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Dangote Urges Private Sector Players To Commit 1% Of All Profits To Fund Health

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Chairman, Aliko Dangote Foundation and Africa’s biggest philanthropist, Aliko Dangote, has urged all operators in the private sector to commit one percent of their profits to fund the health sector challenges in Nigeria, to enable the country to tackle crisis like the coronavirus pandemic successfully.

Dangote noted that such an allocation, which would be a separate payment from the corporate tax usually paid to the government, would improve needed funding to boost the nation’s ailing health sector, as Nigeria continues to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This, according to him, would help ensure that the vaccine for treating the pandemic gets to the end-users in the country and across Africa, through viable partnerships and collaborations.

The renowned entrepreneur made these suggestions while responding to questions posed to him by a moderator Francine Lacqua during the virtual Bloomberg New Economic Forum (NEF), at a session titled, “Cross-Sector Mobilisation in Times of Crisis: Public Health Perspective.”

Other speakers alongside Dangote, who made their remarks at the Bloomberg NEF session hosted by the Dangote Group included, Founder and Chief Executive of Flagship Pioneering and Co-founder and Chairman of Moderna, Dr. Noubar Afeyan, and Co-founder and Chief Strategist at Partners in Health Care, Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, USA, Dr. Paul Farmer.

Responding to a question from Lacqua on if funding was one of the main barriers to actually dealing with health crisis effectively, Dangote replied, “Yes, I agree with you. It is more to do with funding. Like what we are doing in Nigeria as a foundation (Aliko Dangote Foundation), we are trying to sponsor a bill to our Congress where we want them to impose a tax. This is a separate tax, not a corporate tax, of maybe about one percent of all our profits, in the private sector, so that they will fund health.

“And I think it is the only way; we cannot just leave government alone. Government alone cannot fund health. So we the foundations, the private sector, and then the government, have to actually work together to make sure that we fund health. You know, it is a very, very important sector and without a healthy population, there is no way you have a healthy economy. And healthy youth, who make up a large percentage of our population, can make a difference.”

In his remarks on the COVID-19 pandemic and its ravaging impact on African health and economic sectors and the role played by the private sector, Dangote noted that “for us here in Nigeria, mostly in Africa, the COVID-19 is really an eye-opener because we have two impacts. One is the human impact, the other one is the economy – which incidentally also impacts people directly.

In Africa, most of it is actually the economic impact, because what you have done at the beginning, is shut down all our activities, is shut down the airports. So when you look at the economic impact for us, it is huge. The health impact has not been as severe as in other places. As of today, we have about 65,000 cases in Nigeria, and 1,165 deaths in a country of almost 200 million people” Each lost life is a tragedy, but the numbers here are not high compared to the population but because of the lockdowns a lot of people couldn’t really go out to earn their livelihood. So what we did, is set up this Coalition against COVID-19 where I mobilized the private sector and we were able to raise the sum of $112 million dollars. And what we did was set up 39 isolation centers, ranging in size from 100 beds to 200 beds. We bought ventilators, oxygen machines, and all the required equipment to set up effective isolation centers.

After isolation centers and testing supplies, we knew people also needed to eat. The lockdowns interfered with their ability to work and afford money to eat. So we went out and bought food for 10 million people, which is five percent of the population; thus people at the bottom of the pyramid equivalent to 1.7 million households. to reduce the effect of the lockdown”.

The renowned businessman, whose Dangote Group was recently rated as the most valuable company in Nigeria, played a key role in the eradication of polio in Nigeria, which led to the certification of Nigeria and Africa as polio-free on August 25 this year. He is also the founder of the Private-sector led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), which has raised N38 billion to support government efforts against the pandemic.

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774,000 Public Jobs Workers Protest Unpaid N20,000 Wage, Beneficiaries Tackle Keyamo

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Participants in the Federal Government’s Special Public Works (SPW) programme are protesting the delay in paying their stipend more than three months after kick-off.

The SPW is an Adhoc programme designed by the government to provide stop-gap three months jobs to mainly artisans to earn N20,000 monthly doing public works.

One thousand youths were hired from each of the 774 local government in the country as beneficiaries, bringing the figure to 774,000 councils.

The programme was inaugurated on January 5. The first batch of beneficiaries have completed their assignment without being paid.

President Muhammadu Buhari on March 20 directed the release of funds to pay the stipends.

Minister of Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo (SAN) hours after, directed the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the Federal Government agency driving the programme, to start processing the payment plan.

Keyamo, in his official Tweeter handle, (@fkeyamo, assured the participants that they would soon receive alerts of payment.

Twenty-two days after, no payment has been made.

Some of the participants at the weekend took to Keyamo’s Twitter handle to ventilate their frustration.

One of them described the Federal Government as “heartless” for failing to pay them their stipend.

One Dubagari Jnr, tweeted: “What is happening with the SPW? Up till now, we have not been paid and have successfully finished our work. Please Hon. minister we need explanations on why we have not been paid and you have to start the disbursement before fasting (Ramadan).

Another worker, Maikudi Kolo, asked through a tweet: “Una no go pay 774, 000 workers?”

Abdoul Baqee tweeted: “People are hungry regarding the payment of stipends. Please fast track the payment of these people. 774, 000 people waiting anxiously for their payment with hunger and they don’t even have a phone to come to your timeline. When you get hungry just remember those people that work with hunger without their entitlement.”

Yusuf Mohammed Olawuyi asked: “Mr. Honourable minister, what happened to our SPW stipends? You already published that we will start receiving the alert from the beginning of April.”

