In a bid to advance its Research and Development (R & D) efforts aimed at promoting indigenous technology to sustain platforms and equipment serviceability, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and Equipment and Protective Applications International Limited (EPAIL). The partnership, which would further reduce NAF’s over-dependence on foreign technology and make it more innovative and resourceful, covers areas of human capacity development and production of security systems as well as personal protective equipment.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao who was represented by the Chief of Standards and Evaluation, Air Vice Marshal Olusegun Philip noted that collaboration with organizations such as ITF and EPAIL were necessary if the NAF was to realize its objective of moving the Nation and the Service towards becoming technologically advanced and self-reliant. The MoUs, the CAS said, would facilitate solution-driven techniques to NAF’s technical challenges which would in turn translate to greater operational efficiency for the Service. He noted that in line with the focus of the Federal Government towards promoting indigenous technology, the NAF has been looking inwards to gradually wean itself of overdependence on foreign technology and be more innovative and resourceful as aptly encapsulated in 2 of the key drivers of his vision.
Air Marshal Amao further noted that through collaboration with other organizations and agencies, the NAF has been able to produce items such as autopilot cassettes and hydraulic diaphragms for the Mi-35 helicopter and L-39ZA trainer aircraft. Other R&D feats recorded include production of Alpha-Jet aircraft anti-skid break system test bench and batteries for the Mi-helicopters series.
According to him, “These and many other innovative efforts have provided the impetus for the NAF to effectively project air power in support of friendly forces.”
While responding on behalf of the MoU partners, the Director General ITF, Sir Joseph Ari noted that the MoUs would establish a framework through which the signatories would work together in an effort to nurture a cooperative and win-win relationship among the 3 institutions as well as enhance productivity.
“You have dependable allies in us. We will pursue the MoUs with the vigour and seriousness it deserves for our overall benefits,” he said.
He also commended the CAS for his leadership acumen which has better positioned the NAF for operational effectiveness and called on Nigerians to be supportive of the efforts of the military as they make efforts towards safeguarding the entire nation.
The NAF currently has 32 active MoUs with various organizations, agencies and universities nationwide. Its MOU with the ITF is mainly centered towards human capacity development. On the other hand, EPAIL is a private company involved in the indigenous manufacturing of security systems and personal protective equipment that would be of benefit to the NAF. The event was witnessed by branch heads and directors from NAF headquarters and directors from both ITF and EPAIL.
AfDB signs $20m agreement with FSDH to support Nigeria’s SMEs
The African Development Bank (AfDB), has signed an additional $20 million Trade Finance Facility with FSDH to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.
Director-General, Nigeria Country Department, AfDB, Mr Lamin Barrow, said this during the signing ceremony, on Thursday in Lagos.
According to Barrow, trade is considered the locomotive for economic development, and trade finance is the lubricant.
He, however, said “it is also not lost on us that the supply of trade finance in Africa is highly constrained for various reasons.”
Barrow said the Bank supported over 120 financial institutions in 30 African countries and has catalysed over $10 billion in trade in the past decade.
He said, “FSDH and the AfDB have enjoyed an enduring partnership in supporting SMEs and Nigerian Corporates engaged in trade and export value chains.
“In 2016; the AfDB extended a 50 million dollar Trade Finance Line of Credit to FSDH. This 3.5-year facility performed well.
“It supported more than 370 transactions, catalysed 375 million dollars of trade and benefitted 60 SMEs and Corporates in critical sectors including energy, agri-business, health and boosting intra-Africa trade.”
The new 20 million dollar facility, Barrow said, comprises a $15 million Trade Finance Line of Credit to support eligible SMEs and corporates active in international trade value chains.
He said it also comprised a $5 million Transaction Guarantee to enhance FSDH’s Correspondent Banking relationships.
“It will provide a 100 percent guarantee to Confirming Banks to cover the non-payment risk of FSDH arising from the issuance of letters of credit and other trade finance instruments.
“This agreement is a testament to our collective endeavours to plug the trade finance gap in Nigeria by working with a valuable partner such as FSDH that provides critical support to SMEs.
“We look forward to the successful implementation of this project while reaffirming the AfDB’s commitment to deepening and strengthening the financial sector in Nigeria,” he said.
