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Tech investor, Victor Asemota, rubbishes Tinubu’s claim over Econet

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Tech investor, Victor Asemota, rubbishes Tinubu’s claim over Econet

Tech investor, Victor Asemota, has denied the claim by a presidential aspirant, Bola Tinubu, that he brought default telecommunications company, Econet, into Nigeria, during his time as Lagos State Governor.

During his screening before the All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential aspirants screening committee, Tinubu, told the panel that he was crucial to the growth of the telecoms industry by introducing Econet Wireless into the Nigerian market.

But Asemota said on Tuesday, via Twitter, that Tinubu’s statement was false, as the state governor was only brought in at the latter stage following Econet Zimbabwe’s failure to pay for its 40% share in Econet Wireless Mobile (EWM).

He explained that his uncle had pitched a telecoms company, “CyberTel” to many state governors in Benin in 2000, but only Delta State showed interest. Following the meeting, CyberTel merged into a consortium called “First Independent Networks Limited (FINL)”.

He explained further, that FINL went on to establish license entity, Econet Wireless Nigeria (EWN), under which is the operating entity, EWM, which Tinubu had claimed to have brought into Nigeria. He explained that the former governor came into the picture through Wale Tinubu, the founder of Oando, which became one of the investors in Econet Wireless.

It was gathered that due to Econet Zimbabwe’s failure to provide its share capital, the investors in Econet Wireless had solely taken on a burden of $285 million license fee, and in order to ease the financial burden, a decision was made to go back to state governments to buy off the secondary shares that the investors had taken on – that was how Wale introduced Tinubu to the Econet Wireless deal.

“My uncle held a party for Tony Anenih Jr after his wedding in 2000 in Benin City. Many of the new state governors were in town and came for the party. He got five of them into his bedroom and pitched a company called “CyberTel” which was supposed to bid for a GSM license.

“Only Delta State was very keen on it. The others told us that they would get back. Cybertel meged into the consortium called First Independent Networks Limited which was started by Bolaji Balogun and his team at City Securities Limited. It was a harrowing period.

“I remember traveling to Delta and Akwa Ibom to try to ensure the commitment of the states. FINL was supposed to hold 60% of the license holding company and 40% went to the foreign partner. We later selected a small company from Zimbabwe called Econet because we felt it was easier.

“Econet was supposed to bring 40% of the license money and the technical know-how. We had the equity agreement as shareholder and technical services agreement as operator of the license. That 40% never came. It was excuse after excuse. We finally had to go back to the states.

“The initial structure we had proposed was for the license entity Econet Wireless Nigeria (EWN) owned by FINL and the technical partner to own 60% of the operating entity Econet Wireless Mobile (EWM) and the remaining 40% coming into that entity from states like Delta and AKSG.

“When the 40% from the operator wasn’t coming and other shareholders were leveraged to the hilt, state governments were allowed in to buy secondaries from existing shareholders who had covered the initial $285m license fee they didn’t bargain for. Shareholders approached states.

“OANDO was a shareholder too. I had convinced them to buy into EWN/FINL in spite of Jite’s reservations. He was asking me why India had not seen growth because of GSM? Wale was convinced that it was the right thing. Osaze Osifo from HSBC Capital also had convinced him that it was.

“Osaze and Wale were old classmates. Osaze was running the entire financing of the deal and was a true genius. He was the one who arranged the primaries and secondaries in a manner I am still learning from till today. Wale got Lagos State to buy their secondaries and come in.

“That was the extent of the Lagos State involvement in the deal. His relative was the state governor and it made it easier for OANDO to convince them. Tinubu didn’t even commit to Cybertel initially. Delta State and Oceanic saved ECONET. David Edevbie saved us all.

“David was also the one who suggested still giving the operator 5% even though they didn’t bring any money and almost got us wrecked. That proved to be the biggest mistake we made.” Asemota wrote.

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Reps To Investigate Subsidy Regime From 2017 To 2021

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Reps To Investigate Subsidy Regime From 2017 To 2021

The House of Representatives on Wednesday resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the petroleum products subsidy regime from 2017 to 2021.

The resolution followed a motion by Honourable Sergius Ogun who stated that component costs in the petroleum products subsidy value chain claimed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is highly over-bloated while the transfer pump price per litre, used by the NNPC in relation to Petroleum Pipeline Marketing Company (PPMC), is underquoted.

