Africa In Focus

Africa In Focus: "The mainstream thinking now is that Africa is different and we could get it right if we want. The choice is fully ours, and it is now time for us to define what we want."

African Development Bank (AFDB) President, Dr. Donald Kaberuka.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Samsung Targets Youngest Customers With Galaxy Tab 3 Kids

Samsung is putting children first with the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids tablet.

Samsung has launched the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids that provides ‘intuitive’, ‘fun’ and kid-friendly user-experience.

The tablet comes pre-loaded with children's apps though includes parental control settings.

"We saw an opportunity to create a device for kids that provides them with an intuitive, fun and kid-friendly user-experience," JK Shin, the CEO of Samsung Electronics, said in a statement.

The Galaxy Tab 3 Kids will be available in Korea from next month and will be rolled out in other markets like China, Europe, US, Africa gradually.

"Filled with rich, interactive and educational content that parents will love," Shin added.

In terms of technical specs, the device has an 7-inch screen and will run Android 4.1, or Jelly Bean. The front and rear facing cameras are considerably lower in quality than its previous products, down to 3-megapixels and 1.3-megapixels respectively.
The tablet is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM.

It also features an 8GB of internal storage expandable up to 32GB.

First Bank Records N55.1Billion Half Year Profit

First Bank of Nigeria Holdings Plc on Tuesday said that its half-year Profit Before Tax (PBT) rose by 3.2 percent from N53.5bn in 2012 to N55.1bn in the first half ended June 2013.

A statement released by the bank stated that gross earnings rose by 7.7 percent to N194.8bn in the six months to June 30 from N180.9bn in the same period last year while the net interest income increased by 3.6 per cent from N108.9bn in 2012 to N112.7bn.

“Non-interest revenue of N44.1bn, up 2.4 per cent year-on-year (June 2012: N43.1bn); operating income of N156.9bn, up 3.2 per cent year-on-year (June 2012: N152.0bn); profit before tax of N55.1bn, up 3.2 per cent year-on-year (June 2012: N53.5bn). Total assets of N3.4tn, down 2.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter (March 2013: N3.5tn) but up 6.1 per cent year-to-date (December 2012: N3.2tn),” the bank said.
Total customer deposits also increased by 6.4 per cent from N2.4tn in December 2012 to N2.6 as at June 2013.

Commenting on the financial report, FBN Plc Chief Executive Officer, Bello Maccido said “Over the first half of 2013, the performance of the group remained resilient, delivering year-on-year growth of eight per cent in gross earnings to N194.9bn.”

He noted that the regulatory environment across the company’s portfolio of businesses has continued to evolve, as authorities take measures to strengthen the various sub-sectors within the financial services industry.

Economist Magazine: World's 'Most Livable Cities' In 2013

Global Liveability Ranking and Report August 2013– The Economist Intelligence Unit

Business and political weekly magazine 'The Economist' has released its 2013 list of the world's 'Most Livable Cities' in its Global Liveability Ranking Report.

The list which is prepared by The Economist Intelligence Unit helps business leaders prepare for opportunity, empowering them to act with confidence when making strategic decisions. 

The ranking provides scores for lifestyle challenges presented in 140 cities worldwide and it has found out that since 2008, the average global liveability score has fallen by 0.6 percent, led by a 1.3 percent fall in the average stability score.

The last five years has seen civil unrest becoming a globally destabilising factor with a number of different reasons for discontent. The largest of these has been the Arab Spring, in the Middle East and North Africa, starting in Egypt and culminating in civil war in Syria and Libya. The cities of Damascus, Tripoli and Cairo have seen the sharpest five-year declines, with the Syrian capital seeing a 20 percent fall in liveability and moving to the very bottom of the ranking.

Using criteria based on an examination of each city's culture and environment, education, healthcare, infrastructure and stability, here are in order the top ten most liveable cities, according to the magazine:

1.   Melbourne
2.    Vienna
3.    Vancouver
4.    Toronto
5.    Calgary
6.    Adelaide
7.    Sydney
8.    Helsinki
9.    Perth
10.                 Auckland.

Half of the bottom ten cities are from Africa: Douala, Cameroon; Tripoli, Libya; Algiers, Algeria; Harare, Zimbabwe and Lagos, Nigeria.