When contacted, Keyamo directed our correspondent to NDE acting Director-General Abubakar Fikpo.

Fikpo said: “We are still in the process; we have identified some loopholes here and there. We want to verify the BVN of the participants. That is why we are working with the banks.

“We are verifying the BVN of those participants in order to avoid double payments to several people or to three or more accounts.”

About SPW Programme

The Special Public Works Programme is a dry season/off-season transient job for rehabilitation/maintenance of social infrastructure.

The Programme is designed to employ 1,000 persons each from the 774 Local Government Areas.

It is being implemented by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

N52billion was voted for the programme, part of it to pay participants at N20,000 monthly for three months.

The programme was expected to commence on October 1, 2020, but suffered a setback because of internal wranglings between Keyamo and a former Director-General of the NDE, Nasir Ladan. President Muhammadu Buhari fired Ladan.

There was also a big row between the National Assembly and Keyamo over the allocation of slots to hire beneficiaries.

N26 billion was released for the procurement of equipment and for logistics before the programme eventually commenced on January 5.

Keyamo, during the inauguration of the programme, said it will address poverty and hunger.

The minister said the programme was conceived following the success of the pilot scheme in eight states to gauge its impact in addressing the ballooning population of the unemployed and rising insecurity.

Keyamo noted that countries like India and Malaysia used similar programmes to fight poverty.

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Nigeria Didn’t Become Failed State Under Jonathan, It Won’t Now —– Lawan

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Senate President Ahmad Lawan says the security challenges plaguing the country cannot make it a failed state.

Lawan said this on Saturday when he launched the 2021 empowerment programme to 2000 beneficiaries of Katsina central senatorial district.

In December 2020, Financial Times said Nigeria was “on the brink” of becoming a failed state.

The international business newspaper cited insecurity, stalled economic growth, and weak institutions as some of the country’s biggest challenges.

On Friday, Nigerian governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the country is gradually moving towards becoming a failed state if the current trend of security challenges continues.

Lawan, however, said those projecting Nigeria as a failed state “are missing the point”.

He said if the country did not become a failed state during the era of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, then it was impossible for it to fail now.

“Those who were saying that in the present circumstance caused by insecurity, that Nigeria could turn a failed State, approaching a failed State or may likely end up a failed State, are missing the point because Nigeria can never be a failed state,” Lawan said.

“Again they forget that when a state of emergency was declared in some parts of the North-East during the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Nigeria did not turn a failed state, let alone the present.”

The number three citizen called on all stakeholders to join hands with President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to overcome the present challenges facing the nation.

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GTBank Shareholders Endorse N3.00 Total Dividend For 2020, Applaud Agbaje’s Leadership

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Shareholders of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) Plc, at the weekend unanimously endorsed the payment of a total dividend of N3.00 per share to shareholders for the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2020.

This endorsement was made on Friday, April 9th, 2021, at the Bank’s 31st Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos. The bank had proposed a final dividend of N2.70 per unit of ordinary share held by shareholders in addition to the interim dividend of 30k interim dividend earlier paid in June 2020. GTBank according to the results presented to and applauded by shareholders at the AGM, recorded an increase in all performance indicators despite the challenging operating environment that prevailed in 2020.

Speaking at the meeting, a shareholder, Mr. Tunji Bamidele, commended the bank’s board and management for sustaining profit and dividend payment in spite of the harsh and challenging economy experienced in the year 2020 as a result of the pandemic that challenged the world.

Applauding the Managing Director’s leadership acumen and dexterity, Bamidele noted that the MD/CEO’s steering of the bank in the past 10 years has been a blessing to shareholders and the bank’s well-meaning stakeholders.

In his comments, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Segun Agbaje, noted that the year 2020 was arguably the most challenging year that the world has faced in decades and that in such unprecedented times, the bank has been at the forefront of safeguarding lives and livelihood across the communities where it operates.

“We continue to receive positive and goodwill messages for the role we played at the height of the pandemic; especially for putting together very timely, a 110-bed Isolation Centre, with an intensive care unit, in partnership with the Lagos State Government,” he said, citing the Bank’s Excellence in Leadership in Africa Award which was specially created by the renowned Euromoney Magazine to spotlight private institutions at the forefront of tackling the pandemic.

Mr Agbaje also spoke about GTBank’s solid performance in a very challenging year and his confidence in the organization’s ability to keep delivering for all its stakeholders. His words, “The strength, scale and liquidity of our balance sheet, coupled with the quality of our past decisions and the efficacy of our digital-first customer-centric strategy gave us the resilience and flexibility to navigate the economic shocks and market volatility that dominated the year.”

“Amidst the many challenges that persist, we remain ardent believers in Africa’s growth potential. Our world is increasingly digital, and we see it opening new and exciting opportunities for empowering people and uplifting our communities. With our commitment to deepening customer relationships and intense focus on delivering innovative financial solutions, we enter 2021 well-positioned”, he added.

GTBank is one of Africa’s most profitable financial institutions. In 2020, the Bank reported Profit before tax of ₦238.1billion, representing a growth of 2.8% over ₦231.7billion recorded in the corresponding year ended December 2019. The Bank also continues to post the best metrics in the Nigerian Banking industry in terms of key Financial Ratios i.e. Post-Tax Return on Equity (ROAE) of 26.8%, Post-Tax Return on Assets (ROAA) of 4.6%, Full Impact Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) of 21.9% and Cost to Income ratio of 38.2%.

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