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The Presidency on Friday insisted that members of the National Assembly deliberately distorted the 2018 Budget in order to increase their allocation for constituency projects.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said this in a statement made available to journalists.

Adesina was reacting to the response of the National Assembly justifying its distortion of the 2018 Budget.

He said the Executive arm of government was surprised that with an additional N170bn available for the lawmakers for constituency projects and another N100bn provided for the same purpose in the budget, they still felt it was necessary to cut allocations to important national projects, and thereby distorting the budget.

The statement read, “Throughout the budget consideration process, the executive, through the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, was in touch with the National Assembly. The executive was approached by the National Assembly who indicated that they intended to increase the benchmark price by $5, from $45 to $50.

“Out of the $5 increase the National Assembly informed the Executive that they intended to utilise US$2 (amounting to about N170bn) for projects selected by themselves. They asked the Executive to suggest important projects that could be accommodated with the funds arising from the balance of $3.

“After some consideration, the Executive was of the view that an increase in the benchmark price of crude oil to $50 was not unrealistic and the President decided to accept this in the spirit of compromise required for a successful budget exercise.

“The Executive had, in that spirit, suggested that from the additional funds arising out of the $3 increase, $1.25 from the increase should not be appropriated as expenditure, but utilised to reduce the deficit in the budget. The Executive therefore restricted itself to submitting, for the consideration of the National Assembly, important items that could be funded from $1.75 of the $3 increase. NASS eventually raised the benchmark price to $51, apparently to accommodate the additional allocations to Health and NDDC.

“The Executive is therefore surprised that with an additional sum of N170bn available for the National Assembly to spend on Constituency Projects, together with the sum of N100bn, already provided for in the Budget, that the National Assembly should feel it necessary to cut allocations to important national projects, and thereby distort the Budget, in order to further increase their allocation for Constituency projects. How much is enough!”

BUSINESS

LivewithLynda Announces Most Watched Nigerian Ads; Union Bank’s Enabling Success Commercial Tops The List.

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Those who have seen the impressive Enabling Success short film by Union Bank might not be surprised to learn it emerged the “most viewed Nigerian Ad’ in a recent review by advert critic, LivewithLynda.

The TV commercialhit 3 million views on YouTube a few days ago, less than 5 months after its 2018 Independence Day release. By crossing the 3 million viewership mark, the commercial now stands as the most watched Nigerian advert on Youtube. It’s interesting to note that these figures do not include the millions of views it has also gathered across different social media platforms.

Some of us kind of saw it coming, though. That TVC is a fine work of Art!

The inspiring 2-and-a-half minute film beams the spotlight on different aspects of the Nigerian society, highlighting the need for people to hope and work for a better future.

Viewers have smiled, applauded and even shed a few tears as they identified with the characters of the commercial. From a taxi driver battling societal forces that threaten his fledgling business, to a youth corps member hoping for a better future; from a photographer wishing for better social amenities to a young mother struggling to balance her career and the home front.

The commercial painstakingly paints the daily struggles and disappointmentsof the average Nigerian and firmly reiterates Union Bank’s commitment to support the people in their bid to rise above the odds and live more successful, fulfilling lives.

Unlike the typical bank advert which focuses on marketing the institution’s products and services, the short film communicates strong themes of introspection, perseverance, healing and hope of a better future for Nigeria and her people. The commercial has continued to gather positive reviews across board.

An entirely indigenous production, the television commercial was co-ordinated by Image & Time brand agency, shot by Nigerian-owned Lighthouse Television and Filmworks and was filmed in various cities across Nigeria.

If you have not seen the short film, you really should do so.  Watch it here.

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BUSINESS

Google, UBA Collaborate To Provide Free Wi-Fi To Customers

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Africa’s global bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has collaborated with Google and ISP partner to launch Google Station in 11 key UBA branches in Lagos State as part of plans to roll out 200 stations in the country.

Google Station, a platform for providing free, high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots in public places, began in Lagos last year, and extended to Abuja in December in partnership with Backbone Connectivity Network.

This google-powered initiative would allow customers access to internet connectivity within the 11 branches and its environs, thereby facilitating their day-to-day businesses and activities, while ensuring unhindered connectivity.

The 11 branches where the hotspot will be located are: UBA Bank Road, 810-811 Bank Road, Daleko; UBA Matori, 21 Fatai Atere street; UBA Surulere, 152 Ogunlana Drive; UBA Allen, 13 Allen Avenue, Ikeja; UBA Tisco Plaza, Alausa; UBA Apapa, 11-13 Warehouse Road, Apapa; UBA Marina, 55 Marina, Lagos Island; UBA HQ, Broad Street, Marina; UBA Lekki Admiralty; UBA Oke Arin and UBA Aspamda Plaza, Trade Fair.

At the official launch which took place in UBA’s Head Office on Wednesday, UBA’s Executive Director/ Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Chuks Nweke, expressed UBA’s excitement over the collaboration, adding that the move will go a long way to present opportunities far beyond the imagination of both organisations.