Google Launches ‘Africa Connected’ Competition

Google’s measurement lab now in Africa; South Africa and Kenya benefit

For those who have been positively influenced by the internet, here’s a chance to share your web journey.

 Google is calling on entrepreneurs, creators, innovators and web-lovers in Nigeria and across Africa to share their stories of how the web has transformed their lives and work.  Whether you’re a photographer, an entrepreneur, a fashion designer or a community activist, if the
internet and Google tools have played an important role in your success, Google wants to hear from you.

In the next five years, 7 out of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies are predicted to be in Africa, and the Internet is playing an important part in this.  Google’s new initiative, ‘Africa Connected: Success stories powered by the web’, aims to gather the largest collection of inspiring stories about ventures established online by Africans, in Africa.  Five successful entrants will win $25,000 each, and will also have the opportunity to work with a Google sponsor over a six-month period.

“Google wants to hear from young, spirited entrepreneurial web adopters in Nigeria and other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa who have a healthy disregard for the impossible and who are using the web and technology to do cool and extraordinary things to rise above their circumstances, change their world, and achieve success. We want to showcase the amazing achievements happening in the new Africa”, says Affiong Osuchukwu, Google Lead for the Africa Connected initiative.
Aspiring filmmaker, cinematographer and editor Amuwa Oluseyi Asurf is one such example. This Nigerian videographer has gone from spending nights in internet cafes, so that he could watch YouTube to teach himself how to edit films, to running a successful film and video production company in Lagos, where he employs 10 people. His company; Asurf Films is today courted by Nigerian celebrities such as Basket Mouth, Iyanya, Wizkid, Psquare and Bovi, to film their music/entertainment videos locally and internationally.
"My journey started with a passion to become a filmmaker. Unfortunately, even though I got admission to some good universities, I couldn't afford to go. Luckily I was introduced to the internet and to YouTube. I discovered I could learn everything I needed to know online. It feels great to have some of the top celebrities in Nigeria inviting me to their projects. This inspires me to want to become even better. I am still on the journey to becoming one of the top names in African filmmaking, and I know the internet will still continue to play an important role."
The owner and creator of Afrinolly, Chike Maduegbuna, based in Nigeria, is another online entrepreneur.  Afrinolly is a popular mobile app which lets people across the continent watch short videos on their mobile devices. This app has transformed Nigeria’s Nollywood film industry by creating a movie trailer platform for new audiences. With over 3 million downloads already since its launch in August 2011, Chike hopes this will create a platform that connects aspiring film professionals with global film industry veterans.
Nigerian judge and radio personality / fashion photographer Temilola Balogun commented, “The internet is truly helping to reshape the story of Africa,and Nigerians are some of those taking full advantage of its power. Whether you are in technology, agriculture, energy, fashion, education, or entertainment, if the web has transformed your life, and you believe your venture can be scaled up, then the judging panel is looking forward to hearing your story”.

Categories for entries include
Education; Entertainment/Arts/Sports; Technology; Community and NGOs; and Small Businesses. 20 semi-finalists will be selected from initial entries to take part in an interview and to produce a short promotional video. A judging panel made up of Googlers and external judges will then determine the 10 finalists.  The 5 winners, in whose lives the web and Google have played a pivotal role,  will then be selected by the online voting public. Submissions are open from August 27, 2013 to October 11, 2013.  The competition will run until February 2014 when the winners will be announced.

Google’s media partners in Nigeria for the Africa Connected initiative include the Steam Broadcasting Group owners of Cool FM, Nigeria Info FM and Wazobia FM, and Thisday Newspapers. The Nigerian representative joining the Africa Connected judging panel is Cool FM radio personality and fashion photographer Temilola Balogun.
For more information and to enter the Africa Connected contest, visit
The deadline for submissions is October 11, 2013. New to the web? Learn more about the web and Google through this platform, so that you too can do amazing things using the web as your springboard.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Counterfeiting and Imitation Still A Major Challenge In Nigeria Foam Industry

