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ICRC Incorporates 158 Projects Into PPP Pipeline in 2020 – Report

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The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) said 158 projects from different sectors were incorporated into the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project pipeline in 2020.

This is according to the 2020 Annual Report and Accounts of the organisation.

According to the report which was obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja, the projects went through various stages of development, procurement and implementation.

It also said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) gave approvals for some vital projects, which were earlier granted the Full Business Case (FBC) Compliance Certificates by the commission to pave way for eventual contract signing and commercial close.

The projects included the development of the Bonny Deep Seaport in Rivers, the development of Ibom Deep Sea Port in Akwa Ibom and an automated ticketing portal for the Nigerian Railway Corporation.

Others were upgrading, expansion and operation of the Nigerian Correctional Services shoe/garment/leather factories in Aba-Abia and Janguza-Kano State and renovation of the students’ hostel at Kaduna Polytechnic.

It also said that Outline Business Case (OBC) Compliance Certificates were granted for some key projects in the transport sector of the economy, adding that some of them had proceeded to the procurement stage while others would soon follow.

They were the development of the Truck Transit Parks in Obollo-Afor, Enugu State; Aviele and Benin Bye-Pass, Edo; Lokoja, Kogi; and Illela, Sokoto State.

Others were concession of the four International Airport Terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt and the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing Highway Development and Management Initiative (HDMI) for 12 selected routes.

The ICRC said that within the year under review, it began the process of regularising all PPP projects by whatever name they were called and brought them under the commission’s custody to enable their subjection to its regulatory oversight.

“An important reason for the regularisation is to ensure revenues accruing to the government go into a Special Concession Account (SCA) set up for this purpose.

“The approval for the implementation of the SCA was given through a circular issued by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning in June 2020.

“Already, N2.4 billion has accrued to the government as the concession fee for the development of the Gurara Dam II Project.”

The report, however, identified a lack of dedicated funding to develop, promote and implement PPP projects as a setback that slowed the development of some projects.

It also said that strong political will and commitment were needed to strengthen the PPP framework and ensure the process was not undermined or truncated due to adverse interests.

The report also said there was a lack of adequate enforcement powers over PPP contract agreements and disputes.

It added that there was a bill to address identified gaps in the existing law of the commission pending before the National Assembly.

“The proposed amendment seeks to rename the ICRC as PPP Regulatory Commission to accommodate other forms of PPP and expand its powers to impose appropriate sanctions to ensure compliance with provisions of the Act and regulations thereof.

“The urgent passage of the bill will help ICRC to establish its independence, improve its regulatory oversight and exercise adequate control over the process.”

While proposing to ensure accountability in PPP revenue in 2021 through the SCA, the commission said it would effectively monitor revenue accruing to the government from PPP projects and add more projects to the PPP pipeline.

It would also strengthen the capacity of PPP units of government agencies to structure transactions and monitor the progress of projects which were awarded or completed to ensure that contractual obligations were being met.

NAN recalls that ICRC was established to regulate PPP activities in Nigeria to address the physical infrastructure deficit which hampered economic development.

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Amazon Prime Video Launches Local Service in Nigeria

Amazon Prime Video launches a localized version of its streaming service in one of Africa’s largest markets, Nigeria.

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After its Launch in Southeast Asia a few days back, Amazon Prime video revealed the launch of the localized version of its streaming service in one of Africa’s largest markets, Nigeria.

Amazon Prime Video is a global streaming subscription service with 200 million subscribers worldwide and accessible in over 100 countries.

Amazon Prime Video has now expanded its service to Nigeria in a move that pitches it against Netflix, the world’s biggest streaming company with a sizeable audience in Nigeria.

However, to compete effectively, Amazon Prime Video launched discounted Amazon prime membership, seven days of free streaming service and increase investment in local content production for Nigerian audiences.

In a tweet from its official account @Prime Video Naija, the company said customers in Nigeria can stream more than 20,000 original TV shows and movies within its ecosystem. Some of the movies are The Boys, All or Nothing, Reacher  and All the Old Knives.

According to its website, the service will cost ₦2,300 or $4 per month. Also for the first time, users in Nigeria will be able to pay for subscriptions using the local currency, the Nigerian Naira.

Again, unlike when most used VPN to access the platform for region-specific content, now Nigerians can watch movies directly without a VPN.

Nigerians, however, have reservations concerning Amazon Prime Video pricing model. According to Nigerians that took to Twitter, they will stick to Netflix – Amazon Prime Video’s biggest competitor in Nigeria – as they cannot be paying for a monthly subscription and still be paying to rent or watch movies. Read their comments below.

@lamibony Tweeted “can never replace Netflix because they are unserious. Why do I have to purchase some movies even though I have a valid subscription? Nah, abeg they should get out.”

