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FirstBank’s Sponsored “First-Class Material” Continues To Empower and Celebrate The Nigerian Youth

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First Bank's First Class Material- Investors King

First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services provider has again reinforced its commitment to Youth Empowerment and Entrepreneurship through its sponsorship of the docuseries “First-Class Material” from the stables of Linda Ikeji TV.

Arguably Nigeria’s most valuable bank brand, FirstBank continues to pride itself as indeed the Bank of many firsts. First-Class Material is a docuseries designed to celebrate Nigerians who are excelling in various fields of endeavour whether academic or non-academic. It is a programme that aims to chronicle the success stories of Nigerians who are distinct and exemplary in their achievements and importantly, a testament to the greatness of the West African country. This docuseries aims to make education, vocational training and skill acquisition trendy, attractive and fashionable to the nation’s human capital by celebrating and rewarding innovators and trailblazers in various sectors. First-Class Material is a celebration of notable First’s by Nigerians which underscores what FirstBank stands for. The essence of the programme is to have many more people informed and encouraged by the successes, thereby having these feats emulated in their chosen endeavours.

First-Class Material aims to change the narrative about Nigeria and Nigerians by highlighting the great work Nigerians are doing in different fields, including Academics, Technology, Arts, Music, entrepreneurship, and many more. It also aims to inspire others to aspire to excellence and to see hard work, legitimate work, and diligence as something rewarding and deserving of emulation. FirstBank was the official sponsor of the maiden edition of First Class Material by Linda Ikeji TV and based on its success, the Bank is now also sponsoring Season 2 which will commence 3rd week in August.

This innovative partnership would have viewers exposed to Nigerians across the globe that have carved a niche for themselves by being exemplary and influential in their chosen endeavours and career path. Success stories of notable firsts and trailblazers would be highlighted, with viewers encouraged to go beyond limits and leave no stone unturned at making their dreams a reality. Like the first season, which showcased exceptional individuals, the forthcoming season promises to share truly inspiring stories of great feats and accomplishments by some of the most unassuming Nigerians, in the country and dotted around the world. FirstBank’s goal is to inspire the youth and encourage them to make informed choices, critical to securing their future whilst impacting mankind and society at large.

FirstBank, historically, has had diverse interventions in promoting thought leadership and promoting initiatives that will stimulate the advancement of skill acquisition and capacity building for the Nigerian Youth to equip them for a bright future. The Bank’s sponsorship of the Programme is in tandem with the noble objectives of the bank which include building and instilling values into its customers. FirstBank’s core values of people, passion and partnership very much align with the vision of the First Material towards building the youth to become tomorrow’s leaders. With over 127 years of continuous banking operations, First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FirstBank) is giving a good account of itself in this regard not only as a true financial powerhouse but also as a life enabler, helping Nigerians live better and achieve their dreams.

Apart from the First Class Material initiative and in the furtherance of the Bank’s long term commitment to promote youth development, professional excellence and education, FirstBank has also in the past and currently actively supporting various activities and initiatives in the youth segment. The bank partners with Eventful Nigeria Ltd for Fashion Souk, a platform that creates an opportunity for players in the fashion industry to exhibit and sell their wares to the thousands of event participants. The bank, also in a bid to ensure the sustainability of the industry, recently introduced fashion design loans specifically designed to offer financial support to the participants in the textile industry.

Through its First@arts initiative, FirstBank consolidates all its efforts in the arts, supporting the entire value chain of the creative arts, providing much-needed financing and advisory support, showcasing and facilitating the successes of the industry, and enabling customers to explore and access the wealth of opportunities the creative industry has to offer.

Achieving these and a host of many others have been implemented through strategic partnerships with organisations like the British Council, Duke of Shomolu Productions, Live Theatre Lagos, Freedom Park, Terra Kulture, and the Cross Rivers State Government (Calabar Festival), among others.

With the sponsorship of similar socio-cultural initiatives in the creative arts industry like Moremi, Makaliki, Oba Esugbayi stage drama, October 1st (a movie), the Calabar Festival and the recently concluded, The Voice Nigeria (Season 3) the Bank remains exemplary to expose the youth to a wide range of opportunities that are integral to the realisation of their dreams, as they contribute to the continued socio-economic development of their immediate environment and the country at large.

Indeed, FirstBank remains a noble brand close to the heart of the youths and the deliberate efforts made by the bank has indeed been a catalyst of the socio-economic growth of Nigerian youths and the nation as a whole.

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Education

Southern States Skeptical as NELFund Disburses First Loans

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University - Investors King

The National Education Loan Fund (NELFund) officially launched on Wednesday, a significant step in providing financial aid to students across Nigeria.

However, the initiative faces skepticism, particularly from the southern states.

President Bola Tinubu inaugurated the first tranche of funds, amounting to N32 billion, aimed at empowering Nigerian youth and breaking financial barriers to education.

The NELFund portal has registered 164,000 students, with 103,000 applying for loans.

Despite the promising start, many southern states remain doubtful about the fund’s implementation.

Akintunde Sawyerr, NELFund’s Managing Director, acknowledged these concerns, citing data challenges in verifying indigent applicants as a primary hurdle.

Sawyerr highlighted the lack of comprehensive data needed for credit assessments. The fund relies on bank verification numbers (BVN), National Identification Numbers (NIN), and educational institution data to determine eligibility.

More applications have been received from northern states, where students have shown greater confidence in the fund.

Sawyerr pointed out that skepticism in the south might stem from uncertainty about the program’s viability.