Vita Foam Industries Limited's profile photo

Just as piracy has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigeria's entertainment industry, Vitafoam, one of Nigeria's oldest foam manufacturing companies in Nigeria, said counterfeiting and imitation of its products are the major challenges facing the organisation and the industry at large.
The company, which recently celebrated 51 years of doing business in Nigeria, said imitation of its products is a major obstacle, especially in the North and that the complaints keep coming in.
"We had to come up with a measure to check that challenge. Now, on our foam (and products) we have a panel on it which customers can scratch and send a free text of the code or number under the panel to us for confirmation, to be sure the product is genuine," Theresa Okhai, a branch manager told Nigeria local newspaper, Premium Times.
Another problem is incessant power supply.
 "You cannot depend on power supply from the national authorities if you want to have a thriving business. Hence, we have our power plant and generators in our factories, to meet up with our manufacturing demands," she said.
However, all has not been bad news. Through the establishment of an online platform which enables customers place their orders online, the company has been able to tap into the marketing opportunities provided by Nigeria e-commerce.
."The success of overcoming e-commerce has been very surprising because we thought people would not want to patronise that avenue due to the general fear of card related fraud activities," Okhai said.

Can Music Save Your Business?

By Richard Branson; founder of Virgin Group, which consists of more than 400 companies around the world including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America and Virgin Mobile.

Could you work music into your business? This doesn't just mean team karaoke sessions after work (though we all enjoy those!), but instilling the values everyone loves about music -- passion, fellowship, energy and excitement -- into the fabric of your company. There are so many ways to do so.

At Virgin we've been involved in music through businesses like Virgin Records, Virgin Live and Virgin Radio. We have DJs in our health clubs in South Africa and hold live gigs on some airplanes, which makes those flights unforgettable.
Perhaps I've motivated you to consider holding a music or entertainment event. Here are a few lessons we have learned along the way:

Help people to donate time as well as money.

When you are planning your event, think of ways you can involve the ticket buyers in a more meaningful way than simply by promising to donate some of the revenues to charity. If you offer concertgoers opportunities to volunteer, your event will have a much greater impact on your community, making it more memorable.

Make it your own.

Look at ways to make the event unique -- perhaps by leveraging your deep connections to the community or highlighting your partnerships with charities. Think about concerts that you have attended and what you'd like to do differently using your company's best talent.  With V Festival, we decided to offer a different format than other festivals. Most festivals usually book lots of bands for an hour's work and fill one site, but we realized that we could entertain twice as many fans by holding two festivals in one. The logistics took a lot of work, but V is held at two parks simultaneously. Both venues share the same bill: Artists perform at one location on Saturday and then the other on Sunday. (This great idea came from Jarvis Cocker, the lead singer for Pulp, which just goes to show that you should always welcome proposals from all sources.)

Reach for the stars.

Booking a big star would energize your team and sell tickets. If you don't have a big budget, try to think creatively about how else you can attract performers -- perhaps by highlighting the great location you've chosen or by explaining why this event is particularly suited to the performer or band you've targeted. While superstar singers won't play everywhere, you might secure top talent by positioning your event as a unique occasion.

Invest time and money and reap the rewards.

Allow your staff to organize the event during their normal workday, and if you can, invite customers and others to get involved, too. This may put a strain on your resources and require some creative management, but you will be surprised at the payoff. Some of the ideas that work well at the event will be adapted to other areas of your business, and such events are an excellent way to develop brand awareness in new markets. There's nothing more energizing than a great song with a catchy beat. Integrating that into your workday is sure to make people smile, often making work feel more like play.

Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages Bill May Hurt Nation’s Economy: SA Commerce Industry

The IMC says industry moves to curb harm caused by drinking alcohol, such as promoting responsible drinking, are not yielding results. (David Harrison)

South Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) on Monday said restricting marketing on liquor will have a negative effect on the industry and the economy.

"Restrictions on marketing will not only have negative consequences for an important South African industry, but will also have a ripple effect on businesses in other areas such as the advertising, retail and hospitality industries," Sacci CEO Neren Rau said in a statement.

Rau noted that "The motivation given for the proposed ban is understood, but Sacci believes that it will not address the ills attributed to the misuse of alcohol." 

Last Friday, the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) to combat alcohol and substance abuse chaired by Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile 
Dlamini agreed to submit the draft Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages Bill during the next Cabinet cycle.

According to the committee, "Research has shown that the prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse among adults in South Africa [is] expanding rapidly to the destruction of the families, community and society. Government cannot afford to ignore or be quiet about it."

It noted that moves by the industry to curb harm caused by drinking alcohol, such as promoting responsible drinking, were not yielding results.
But Rau said banning alcohol would not produce the required result sought by the committee.

