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Ezekwesili Kicks Off 2019 Presidential Campaign, Says She Remains ‘The Best Man For The Job’

Peter Okunoren

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The Presidential Candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), and former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, on Sunday made history as the first presidential candidate to formally kick off her campaign for the 2019 elections.

Consequently, she has released gorgeous official photographs for the campaign, saying that she remained “the best man for the job.”

Hajiya Aisha Yesufu, Director of Special Projects for “Hope 2019”, the campaign organ of Ezekwesili, in a statement entitled “Here comes the best MAN for the job, the woMAN”, was of the opinion that she would deliver Nigerians from economic strangulation and fight for the masses.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on Saturday released guidelines for campaigns, with the presidential and National Assembly campaigns kicking off yesterday.

While the campaign for Presidential and National Assembly elections commence on Sunday, campaigns for the governorship and State Houses of Assembly will commence December 1 2018.

Yesufu said: “The Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili For President organization – Hope 2019 – has issued official campaign photos as it kicked off the INEC-approved campaign season.

“Hope 2019 campaign kicked-off officially on Sunday with a thanksgiving service in Abuja, after which the candidate will go to her home state, Anambra, to officially get blessings from the royal father and other elders of her community.

“We are excited and we can’t wait. The best MAN for the job in 2019 is definitely a woMAN and this woman we know by her track record, will #Fight4Naija.”

Ezekwesili had promised to “lift over 80 million people out of poverty” if voted into office in the 2019 general elections.

She had, therefore, challenged her rivals to “bring up their doable programmes to better the lots of citizens.”

About three weeks ago, Ezekwesili came so hard on President Muhammadu Buhari, describing him as the most corrupt, parochial, nepotistic and most partisan President ever produced in Nigeria.

She however advised those who believed that Atiku Abukakar is the alternative for the 2019 general elections, to have a rethink because “they are one and the same, Siamese twins of failure and destruction.”

Speaking during a World Press Conference in Lagos, former Vice President of the World Bank said while the All Progressives Congress (APC), deceived Nigerians with the empty mantra of change in 2015, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was a failure.

At the event, she also unveiled her “Oby Ezekwesili Roadmap to Victory in 2019” tagged: #Fight4Naija

“2019 cannot be “Anyone but Buhari”. Our country is not a recycling plant for uninspiring old men with their old ideas and old dubious characters. We deserve better than their aggressive mediocrity. And that is why I am running for president – to lead a people’s movement that will permanently terminate bad leadership, retire these incompetents and fight for every Nigerian,” she stated.

BIG STORY

Financial Recklessness: Pondei, Other NDDC Staff Spent N5bn As Medical Allowances During Lockdown —- Senate Report [Full Breakdown]

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The Senate report on the alleged financial recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission has revealed how the top management of the agency shared N4.9bn among themselves in the guise of medical checkup.

The document also showed that the management paid N114.9m as a supplementary medical allowance to 26 staff members during the same period.

It stated that both disbursements were made when the nation was under lockdown to check COVID-19 spread.

The report was adopted and approved by the Senate shortly before it proceeded on its annual recess penultimate week.

A copy of the document obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Monday indicated that the monies were paid to the individual accounts in March and April this year.

The document indicated that the acting Managing Director, Daniel Pondei, and the two executive directors got N14.2m each.

The report noted that no such payment took place during the first Interim Management Committee led by Joi Nunieh.

It nonetheless, stated that available data showed that the allowance had been in existence even though it appeared to have no specific policy underpinning it.

The report stated, “The three members of the Interim Management Committee received the highest amount of N142m each.

“Two other people, namely Evan Caroline Nagbo and Ms Cecilia Akintomide, took N12,387,500 each, while Peter Uwa Edieya was paid N10,340,000.

The report further added that four other members of staff collected about N8m each while 140 others collected an average of N7m each.

The NDDC management also paid 75 others N6m each while 153 staff members were paid N5.5m.

Four other categories of staff were paid between N4.1m and N4.8m while seven others got about N3m each.

The document further indicated that 804 staff members collected between N2.4m and N2.9m each.

Apart from these, the document showed that the management paid N114.9m as a supplementary medical allowance to 26 staff members.

No fewer than 15 of them got N7m while one of them collected N5.2m.

The rest however collected between N375, 000 and N550, 000 each.

The report indicated that “payment to all the 1,401 staff who received the allowance was made on 16 March 2020.”

It added that the distribution of the payment category and the number of staff did not suggest a regular hierarchical pattern and an absence of clear policy, which raised suspicion of arbitrariness.

The report also stated that the NDDC management used staff members for the distribution of Lassa Fever kits.

It explained that Personal Protective Kits were given to the 185 LGAs of the Niger Delta states through the NDDC staff.

The staff members, according to the document, were paid various amounts, ranging from N300,000 to N6,845,000, on April 15, 2020, for the distribution of the kits.

The report stated, “The total amount used for the distribution is N55,090,000.

“Twenty-nine employees were engaged in ‘Monitoring of the Emergency Response Programme on Lassa Fever Outbreak at a cost of N5,972,500’.

“NDDC did not provide any returns on the end-user beneficiaries which would have helped in evaluating the accountability and transparency of the programme. There was also no mention of the original target beneficiaries.

“NDDC management did not provide details of allocation of the Lassa fever Protective Kits per each state and LGA and how the distributors were assigned as well as the collated report on the distribution exercise.