He noted that the challenges of financial inclusion which the USSD platform has not been able to solve will be eased through the Google Station, as the financially excluded will now be able to access the internet and enjoy the services provided free of charge.

He said, “It is an interesting platform which will ultimately benefit everyone. It is a win-win for everyone. Customers will have ease of doing businesses, especially with the growing use of smart phones, and the 52 million Nigerians who have otherwise been financially excluded will now have access to data through this collaboration and can carry out their transactions with ease.

“Interestingly, SMEs, who previously had challenges with funding can now do other things which they couldn’t achieve before, such as accounting services and others. Also, UBA recently launched an educational app, and so, students will be able to use these Google Station platform to carry out their necessary research from the comfort of their homes, it is an awesome opportunity with benefits for everyone which we are presenting to our customers in line with our customer 1st philosophy.

Group Head, Marketing, UBA Plc, Dupe Olusola said in addition to the 11 locations, the organisations are looking to expand beyond the shores of Nigeria to other African countries where UBA operates. She added that by the collaboration, the initiative will help ease the burden off customers while also presenting them with opportunities to excel beyond boundaries.

Google Station is a simple set of tools to roll-out Wi-Fi hotspots, and aims to provide fast and reliable Wi-Fi in more places where more people spend time, such as bus stations, shopping malls, airports and public transit stations.

Specifically, the Wi-Fi service is available free of charge and partners leverage Google Station’s business model, which enables venues, system integrators, businesses and ISPs with access to fibre to setup, maintain and monetise their Wi-Fi networks.

Google Nigeria’s Country Director, Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor noted that the institutions remained focused on providing internet services to users for free.

She said, “With the help of our partners, we are offering high-quality internet access in heavily-trafficked areas like airports, markets, malls and bus stations throughout the country, especially in areas where there were no internet connections before.

“Even with the amazing progress on expanding mobile internet, we are finding that public Wi-Fi remains a crucial step in getting free, high quality internet to everyone,” she explained.

Josh Woodward, Director, Product Management, who spoke generally on the benefits of the high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots in public places said the collaboration will aim to solve a basic need and allow customers access to connectivity to assist them in their day-to-day businesses and activities.

He said, “Deploying Google Station in collaboration with UBA and 21st Century is an important step to connecting the next billion users. As a result of the locations enables us to be up-and-running in no time. Even more, their WiFi signal ensures connectivity to Google Station hotspots so users can do a lot of things online and be constantly connected.”

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BUSINESS

Ecobank Manager Sent To Prison Over N411m Fraud

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Justice Ayotunde Faji of the Federal High Court in Lagos has remanded in prison a Manager with the Ecobank Plc, Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike, for allegedly defrauding some of the bank’s customers of N411 million.

The Ecobank manager was ordered remanded in prison on Tuesday after his arraignment on a three count-charge of obtaining money under false pretence, false representation and fraud by the Police Special Fraud Unit.

Azike was accused of having committed the offence 2016 and 2017.

The police claimed that he fraudulently obtained the sum of about N150 million from one Okafor Ikenna Kelvin, a customer with Account number 0533010936, under the false pretence of buying him Federal Government Treasury Bill in his Bank.

The police also alleged that the accused forged the customer’s Signature, Picture and Letter of Instruction, with which he opened a parallel account as Ikenna Okafor Kelvin with account number 5333063028.

The police further alleged that the accused person without the consent of the bank fraudulently converted the sum of N411 million belonging to the bank to his personal use.
The offences, according to the prosecutor, Daniel Apochi, are contrary to sections 1 (1) (a), 15(1)(2) and 15(2)of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud related Offence Act No. 14 of 2006, and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

Apochi said the offence is contrary to and punishable under section 1(2)(2) of the miscellaneous Act. Cap. M17, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

The charge against him reads: “That you lfeanyi Chukwu Azike ’M’ sometime in 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Federal High Court with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N150,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) from Mr Okafor Ikenna Kelvin a customer of Ecobank Plc with Account No:533010936 your employer, by falsely representing to him that you are going to purchase Federal Government Treasury Bill in Ecobank Nigeria Plc for him as Bank Manager, which representation you knew to be false or did not believed to be true and by this conducts, you thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud related Offence Act No. 14 6V2006 but punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

Count two reads: “That you Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike ’M’ sometime between 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Federal High Court did forge Signature, Picture, Letter of Instruction to opened another parallel account as Ikenna Okafor Kelvin Account Number: 5333063028, knowing it to be false or with intent that it may in anyway be used or acted upon as genuine, whether in Nigeria or elsewhere to the prejudice of Ikenna Okafor Kelvin and Ecobank Plc your employer, you thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 1 (2)(c) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act, CAP M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended).”

Count three reads: “That you Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike ’M’ on or about 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, did fraudulent convert to your use the sum of N411,000,000.00 (Four Hundred and Eleven Million Naira) being money fraudulently withdraw from your employer bank without their consent, and customer of your bank, Ecobank Plc for enabling you invest on behalf of the Customer, which you failed to deliver with aim of converting the illicit origin of the resources and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 15 (1) 2) and 15 (2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.”

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