"Alcohol abuse is a symptom of more serious socio-economic and unemployment challenges that face the country. Alleviation of alcohol abuse will be achieved if these challenges are addressed," Rau said. 
According to the World Health Organisation, we are some of the biggest drinkers in the world.
In 2009, South African government spent an estimated R7 billion to address the consequences of alcohol abuse, including vehicle injuries and alcohol-related violence.
Various departments presented reports on the effect of alcohol on society. "The department of health presented that tangible costs of alcohol in South Africa have been estimated to be close to R38 billion, while intangible costs could reach R240bn. Alcohol was also the third leading risk factor for death and disability in South Africa. According to the transport department, more than half of the country's road deaths occurred as a result of alcohol abuse. 

"Around 70 percent of domestic violence has been associated with alcohol; arrestees indicated that they were under the influence of alcohol for 25 percent of weapons-related offences, 22 percent of rapes, 17 percent of murders, 14 of assault cases, and 10 percent of robberies."

“Studies in several countries established that alcohol advertising influences young people’s behaviour; it normalises drinking in many different settings, brings about positive beliefs about drinking, and encourages young people to drink alcohol sooner and in greater quantities,” argued Professor Charles Parry and colleagues, a director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Unit at the Medical Research Council writing in the South African Medical Journal.

But Rau said elements of the bill indicated a high degree of intervention in business.

"An increasingly restrictive business environment will contribute to reticence against doing business in South Africa," Rau said.

The Control of Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages Bill, though still in its earliest stages, could restrict alcohol advertising, and ban liquor-backed sport sponsorships.

About R1.7bn is spent on alcohol advertising every year.

Marketing analyst Chris Moerdyk said the mass media industry would lose about R2.6bn in (advert) revenue and a lot of people are going to lose their jobs.

A similar bill was passed into law on tobacco in 2000 which saw to the banning of tobacco advertising and increase in taxes.
The bill may well be changed under pressure from the powerful liquor lobby but it has support from a number of quarters, including the World Health Organisation, which supports the government’s plan to treat alcohol the same way as tobacco products.

Additional report from Sapa

Monday, 26 August 2013

Malaysia’s Tastyfood Industries Wants To Bring Product To Africa

Food and beverage serving and related workers

Leading global food and beverage company, Tastyfood is looking to bring its innovations to Africa, the Americas and the Middle East while it aims to enhance distribution activities in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The company welcomes distributors with substantial financial resources, warehousing capacity, distribution networks and experience to help further its global expansion.
Tastyfood was the first to produce instant cereal mix beverages in 1989 under its flagship Vitamax brand. After its initial launch of Vitamax in Singapore, Tastyfood looks to replicate the brand's success by introducing it into Taiwan, the mainland and other countries. Additionally, the company will begin production in August of its latest Vitamax product, Cereal Milk in a Can, at its new plant in Malaysia.
Local and international bodies have repeatedly recognised Tastyfood's innovations. It is the first company whose wholegrain cereal beverage products bear the Healthier Choice Symbol from the Singaporean Health Promotion Board.

Development In Nasarawa: Governor Says Only 1 Percent Take 90 Percent of Nasarawa Revenue

Story Credit: International Centre for Investigative Reporting

Compared to other states created along with it, Nasarawa still remains largely undeveloped. Why?
It is a great pity that since the state was created the people that handled the affairs lost sight of the kind of vision citizens of the state had in the agitation for it to be created. That loss of vision has denied us the benefit of achievements that ought to have been realised by now. Nasarawa state has a peculiarity that distinguishes it even from its peers which were created at the same time.
Of all the five states created along with it, Nasarawa was the most rural in the sense that it did not benefit from any effect of urbanisation. Gombe, Zamfara, Ekiti and others had things going for them. They had the basic infrastructure that is the basis of any kind of development.
So, my predecessors were busy making glittering projects that do not add value to the quality of lives of the people. Social services are very necessary but basic infrastructure is what makes those social services effective or functional. The reason why the state has stagnated is because there was no basic foundation from which it could spring. This springboard are the three basic infrastructures which I think if my predecessors had invested in, we would not be at the level we are now.
These foundations are roads, power and water.. Before I came in there was no single kilometre of asphalt road that was constructed by the state government.
Since the state was created, any asphalt road you find in the state was constructed by the federal government. And there is just this major trunk A road which is a federal road.