AfDB has estimated the trade finance gap on the continent to be $81 billion per annum, while a recent study by the WTO and IFC estimated the gap in Nigeria to be seven billion dollars annually.
It also reported that banks in Nigeria rejected a quarter (25 per cent) of all trade finance requests from their clients.
Lack of sufficient Correspondent Banking lines and inadequate access to foreign exchange were cited as major constraints.
That is why the AfDB established a dedicated Trade Finance Programme in 2013 to provide critical liquidity and risk mitigation support to financial institutions in Africa and for the benefit of SMEs and local corporate importers and exporters.
Jan-Dec budget cycle: Inflation to blame for poor implementation of 2023 budgets — Govs
…Appeal to Lawmakers to hasten approval of 2024 budgets
…As implementations of 2023 State budgets suffer backlogs
By Moses Adeniyi
Executives of State Governments in the Federation have begun to hasten their budget offices to clean-up their Appropriation Bills for onward transmission to their respective State Houses of Assembly for the 2024 fiscal year.
The moves, NewsDirect learnt, are connected to restoring the January to December budgetary cycle, particularly as some States still have backlogs in the implementation of 2023 budgets.
This is just as more Governors in their respective presentations of 2024 Appropriation Bills to their State Houses of Assembly have kept lamenting inflation rate in the Country, identifying it as a major factor to poor implementation of the 2023 budget.
For instance, while presenting a N300 billion budget for 2024 fiscal year at the Bauchi State House of Assembly, on Thursday, Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed said that only 51 percent of 2023 budget has been implemented, while citing inflation as one of the constraints that affected performance of the budget.
Meanwhile, Governors of States who have presented their Appropriation Bills so far, have made appeals to lawmakers in their respective State Assembly to expedite scrutiny processes to approve the bills, in a bid to meet up with the January to December budgetary cycle.
…Abiodun presents N703bn 2024 budget to lawmakers
On Thursday, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State presented to the State House of Assembly, an Appropriation Bill of N703.03 billion for 2024.
To hasten the speedy passage of the 2024 Appropriation Bill, Abiodun told the Speaker of the Assembly, Olakunle Oluomo, that he had directed all Commissioners, Accounting Officers, and Heads of Agencies to be personally available for the budget defense.
Christened, ‘Budget of Sustained Growth and Development,’ Abiodun said the 2024 proposed budget has an increment of N230.78 billion compared to the 2023 budget of N472.250 billion.
The Governor, while presenting the budget, said, “A total expenditure of N703.03 billion is proposed for the State Government in 2024. The proposed expenditure comprises N287.37 billion as recurrent and N415.66 billion as Capital.”
According to him, personnel costs will gulp N95.05 billion, consolidated revenue cost is N27.35 billion, public debt charge will be N59.09 billion, overhead cost is N105.88 billion, while capital expenditure remains N415.66 billion.
In his highlights of the key physical capital projects in the 2024 budget, he disclosed that the ‘Light up Ogun Project’ would include the procurement and installation of transformers statewide, while partnering with the private sector to experience uninterrupted power supply in 24 months.
He mentioned that the State would host the 2024 National Sports Festival while constructing, rehabilitating, and maintaining roads across the State.
Some of the roads listed for consideration are the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta expressway; the Ofada-Owode road; the Lagos Garage-Ikangba-Ilese road, the Ota-Lafenwa-Itele-Ayobo road; Ita Oshin-Ibara Orile-Ijoga Orile-Ibooro-Imasayi road; OPIC Estate internal roads in Agbara and others.
Abiodun added that there would be an “extension of the Lagos Blue Line Metro Rail Project into Agbara, an extension of the Lagos Red Line Metro Rail Project to Ijoko and Ifo/Kajola in line with the execution of our multi-modal transport plan under the Lagos-Ogun Joint Development Commission initiative.”
He assured all of the construction of over 2,000 housing units in various locations across the State like Warewa, Sagamu, Iperu, Ibara, Ayetoro Road, OGTV Village, and Ijebu-Ode, among others.
