

They claim staff made comments about their Orthodox Jewish faith.

American Airlines said the decision to remove the family was not based on religion. They claim customers complained about Mr Adler’s odour.

The lawsuit, filed in Texas, cites defamation, emotional distress and discrimination relating to religion.

Mr Adler claims his family had been sitting on the plane for no more than five minutes when a member of staff told them there was an emergency and they needed to leave the aircraft.

Airline admits ‘soap spill’ did not divert flight
Airline sorry for ‘telling woman to cover outfit’
When they left the plane, Mr Adler alleges staff told him the pilot was removing the family because of body odour.

The lawsuit says a staff member “made a disparaging and derogatory statement telling the Adlers that he knew Orthodox Jews take baths once a week.”

The Adler family then approached people at the boarding gate asking them if they could smell any bad body odour. They said they asked 20 people but not one said they could detect a smell.

Mr Adler also said they showered that morning.

They were provided with a hotel room and meals and were placed on a flight to Detroit the next morning. But they were without their luggage as it was not removed from their original flight.

A statement from the airline to Fox News said: “The Adler family was asked to deplane after multiple passengers and our crew members complained about Mr Adler’s body odour. The decision was made out of concern for the comfort of our other passengers.

“None of the decisions made by our team in handling this sensitive situation were based on the Adler’s religion.”

Freight forwarding council to earn N5bn from new fees

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The Council for Freight Forwarding in Nigeria has declared that the implementation of the Practitioners Operation Fee will fetch annual revenue of N5bn.

The Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, CRFFN, Nwakohu Samuel, disclosed this on Thursday in Lagos while speaking with journalists, stressing that the payment processes had been fully automated.

He said the processes had also been integrated with the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Nigeria Customs Service and other government agencies.

Samuel said that the proposed N5bn revenue would increase after the initial period of implementation.

Recall that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, had approved the payment of the PoF by importers and freight forwarders clearing goods from the nation’s seaports.

For every 20-foot container, the PoF is given as N1,000 while every 40-foot container attracts N2,500 PoF.

Clearing agents had kicked against the fee, saying that payments were already being made to the Customs, NPA and shipping firms and that this payment would increase their operational cost.

The matter passed through various court processes with the Federal Government granting its final approval.

The CRFFN registrar specifically said the Ministry of Finance had given the approval making the PoF payment a condition for the exit of goods from the ports and border gates.

He said with the automation, it would be impossible to operate as a freight forwarder without registration and payment of the PoF.

“The freight forwarder will be unable to log in,” he said.

Samuel said 25 per cent of the amount generated from the PoF would go to the federation account; 35 per cent would be set aside for training, capacity building and other issues in the freight forwarding sector; 20 per cent would go to the SW Global, the technical partner to the CRFFN while 20 per cent would go into the CRFFN coffers.

He said, “We are doing an integration that will take about three to four weeks but that will not stop the commencement of the implementation of the PoF.

“You make payment against an invoice generated for you. You have to clear it with them because that is the last port of call for you to take your container out.”

The CRFFN registrar also said, “You must be able to show evidence that you have paid before you can take your container out.

“By the time we integrate fully, all you need do is to give them the reference number to your bill of lading and they will crosscheck in their own system. Before then, whatever we generate from this end, we will give to them; they will tick you off if you have paid.”

He expressed confidence that the system put in place was self-enforcing and would be difficult for people to flout it.

Minister Sylva says Nigeria rich in gas, lowest in usage

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Nigeria has the lowest penetration of liquefied petroleum gas, popularly called cooking gas, despite being rich in gas resources, the Federal Government has said.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, who said this during a television interview, also stated that the Federal Government was working towards the production of Compressed Natural Gas as an alternative fuel to Premium Motor Spirit this year.

Sylva said, “The gas sector will definitely grow. Nigeria is described as a gas territory with oil in it. Unfortunately, we have not taken advantage of our gas resources.

“All the gas we have found in Nigeria was found while looking for oil, not looking for gas. We are going to have some targeted exploration for gas.”

He added, “We also want the people of Nigeria to have an alternative to PMS. We want to see how gas can be converted to CNG.

“And also we are trying to improve the LPG penetration. Unfortunately, Nigeria has the lowest LPG penetration in the world. We are very rich in gas. This year we are going to focus on this area.”

Sylva stated that although the Petroleum Industry Bill had made several trips to the National Assembly without translating into law, 2020 would mark its last trip to the lawmakers.

The minister expressed optimism that the PIB would be passed this year based on the cordial relationship between the legislature and the executive.