That is saying a lot. Are you saying that previous administrations never constructed roads in the state? That is unbelievable.
Not a single kilometre of road. I am saying that on my honour. If there is, let anybody challenge me. Any asphalt road you see is constructed by the federal government or certain interventions by development partners.
I am the one who started building roads and in Lafia alone we have constructed at least 25 kilometres of roads to unbundle the gridlock in the capital.
The second important infrastructure is power. The state requires about 40 megawatts to power its economic and social activities. But before I came in we had less than 12 megawatts. We were virtually being illuminated by the national grid but what got to the people was not more than candle night.
In my first 100 days in office, we embarked on the “Power In 100 Days Initiative” and we bought more than 100 transformers. We have installed them in many places. At this point in time we have been able to increase power supply to about 20 megawatts and we are still continuing, especially with our collaborations with NIPP and PHCN.
We are even planning for a more robust power infrastructure by constructing a 30 MVA substation which will carry new lines to come from Enugu and pass through Jos. If we are able to get that substation, then we will be able to meet our required needs in terms of power.
As for water, the state is not too dry so people manage with boreholes, wells and streams. But as a responsible administration, we feel our people should have the benefit of modern facilities to improve on the quality of life they enjoy. We looked at urban areas with a high population density where water supply has become an emergency. These are places like Keffi, Nasarawa, Nasarawa Eggon.
In Nasarawa Eggon, since 1985 there was a plan to build a waterworks in the town. Two years later the waterworks was built. But to do the connection and make it work … that has never happened until just two months ago. When I came in, I committed myself to making the water works to function and, as we speak, it is supplying pipe borne water to the people of the town.
The same goes for Nasarawa town where contracts have already been awarded. Of all the local government headquarters in the state, Nasarawa town has the most critical need for water. There is a N2 billion water contract which was not financed but I took it up and it is now on the verge of completion.
But in order to meet immediate needs, as a stopgap, we had to reactivate the small, old analogue waterworks in the town which is now supplying the people with water while the main waterworks is being constructed.
By the end of the year the new waterworks should be completed to provide water to the entire metropolis of Nasarawa.

Nasarawa earns very paltry sums from the federation accounts. Could that not also have accounted for the low level of development and what are you doing in terms of growing internally generated revenue?
Yes. It is true that paucity of funds has affected our development because Nasarawa and Ekiti states jostle for the last position in revenue allocated from the federation account. So that might be one reason for the slow pace of development.
How much does the state get from federal purse?
It is about N2.7billion every month on the average. Regarding internally generated revenue, so much had been said about the state’s inability to access revenue especially with our closeness to the federal capital. But it does not work like magic like that. You have to have the platform by which you can access the revenue.
Yes it is true that because of our proximity to the FCT, we are sitting on a gold mine but we cannot tap it because we do not have the needed equipment. Two things are very important here. First, our land value is close to the FCT’s and we can earn a lot from land administration and fees.
Second, the number of people working in the FCT and are residing in Nasarawa is another hefty source of internally generated revenue. But we do not benefit because we do not have the platform.
When I came into office, I got my people to sit down so that we could see what needed to be done to earn us revenue from that advantage we have. We realised that we could not get the real value for land without changing the system of land administration so we embarked on a complete overhaul of the system to a computerised, digital one.
That is why we set up the Nasarawa State Geographical Information System, NAGIS. Any state that wants to get maximum revenue from land cannot but computerise its system so that it is automatic.
It took N2.7 billion to set up NAGIS. Every land within the urban centres of the state is computerised. It is just like what you have in Abuja. In fact the surveyor general of the federation recently commended Nasarawa for having the most sophisticated land system in the whole of the country.

Better than the one in Abuja?
More than even AGIS in Abuja. And so we are getting better revenue from land administration now. Before, we were getting only about N5 million per month in the axis close to Abuja but even though our NAGIS is only 80 % complete; revenue from there has improved to between N60 million and N70 million per month. Before the end of the year we are sure that axis should be able to bring us something quite substantial.
The other way we lose substantial revenue is PAYE tax that should accrue to us from people working in the FCT but living in Nasarawa. About 30% to 40% of the people who work in Abuja live in Nasarawa but their PAYE never gets remitted to us.

