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Senate asks NTA/Startimes joint venture management to step aside over N200billion Capital Flight 

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Senate asks NTA/Startimes joint venture management to step aside over N200billion Capital Flight

The senate’s joint committee on Finance and National Planning has asked the management of the joint venture between the Nigerian Television Authority ( NTA) and Startimes to step aside after three failed attempts to convince them of the transparency in in the deal

The chairman of the committee Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola ( APC Lagos West), said forensic audit of the account of the non- profitable venture must be carried out in unraveling the quantum of money that had been fraudulently taken out of the country within the last eleven years, estimated to be N200billion
Senate’s findings have indicated that the joint venture agreement between the NTA and the Chinese media firm, Beijing Star Group, in 2008 known as NTA-Star TV Network has yielded no revenue for Nigeria since it commenced in 2008.
The committee also described the affected management team namely Maxwell Loko who is the Managing Director of the joint venture, Tunde Aina who serves as Chief Operating Officer ( COO) and Emeka ..  who is the Director of Tax and Audit, as unpatriotic Nigerians working for Startimes but receiving monthly salaries from NTA.

Trouble came for the management team of the joint venture when the  Committee interfacing with heads of government agencies on revenue projections for the  N12.6trillion 2021 budget, called on them one after the other, to explain why the joint venture has not yielded any profit for NTA as lamented by the Director General, Yakubu Ibn Mohammed before the committee on  Monday .

The MD of the joint venture, Maxwell Loko, told the Committee that he agreed that the business is not thriving because Digital Terestial Television ( DTT) being operated through  the venture , is capital intensive as against the Satellite model .

He lamented that out of the 4million subscribers Startimes have, only 20%  are active, which according to him, is making the venture not profitable for both parties ( NTA and Startimes ) .

But the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Adeola and other members , faulted his arguments based on records  obtained from the Audited Account  reports submitted by both the NTA and the joint venture .

Senator Adeola in particular, put it to the MD, why as obtainable in the Audited Account reports presented, proceeds of transactions from the joint venture are both in dollar and Naira .

“Based on records made available to us, both the expenditure and revenue components of transactions made on the joint venture since 2008 , have been  recorded in Naira and dollar, indicating capital flight intension .

“For example, as clearly stated in the Audited report before us , in 2018 alone, your revenue from subscription was $36.1million which is  N11billion .

“Also in the expenditure component for the year, monies incurred were put in both dollar and Naira and in that year , your expenditure ( N19billion ) , far exceeded the N11billion revenue allegedly generated.

“With what we are seeing , you people as management of the venture , are collaborating with Startimes in siphoning money abroad
“You need to be put under oath along with the other management team , collecting monthly salaries from NTA and working for Startimes and in the process, indulging in capital flight in collaboration  with foreign staff of the company .

“By rough estimations, all the revenues made through the joint venture and recorded in dollar , amounted to about N200billion between 2010 and 2018 “, he said .

Attempts  made by both the COO and Director of Tax and Audit of the venture to disabuse the minds of  the Committee members on any sharp practices , failed as they resolved that they must all step aside from their current positions for forensic audit to take place .

Senator Adeola and the co – chairman of the committee, Senator Olubunmi Adetunbi ( APC Ekiti North), publicly told the NTA DG to in his own interest and for his own good, ensure that the three affected staffers of NTA on the joint venture, step aside .
“This is very necessary and this committee will follow it up because Nigeria and Nigerians are being short changed through the joint venture “, Senator Adeola stressed .

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Economy

Humanitarian minister flags off special grant for rural women in Plateau

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Humanitarian minister flags off special grant for rural women in Plateau

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development has launched the one off payment of a special Grant  for rural women in Plateau state.

Over one hundred and fifty thousand women will receive a one-off special grant of twenty thousand naira each in all the 774 local government councils across Nigeria.

On her maiden launch of the special funds distribution held at the Banquet hall, Government House, the minister said the grant was a one-off disbursement to rural women to mark the International Day of Rural Women. 

“Since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration in 2015, the Government has been paying more attention to protecting and promoting the plight of the poor and vulnerable in the country.
This she said informed the decision to initiate the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) as a strategy for enhancing social inclusion.

“The Grant for Rural Women programme was introduced to sustain the social inclusion agenda of the Buhari Administration, including the realization of the national aspiration of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. It is designed to provide a one-off grant to some of the poorest and most vulnerable women in rural Nigeria. 