“They should have justified the huge amount of money allocated for the exercise.”

The report further added that by its own record. NDDC spent N808.9m as imprest between October 29 2019 and May 23. 2020.

It stated that “this covers a period of seven months during most of which the nation was on lockdown.

“Given that significant amount was also expended on travels, duty tour allowance during this period, payment of bills, it is difficult to justify this huge amount as imprest necessary for the services of the commission.”

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BIG STORY

mediaReach OMD Employs Data On Media Consumption To Aid Businesses In Navigating The New Normal

Peter Okunoren

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mediaReach OMD, a frontline marketing and media agency, had during this period of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, guided media planners, buyers, and businesses in their investment bid with data-driven newsletters on media consumption habit to maximize profits and increase productivity and to navigate the new normal.

Published in ThisDay Newspapers and titled “COVID-19 and Media Consumption Habit, What has Changed?,” the newsletters are a culmination of the sequence of information aimed at examining the potential impact of the pandemic on audience behaviour and media consumption in Nigeria.

It also contains thought starters and needed actions regarding adaptation of the definition of the new normal posed by the pandemic.

Against this backdrop, the Managing Director of the Agency, Nitinchandra Nandekar, said the firm has been monitoring changes in media consumption and adapting to innovative ways of connecting with the target audience, through data-led approaches to guide clients’ investments during the COVID-19 lockdown/post lockdown.

Nandekar avowed that while businesses, especially the marketing and media ecosystem waits for an end to this deadly disease which has dealt a hard blow on world economies, the journey to success will continue to be guided with key principles, including being ready for the day after.

The foremost media agency with presence in Nigeria, West, and Central Africa, posits that media consumption which is in favour of the TV continues to be stable with much attention on genres like news and entertainment, while businesses are now adopting a more creative and innovative form of operations with adaptation to the new normal.

Commending the media agency for these initiatives, the Chairman and Managing Director of Expand Global Industries Limited, Rajat Kapur, said as a global partner of Henkel for Media Investment Solutions, MediaReach OMD helps not only in the normal ways but regularly releases data-driven media intelligence information newsletters which ensure that Henkel is prepared to deal with the new normal characterised by the pandemic.

This, he said, contains the changing consumer habits, the higher need for hygiene-based products and the changing media landscape, all highlighted for a better clearer and stronger media investment leading to best in class equity development of Henkel’s brands.

In his remark, the President of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN), Tony Agenmonmen, said the breakout of the pandemic has been a defining moment for the world.

He affirmed that the deadly disease came with uncertainty and fear because no one knows exactly what was going on, not even the experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO) which has been struggling a bit.

“A bewildered world therefore became anxious and hungry for news. And with the lockdowns in almost all parts of the world, consumers were hungry for information. They tried to stay connected to all the news about the pandemic and social media was the greatest beneficiary,” he said.

Agenmonmen continued “It helped that some brands understood this and were able to help in providing the information in ways that were not seen as exploiting the fears and worries of consumers. Six months down the line, it appears that the world has come to accept that we will have to live with it for an indeterminate while. The fears remain.”

On the importance of data to investment, the NIMN President remarked that without it, organisations cannot plan their daily activities properly. “Data is life, it is very critical in running your day-to-day investment. If you have the right data, then you are on the right path to success,” he avowed.

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BIG STORY

COVID-19: Air Peace Sacks 70 Pilots, Cuts Salaries By 40%

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A Nigerian airline, Air Peace, has sacked over 70 pilots across its fleet.

It also reduced staff salaries by up to 40 percent.

A member of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers disclosed this to one of our correspondents, craving anonymity.

The source said the number of sacked pilots was between 70 and 75 in total.

The management of the airline, however, linked the pilots’ disengagement to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pilots had, on July 22, protested a major pay cut after negotiations with the management over their remuneration broke down.

A statement issued on Monday by Mr. Stanley Olise, spokesperson of the airline, described the sacking of the pilots as “painful but rightful decision.”

Part of the statement read, “The airline cannot afford to toe the path of being unable to continue to fulfill its financial obligations to its staff, external vendors, aviation agencies, maintenance organizations, insurance companies, banks, and other creditors, hence the decision to restructure its entire operations with a view to surviving the times.

“The pandemic has hit every airline worldwide, so badly that it has become very impossible for airlines to remain afloat without carrying out an internal restructuring of their costs.

“Anything short of what we have done may lead to the collapse of an airline as could be seen in some places worldwide during this period. Therefore, we decided to review the salaries being paid to all staff.

“The new salaries reflect a zero per cent-40 percent cut of the former salary, depending on the salary grades of every staff. Even after the cuts, it was obvious that for us to be able to sustain our operations and survive the times, some jobs must inevitably have to go.

“Air Peace has never, for one day, ever owed salaries to its workers in its almost six years of existence, pilots inclusive. Rather, the management of Air Peace has always been known to be increasing salaries of its employees periodically, without being prompted by staff.

“In fact, in one fell swoop, Air Peace increased the salaries of pilots by over 100 percent in one day. Our salaries have always been paid even before the end of the month in the last five years.

“The decision is a reflection of the negative impact of the pandemic on airlines and aviation worldwide.

“We are in trying times. Even the biggest airlines in Europe, America, Middle East, Asia, Australia, and, indeed, Africa, are all either slashing jobs and cutting salaries in order to remain afloat or are shutting down.

“Air Peace is not immune from these challenges.”

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