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My Re-Election Bid, Not Fraud, Reason I’m Being Victimised – Adesina

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Despite the clean bill of health given to the President, Africa Development Bank, Adewumni Adesina by the board of directors of the bank, the United States is insistence of conducting a fresh probe

Adesina has however, said the move to get him out, perhaps at all costs, is linked to his re-election bid and not as a result of any fraudulent action on his part.

The facts, which formed the basis of the committee’s submission to the board of governors after its preliminary examination notwithstanding, the U.S government still expressed “deep reservations about the integrity of the Committee’s process”.

In its letter of May 22, 2020 to the Chairman of the Ethics Committee, the U.S. government, through the Secretary, Department of Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, faulted the committee’s decision to “totally exonerate” Adesina of all allegations.

Noting that it was not yet time to make such a declaration, Mr Mnuchin called for a fresh “in-depth investigation of the allegations against Adesina.”

“We have deep reservations about the integrity of the Committee’s process. Instead, we urge you to initiate an in-depth investigation of the allegations using the services of an independent outside investigator of high professional standing. We emphasise that undertaking an independent evaluation of facts, at any stage, is not at odds with a presumption of innocence,” Mr Mnuchin wrote.

“The allegations set out in the whistleblower complaint submitted on January 19, 2020 raise significant issues that all relevant governing bodies of the Bank must handle with the utmost care, using all tools available to them,” he added.

But, a review of the confidential memo submitted by Mr Adesina to the committee on April 8 detailing a point-by-point response to all the 16 allegations, appears to have given an inkling into the possible reasons why the U.S government is insisting on a fresh and deeper probe into the matter.

Adesina’s memo suggests the allegations by the “Group of Concerned Staff” may have political undertones linking his bid for re-election in the forthcoming AfDB Presidency elections in August.

Recall that on May 5, the ethics committee of the board of directors of the continental bank said in its report that Mr Adesina was not guilty of any of the 16 allegations contained in a petition brought before it by a “Group of Concerned Staff” of the Bank.

The committee headed by Takuji Yano, the institution’s Japanese Executive Director charged with the responsibility of investigating the allegations, described as “spurious and unfounded” claims that Mr Adesina violated the code of conduct of the Bank.

In its petition sent to the committee on January 19, 2020, the “concerned staff members” accused Mr Adesina of 16 breaches of the bank’s code of conduct, including “unethical conduct, private gain, an impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, and involvement in political activities.”

Copies of the petition were also sent to both the Director of the Integrity & Anti-Corruption office (PIAC) of the Bank, and the Chairperson of the Audit & Finance Committee (AUFI) in line with the Bank’s “Whistleblowing and Complaints Handling Policy”.

Between February 4 and April 9, 2020, the ethics committee held series of meetings to review documents and presentations as it conducted “preliminary examination” of the allegations against Mr Adesina to establish whether they were “based on any objective and solid facts” pursuant to Resolution No. B/BG/2008/11.

Resolution No. B/BG/2008/11 adopted at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Board of the Bank held on May 14, 2008 made the Code of Conduct for its Executive Directors and those of the African Development Fund (ADF) also applicable to the President of the Bank Group.

Apart from the petition, other documents reviewed during the series of meetings by the committee included the confidential memo submitted by Mr Adesina detailing his defence of the allegations against him.

In the memo, Mr Adesina accused the petitioners of violating Section 6.7.2 of the Whistle Blowing Policy of the bank by breaching the confidentiality of the proceedings of the matter by making public disclosure of the matter beyond submission to the ethics committee.

He accused the petitioners of disclosing their allegations beyond the committee “by acting in concert with others outside the AfDB system”.

“The point about others acting in concert with the whistle-blowers is not speculation. A group of independent Bank staff members apparently wrote a “Disassociation Note” on March 9, 2020, in which they explained that they had been members of a group called “Group of Concerned Staff Members,” namely the whistle-blowers behind the Disclosure, but that they had been “manipulated by a group of non-regional Executive Directors behind Mr (Steven) Dowd, not for the good governance of the African Bank of Development, but to discredit the candidacy of the current President for his re-election,” Mr Adesina said in his memo to the committee.

“Certainly if the Disassociation Note is to be believed, and there is no reason not to believe it, the whistle-blowers’ complaint cannot be considered to be in good faith, because it was not designed to expose fraud, corruption or other misconduct. Instead it had another ulterior motive,” he added.

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FirstBank Partners LSETF to Fund Low-Cost Private Schools in Lagos at Attractive Interest Rate

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced its partnership with Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) in a matching fund scheme. The scheme aims to cushion the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on low-cost private schools by ensuring lending at an attractive interest rate.

The programme will provide access to finance where participating schools can each be availed up to N5 million as well as capacity development, business and financial advisory. There will be monitoring and evaluation to ensure prompt loan repayment.

To enjoy this funding opportunity, applications will be submitted via the LSETF portal for screening while successful applicants will be passed on to FirstBank for the loan appraisal and disbursement process. The loan is meant for working capital and asset finance to enable schools resuscitate their practice, acquire needed materials, upgrade their facilities, as well as pay staff salaries in order to bounce back, especially after the lockdown.

This scheme promotes entrepreneurship in Lagos State which is in tandem with the vision of LSETF to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for Lagos residents. It has provisions for Micro Enterprises (ME) and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across all the 57 LCDAs in the 20 LGAs in Lagos State.

Sanwo-Olu, the Executive Governor of Lagos State said the N5 billion Education Loan Programme was a precursor to many more human development sector-specific support programmes that would be unveiled by the LSETF on behalf of the State Government next month.

