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SUPA: The new frontier for shared prosperity

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By Temitope Ajayi

With the increasing demand for blue collar workers in Europe, North America and Asia, the Federal Government, through the Industrial Training Fund, is now working to up the skills of artisans in Nigeria which, in turn, would boost the nation’s economy through skilled manpower and labour export.

Of recent, Denmark, Germany, UAE, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Ireland and many other countries are introducing various Visa categories to attract artisans from Africa.

To boost the pool of local artisans with proficiency in in-demand skills, President Bola Tinubu has mandated the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to retrain and ensure 20 million artisans in Nigeria are properly certified over the next five years, so they can become competitive and be able to take full advantage of job openings locally and abroad.

The President also directed that the ugly trend of artisans from China, Philippines and neighbouring West African countries taking up jobs meant for artisans in Nigeria should be reversed.

In the last decade, many oil service companies and IOCs operating in Nigeria have struggled to get welders, plumbers, electricians, etc to work on their projects.

More disheartening, is that builders and construction firms in Nigeria have resulted in bringing in bricklayers, tilers, carpenters from Benin Republic, Mali, Togo, Ivory Coast to deliver on major projects.

As part of the Renewed Hope Agenda for inclusive and shared prosperity, a national framework, Skill-Up Artisans (SUPA) programme, has been designed to pivot a paradigm shift in technical know-how and service delivery for Nigerian artisans.

With the SUPA initiative, the Federal Government through the Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment and the Industrial Training Fund now has a coordinated programme to standardise and licence artisans. SUPA will equally address outdated and skills deficiency in artisanal practice in the country.

Speaking on the importance of upskilling artisans for national development, Director General of ITF, Afiz Oluwatoyin, explained that the initiative is aimed at ensuring Nigerian artisans can compete globally.

“In the past, Nigerian artisans have been operating like illiterates and low-level people. When you go outside, you find out that artisans are well regarded contributors to economic growth. In some countries, artisans earn more than professors and other white-collar workers.

“In countries like the US and Europe, if you are not strong financially, you may not be able to pay them. They are well respected. When I came down here, I saw people from other countries taking up jobs. We don’t want quackery in Nigeria. We want standout artisans that can stand up anywhere in the world and measure. We want to upgrade Nigerian artisans to international standards,” the ITF DG said.

At the moment, the Nigerian government is collaborating with Abu Dhabi for the supply of 14,000 qualified artisans to work in the UAE. The overarching objective of the SUPA is to drive national development, ensure availability of skilled artisanal workforce for domestic industries and create a sustainable pipeline for labour export.

Ajayi is Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity

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NEITI develops corrective action plan to enhance Nigeria’s EITI implementation – Orji

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The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), says it has developed a Corrective Action Plan to address issues identified in its validation report by the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

It said the corrective action plan had been shared with the EITI International Secretariat, outlining concrete steps to enhance Nigeria’s implementation of the EITI Standard.

Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, the Executive Secretary, NEITI said this on Wednesday in Abuja while briefing the newsmen on the status of the EITI implementation in Nigeria.

A delegation from EITI International Secretariat had visited Nigeria in January to officially communicate the validation outcome to the government.

Global EITI was established with the objective of transparency and disclosing payments and revenues from extractive resources.

The global institution has made significant progress in facilitating openness though the entire processes in the resource extraction value chain.

Orji, however, said the briefing was necessary to address important developments since after the EITI Mission in Nigeria.

“Meanwhile, as part of the follow up actions to the EITI delegation visit, NEITI has developed a corrective action plan to address the issues identified in the validation report.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Nigeria’s corrective actions will focus on improving our ranking on Stakeholders’ Engagement, which include: Government, Company and Civil Society Engagements as well as Multi Stakeholders’ Governance.

“Other requirements are Contracts and licence allocations and Licence Register Contracts.

“Already, our strategy on improving stakeholders’ engagement has yielded very positive results. We now have the NSWG in place with the SGF chairing the NEITI Board,’’ he said.

He said one major message the EITI International Mission communicated clearly to our government was the urgency to reconstitute the NEITI NSWG (Board) which was dissolved on June 19, 2023.

President Bola Tinubu had on April 22, approved reconstitution of a 15- member National Stakeholders’ Working Group (NSWG) for NEITI.

The executive secretary said to reaffirm Nigeria’s highest commitment, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. George Akume was announced as the Chairman of the NSWG.

“Other members of the new NEITI Board (6th NSWG) include; the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Zacch Adedeji representing government and the Group Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.), Malam Mele Kyari representing Companies, among others.

“I wish to clarify that it is a 15-member Board, no more, no less as provided by law. As Secretary to the Board and NEITI Executive Secretary/CEO, I remain on a five-year single term, no more, no less as provided by law.