The lawmaker described this as fraudulent while also expressing worry that the subsidy regime has been used by the NNPC and other critical stakeholders to subvert the nation’s crude oil revenue to the tune of over $10 billion.

The committee is to report back to the House within eight weeks for further legislative action.

Wednesday’s move by the lawmaker came on the same day that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mele Kyari ruled out the possibility of a subsidy for diesel.

He made the comments while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Downstream, alongside the CEO of Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Farouk Ahmed, among others.

“In our country today, we do not produce AGO and we regret that our refineries are not working,” he said. “Are we doing anything about it? Yes. I have heard the honourable members lamenting; yes, they (the refineries) are not working.

“This is the truth. I don’t want to bore you with why they are not working, but they are not working; I admit they are not working but we regret it. I will invite this committee at your convenience to join us to see how much work we have done to get them back to work, but they will not come back tomorrow.

“They will not! You cannot start it tomorrow. We regret this; we regret this situation, and we are doing everything possible. As a matter of fact, we have decided to do a quick fix for the Warri refinery. The reason is very simple: we don’t even want to go the long route of doing comprehensive turnaround maintenance because we are concerned.”

 

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2023: Presidency Must Return To Southern Nigeria, Fayose Insists

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2023: Presidency Must Return To Southern Nigeria, Fayose Insists

A former governor of Ekiti State Ayodele Fayose has insisted that the southern part of Nigeria must produce the country’s president in 2023.

Fayose, a two-time governor under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said this in a series of tweets on his official handle on Wednesday, pinning his argument on the party’s constitution.

“The PDP Constitution provides for a rotational Presidency. Section 3(c) provides that the Party shall pursue its aims & objectives by “adhering to the policy of the rotation & zoning of Party & Public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice, and fairness’,” Fayose maintained.

“The current President of Nigeria is a 2-term Northern Presidency, thus implying that it MUST be a Southern Presidency in 2023 or NOTHING. Awa ‘South’ lo kan’. Nigerians should await details soon.”

Fayose, who contested the PDP presidential primary, lost out to former Vice President Atiku Abukar in the exercise held earlier this month.

He has been one of the strong advocates for a power shift to southern Nigeria despite the party Atiku from the northern region, as the party’s flagbearer.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who also lost in the exercise, had campaigned, among others, based on a power shift to the south.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), however, is fielding a southerner – Bola Tinubu – as its presidential candidate to honour the power-sharing deal called zoning between the north and south.

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Senate confirms Buhari’s ministerial nominees

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Senate confirms Buhari’s ministerial nominees

The senate has confirmed seven persons nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari for ministerial positions.

The upper legislative chamber confirmed the nominees on Wednesday after they were screened by the “committee of the whole” chaired by Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

The ministers-designate will replace those who resigned to pursue political bids.

Rotimi Amaechi, Ogbonnaya Onu, Godswill Akpabio and Emeka Nwajiuba are some of the ministers who resigned to pursue presidential bids.

The ministers confirmed on Wednesday are Henry Ikoh (Abia), Umana Okon Umana (Akwa Ibom), Ekuma Joseph (Ebonyi), Goodluck Nana Obia (Imo), Umar Ibrahim Yakub (Kano), Ademola Adewole Adegorioye (Ondo), and Odo Udi (Rivers).

During screening, Ikoh said as a way of tackling employment in the country, “technical” graduates can be job creators.

“On the unemployment situation, we need more technical graduates to do most of the things we are doing right now. If you are a technical graduate, you can employ yourself and employ others,” he said.

On his part, Umana said the country could boost its foreign exchange earnings with its free trade zones.

“On the issue of how to boost foreign exchange, I want to say that even the free zones platform is a veritable platform for this,” he said.

“The free zone is a platform that can drive production because when you produce for export, you earn foreign exchange.”

Nakama said the federal government must be ready to make some compromise to end the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

“On tackling the issue of ASUU, my answer is that there will be leave of compromise. Government and ASUU will have to come to a compromise and through this, we will able to solve these incessant strikes once and for all,” he said.

The remaining four nominees were asked to “take a bow and go” on the grounds of their experience.

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