“The grant of N20,000.00 will be disbursed to over 150,000 poor rural women across the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

“The grant is expected to increase access to financial capital required for economic activities.
“It is our hope that the beneficiaries of this programme will make good use of the opportunity to increase their income, enhance their food security, and generally contribute towards improving their living standard”.

Farouq also thanked the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen for her contributions in ensuring a smooth take- off of the program in Plateau state.
She also used the opportunity to present assorted grains from the National Food Reserve, approved by President Muhammadu Buhari as palliative for distribution to vulnerable persons affected by the  restriction of movement to curtail the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. 

Food items presented to the state include 71 trailer load of Maize, Sorghum and Millet  to cater to 294,199 households.

Earlier, the Governor of Plateau State Dr Simon Bako Lalong expressed immense gratitude to the minister for her visit to the state. He acknowledged the role of women in the society especially the rural women. 

“This palliative will assist vulnerable people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters like conflict and flood.  
“This occasion is unique because it also features the disbursement of cash transfer to 500 rural women to mark the International Day of Rural Women.
“I am also delighted to note that 3005 pregnant and lactating women In Plateau state are currently receiving an additional five thousand naira as top-up of the Conditional Cash Transfer.
“This will go a long way in improving the lives of women and children in Plateau state particularly their health and economic empowerment”.

Governor Simon Bako Lalong in his comments 9noted that 26,004 vulnerable households in Plateau state were already receiving the Cash Transfer of N10,00 bi-monthly while 47,000 others await payment. He said the  state has 231,870 households on the State Social Register with 877,301 individual households. He appealed to the federal government to extend other social and intervention programs to capture those on the waiting list. 

The theme for this year’s International Day of Rural Women is “Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19”.

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Economy

Apprehension over Buhari’s misgivings on recession

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Apprehension over Buhari’s misgivings on recession


President Muhammadu Buhari left many Nigerians more confused when he admitted that the country’s economy may slip back into another recession in the third quarter of 2020, even while in the Fourth quarter.
Buhari expressed the misgivings while presenting the N13.1 trillion budget for 2021 with a deficit of N4.8 trillion that will be financed mainly by borrowing.
Many Nigerians were led to believe that the recession afterall may have since started going by his admittance while quoting the previous quarter.
This is more so as the President seem to be re-echoing what
Nigeria’s finance minister Zainab Ahmed had said in August 2020.

Ahmed had warned that unless Nigeria achieves a very strong third quarter 2020 economic performance, the country may slide into recession.
“Nigeria is exposed to spikes in risk aversion in the global capital market, which will put further pressure on the foreign exchange market as foreign portfolio investors exit the Nigerian market,” the minister  had said.
“Nigeria’s Q2 GDP growth is in all likelihood negative and unless we achieve a very strong Q3 2020 economic performance, the Nigerian economy is likely to lapse into a second recession in four years with significant adverse consequences.”
The President also said the projected GDP growth will be  negative in the third quarter of the year while the fourth quarter just started.
As such, the president said the economy may lapse into the second recession in four years, with significant adverse consequences.
However, inspite of the apprehension, Buhari assured Nigerians that his team were working assiduously to ensure rapid recovery in 2021 saying there is no cause for any alarm.
“We remain committed to implementing programmes to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty over the next 10 years,” he added

Buhari said the country’s economy is currently facing challenges with the macroeconomic environment being significantly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Real Gross Domestic Product (‘GDP’) growth declined by 6.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020. This ended the 3-year trend of positive, but modest, real GDP growth recorded since the second quarter of 2017,” the president said.

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Economy

Despite concerns over whooping N3.12tr for debt servicing, FG gives hope

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Despite concerns over whooping N3.12tr for debt servicing, FG gives hope

Not perturbed by concerns raised by stakeholders over N4trillion borrowing the Federal Government has pledged to meet up with it’s debt obligations with N3.12trillion for its servicing in the 2021 budget proposal.
President Muhammadu Buhari gave the indication Thursday when he presented the 2021 budget proposal of N13.08trillion to the National Assembly in Abuja.

According to him, the amount represents an increase of N445.57 billion from N2.68 trillion in 2020.
“We remain committed to meeting our debt service obligations.

“Hence, we have provisioned N3.12 trillion for this in 2021, representing an increase of N445.57 billion from N2.68 trillion in 2020.
“A total of N2.183 trillion has been set aside to service domestic debts while N940.89 billion has been provided for foreign debt service.

“N220 billion is provided for transfers to the Sinking Fund to pay off maturing bonds issued to local contractors and creditors.’

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