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19 Firms Shut, 250,000 Jobs Threatened by WEMPCO Crisis

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  • 19 Firms Shut, 250,000 Jobs Threatened by WEMPCO Crisis

The current crisis facing the Western Metal Products Company has led to the closure of no fewer than 19 enamelware firms, while 250,000 jobs along the steel and enamelware value chain are also about to end, investigations by our correspondent have revealed.

WEMPCO is reportedly facing a huge debt burden of over N90bn, planning to sell its flagship five-star Oriental Hotel on the island and considering exiting Nigeria.

This may mean the end of its 700,000 tonnes-capacity steel plant.

Our correspondent gathered that the 40-year-old firm was the authorised sole distributor of cold-rolled iron sheet, used in the manufacturing of roofing sheets and annealed iron sheets used in the manufacturing of enamelware.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, in order to protect the local manufacturers, had included cold rolled iron sheet and annealed in the list of 41 banned items from access to official foreign exchange.

The implication is that all the firms that produce roofing sheets and enamelware in Nigeria may have to shut down in the event of WEMPCO’s exit.

Already, all the firms manufacturing wheelbarrows and shovels are said to have shut down while others are winding down gradually having run out of stock of raw materials.

It was gathered that WEMPCO’s trouble stemmed from the influx of substandard roofing sheets smuggled into Nigeria from Cameroon and other neighbouring countries.

The local firms were said to have been mandated by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria to keep the standard of roofing sheet at 0.015mm in thickness.

This posed competition challenge against smuggled roofing sheets which were 0.013mm and 0.014mm.

The smuggled versions were also said to be preferred by buyers because they were cheaper.

Low patronage set in for WEMPCO and its stock of unsold products went bad from staying too long in storage.

By last year, the company had closed down almost all its plants as they were no longer producing.

Our correspondent also spoke to some of the buyers of WEMPCO products who recounted a different version of the story.

All of them, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the firm was not consistent in filling orders.

It was alleged that they either took too long in delivering the product or delivered items different from the specification.

WEMPCO was also alleged to have abused the exclusive rights and waivers that were granted to it by the Federal Government.

Our correspondent learnt that whereas the previous government had granted the firm heavy waivers to aid it in production of cold-rolled sheet locally, the firm had instead embarked on heavy importation of the product.

Trouble started for it when the current administration came into power and decided to cancel the waivers.

It then became a Herculean task for WEMPCO to fill orders as the importation route had been closed and they could not produce to meet local demand.

Customers, who paid money into WEMPCO account, neither saw their money nor the goods they paid for. The bank held onto customers’ money because WEMPCO was heavily indebted to the bank, it was alleged.

When our correspondent sought an audience with Robert Tung, the Managing Director of WEMPCO, he declined the calls and did not respond to text messages sent to his line.

Our correspondent put a call through to a consultant to the firm, Jide Mike, but he denied ever working for WEMPCO; he also said he knew nothing about the company.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Absorb Exited Npower Beneficiaries, N-power Youths Congress Tells FG

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Absorb Npower Beneficiaries of Batches A and B, N-power Youths Congress Tells FG

The N-power Youths Congress (NYC) has pleaded with the Federal Government to absorb the 500,000 exited Npower beneficiaries of Batches A and B and pay their outstanding allowances.

The National Coordinator, NYC, Comrade Joseph Enam Maga, stated this in Maiduguri during a press briefing held on Saturday at the NUJ Press Center.

He said thousands of exited beneficiaries are yet to be paid since the month of Match.

He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to offset all the outstanding allowances of Batches A and B and create a permanent job for them.

He said “It is a fact undisputable that thousands of beneficiaries have not been paid since the month of March.

“Promises upon promises have been made on this, but yet no positive result has been recorded. Sometimes I wonder what it takes for the data base manager of Npower to rectify this! Something that can be rectified in a couple of hours has lasted for seven good months now.

“Worst still, this is happening within this period of hunger and starvation because of Pandemic. We call on the minister of humanitarian affairs and disaster management to be human enough to respond to our request and give prompt attention to them.

“We equally wish to bring to the notice of Mr. President that Batch B Beneficiaries have not received their devices as was promised and signed at the commencement of the program.

“It is very sad that up to the disengagement of Batch A and B, nobody has come out openly to tell us what happened to our devices.

The coordinator paused to ask why are Nigerian youths being treated like nobody in their country? What have we done to be neglected like this?

“When the Humanitarian Minister was asked why we were disengaged at this critical time in historical epoch that corona virus is terrorizing the whole world, she responded that we were disengaged because it’s a two years programe that we signed.