So what have you done to redress the situation?
When I came into office I did not only insist that the PAYE of those working in Abuja but living in Nasarawa must be paid to us, I went beyond that. The people working in the FCT and living here are so many and causing so much dislocation and stress on our social services and facilities and we do not get any money in terms of tax to help sustain these utilities.
So I have even insisted that the 1% paid to the FCT from the federation account to help contain the stress of influx of people to the federal capital, we should also partake in the sharing of that allocation because a substantial percentage of those flooding into or working in the FCT live in Nasarawa and Niger states.

How much really is your internally generated revenue? And Nasarawa is blessed with mineral resources and a fertile land. Why is government not investing in these two key areas to improve on IGR?
Nasarawa state is one of the most fertile states in the country. We have the same soil and topography with Benue State which is called the food basket of the nation. But, to get the maximum benefit from agriculture you have to open yourself to investors. The traditional farming can only sustain food security. In terms of making it a real business you need to commercialise agriculture which entails attracting investors who have the money and know how.
When we came we had only one or two foreign investors. But we have been able to attract foreign investment into that field. We have a Singaporean company that is now cultivating one of the largest rice farms not only in Nigeria but in Africa.
We have given them 4,000 hectares and they have already cultivated 1,000 hectares. And if the farm gets to full capacity Nasarawa will become one the biggest rice producers in the country and beyond. We intend to get more investors interested in commercial agriculture and we are giving incentives such as tax holidays and so on.
In the area of mineral resources, it is a sector that is misunderstood because it is in the exclusive legislative list. So there is very little we can do in terms of developing the mineral resources here except if we want to go commercial. However, our experience shows that the state as an institution is not the best to handle commercial ventures because of bureaucracy bottlenecks that go with government work. We are walking away from involvement in commercial activities that will not work.
However, we have a mineral development company in the state and its job is to scout around for entrepreneurs and investors that might want to come and do business in Nasarawa. If we do not directly collaborate with them we can give them sites and provide the enabling environment to so that they can bring employment to our youths.
Bloated workforce is a major constraint of the resources of many states. Nasarawa too appears to have a problem with the civil service gulping most of the revenue from the federation account.
I would say it is a paradox. We want to be part of the international community by keying into the rave of the world which is democracy. But our democracy comes at a huge cost if you look at the arms of government and the amount they get viz what goes to the populace. And you may wonder if the democracy is worth it. Take my state for instance, where 1% takes more than 90% of the revenue accruing to the state.

How do you mean?
If you look at the salaries, emoluments and allowances of officials of the executive, legislature, judiciary, civil service and so on and put the cost together and compare it with what is left for development you will discover that it is 5 % or less. And all the people benefitting from this are less than 1% of the population.
Of the N2.7 billion monthly allocations we get, our wage bill first charge is about N2.4 billion. So we have only N300 million to spend on everything else, including building infrastructure and taking care of security challenges. In fact, at the end I have only about N100million left for capital projects if not for internally generated revenue that has improved.
When I came there were even months when I had less than N100million for capital projects. I realised that I was just a paymaster. Once the end of the month comes, all we do is give out monies because these are statutory payment. How can we then develop? And I cannot overnight change statutory allocations to any arm of government.
Our case was even worse before. More than a year before I came into office, the state could not pay salaries unless it took loan of about N850 million to augment the federal allocation. When I came I said this must stop and refused to take the N850 million facility.
Not only that, two months into my coming into office, we were faced with the issue of paying the minimum wage of N18,000 which doubled our overhead. So, the first thing I did was to set up an audit and biometric analysis of the workforce. When we did that we discovered a bloated workforce with ghost workers and leakages which we blocked. We identified moribund agencies and departments that had continued to draw salaries from the allocation.
In my first year in office, I commissioned four audits – the civil service, the local government, pension and the State Universal Basic Education board, NUBEB.

So you are not looking at taking loans to pursue development programmes?
We have already gotten our fingers burnt before. When I came in we discovered that the state was indebted to the tune of aboutN29 billion or N30 billion. But before the end of my first year in office some hidden debts started coming up and by the end of 2011 we saw that we were indebted to about N35 billion to N40billion. That has become a deterrent for me to borrow.
So we have been saddled with the responsibility of paying off this debt instead of meeting our promises to the people. As I speak to you now, we have paid off about N30 billion of our debt.
As we have fulfilled those obligations, it is now time to look at what enduring legacies we can give our people which we do not have the money to execute. So we are now looking at the option of seeking loans and bonds. But I insist that the loans will be strictly used for the purpose for which they were taken not form political activities.
We are looking at taking loans amounting to about N30 billion. We have identified projects of critical needs and are looking for finance. We are likely to access the financing any moment from now.