In his sectoral analysis, Abiodun allocated N109,219.62bn to education, being 16 percent of the entire budget, while health was allocated N81,185.66bn, which is 12 percent.
He added that housing and community development takes N28,886.43 billion (4 percent); agriculture and industry, N14,213.03 billion (2 percent); infrastructure, N209,122.60 billion (30 percent); recreation, culture N22,872.69 billion (3 percent); social protection, N28,692.08 billion (4 percent) and general public service – executive organ N31,125.49 billion (4 percent)
The judiciary was allocated N7,029.32 billion, being 1 percent of the entire budget, while N14,412.07 billion, 2 percent of the budget, was earmarked for the legislature.
Statewide takes N104,114.11 billion as 15 percent of the budget; general public service – financial and fiscal affairs, 34,954.27 billion (5 percent); general public service and general personnel service, N1,939.79 billion (0.3 percent); public order and safety N12,187.63 billion (2 percent) and economic affairs N3,083.22 billion (0.4 percent).
While presenting the 2034 Appropriation Bill before the State House of Assembly on Thursday, Governor Mohammed of Bauchi State said that the 2024 budget, christened ‘Budget of Consolidation and Renewed Focus,’ is made up of recurrent expenditure of N121.3 billion (40.4 percent) while capital expenditure receives the sum of N178.8 billion (59.6 percent).
Mohammed stated that the proposed budget was prepared based on the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework in compliance with the Bauchi State Fiscal Responsibility Law (2009).
The Governor said that the budget proposal further complies with the National Format and Chart of Accounts, aimed at improving the quality of financial reporting in line with the International Public-Sector Accounting Standards.
He noted that the 2024 budget was predicated on the assumptions of an oil production projection of 1.78 million barrels per day; a benchmark oil price of 73.96 US dollars per barrel; an exchange rate of N700 to the US dollar; an improved level of revenue accruals into the Federation Account arising from oil subsidy removal and an improved and efficient system of internally generated revenue collection.
“The sum of N300,219,705,820.60 has been Budgeted for Capital and Recurrent services during the 2024 fiscal year.
“This comprises recurrent expenditure of N121.3 billion or 40.4 percent while capital expenditure receives the sum of N178.8 billion or 59.6 percent.
“The 2024 proposed Budget is 48.2 percent higher than the budget I presented at this House for 2023. The increase is attributable to the increased revenue arising from the subsidy removal and the upward inflationary trends associated with the depreciating state of the local currency,” he said.
He added that this implies an increase in prices upon which our projects and programmes will be implemented.
“The adoption of this conservative approach is to ensure that projects and programmes captured are appropriately costed,” he said.
The Governor stated that the government was only able to achieve about 51.6% in the implementation of the 2023 budget as of 30th September 2023.
Recall that earlier, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri, on Wednesday, presented the 2024 Appropriation Bill of N480.993 billion christened ‘Budget of Sustainable and Shared Prosperity’ to the State House of Assembly for consideration.
The 2024 fiscal year’s estimates are N41.722 billion higher than the approved 2023 budget of N439.271 billion, currently under implementation by the state government.
He lamented that “the greatest challenge in the course of implementation of the 2023 budget is the high inflation rate in the country,” noting that current reports from the National Bureau of Statistics indicated that food inflation was about 31.5 percent while inflation hovered around 27 per cent.
Diri, however, said a general analysis of the budget performance, as of September 2023, showed that his administration “had achieved an overall performance of 73 per cent, where both the recurrent and capital expenditures got due attention.”
He claimed that the implementation of the 2023 budget achieved considerable success and consistency in critical areas such as security, education, agriculture, health, works and infrastructure, sports and the civil service.
Presenting the 2024 proposed budget, the Governor said the fiscal document was consistent with the assumptions contained in the state’s 2024-2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper which the Assembly approved in October 2023.
The total recurrent expenditure is N154.096 billion representing 46.41 percent, while total capital expenditure would gulp N257,777 billion which is 53.59 percent.
Giving a breakdown of the budgetary allocation, which covered only nine sectors, Diri said Works and Infrastructure got N141.837 billion; Education N49.888 billion; Health N26.041 billion; Environment N15.554 billion; Agriculture N14.886 billion; Power N6.049; Lands and Housing N6.876 billion; Youths and Sports N7.656 billion; Transport N6.424 billion.