The minister also disclosed that the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery would begin in the first quarter of 2020.

He said that the construction of the Ajaokuta, Kaduna and Kano gas pipeline project would begin this year.

Coronavirus: Quarantine agency intensifies screenings at Nigerian airports

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The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service on Wednesday said it had increased veterinary checks at airports in a bid to forestall the entry of the deadly coronavirus into the country.

It said the agency was collaborating with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria to ensure that there was no gap or breach in the veterinary quarantine front at the airports.

The agency disclosed this in a notice on the outbreak of the virus, which was made available to our correspondent by the Head of Media, Communications and Strategies, Gozie Nwodo.

It described the coronavirus as an equal opportunity danger to human life and the agricultural sector.

It stated that a single case of introduction of the virus would have potentially broad and prolific ramifications.

The agency said, “Bearing in mind the zoonotic nature of the 2019 coronavirus, the NAQS is collaborating with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria to ensure that there is no gap or breach on the veterinary quarantine front at the airports.

“FAAN has issued a travel advisory admonishing passengers to submit themselves to standard quarantine formalities.”

It added, “As the single point of command for all agricultural quarantine activities in Nigeria, NAQS is obligated to buffer the nation from the potential introduction of this high-risk virus. The stakes are high. Therefore, officers are on their professional guard.”

It noted that consequently, all NAQS officers stationed at all ports of entry had heightened their alertness to make certain that procedural quarantine inspection was performed stringently, diligently and rigorously.

“There can be no exception or exemption. The general public is therefore advised to report any case related to the above to quarantine posts in their locality or the agriculture department in their local government council,” the agency stated.

Alternatively, it said the public could reach the agency directly, adding that the NAQS was positive that the sense of duty of its officers would remain an impenetrable bulwark against any threat to the nation’s agricultural economy, safety and the environment.

DMO Says Nigeria owes World Bank $9.81bn

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The total debt owed to the World Bank Group by Nigeria rose by $1.3bn in one year to $9.81bn as of September 2019, latest data from the Debt Management Office showed on Wednesday.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association, which make up the World Bank, have over the years advanced loans to Nigeria.

The IBRD lends to governments of middle-income and creditworthy low-income countries while the IDA provides concessionary loans – called credits – and grants to governments of the poorest countries.

Nigeria’s debt to the IDA and IBRD stood at $9.41bn and N409.51m as of September 30, 2019, compared to $8.39bn and $124m in September 30, 2018, according to the DMO data.

The total amount of loans approved by the World Bank for Nigeria had reached $24.68bn, data obtained from the multinational development bank showed.

As of December 31, 2019, Nigeria had secured $7.14bn loans from the IBRD and $17.54bn loans from the IDA, according to the World Bank data.

The IBRD and IDA cancelled $971.04m and $1.77bn respectively of the approved loans.

The data showed that a total  of $16.89bn had been disbursed to the country, with $5.72bn from the IBRD and $11.17bn from the IDA.

The country had repaid a total of $6.45bn to both institutions ($5.29bn to the IBRD and $1.16bn to the IDA).

The loans, many of which are still being disbursed, were approved for 177 projects in the country, with the first loan secured in 1947.

In November 2019, $75m was approved for the Second Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence for Development Impact project.

In 2018, $27.4m was approved for the North Core/Dorsale Nord Regional Power Interconnector Project; $125m for the Fiscal Governance and Institutions Project; $225m for the Nigeria-Accelerating Nutrition Results;$150m for the Polio Eradication Support Project; and $100m for Nigeria for Women Project.

Other projects for which loans were approved in 2018 were the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability PforR ($750m); Nigeria Electrification Project ($350m); NG-Electricity Transmission Project ($486m); and Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project ($400m).

In 2017, $611m was approved for Better Education Service Delivery for All; $159m for the Nigeria: Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification Project; $90m for the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement Phase II; $200m for the Multi-Sectoral Crisis Recovery Project for North Eastern Nigeria; and $200m for the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project.

The nation’s total public debt rose to N26.22tn as of September 2019 from N25.70tn in the same period of 2018, according to the DMO.

The DMO said this month that the 2019 Appropriation Act provided for a total new borrowing of N1.61tn, split equally between domestic and external debt, but only the domestic component of N802.82bn was raised due to the late passage of the 2019 budget and the expectation that the implementation of the 2020 budget would commence on January 1.

It said total debt as a percentage of the GDP was 18.47 per cent as of September 2019 and was well within the limit of 25 per cent but “the low revenue base of Nigeria relative to its GDP is clearly reflected in the high debt service to revenue ratio.”