The Governor explained that the intervention was necessary, given the importance of education to building human capital. He said his administration took education as critical building 21st century economy and realising objectives set out in the T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda.

The beneficiaries, Sanwo-Olu said, will have access to single-digit loan facilities to fund the provision of the amenities and services needed to aid learning.

He said: “It is thus heart-warming to have First Bank of Nigeria electing to be our exemplary partner for this intervention. With their support, players in the education sector would be getting the financial support they need to boost learning at a single-digit interest rate.

“I also commend the Board of LSETF and the management for this significant accomplishment. They have helped the Lagos State Government build an institution that has engendered public trust and elevated the hope of small businesses and young people, irrespective of challenges faced.”

According to Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “at FirstBank we recognise the indelible role played by the education sector in the growth of any economy and this underscores our partnership with Lagos State Government for continuous development of the education services in Lagos State and the nation as a whole. The commitment by the Lagos State Government – including this partnership – to enable schools is quite commendable as this will mitigate the challenges caused by the lockdown on the education sector following the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“With the single-digit funding targeted at about 2,000 low-cost private schools in the State, we are delighted at this opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the development of education in Lagos State, thereby contributing our quota to further the mandate of the Lagos State Government – in partnership with LSETF – on economic growth, enhanced opportunities for employment and bridging societal gaps in education,” he concluded.

Commenting on the Eduloan programme, Mrs Bola Adesola, Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) stated that “According to the NESG the Education Sector remains a growth area for job creation and a report on job creation by the NBS states that the Education Sector is one of the top 5 sectors that created over 59m jobs in 2019. This fact is buttressed by the data collected by LSETF in previous loan programmes. The objective of the LSETF-FirstEdu loan is to create employment, improve the quality of education for our youth by providing access to affordable finance to low-cost private schools and vocational training centres.

“We are confident that this intervention fund, which is complemented by our free professional and institutional support structures, will ensure that the education ecosystem in Lagos State will witness an improvement in the overall learning outcomes for our children, while positively impacting on the Lagos local economy through wealth and job creation.,” she stated.

Only recently, FirstBank partnered with the Lagos State government, Robert & John, IBM and Curious Learning with a resolve to enable the education of 1 million Nigerian students through innovative eLearning solutions that will drive sustainable efforts towards improving education for all. As part of the partnership, the Bank donated 20,000 units of e-learning devices to the Lagos State government.

These partnerships reinforce FirstBank’s “You First” brand promise of putting not just its customers first but also the economy of its host communities.

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Uduaghan Dumps APC, Returns to PDP

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The immediate past Governor of the State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has formally defected from the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party.
Uduaghan re-joined the PDP at his Unit 1, Ward 6, at Abigborodo, his country home, and was accompanied to the venue by thousands of his supporters amid cheering solidarity songs on Monday.
“I am back to join forces with other party greats to strengthen our party, the largest party in Africa -PDP!,” the ex-governor had earlier stated on his Twitter handle.
The return to PDP is coming barely one year after he took a critical decision to join APC on 29 August, 2019, in protest of his alleged maltreatment in PDP.
Uduaghan, who was Delta State Governor for eight years in the build-up to the 2019 elections defected to the APC where he contested and lost the Delta South Senatorial seat in 2019 to incumbent Senator James Manager.
There have been insinuations that the former governor is planning a comeback to the PDP in a bid to boost his chances in 2023 as PDP now fully controlled the South-South region.
Uduaghan met with Governor Ifeanyi Okoya two weeks ago to fine-tune plans to return to PDP, his former base.
He also met with James Ibori, who was also a former governor in Delta State.
Uduaghan was the Governor of Delta State on PDP platform for eight years (2007-2015).
He had earlier served as the State’s Commissioner for Health and later Secretary to the State Government under the administration of Ibori.
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Electoral College Appoints Rate Your Leader Founder, Joel Popoola As Member, Board of Directors

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By Eric Elezuo

The Electoral College, Nigeria, has appointed the Founder, Rate Your Leader, Mr Joel Popoola, into its board of trustees as director to oversee International Mobilisation.

Popoola’s appointment was contained in two letters addressed to the technology entrepreneur and digital democracy campaigner as well as the board members of the college and signed by its Executive Director, Mr Kunle Lawal.

The Electoral College observed that the democracy campaigner, who has made headlines in recent times with reference to his technological innovations and writeups has been a great ally of the college while expressing utmost happiness and pride to have him on the board of the College.

“We are sure the board would be proud with the impact he can bring,” Kunle Lawal noted.

While expressing the best wishes of the College, and acknowledging that Popoola’s appointment is with immediate effect, Mr Lawal added that the award winning techpreneur is ‘valued as an asset addition and most of all for his love for country (Nigeria).’

“I look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship between us all and the expansion of the college,” Lawal stressed.

Responding to his appointment, Popoola noted that the reward for hard work is more work, stressing that the appointment is not just a recognition of his efforts, but an opportunity to do a lot more for humanity.

“I see the appointment to the board of Nigerian Electoral College as not just a recognition of efforts, but an opportunity to do a lot more to raise the bars of the Nigeria’s electoral system and serve humanity for the good,” he said.

It would be recalled that Mr. Popoola was earlier in the month welcomed on board of the UK Tech Nation Founders’ Network as a full fledged member.

Among many other honours trailing his humble contributions to the digitalization of democratic process around the world,  he is an advance member of the Institute of Directors Great Britain & Northern Ireland, and a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Also appointed is⁩ Hakeem Condotti, a well seasoned entrepreneur and African player in business and diplomacy. He would serve as Director: External Relations.

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