She further stated that “Abeg I will stick with Netflix. Make them increase subscription instead of asking me to buy movies like groceries”

@abelpter had the similar reservation “I hate the fact that after paying the monthly subscription, you still need to pay money to buy or rent some other movies you’d like to watch on the App. It doesn’t make sense”

@tHe_pHenom_ tweeted “hope your payment platform won’t keep declining all my cards like spotify and Apple Music”

@oluwahunter tweeted “Please why is it difficult to add my card details?

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A Sad Goodbye: Serena Williams Bids Tennis Farewell

Serena Williams, the world’s most successful female athlete, has said she is “evolving away” from the sport she dominated for years.

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Serena Williams, the world’s most successful female athlete, has said she is “evolving away” from the sport she dominated for years.

The 23 grand slam winner first hinted about her retirement on her Instagram page, saying the countdown has begun to retire from tennis and focus on being a mum, expand her spiritual goals and focus on self-discovery.

But now the countdown has begun. I’m gonna relish these next few weeks she said.

In her latest interview with Vogue, Williams expresses her struggle over making the decision to retire from the sport, she said I’ve been reluctant to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to move on from playing tennis. Alexis, my husband, and I have hardly talked about it; it’s like a taboo topic. I can’t even have this conversation with my mom and dad. It’s like it’s not real until you say it out loud. It comes up, I get an uncomfortable lump in my throat, and I start to cry. The only person I’ve gone there with is my therapist! One thing I’m not going to do is sugarcoat this. I know that a lot of people are excited about and look forward to retiring, and I wish I felt that way. “

Williams made her singles return at Wimbledon in June after a lengthy injury lay-off that had led to speculation about her retirement.

She says she will play at the US Open, where she has won six of her major singles titles, later in August.

Williams has won more major singles titles than any female player in the Open era and the second most of all time, behind Margaret Court’s 24.

On Monday, she had her first singles win in 14 months, beating Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz to reach the second round of the National Bank Open in Toronto.

“I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst. But please know that I am more grateful for you than I can ever express in words.”

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CBA Foundation Takes Intervention Among Underprivileged Widows to the Next Level, With Their Social Enterprise Initiative

If indications from two separate but related events that were held few months ago are anything to go by, then one of Nigeria’s most vulnerable groups may be on the verge of experiencing better times.

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CBA Foundation

If indications from two separate but related events that were held few months ago are anything to go by, then one of Nigeria’s most vulnerable groups may be on the verge of experiencing better times. The events, hosted in two separate states/regions and split by a 20-day interval, held at a time when self-splurging by many young Nigerians was at octane levels, and saw young men and women behind an NGO that caters to the welfare of underprivileged widows and their vulnerable children, passionately putting the widows’ needs above their wants. 

The NGO, CBA Foundation, its dedicated and passionate staff, some supporters and donors came out in their numbers on two dedicated days to give widows in selected communities in Lagos and Anambra a treat. The Lagos outreach benefitted, in a unique way, widows in six communities in Ibeju-Lekki, namely: Badore, Iberekodo, Museyo, Magbon Alade, Okunola Ilado and Magbon Iga. 

CBA Foundation seized the opportunity of the outreach to launch a new initiative it tagged Social Enterprise Initiative. The Initiative, which is aimed at ensuring the long-term sustainability of all efforts to protect and promote the welfare of widows as well as their children, is to cater to the financial, mental and physical health needs of beneficiaries. The Initiative is designed to provide comprehensive support, including health interventions, skill acquisition, business set-up, food and drinks, clothes and shoes.It also includes general support for all affected widows.

The Founder/CEO of CBA Foundation, Mrs Chinwe Bode-Akinwande explained the reason for the Foundation’s shift to the new Initiative: “We have been doing outreaches and it has been non-stop, but the essence of this Social Enterprise Initiative is for the widows to have something that will sustain them even for a longer period, something that will give them hope, knowing that they have a sustainable source of livelihood and activities that remind them that they need to keep going.” 

Continuing, she reveals when the idea for the new initiative began: “When the lockdown came during the peak of covid 19, we realised that there was a need again to have something sustainable for these women. With the Social Enterprise Initiative, we identify the skills they need to possess, and what they are passionate about, we also empower them with the necessary training and then set them up with all they need for the business. At the end of the day, they won’t have to wait daily for the CBA Foundation to give them food or clothing.”

Mrs Bode-Akinwande noted that the Initiative had been informed by a rigorous analysis of the data in their database, gathered over the years on widows whom they have reached out to and the support they have been receiving from both individual and corporate donors. She said that they had dimensioned all the critical issues from widows with critical needs, where the Foundation needed to begin its interventions, to widows who needed to be set up in business and to several widows’ children who needed to be reinstated back in school.