The debt office said new domestic borrowings this year (N1.59tn) would be raised through FGN Bonds, Sukuk, FGN Savings Bonds and possibly green bonds.

10 Years Impact: Tony Elumelu Foundation Enhances its Flagship Entrepreneurship Programme to Benefit More Entrepreneurs Across Africa

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On the heels of the tenth anniversary of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), the private-sector-led philanthropy focused on empowering African entrepreneurs has enhanced its flagship Entrepreneurship Programme to empower more entrepreneurs across the continent.

These enhancements, which took effect from January 1, 2020—the launch of the 6th cycle of the Programme—will achieve the Foundation’s mandate to transform the African continent through entrepreneurship.

Most prominent among the enhancements are the new dates in the Programme cycle, its emphasis on providing thousands of entrepreneurs with business training, and its focus on leveraging technology to optimise the application and selection process as well as personalise the journey of each applicant in the Programme tailored to their knowledge and business stage.

The Programme cycle has been updated to place more emphasis on getting more entrepreneurs through the business training. Hence, the announcement of the finalists, who will ultimately be inducted into the TEF Alumni network, will no longer be held on March 22 but will be made at the TEF Forum – the largest entrepreneurship conference in Africa.

 

Maximising the value derived from the Programme, applicants will now receive instant feedback on their progress to the next stage of the Programme, following their applications. Shortlisted applicants will receive business training tailored to their business stage and for those who move to the next stage mentorship and finally the top performing entrepreneurs from each country will proceed to the business pitching competition, which will determine the finalists to receive seed capital and an induction into the Foundation’s fast-growing alumni network across 54 African countries.

The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is the $100million commitment by investor and philanthropist, Tony O. Elumelu, CON through his investment company, Heirs Holdings. The Programme has become a beacon of hope for African entrepreneurs, currently empowering 9,631 beneficiaries across 54 African countries with training, mentorship, seed funding and exclusive access to global opportunities as well as a strong entrepreneurial community.

TEF Alumni such as Ugandan Kwabena Danso who manufactures bicycles and its accessories from bamboo is one of the thousands of beneficiaries whose business has expanded beyond the shores of Africa to a global market, and is one of the success stories and impact recorded by the Programme’s innovative approach to the sustainable development of Africa. Others include Mohammed Dhauoafi from Tunisia, founder of Cure, a  3D printed, biosynthetic prosthesis manufacturing company and Princess Adeyinka Tekenah from Nigeria whose coffee making business has been dubbed Africa’s Starbucks by The Financial Times.

The application for the 2020 cohort of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is open till March 1, 2020 on TEFConnect.com.

Union Bank Sells Uk Subsidiary

Nigeria’s Union Bank is selling off its UK Subsidiary to focus on the local market, the bank announced that it has entered a share sale and purchase agreement to divest of its 100% equity stake in Union Bank UK Plc. (“UBUK”). This sale is aligned with Union Bank’s strategy to geographically streamline its business operations to focus on growth opportunities in Nigeria.
Following a competitive bid process, MBU BidCo Limited (“MBU”), an acquisition vehicle wholly owned by MBU Capital Limited (“MBU Capital”), was selected as the preferred bidder. The completion of the sale is subject to regulatory approvals from the relevant regulatory authorities in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
Commenting on the planned divestment, Emeka Emuwa, Chief Executive Officer of Union Bank, said:
“As the banking landscape shifts towards digital and agency banking to drive financial inclusion, the Nigerian market presents robust long-term opportunities for Union Bank.
This divestment allows us channel our focus and capital towards mining those opportunities fully. Through the sale, we are better positioned to deliver greater value to the organization and its stakeholders as well as continue to build the future of banking in Nigeria. The terms of the sale of UBUK delivers substantial value to our shareholders, while also entrusting its customers and trading partners to a high-quality financial services institution who will work with existing management to deliver a stronger and more profitable entity.”
A statement from Mohammed Iqbal, Founder and CEO of MBU says “we are delighted to announce the acquisition of Union Bank UK, subject to regulatory approval. We see a huge opportunity to build on UBUK’s strengths in international markets to create a new-style bank which is focused on the needs of UK and international SMEs and entrepreneurs. Many of these customers are seeking a bank which truly understands the needs of entrepreneurial, fast-growing businesses.
We believe that our acquisition and vision for UBUK offers the potential for significant growth for the bank. We look forward to working with our new colleagues at UBUK to continue to service the needs of its clients. We also look forward to sustaining and deepening relationships with UBUK’s existing trading partners.”