One of the cultural programmes Nigerians can expect this year is a major exchange between the National Council for Arts and Culture and the Kingdom of Belgium.
The Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Mr. Daniel Dorgent, stated the need to come together and work on projects which will be of mutual benefit to both nations via fashion exhibitions, music and dance, art and crafts, cultural festivals amongst other noble initiatives.
The Envoy revealed this while on a visit to the NCAC to solicit collaboration from Otunba Segun Runsewe (Director-General) in this regard.
Dorgent said Nigeria was a country with great potentials adding, “we stand to benefit from some of these interesting potentials.”
He was also quick to add that the project could involve Nigerians and Africans in the Diaspora.
On his part, Otunba Segun Runsewe promised to provide the necessary logistics like venue, publicity and security to ensure a successful outing.
Runsewe observed that Nigeria and Belgium have a long relationship in sports while sharing mutually beneficial economic ties with no less than 40 Belgium companies doing extremely well in Nigeria.
According to the NCAC chief, “As far back as 1984, over eleven Nigerian professional footballers plied their trade in the Belgian league. You will recall also that in the last Olympic, Nigeria and Belgium played the volleyball final.”
Speaking further, Runsewe added that, “as a body we have collaborated with Iran, Bangladesh and China. So for your exhibition, we will put in our best to ensure the programme meets international standards.”
The meeting ended with the exchange of promotional materials on behalf of the two nations.
Accountant General, Customs CG Disagree over N28bn Unremitted Fund
The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), on Thursday disagreed with the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, over the N28bn allegedly under-remitted into the Federation Account in 2015.
Ali and Idris appeared before the Senate Public Accounts Committee to address the panel over the audit query issued to the Accountant General Office by the Auditor-General of the Federation, Anthony Ayine.
Ayine had in his Financial Statement for 2015 asked the Accountant-General to explain the differentials in the amount remitted by the Customs Service and the figures contained in his own records.
The audited report showed that the NCS remitted N185bn as against N157bn in the Accountant-General’s document.
The Accountant-General who was represented by a director in his office, Feyintola Olusegun, had earlier referred the Auditor-General and the Senate Panel to the NCS for clarification.
The NCS boss while appearing before the Senator Matthew Uroghide-led SPAC on Thursday absolved his agency of any wrongdoing.
Ali said the query was strange to the service because the mode of Customs collections was purely automated.
The Accountant-General therefore said the N28bn was for ECOWAS Stabilisation Fund for 2015.
The members of the panel said the Accountant-General’s latest explanations did not reflect in his earlier written submission to the Senate Panel.
He was also unable to provide documentary evidence to back up his claim.
On the query of non-remittance of pension fund, Ali admitted that his command defaulted in 2015 because it did not have sufficient funds to meet up with the obligation.
But the Accountant-General was asked to explain the N37.8bn borrowed from the 10 per cent Rice Level Account for urgent expenditure in 2013.
The Senate Panel asked why the Accountant General had failed to include the loan in the budget since then.
The Customs Service benefitted N4.5bn from the said loan.
Other beneficiaries of the unpaid loan are the Independent National Electoral Commission, PHCN, and NIMCOMSAT.
The Senate panel, however, asked the Accountant General to come forward with details of the loan that could help it conclude its probe.
The Chairman of the Senate panel expressed disappointment with the MDAs over their inability to defend audit queries issued to them.
Urhogide lamented that for over five years, many MDAs hadn’t produced their audited accounts.
He said, “How can we say we are fighting corruption under this situation?
“The Customs Act says you must send in your audited accounts, six months into another financial year.
“We must clear the outstanding unaudited accounts. What the President does with this will tell us how we are fighting corruption.”
FirstBank Hosts SME Clinic, Reiterates Commitment to Building Capacity of SMEs
By Ugo Aliogo
First Bank of Nigeria Limited has reiterated its commitment to driving growth and building the capacity of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
Speaking at the FirstBank SMEConnect Business Clinic, held in Lagos on Thursday, the Group Head, Lagos Island 1, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Olufunke Smith, stated that the business clinic provides an opportunity for SMEs to understand how to develop their business plans, and run their business. It is one of the key initiatives that the bank has put in place to drive development of the SMEs. She further noted that the Bank’s SMEs proposition is based on seven pillars that would connect SMEs to- capacity building, market, infrastructure, talent for business development, policy and regulation, finance and resources.