She also remarked that plans were underway at the Foundation to take the skills acquisition training further, beginning with adire-making (tie and dye). She announced that the Foundation would have a line of products that would be its adire pattern, displaying its unique signature. When sold, the net proceeds would be ploughed back into the Foundation as a constant stream of income. 

The idea, the Foundation’s CEO stressed, would inspire the widows who show a keen interest in adire-making as they would be involved and exposed to its value chain which is essential to optimising their execution after their training. So, the adire-making training followed with tutorials on the step-by-step processes involved in it, materials needed and how to identify them, necessary safety precautions, various tie and dye techniques, packaging and distribution and how to make a living from adire-making.

For widows with impaired vision at the event, they were able to have free consultations with an ophthalmologist, get free eye tests and free reading glasses, courtesy of a partnership between FirstBank and Vision Spring. What followed when beneficiaries had the free reading glasses fitted and could see clearly were scenes similar to ones where people had experienced supernatural miracles. The ecstatic joy was palpable. 

Take 59-year-old Hassanat Oyewunmi, for example. Tears of joy rolled freely from her eyes as she remarked that her farsightedness challenge had been addressed. She confessed excitedly that she felt “better, much better now with the glasses, and I can even see everyone clearly. It is good to know that we are not forgotten.” 

Olabode Sadiat, 62, could not contain her joy as she wore her glasses and pointed in the distance, while indicating that she could see everything in her line of sight. She had suffered from a blurry vision that made reading her Bible difficult. “Nothing is more painful than not being able to read your Bible,” she had noted following the medical intervention. 

The widows also received food, drinks, clothing and other materials that were distributed during the outreach. They were also given a final charge by Mrs Bode-Akinwande in which she reminded them that they were not alone and could always count on the support of the CBA Foundation. 

In all, 165 widows across the six communities of Ibeju-Lekki benefitted when the Lagos outreach was held. The Anambra outreach, on the other hand, benefitted 75 widows from four communities in the Nnewi area of the state. 

Food items and financial empowerment constituted the bulk of the support CBA Foundation gave the Anambra widows to celebrate the festive season. The Anambra initiative has enjoyed tremendous support from a donor who has been consistent over the past four years. The Founder of the Foundation expressed gratitude to the donor while remarking that the outreach is a source of enablement for the underprivileged widows and their children. 

She continues: “We give hope to the hopeless. We are driven to support underprivileged widows to have a positive outlook on life despite the problems they experience by losing their loved one, mostly the breadwinner of the family.”

Both Lagos and Anambra outreaches were in some sense CBA Foundation’s way of giving underprivileged widows a “December to Remember” treat annually. Of course, that treat would at best be modest compared to how people who were not in any known vulnerable categories took care of themselves and themselves alone. Even with the best of intentions, CBA Foundation could only work with donations received from donors and supporters at a time of the year when most (young) people were dedicating more resources to the self-splurging that December has come to represent.

While it may not be in one’s place to dictate to others how they should spend the money they have worked so hard to make, one cannot help but try to point them to ways they could better dispense their hard-earned cash that would be in their enlightened self-interest. Or what sense is there in spending on oneself so lavishly and ostentatiously as though spending was going to go out of fashion at any moment only to provoke the have-nots to make one the target of their misdirected anger in a society that is largely dysfunctional?

A similar question should be addressed to the government and public officials: What sense is there in expending huge public resources on projects that have no direct bearing on the welfare of vulnerable groups when it only widens the gap between the haves (including public officials) and have-nots and exacerbates the conditions that heighten security concerns among the haves? At what point will the government, public officials and the privileged class start acting in their enlightened self-interest by committing genuine efforts to narrow the gap between those who have and those who can only wish? 

It is high time public officials and the privileged began building strong coalitions and partnerships with groups and organisations that have been working to protect and support as well as advocate for the vulnerable for years now. They must begin to key into and support the organisations’ laudable initiatives that show great potential in helping to narrow the frightening gap.

CBA Foundation’s Social Enterprise Initiative represents one of such laudable initiatives. It is a well-thought-out initiative capable of transforming the existing arrangement for care and support of vulnerable groups such as underprivileged widows and their children and taking their welfare to the next level. The Government, individuals as well as corporate organisations must join hands with the Foundation if the Initiative is to have any chance of success.

Through its avowed commitment to “touching lives, giving hope…” not in mere words and empty promises but genuine and visible action on the ground (see ample examples captured on its website: www.cbafoundation.org), CBA Foundation has already demonstrated its readiness to do more with additional support. It has shown that it is living true to its #CareIsAction DNA and can thus be trusted with more support. The Social Enterprise Initiative, therefore, will be delighted to have interested partners (individuals and corporate bodies) to send an email to: cbafoundationng@gmail.com to partner with the Foundation in the drive to take the welfare of underprivileged widows to the next level where its long-term sustainability is guaranteed.

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