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We Will Make Ekiti A Free Trade Zone- FG

The Federal Government, through the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority ( NEPZA), has reiterated its determination transforming  Ekiti State into a major free trade zone in Nigeria.

NEPZA added that it vows to realize this objective by supporting the state in delivering economic and knowledge free zone where education based industries and technological companies can operate from.

Professor Adesoji Adesugba, Managing Director of the Authority, made this known in Ado-Ekiti during a courtesy visit to Ekiti State Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji on Thursday.

The NEPZA boss said the establishment of the economic zone would boost the economy of the state and increase its internally generated revenue as well as reduce over-reliance on federal allocation.

Prof. Adesugba commended the Governor for been proactive and for his ideas of creating Education and Knowledge zone, describing it as novel. He assured the state of the support of the authority and prompt completion of the project.

Prof Adesugba, who assured Nigerians that the free trade zone would be ready within 18 months, said he was in the state to confirm the commitment of the Federal Government towards the successful completion of the project. He called on drivers and captains of industries to invest in the state when the zone is ready.

According to Prof. Adesoji, “I personally came to Ekiti state to show the good commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria to support Ekiti State in delivering economic and knowledge free zone and be the home of block chain technology where technological companies and other industries that have things to do with education.

“You know Ekiti is known for education and ideas innovation, and this is where we are going to show the world that Nigeria has arrived.

“The first thing for us is to first of all get Presidential declaration to make that place a free zone. The Governor has given all of us a matching order and within the next 18 months, we would get so many industries, both virtual and on-sight there. As we speak, there are people who are already planning and working, so, we, on our own part are to get this approval.

In his remarks, Governor Biodun Oyebanji stressed the need for the Federal Government to fast-track the completion of the project to attract more investors to the state, adding that productivity would always lead to shared prosperity.

While using the opportunity to flaunt the intellectual resources of the state, the Governor stated that it is not wise for any state to drive its economy on monthly federal allocation as it cannot be used for effective wealth creation.

“On the need to fast-track declaration on Ekiti Knowledge Zone, we campaign on a mantra of shared prosperity and you know that a people cannot prosper if they are not productive and we don’t believe that FAAC can drive prosperity, so whether FAAC comes or not, if a society is productive, there will be wealth creation. And we are also aware of the fact that the only thing we have in Ekiti is our intellectual resources.

“As a government, I am ready to lead from the front, I am ready to provide every support that is needed to drive this to ensure success and meet the stipulated deadline, because without that certification, we won’t be able to do anything and investors will not come, but if you are able to attract them and bring them here and that is why we are working hard on the Airport to compliment what we are doing.

“We have invested a lot in infrastructure to drive that zone, I am pleading on behalf of my people to please do this for us. He stated.

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Flight Fares Rose By 66.36% In One Year- NBS

The National Bureau of Statistics has stated that domestic air transport fares rose by 66.36 per cent in one year.

In its latest report titled, ‘Transport Fare Watch (February 2023)’, the Bureau noted that in air travel, the average fare paid by air passengers for specified routes single journey decreased by 0.18% on a month-on-month basis from N74,702.70 in January 2023 to N74,571.62 in February 2023.

“On a year-on-year basis, the fare rose by 66.36% from N44,825.04 in February 2022,” the report said.

The report also said the average fare paid by commuters for bus journeys within the city per drop decreased by 0.47% in February 2023 to N647.66 from N650.70 in January 2023, on a year-on-year basis, the average fare paid rose by 26.07% from N513.72 in February 2022.

In another category, the average fare paid by commuters for bus journey intercity per drop declined to N3,990.70 in February 2023, indicating a growth rate of -0.19% on a month-on-month basis compared to the N3,998.42 in January 2023. On a year-on-year basis, this rose by 4.02% from N3,836.45 in February 2022.

“The average fare paid on Okada transportation was N461.28 in February 2023, which was 1.07% lower than the rate recorded in January 2023 (N466.25).

“On a year-on-year basis, the fare rose by 21.67% when compared with February 2022 (N379.12). In addition, the average fare paid for water transport (waterway passenger transportation) in February 2023 stood at N1,029.47, showing an increase of 12.74% on a year-on-year basis from N913.13 in February 2022. On a month-on-month basis, it declined by 0.33% from N1,032.84 in January 2023,” it added.

