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#EndSARS: Lagos Revives 10,000 Businesses With N939m, As Sanwo-Olu Initiates Project To Fund Talent Development

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Lagos State government, yesterday, said that 10,000 business owners affected by the wanton destruction of properties during the #EndSARS protest were given N939.98 million support fund to recover their losses.

This came on a day Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu inaugurated a 9-member committee on film production empowerment, an intervention project to revitalize the entertainment and tourism sectors in the state.

Speaking during the ministerial press briefing to commemorate the second anniversary of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration in office, the Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mrs. Yetunde Arobieke, said: “The MSME Recovery Fund was set up to support businesses in Lagos State whose properties and assets were vandalized post #EndSARS protests that rocked the nation in October 2020. With funding from the Lagos State Government, corporate organizations, and private individuals, businesses were supported with grant sums ranging from N50,000 to N5,000,000, to beneficiaries to rebuild their businesses.

“About N939.98 million (approximately. US$2.47million) were disbursed to 1835 beneficiaries, and 10,005 direct jobs and 40,020 indirect jobs saved.”

Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu also initiated an intervention project that will jump-start the transformation of the Entertainment and Tourism sector.

The Governor, on Wednesday, inaugurated the Committee on Film Production Empowerment at the State House, Marina to fund youth creativity and entertainment activities in the State, following the disruption caused by the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) that impacted negatively on entertainment and tourism in the State.

Richard Mofe-Damijo – a veteran filmmaker and Nollywood actor – is the chairman of the nine-member committee, comprising five industry practitioners and four Government officials. They are selected to drive the Governor’s vision to actively support youth creativity and entrepreneurship in the sector.

The committee’s inauguration came months after the Governor set aside N1 billion seed capital to unlock the potential in hospitality and tourism businesses.

The scheme is to support the creative ideas of movie and entertainment producers who are constrained by funds to bring their concepts into reality. Applicants are to be supported with funding based on the financial plans of their projects. The grant may be as much as N40 million for each beneficiary.

Entertainment and Tourism form a key pillar of the Government’s T.H.E.M.E.S. Agenda being implemented to drive inclusive growth and socio-economic development across sectors of the State’s economy.

Sanwo-Olu described entertainment and tourism as enablers of growth with huge potential for employment opportunities. The sector, he said, is critical to achieving his administration’s youth development objectives, given its high rate of absorption of creative young people in its supply chains.

He said: “This is a signpost of all pockets of intervention we have created for the development of creativity and tourism sector. Aside from the N1 billion set aside for the hospitality industry, this scheme is specifically targeted at our movie industry which is known all over the world. This is with the belief that we can further raise the status of our creative output and commercialize the returns to a level it can compete with Hollywood and Bollywood.

“We realized most of our film production experts and directors face a lot of funding impediments. We are intervening to close this gap and bring credible veterans who have the knowledge and have demonstrated capacity in the industry to drive this project. That is why we carefully selected five key practitioners in the industry to lead. The Committee will be supported by four Government officials to limit bureaucracy for the Committee to achieve its objectives.”

The Governor made it known that the scheme sought to leverage idea and talent development to transform Nollywood into a brand that would compete favourably with advanced film industries, such as America’s Hollywood and India’s Bollywood.

Sanwo-Olu said the committee had been given the authority to disburse the support grants to movie producers who have fresh ideas and those whose stories are yet to be completed.

He charged the committee to work out its engagement modalities and administrative responsibility of selecting the beneficiaries of the scheme.

He said: “As we roll out this scheme, we want to be able to help the industry around job creation and bring youths out of unemployment, using the creative industry. We also want to create entrepreneurs that will use their creativity to enhance the market shares of the sector.

“We want to support industry practitioners to raise capacity, support development of local content, and discourage the action of taking proceeds from the industry out of the country, thereby denying local practitioners the benefits of their talents. We will not restrict your (committee’s) ability; we will give you leeway to do your job.”