You said N30 billion?
Yes. N20 billion in bonds and N10 billion in loans.

What are they for?
We intend to build a network of roads across the state. We intend to improve on water supply projects in all the largely populated towns in the state and we are also considering expanding our source of power by providing hydroelectricity in two of our rivers that are potential sources of power.
We also want to build a state secretariat that will house all ministries. We are also thinking of driving the process of effective youth empowerment through equipping technology and skills acquisition centres.
That informed our trip to Singapore to study their system at the Institute of Technical Education. We intend to replicate the system here so that all our youths who cannot have the benefit of universities can have access to technical vocational skills.
Also as part of plans to keep the youth engaged, we want to encourage those who have the potential to excel In sports … sports is going to take a chunk of the loan we are taking because we plan to build two stadia.

In a recent report, the PDP in Nasarawa challenged you to name the people you paid the monies to.
You must understand why the PDP would react like that because for 12 years they swept all the sensitive issues under the carpet. It is not a secret that we owe so much. They borrowed from the banks – and I don’t want to mention their names – and it is the banks that we paid to. There is nothing to show for all the loans they took.
Let me tell you what happened to the loans they took. Some of the loans they took, say N2 billion or N3 billion for a job to be completed in a year or two. And in the first three months more than half of the contract sum will be taken because they were reviewing contracts just like that. There was one contract that was reviewed three times within one month – a contract of N2billion was reviewed and the sum went up to more than N4 billion.
There was this loan they took for farmers in the name of Badukos. They took loans and bought tractors and gave them to political supporters with conditions for payment fraudulently handled so that the farmers knew they were not going to repay. Now, the supplier’s business has collapsed because it was a project that was made the supply made to fail.
When we came we tried to recoup the debt from the farmers but it was not possible because the framework for repayment was not properly articulated. These were the kinds of indebtedness that previous administrations incurred that did not benefit anybody. All they did was to be giving their political touts N5,000 to placate them not to create problem. But these boys later became a problem because they insisted the money must be given to them.

Nasarawa state has a peculiar political configuration with the PDP having majority in the House and the CPC controlling the executive. It has been alleged that you have sustained your relationship with legislators by giving them bumper salaries and allowances
First, let me clarify one thing. It is true that the PDP has 19 members in the House while the CPC has five. But at the national level, of the eight members of the National Assembly, the CPC has five while PDP has three. So Nasarawa State is no longer a PDPstate like before.
As to the salary of legislators, first, everything that I am implementing is what I inherited. Whatever package they receive is what I inherited so the question should be thrown to them. I am a person who obeys the rule of law and every commitment that I have inherited. What members of the state House of Assembly earn now is what they have always earned and I cannot come and simply because I am CPC change things.

It is also alleged that members of the House put a lot of pressure on appointees of government in exercising their oversight functions, making demands that impinge on the performance of agencies of the state. How do you react to that?
The issue of oversight function is constitutional although the way and manner it is exercised may vary. But it is the constitutional right of the members to use their oversight functions as a check and balance to the operations of the executive.
The issue of complaints here and there is natural but it is not something I can talk about. If you heard of complaints from any agency about the exercise of functions of members of the House you can find out from those agencies and the members.
I know that even at the federal level, there is always friction on the issue of oversight functions not necessarily because of the statutory role but because of the manner such oversight functions are carried out.

Still on legislators, it is also said that one of the ways you appease them in order to maintain a cordial relationship is by giving them directly N10 million every quarter for constituency projects. In a poor state like Nasarawa?
I do not want to talk about details. I do not think it is me that should provide details. Like I said, I came and found conventions on ground. Some are statutory, some are as a result of the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission allocation, some by resolution of the House which had been in operation before I came all of which I inherited. It is not for me to question any of them.
You will do me well… the members are there you can go and ask them. On our own part, we have been doing our own responsibility which we inherited. Having come from different political parties, I do not want to heat up the polity or inflame issues that will bring friction between the executive and the legislature. We have had frictions many times on matters of principle but we manage our differences in the interest of the people.