He explained that the budget would be financed through an opening balance of N13.625 billion, statutory allocation of N57 billion, VAT N36 billion, 13 percent derivation of N208.920 billion, IGR N23.869 billion and other capital receipts (stamp duties, loans, grants etc) N141.578 billion.
“We are guided by the desire to prepare a realistic, implementable and prioritized budget which is a reflection of the aspirations and wishes of critical stakeholders, and the economic realities in the country,” he said.
He said that the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning had been empowered to regularly analyse, monitor and evaluate the budget performance against the various policies, programmes and projects of the government.
Appealing to the Assembly to give the 2024 fiscal document expeditious approval, Diri expressed the hope that the lawmakers’ subsequent oversight of the implementation of the budget would bring greater dividends to the people of the state.
The Delta State governor, Sheriff Oborevwori, had on Wednesday presented a budget of N714.4 billion for the 2024 fiscal year to the state House of Assembly.
Presenting the budget christened, ‘Budget of Hope and Optimism,’ Oborevwori disclosed that it is made up of recurrent expenditure of N316.6 billion representing 44 percent and capital expenditure of N397.9 billion representing 56 percent of the total budget.
According to the Governor, the 2024 budget proposal, his first since coming to office, was envisioned to put the economy on the path of sustainable growth, boost investments and productivity, enhance the ease of doing business, and provide ample opportunities for the average citizen to participate in the economy.
He had noted that the personnel cost of N150 billion provided in the budget was in anticipation of domestication of a likely salary increase by the Federal Government sometime in 2024 while the overhead cost mirrors the inflationary trend in the country.
“This administration will embark on the construction of more critical road infrastructure in the 2024 fiscal year because we are irrevocably committed to advancing urban-rural integration. In 2024, we propose to spend N150 billion on Road Infrastructure for the Ministry of Works; N46.55 billion on Education; Health will gulp N18.65 billion; Agriculture, N7 billion and Urban Renewal N7.5 billion. Environment will gulp N2.1 billion and Youth Development, N1.7 billion. These key sectors are very essential in our 2024 budget.
“This administration is focused, process driven, and result-oriented in its governance style. The progress that we have made in the last five months should give hope to our people that the goals we have set in this budget will be pursued with similar zeal and dedication. Rest assured, this administration is determined to see our people through the hard times, doing all that we can to assist the poor and vulnerable,” he had said.
Governor Oborevwori however appealed to the state legislators to speed up passage of the 2024 budget.
Governor Nasir Idris of Kebbi, had on Wednesday, presented a budget proposal of N250.1 billion for the 2024 fiscal year to the State House of Assembly.
Presenting the proposed budget, Idris had said that out of the amount N90.6 billion was earmarked for recurrent expenditure while N159.4 billion was for capital expenditures.
He had added that the recurrent expenditure figures were broken down to Personnel costs of N35.9 billion while overhead costs were N54.6 billion.
Earlier, Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State had on Tuesday presented a N410 billion 2024 Appropriation Bill to the State House of Assembly.
Soludo described the Bill as a “modest” budget with a 57.8 percent increase compared to N258 billion for the 2023 fiscal year.
Soludo had said that N96.2 billion which is 23.46 percent of the budget is recurrent expenditure, while capital expenditure is put at N313.9 billion(76.54 percent) and the budget deficit is estimated at N120.8 billion.
The budget indicated that some key sectors had significant increases compared to the 2023 Budget, such as the administrative sector at 50.85 percent; the economic sector at 103.43 percent; the judiciary sector at 72.9 percent; the social sector at 60.24 percent; the education sector had 140.88 percent, the health 169.55 per cent, the infrastructure investment had 119.84 percent when overhead costs had 34.1 percent, among others.
The Governor, who christened the budget, ‘Changing gears: The transformation agenda begins,’ had said it was aimed at beginning the transformation agenda and implementing a new masterplan to build a liveable and prosperous state.
He had said, “With this budget, we are making an announcement that Anambra is changing gear and that the promised transformation agenda now begins. The transformation agenda is one that intentionally executes a new master plan of the state designed to turn Anambra into a livable and prosperous smart megacity.