According to her, “Building the capacities of SMEs is an ongoing process. SMEs are the engine of growth of any society. At FirstBank it is our responsibility to bring them on-board through support, knowledge sharing, and advisory in order for them to add value to the society. The SMEs attending the clinics today have gone through a selection process and it is the first of 2020, there will be more clinics to be held in the course of the year.
“SMEs are the bedrock of economic growth of any society. It is when you have functional SMEs that the country can grow. It is noteworthy to mention here that SMEs are great employers of labour. When you have viable SMEs they provide various services and innovations that traditional corporations may not provide. These strongly underscore our commitment – at FirstBank – to strengthening their impact on the economy.
“This clinic is part of giving back to the society, thereby ensuring we continue to develop SMEs. FirstBank has recognised that for it to serve SMEs adequately there is a need to offer more than traditional banking services. We know that connecting SMEs to the right information and business tools can save turnaround time, cost and give them a competitive edge in the sector that they operate. It is on this knowledge that we have created value propositions for SMEs that cover financial and non-financial services.”
We expose SMEs to the best deals and they have access to tools that position them at an advantage for growth.”
In his remarks, the Managing Partner, Traction, Dolapo Adejuyigbe, said “we have a coaching marketplace that SMEs can come on our platform and even firstbank platform to book vetted coaches that can provide advisory services to them either for one session or a number of sessions. We also consider re-emerging how our business clinics can work and how to bring insights and make it practical. The FirstBank business diagnostic tool enables SMEs identify the needs, especially operational, of their business and the business clinic is designed in such a way we can follow up on the impacts and also track the business after three to six months. The focus of this business clinic is to help them design the strategy for 2020. A core part of that is for them to understand the economic trends, and we have catered for different kinds of businesses and how the economy is going to impact them.”
In his remarks, one of the speakers at the event, Gospel Obele, said the clinic provided an opportunity to develop a business and market outlook for SMEs, stating that the goal was to scale economic knowledge into useable insights for SMEs.
Commending FirstBank on the SME Clinic, Obele noted that the event exposed SMEs to lots of opportunities for their business growth like how the Nigerian business environment is going to look like through the year as well as the transition dynamics of the consumer.”
He said: “Examining strategy from the outlook that was presented today, it is more of how SMEs rework their internal systems to respond to the changing environment that we have. Nigeria is a high fluid and dynamic economy which means that our own business environment is changing faster than advanced economies”
One of the participants at the clinic, Tayo Oginni, President/CEO, International Energy Market Place Ltd., said attending the seminar provided background knowledge on how to develop a road map for setting up a business in a structured manner.
He asserted that the business clinic taught SMEs the things to be aware of when starting a business, “the facilitator created an atmosphere of things that need to be done. I will strongly recommend that SMEs need this kind of intervention.”
Ogini also lauded FirstBank and Traction for organising the clinic, noting that one of the key areas discussed at the clinic was financing where SMEs were taught that cash flow is key in business, therefore they have to watch their cash flow.
…And the Winner of Best Mobile Banking App Award is FirstBank
First Bank of Nigeria Limited has been named 2019 “Best Mobile Banking App” and “Fastest Growing Retail Bank” by Global Business Outlook.
The Global Business Outlook Award recognises and rewards excellence in business in companies across the world, both in the public and private sectors. The award rewards innovation, creativity and the drive to create value.
FirstBank earned the Fastest Growing Retail Bank recognition because of its leading role in promoting financial inclusion in the country, a drive which has resulted in its 44,000 Agent Banking network designed to complement the provision of bespoke financial services at its over 750 branches nationwide.
Speaking on the awards, Folake Ani-Mumuney, the Bank’s Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications said, “We appreciate the recognition of these awards by the respective awarding bodies. The awards are dedicated to all our customers across the globe as their continued patronage of our services is appreciated.
We remain steadfast and would not rest on our laurels at rendering bespoke financial services tailored to meet the financial needs of our valued customers, irrespective of where they may be.”