Sanwo-Olu said the intervention would galvanize the private sector into committing more funding to the industry for accelerated growth. He expressed optimism that the scheme would unlock the potential of the Lagos coastline and turn it into a destination of choice in African tourism.

Commissioner for Tourism, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, said the committee members would set the conditions for accessing this fund, determine the eligibility of applicants and decide on the amount that could be given to an individual applicant or group at a particular time.

She said: “This intervention will make Lagos State continue to retain its position as the hub of film making in Nigeria and as a city for the creative minds.”

Mofe-Damijo described the committee’s appointment as “a big honour”, describing members as passionate practitioners in the Entertainment industry.

“We don’t have any excuse not to perform in this assignment. We will do everything in our capacity to ensure that result which the Governor has envisioned comes to reality,” he said.

Other industry veterans in the committee include ace cinematographer, Tunde Kelani, a Film and Television Producer, Ms. Mo Abudu, movie director, Mr. Kunle Afolayan, and Mrs. Peace Anyim-Osigwe

The Government officials in the committee are Adebukola Agbaminoja, Ferdinand Tinubu, Taju Olajumoke, and Mrs Funke Avoseh (Secretary).

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UN Pledges Support For Nigeria As Millions Endure Humanitarian Crisis

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Martin Griffiths, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG/ERC), has returned from a four-day visit to Nigeria.

Griffiths witnessed firsthand the humanitarian situation and reaction in the region’s north, promising to increase international awareness of the catastrophe and draw attention to the fights around Lake Chad.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, federal government officials, Chief of Defence Staff Leo Irabor, and Borno Governor Babagana Zulum were among those that met with the USG.

In Maiduguri, Bama, and Damasak, he met with Nigerians who had been affected by the violence, as well as humanitarian partners.

In Damasak, on the border with Niger, Griffiths heard from some women and families displaced by the violence. They told him of their hopes to return home.

The humanitarian chief expressed sadness about the deep impact of the violence and repeated displacement for many citizens.

Griffiths disclosed that people he met demonstrated amazing courage in the face of vicious violence, killings, and kidnappings.

In Bama, women told the UN top officials, stories of how they escaped from years of armed group captivity only weeks ago.

He, however, confirmed getting Zulum’s commitment to the authorities’ zeal to improve security and build resilience for the most vulnerable.

“It is clear we share a common objective: upholding the dignity of Nigerians and finding ways to ease the suffering too many of them face today.

“People are yearning for security, livelihoods, and better access to social services, and we stand ready to make this a reality with the Government and our humanitarian partners.”

Griffiths hailed aid workers in Bama and Damasak after listening to the challenges they face in reaching those in need.

“Brave humanitarian workers, most of them Nigerians themselves, work tirelessly and often at great personal risk to help others.”

The coordinator promised to continuously advocate their safety and for the necessary support to the persons they serve.

The humanitarian community reached more than 5 million people in Nigeria last year. The 2022 Nigeria Humanitarian Response Plan, for launch in February, requires over $1 billion to help 8.4 million people.

The UN added that the Lake Chad basin conflict has taken a heavy toll on communities across Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, putting 10 million people at risk and in need of assistance.

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Subsidy: Presidency, Governors Deny N302 Fuel Increase

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The presidency and governors have reportedly distanced selves from a planned hike in fuel pump prices from N165 to N302 per liter next month. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has spoken out against the planned removal of the petroleum subsidy, which the National Economic Council (NEC) ad hoc committee advising the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the appropriate pricing of premium motor spirit (PMS) said would save the country N250 billion per month.

The ad hoc committee, led by Kaduna State governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufia, is said to have suggested a petrol price of N302 per liter, which will be enforced by February. The presidency, on the other hand, denied that a resolution like this was passed at NEC. NEC sessions are presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

His media aide Laolu Akande, who also coordinates NEC media activities, in a tweet on his handle, @akandeoj noted that: “While there are indeed ongoing discussions on the issue of fuel subsidy, at no time has NEC made any such resolution. Public discourse can be better served by seeking further clarification from relevant quarters on matters of such importance.”