“NEITI is following with interest but from a distance, the ongoing independent process by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to elect their representative on the Board.

“While we commend the painstaking efforts from the CSOs constituency, we hope this will be completed very soon to enable them take up their rightful position waiting for them on the reconstituted Board.

“For this to happen, I appeal and call on the civil society to close ranks and bury their differences. NEITI is and always will be their institution ready and open to work with all CSOs as important partners in the EITI,’’ he said.

Orji, while commending the larger CSOs on the support it had received from them in areas of partnership and collaboration, he said that its relationship with the media had been impressive, especially on information dissemination and public enlightenment efforts.

He reassured stakeholders, international partners and the global EITI that no stone was being left unturned in ensuring that at the next validation, Nigeria would score the maximum points of 100 in its assessment.

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Police arrest 2 over alleged church robbery in Benin

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Police in Edo have arrested two suspects, aged 26 years and 30 years in connection with a Benin church robbery.

Police Commissioner in the state, Mr Funsho Adegboye, paraded the suspects before newsmen in Benin on Wednesday.

He said the duo stormed the church on April 14 and robbed the pastor, Ms Juliet Imubhin, and other members of their belongings.

“Imubhin told the police that three armed men walked into the church with guns and robbed them of their valuables.

“The armed robbers abducted the pastor and took her away in her Toyota Highlander jeep.

“She was driven to a spot where they forced her to disclose her bank debit card pin which they used to withdraw money from her account,’’ he said.

He explained that police operatives, however, intercepted the vehicle on Auchi Road on April 16 and arrested the suspects.

One of the suspects, however, denied his involvement in the crime while speaking with newsmen.

“My friend only asked me to serve as an escort to deliver a vehicle to its owner. We were on the road when the police arrested us.

“I only got to know that it was a stolen vehicle after we were arrested,’’ he said.

The other suspect also denied his involvement in the crime, saying his friend, still at large, asked him to deliver the vehicle to a buyer.

“On the said day of the robbery, I went to attend Oodua Peoples Congress meeting and after the meeting I went to meet my father. I know nothing about the robbery.

“I met my friend at a drinking joint. We were drinking when he received a phone call that they would be taking a vehicle to the owner.

“He then asked if I wanted to escort them and I agreed because he said they would pay money after the delivery of the vehicle,’’ he narrated.

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Tinubu approves take-off of N100bn consumer credit for Nigerians

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President Bola Tinubu has approved the commencement of the N100 billion Consumer Credit Scheme for Nigerians amid escalating economic hardship in the country.

Ajuri Ngelale, the President’s spokesperson, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday.

He stated that interested Nigerians are expected to visit the portal of Nigerian Consumer Credit Corporation before May 15, 2024.

“Consumer credit serves as the lifeblood of modern economies, enabling citizens to enhance their quality of life by accessing goods and services upfront, paying responsibly over time. It facilitates crucial purchases, such as homes, vehicles, education, and healthcare, which are essential for ongoing stability and the pursuit of their aspirations.

“Individuals build credit histories through responsible repayment, unlocking more opportunities for a better life. The increased demand for goods and services also stimulates local industry and job creation.

“The President believes every hardworking Nigerian should have access to social mobility, with consumer credit playing a pivotal role in achieving this vision.

“The Nigerian Consumer Credit Corporation (CREDICORP) achieves its mandate through the following: Strengthening Nigeria’s credit reporting systems and ensuring every economically active citizen has a dependable credit score. This score becomes personal equity they build, facilitating access to consumer credit, Offering credit guarantees and wholesale lending to financial institutions dedicated to broadening consumer credit access today and Promoting responsible consumer credit as a pathway to an improved quality of life, fostering a cultural shift towards growth and financial responsibility.

“In line with the President’s directive to expand consumer credit access to Nigerians, the Nigerian Consumer Credit Corporation (CREDICORP) has launched a portal for Nigerians to express interest in receiving consumer credit.

“This initiative, in collaboration with financial institutions and cooperatives nationwide, aims to broaden consumer credit availability.

“Working Nigerians interested in receiving consumer credit can visit www.credicorp.ng to express interest. The deadline is May 15, 2024.

“The scheme will be rolled out in phases, starting with members of the civil service and cascading to members of the public,” the statement said.

Recall that two months ago, a presidential spokesman, Bayo Onanuga, announced that the Federal Executive Council had given the nod for the establishment of the Consumer Credit Scheme.

He said the President’s Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, will lead a committee that includes the Budget Minister, Attorney-General, and Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance to make the scheme a reality.

In March, the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service Chairman, Zacch Adedeji, said the Nigerian government would unveil its proposed N100 billion consumer credit loan in a few days.

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