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Gombe, Jigawa, Sokoto Top Ease Of Doing Business Ranking

The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has ranked Gombe as the state which provides the friendliest environment for business in Nigeria.

This is contained in the council’s 2023 Subnational Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) report.

This is the second time Gombe will clinch the top spot.

The state had emerged the overall best when PEBEC released its inaugural EoDB report in March 2021.

According to the latest PEBEC report, Gombe scored 7.15 to emerge as the number one state in Nigeria where it is mostly easy to do business while Jigawa state got a weighted score of 6.88 to come second; and Sokoto state with a 6.79 score came third.

PEBEC, in a statement, said the report featured six indicators – infrastructure; secure and stable environment; transparency and accessibility of information; regulatory environment; skills and labour and economic opportunity.

The council said each state was rated on a 10-point scale across the indicators, providing the basis for calculating the 2023 weighted EoDB score for each state.

A breakdown of the report by geopolitical zones showed that Plateau state with a score of 5.8 topped the states in the north-central; with Gombe state (7.15) topping the states in the north- east; Jigawa state (6.88) topping the north-west; Anambra state (6.19) first among the states in the south-east; Rivers state (5.76) on top of the south-south; and Ekiti state (5.79) leading the states in the south-west.

PEBEC said the report is designed to provide empirical information on the attractiveness of states’ business climates and to serve as a credible reference resource for businesses and investors.

The council said the 2023 EoDB report builds on the inaugural subnational EoDB baseline report released in March 2021 and improved it in several areas including deepening of the methodology and enhancing the statistical significance of the survey.

PEBEC added that the latest report provided more nuanced information on the business climate across the 36 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).

(The Cable )

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Group Urges Seplat CEO To Step Down For “Exceeding Tenure”

Make a Difference Initiative (MADI), a civil society and good governance advocacy group, says the refusal by Basil Omiyi to step down as the board chairman of Seplat Energy Plc, is the root cause of the crises rocking the company.

Lemmy Ughegbe, executive director of the organization in a statement on Sunday  also asked the federal government to investigate claims made by aggrieved Nigerian employees that Roger Brown, the former chief executive officer, and some interests in the company were plotting to acquire Seplat through the capital market, using some South African fronts.

Brown had stepped down from his position following an order from a federal high court in Lagos.

The court order followed a suit by aggrieved stakeholders of the company over allegations of “racism, favouring of expatriate workers, discrimination against Nigerians, and breach of good governance”.

Reacting to the matter, MADI said the crises rocking Seplat were due to the alleged refusal of Omiyi to honour the provisions of the Nigerian Code of Corporate Governance 2018  (NCCG 2018) on the tenure of directors.

It said section 12 (10) of the code states that “the tenure for independent non-executive directors should not exceed three terms of three years each”

MADI also raised concerns about alleged efforts by Seplat leadership to coerce its Nigerian employees into passing a vote of confidence in Brown and Omiyi.

“Omiyi and another board member, Charles Okeahalam, have refused to resign despite overstaying their maximum of nine years allowed by the said code,” the group said.

“Grapevine has it that in a letter dated 30th January 2023, institutional shareholders of Seplat pointed out that Omiyi and Okeahalam had exceeded their tenure and called for their resignation.

“We also have it on good authority that while some major stakeholders kicked against Mr Omiyi’s choice as the company’s secretary, having done his maximum of nine years, it was later agreed that he serves for one year to enable the company to conclude the search for the replacement of Dr ABC Orjiako, who stepped down.

“Today, he is in his tenth year and still wants to carry on even when Section 12.10 of the Nigerian Code of Corporate Governance specifically prescribes that the tenure for independent non-executive directors (INEDs) should not exceed three terms of three years each.

“We call on the Nigerian government to revisit the allegation by Nigerian workers that Mr Brown and Omiyi are bent on acquiring the Nigerian company through the capital market using some South African fronts. And that is what all this sit-tight syndrome and condonement of the CEO’s excesses is all about.”

The organisation noted that Seplat is a strategic national asset that should under no circumstance be allowed to slip out of the hands of Nigeria into the hands of foreigners.

“If the founders of Seplat had to vacate their positions when far minor issues arose around them, then MADI does not understand why employees of Seplat, Mr Brown and Mr Omiyi, should not bow out honourably or be sacked.”


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