NELFund offers two types of loans: educational fees paid directly to institutions and upkeep loans for student stipends.

The focus is currently on government-owned institutions to ensure a smooth rollout.

President Tinubu emphasized education as a critical tool against poverty and insecurity, linking the nation’s challenges to a lack of educational opportunities.

He reaffirmed his commitment to inclusive growth through education.

As NELFund continues its rollout, efforts to address data issues and regional skepticism will be crucial. By building trust and ensuring transparency, the program aims to support more students nationwide and foster a fairer society.

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Travel

UAE Lifts Visa Ban on Nigerians, Introduces N640,000 Non-Refundable Application Fee

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has officially lifted the visa ban imposed on Nigerian passport holders, effective July 15.

However, this positive move comes with a substantial caveat—a new non-refundable visa application fee of N640,000.

The announcement, made following bilateral discussions between Nigerian and UAE authorities, ends a prolonged period of restricted travel between the two nations due to diplomatic disputes and financial issues.

New Visa Regulations

Under the new guidelines set forth by the UAE government, Nigerian passport holders seeking to travel to the Emirates must adhere to several stringent requirements:

  1. Application Fee: Applicants are required to pay a non-refundable fee of N640,000 for visa processing. This fee represents a significant increase compared to the previous $100 fee before the ban.
  2. Document Verification Number (DVN): Before applying for a visa, applicants must obtain a Document Verification Number (DVN). This number is valid for only 14 days from issuance or until the visa application is processed, whichever comes first.
  3. Application Process: The application process for UAE visas remains stringent, emphasizing the importance of meeting all specified criteria to enhance the chances of approval.

Public Reaction and Outcry

The introduction of the N640,000 visa application fee has sparked widespread criticism and public outcry among Nigerians, particularly on social media platforms. Many have expressed their discontent, labeling the new fee as exorbitant and financially burdensome, especially in light of economic challenges facing the country.

Social media users have taken to various platforms to voice their concerns:

  • @firstladyship: “It is obvious the UAE don’t want Nigerians. They reluctantly unbanned the Nigerian passport, but slammed a hefty N640,000 on Nigerians. Guess what? The money is nonrefundable & has expiration date. This is see finish.”
  • @Peco3D: “This is just extortion in fine words. Shameless.”
  • @Comr_lucky1: “This is exploitation and shameful if allowed by Nigeria government.”

Government Response

Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, announced the lifting of the visa ban and emphasized that Nigerian passport holders are now eligible to apply for visas to the UAE.

The government has acknowledged the concerns raised by citizens and assured them of continued engagement to address the issue.

Background

The UAE had imposed the visa ban on Nigeria approximately two years ago amid diplomatic tensions and financial disputes.

Efforts to resolve these issues included discussions and negotiations between the Nigerian and UAE governments, leading to the recent breakthrough in visa restrictions.

Despite the imposition of the N640,000 visa fee, the lifting of the ban represents a step forward in diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the UAE, potentially paving the way for enhanced bilateral cooperation and economic ties.

As Nigerian travelers navigate these new visa regulations, reactions continue to pour in, reflecting the broader impact of international relations on individual mobility and economic opportunities.

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Travel

Nigeria and UAE Reach Agreement on Visa Access for Nigerians

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Nigerian International passport- Investors King

The Nigerian Federal Government announced on Monday that it has reached an agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to facilitate visa access for Nigerian citizens.

This announcement came following the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Bola Tinubu.

Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, made the announcement while briefing journalists after the FEC meeting.

He highlighted the importance of this agreement in strengthening the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the UAE, and in fostering greater economic and cultural exchange.

“After extensive negotiations, we are pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached with the UAE that will enable Nigerians to access UAE visas,” Idris stated.

“This development is a testament to the commitment of President Tinubu’s administration to improving the mobility and opportunities for Nigerian citizens globally.”

The agreement is expected to streamline the visa application process, making it easier for Nigerians to travel to the UAE for business, tourism, and other purposes. This move comes as a relief to many Nigerians who have faced difficulties in obtaining UAE visas in recent times.

In addition to the visa agreement, the FEC also directed the Ministry of Budget to propose amendments to the 2024 budget.

This directive aims to address emerging fiscal challenges and align the budget with current economic realities.

Idris further announced that President Tinubu will meet with labor leaders on Thursday to finalize discussions on the new minimum wage.

This meeting is part of ongoing efforts to ensure fair wages for Nigerian workers without triggering inflationary pressures.

“The President is committed to delivering a minimum wage that is both fair and sustainable. After thorough consultations, the proposed figures will be submitted to the National Assembly,” Idris explained.

The FEC’s deliberations on the wage increase focused on balancing the need for higher wages with the potential impact on the economy.

“We are determined to provide wages that improve the standard of living for Nigerians while maintaining economic stability,” Idris added.

This week’s FEC meeting also discussed various national issues, including infrastructure development, security, and public service reforms.

The council reiterated its commitment to pursuing policies that promote growth and improve the welfare of all Nigerians.

The agreement with the UAE and the forthcoming minimum wage proposal are seen as significant steps in President Tinubu’s broader agenda to enhance Nigeria’s international standing and address domestic economic challenges.

As the government moves forward with these initiatives, citizens and stakeholders are hopeful for positive outcomes that will benefit the nation.

In the coming days, further details of the UAE visa agreement and the new minimum wage proposal are expected to be disclosed, providing more clarity on the government’s plans and their implications for Nigerians.

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