“Then comes the question: why did Batch A stayed 4years? And if we signed for two years contract that warranted our disengagement, didn’t we equally signed to be given a device that would help us in our different places of primary assignment and equally increase of knowledge? Please we need answers ma. We need answers.

“We, the 500,000 batches A and B of Npower beneficiaries are calling on our government to respond to our demand. We don’t want to believe that it’s only a state of violence anarchy and doom will make a sane government to listen to her Youth’s grievances.

“Look at the Endsars protest for instance, after many lives have been lost and properties destroyed, our government decided to speak up. Niger delta militants were attended to when they resort to arms.

“The insurgents were given amnesty because of their terrorism. But we the innocent 500,000 graduates have been innocently complaining to our government but they paid deaf ears. We are law abiding citizens and we will continue to be law abiding citizens.

“We want Mr. President to understand that a hungry man is an angry man. We have really endured a lot. We need a quick response to our requests. We can’t be used and dumped like refuse. We refused to be used and dumped”, the National Coordinator added.

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Airtel Africa Appoints Ms. Kelly Bayer Rosmarin as a Non-Executive Director

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Ms. Kelly Bayer Rosmarin

Airtel Africa has appointed Ms. Kelly Bayer Rosmarin as a non-executive director, effective from 27 October 2020.

In a statement released on the Nigerian Stock Exchange’s website, the telecommunication giant said Ms. Bayer Rosmarin’s “appointment is by nomination of the controlling shareholder pursuant to the terms of relationship agreement dated 17 June 2019 between the Company, Bharti Airtel, Airtel Africa Mauritius Limited, the majority shareholder and an indirect subsidiary of Bharti Airtel, and Bharti Telecom. Ms. Bayer Rosmarin will replace Arthur Lang who will step down as a non-executive director on the same date.

“Ms. Bayer Rosmarin is currently CEO of Singtel Optus and Consumer Australia. She was previously with Commonwealth Bank of Australia, where she held several senior positions and varied portfolios, before being appointed as Group Executive of Institutional Banking and Markets. Ms Bayer Rosmarin is recognised for leveraging technology, data and analytics to develop leading customer services and experience. Ms. Bayer Rosmarin was named in the Top 10 Businesswomen in Australia and the Top 25 Women in Asia Pacific Finance and holds a variety of Board and advisory responsibilities.

“Ms. Bayer Rosmarin has, since February 2019, served as an Independent non-executive director on the Board of OpenPay, listed on the ASX. She will continue in that role. Openpay is a payments technology company based in Australia.”

Speaking on the change in the company’s director, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Airtel, said: “On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Arthur, who joined the Board in October 2018 and supported the company through its IPO, for his significant contribution to the success of our strategy to build Airtel Africa into a market leading mobile service provider and wish him well for the future.”

He further stated: “I am delighted that Kelly has agreed to join the Airtel Africa Board and we very much look forward to working closely with her”.

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Five World’s Wealthiest Families Control a Fortune of Over $620 Billion

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Jeff Bezos

Top Five Wealthiest Families Control Over $620 Billion in Fortune

Data presented by Buy Shares indicates that the world’s wealthiest families cumulatively control a fortune of $621 billion. The wealth is as of October 2020.

Concerns Over Wealth Inequalities

The data shows that the Walton family that runs the Walmart retail chains controls a fortune of $215 billion, followed by the Mars family with wealth amounting to $120 billion. The Koch family running the Koch industries owns a fortune worth $109.7 billion.

Al Saud family, known for vast wealth reserves, controls wealth worth $95 billion. India’s Ambani family owns the fifth-highest fortune at $81.3 billion.

The Buy Shares research also overviewed the wealth of the five wealthiest individuals globally. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the wealthiest person with a fortune of $188.7 billion, followed by Bernard Arnault at $119.2 billion. Microsoft founder Bill Gates is the thyroid richest person with a net worth of $115.2 billion.

There is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at $101.8 billion in the third spot, while Tesla CEO Elon Musk is the fifth richest person at $93 billion.

The research highlights the inequalities that exist with the global wealthiest individuals and families. According to the report: “The spotlight on the world’s wealthiest comes amid the growing economic inequality in the US and other leading global economies. According to critics, inequality exists due to regimes that allow market dominance and low tax rates imposed on capital, especially in the United States. To some critics, the vast wealth is evidence that capitalism needs fixing. In some jurisdictions, inequality has become an explosive political issue.”

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