“We are determined to change Anambra’s narrative from its current status as a ‘departure lounge’ to a ‘destination of choice’ preferred destination to live, work, invest, learn and relax and enjoy!
“Evidently, Nigeria’s macroeconomic environment remains challenging due largely to the missteps of the past. Sub-national governments are obviously constrained by the larger macro environment.
“However, we are determined to maximise the limited headroom available to create value for Ndi Anambra.
“Consequently, and in spite of the humongous need, we present a modest budget of N410,132,225,272 for fiscal year, 2024, compared to N258,984,875,905 for 2023 (about 57.8 percent increase).”
Soludo pointed out that the State’s Internally Generated Revenue remains a fundamental challenge, adding if every resident pays five to 10 percent of their annual income as tax to the state, “the Anambra of our dream will be fast-tracked.
“In the 2023 budget, we expected a monthly revenue of N4 billion. So far, we are averaging N2 billion, and we are still projecting N4.2 billion per month in 2024. This is a wake-up call to all residents of Anambra, and all Ndi Anambra wherever they may live.
“We can’t build the envisioned livable and prosperous homeland with our saliva. With the abundant resources that God has blessed Ndi Anambra with, there is literally nothing that we collectively set our minds to that we cannot achieve for our homeland.
“We have the plan and the organisation to execute. But we need resources. If each of us pays just five to 10 percent of our annual income as tax to the State, the Anambra of our dream will be fast-tracked.
“Many people keep asking how we managed to fund the huge infrastructure projects and other programmes/projects without borrowing over the past 20 months given the state of the treasury when we assumed office.
“The answer is simple: ‘doing more with less’! It has involved extreme austerity and cutting the cost of governance to bare bones. As can be seen from the proposed 2024 budget, recurrent expenditure is only 23 percent while capital expenditure is 77 percent.
“This makes a bold statement. Yes, we have been in office for 20 months but we have not taken any salary and have not bought any vehicle for the First Lady of Anambra. Before we assumed office, it cost about N137 million to clean public offices per month, but it currently costs N11 million to do the same job, with a monthly savings of N126 million per month. That’s how we do it here.
“With the state of decay, even if we spend the entire year’s budget on roads in one local government, it would still be a scratch. We are breaking the 32-year-old jinx and Anambra will soon have a proper and befitting government house and governor’s lodge at Awka,” he had said.
The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Umo Eno, had on Tuesday, presented the 2024 budget proposal totalling N845.632 billion to the State Assembly for approval.
The proposal christened ‘Arise Budget for Growth and Expansion’ is made of a recurrent expenditure of N352.917 billion and a capital expenditure of N492.715 billion.
The 2024 appropriation is “predicated on the oil benchmark of $73.96 per barrel at a production rate of 1.78 million barrels per day with an estimated exchange rate of N700 /US$, in line with the National budget benchmark projections,” the Governor told the lawmakers.
Earlier, Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji in October had presented a budget estimate of N159.5 billion; Governor Bassey Otu of Cross River presented N250 billion; Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun presented N273.9 billion 2024 Appropriation Bill; while Kano State Governor, Abba Yusuf, presented 2024 Appropriation Bill of N350 billion.
More State Governors are expected to present their Bills before their respective State Assembly in the next few days.
For instance, Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule is expected to present the 2024 budget before the Nasarawa State House of Assembly on Friday (today).
This was contained in a Thursday statement signed by the acting Speaker of the House, Abel Yakubu Bala, indicating that “the budget presentation by Governor Sule is billed to be at the Assembly Complex on Friday by 10am.”
Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, is expected next week to present the 2024 Appropriation Bill to the State House of Assembly on Tuesday, next week, 5th December, 2023.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Sulaimon Olanrewaju, confirmed the Governor is expected to present the budget proposal before the 32-member House of Assembly, accompanied by top government functionaries.
Recall that President Bola Tinubu had on the part of the Federal Government presented a N27.5 trillion budget estimate for the 2024 fiscal year.
The budget was presented to a joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday, where it is to be scrutinised for passage.