Nigerian governors, who met in Abuja on Wednesday night, dismissed the report that they were the ones pushing for an increase in the pump price of fuel. Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), the umbrella body of the governors, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who briefed journalists at end of the meeting, argued that it is not within the mandate of sub-national body, such as the NGF, “to decide on what happens to PMS price.”

According to the Ekiti governor, “the National Economic Council, chaired by the Vice President has been dealing with this issue over time.”

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How Construction Firm Completed Road To Buhari’s Kaduna Residence In Few Days

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Residents in Kaduna were astounded when the construction firm in charge of the road leading to President Muhammadu Buhari’s private Kaduna residence completed the work in a matter of days.

“This has shown that with the right people and the required resources, infrastructural development could be achieved in this country,” Malam Bala, a trader near Sultan road Kaduna has said.

He said the company engaged the engineers and other workers to work round the clock on the road that connects to the President’s house, and the result was marvelous.”

“We heard that the contractor was mandated to complete the section of the road leading to Buhari’s residence before the president’s arrival and before the president flew into Kaduna from The Gambia, the road had been completed, with street lights installed as well as road signs.

“The road is not opened for general use, security agents are still there. The construction workers worked day and night, for 4 days so as to deliver on the road. It’s a surprise that the road could be fixed within such a short time. As of last Saturday, that section of the road was under construction, a lot of work had not been done, only for me to see that a rapid project was being made and it was completed before the President arrived. This shows that if the leaders are determined, they can work for the people,” he said.

The President, who was impressed with the numerous projects he commissioned across the state, exclaimed that “if you had not been in Kaduna for some time now, surely you would miss your road home just like me. El-Rufai has really changed the face of this state. I relocated to Kaduna after serving my jail term in the 1980s from Daura. I cannot find my way home with the current development.”

On Friday, Buhari commissioned the ultra-modern Sabon Gari market in Zaria, amidst applause from locals who have not seen the President physically, some years.

President Buhari had commended Malam Nasir El-Rufai for committing himself to change Kaduna, noting that the Kaduna State Governor has been successful in that quest.

The president, who was on a two-day working visit to Kaduna State to commission some of the state’s urban renewal projects, was speaking at the Murtala Square in Kaduna.  He had arrived in Kaduna on Wednesday night direct from Banjul, Gambia.

From Kaduna, President Buhari, accompanied by Governor El-Rufai, flew to Kafanchan this morning to commission Emir Road, Katsina Road and Dan-Haya Road.

He returned to Kaduna around noon, and immediately commissioned the remodelled Murtala Square, a sprawling sporting, event and recreational centre.

Noting the impact of the urban renewal programme, President Buhari said that he can no longer find his way around Kaduna, even as someone who has lived in the city for a long. Commending El-Rufai, the president said, “you have committed yourself to change Kaduna and you have been very successful and people throughout the country are appreciating it. You are writing your history in letters of gold. I congratulate you for your achievements so far.”

The president commissioned some of the 19 completed urban renewal road projects, including the reconstructed Kawo Flyover, an almost one-kilometer long dual carriageway with three ground rotaries, the 5.6km Aliyu Makama Road, the multi-storey Basic Education Mega-School in Lokoja Road in Rigasa, and the dualised Yakubu Gowon Way and Leventis Underpass.

President Buhari also commissioned the Infectious Disease Hospital in Mando, after Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, explained the thinking behind the project. He also commissioned the fertiliser blending plant of Barbedos Group.

Malam Nasir El-Rufai launched the Kaduna State Urban Renewal Programme in June 2019 by Governor El-Rufai, shortly after which the projects commenced in Kaduna before those of Kafanchan and Zaria started. “The goal of the urban renewal programme is to regenerate Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria, the three major cities in the state.”

According to Malam El-Rufai, “these unprecedented investments in urban infrastructure are to consolidate the state’s position as an investment destination, improve its economic competitiveness and promote the welfare of the residents of the state.”

The president would be hosted at a state banquet in Kaduna on Friday.

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