In his presentation, the President had declared that the 2024 Appropriation Bill themed ‘the Budget of Renewed Hope,’ “seeks to achieve job-rich economic growth, macro-economic stability, a better investment environment, enhanced human capital development, as well as poverty reduction and greater access to social security.”
As contained in a document released by the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, some of the highlights of critical allocations in the 2024 budget reflects: Education – N2.18 trillion (7.9 percent of Budget); Health – N1.33 trillion (5 percent of Budget); Defence And Security: N3.25 trillion (12 percent of Budget) – Amount provisioned for the Military, Police, Intelligence & ParaMilitary (Recurrent & Capital expenditure).
Infrastructure: N1.32 trillion (5 percent of Budget) – This includes provisions for Works & Housing, Power, Transport, Water Resources, Aviation.
Social Development & Poverty Reduction Programmes: N534 billion (2 percent of Budget) – Amount provisioned for Social Investments / Poverty Reduction Programmes.
NewsDirect unveils new brand identity, as Partners laud new management
It was an evening filled with celebration and reflection as Nigerian NewsDirect marked her 13th Anniversary at the Civic Centre, Lagos.
The event which was a double celebration also provided a platform for a meet and greet between image makers of reputable organisations and the new management of the news media company.
Welcoming guests and partners to the event, the Managing Editor of NewsDirect, Mr Olawale Ibiyemi said, ”We are gathered here today because once, a little orphaned boy imagined himself worthy of carrying the mandate of excellence. A little boy in a little village in Osun State, dreamed a life away from the harsh sun & daunting dusks, wherein he is a servant of humanity. I congratulate you for being a partaker of this vision to see Nigeria better.
“As an organization, Nigerian NewsDirect is dedicated to that dream of excellence. We steer towards it fearlessly. Our business culture chooses the ethical over the ethnical, a Nigeria wherein all tribes can lay claim to a stake in their joint future without bigotry. We are cabal-less, & stand solely on the foundation of God. Our help & morals are his, even as we are.
“As partners, we value your contribution to the progress of this company. We cherish the symbiosis of service that we have found ourselves. Riding the waves of hyperinflation, struggling forex market, & a weak naira, we find ourselves resilient thanks to collaboration. In our grief, our partners held our hands & paddled alongside us. On behalf of the company, I relay gratitude, on behalf of God, I say, well done.”
Reeling out some of the activities the company has earned upon other than its primary mission of reporting accurate news from source, Olawale noted that the company has been a vocal supporter of the arts, education, & community.
“In the arts, we hosted the Nigerian NewsDirect Poetry Prize amid the pandemic in 2020, which would go on to recognise remarkable prodigies. We began the Nigerian NewsDirect Chapbook Prize in 2022 & published two books by budding poets, Olumide Manuel & Michael Imossan.
“Nigerian NewsDirect was one of the sponsors of the Chukwuemeka Akachi Prize for African Literature in honour of Akachi, a martyr of mental illness. And every week since October 2020, we have published one Nigerian poet, many of whom have gone on to win other remarkable prizes like the Brunel Prize for African Poetry.
“In charity, every year without fail, the company has done palliative care to the roads in the community it inhabits. All this I lay out to point to you that the dream is alive & well. The publisher is asleep but his dream pulses with the energy of a thousand suns. He left a legacy of hard work & determination upon which we insist moving forward. That which terrifies the world does not terrify us, because as the Publisher used to reiterate, YOU, YOU, YOU SHOULD BE A SOLUTION PROVIDER.”
The climax of the dinner was the unveiling of NewsDirect’s new brand identity. This session was anchored by the Executive Director, Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, Ibiyemi Mathew.
Mathew noted that the management decided to embark on changing the brand identity and brand assets in line with its new communication direction.
The ED assured Partners of increased value addition and a relentless position of excellence in news and content delivery.
Mr Ndiana Mathew, passed a vote of confidence on the new management. He praised them for keeping the paper alive and thriving despite the loss of the Founding Publisher in July.
Head of Corporate Communications and Branding at eTranzact, Mr Adeyemi Opene, explained that he never met the Founding Publisher but interacting with the ED at various forays strengthened his resolve to work with the brand and be a partner in progress.
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