From Basil Obasi, Abuja
In its efforts towards achieving increased private-sector investment in infrastructure, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning has initiated partnership engagement with The Infrastructure Bank (TIB).
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who disclosed this during a one-day workshop in Abuja recently, stated that bankable projects need to be prepared and packaged to attract private investment, but the process requires time, money and technical know-how.
The minister, who was represented by the Director of Administration in the ministry, Mr. Christ Ezeilo, explained that officials in the various MDAs need to possess knowledge and skill sets in different areas of PPP competencies, including feasibility studies, financial restructuring, procurement, contractual agreements and environmental impact assessment.
He bemoaned the current capacity gaps in the MDAs that hinder government from deriving maximum benefits from partnerships with the private sector in infrastructure delivery.
Speaking also at the workshop, the Managing Director/CEO of TIB, Mr. Adekunle Oyinloye, said: “Investment in capital infrastructure and public utilities has been recognised as a reliable way to rescue our nation from the current economic recession threatening to arrest the country’s development.”
EXPORT: NIPC, FCT agency train SMEs on export processes
From Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) is using the Abuja SME Expo that commenced yesterday to take small and medium entrepreneurs through export processes.
Managing director of the Abuja Enterprise Agency (AEA), Malam Muhammed Tukur, disclosed that the expo was designed, among other purposes, to showcase products of SMEs in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and also enable them explore new opportunities.
He explained that the free SME export seminar being coordinated by the NEPC would also expose participants to “exportable goods and services, how to export them, value addition, how to finance the export and other critical areas of exporting.”
In a keynote speech at the opening ceremony, a business coach and CEO The Business People Limited, Dr. Jummai Umar-Ajijola, said the current economic downturn was the best time for Nigerian SMEs to take over the space originally occupied by foreign manufacturers.
She urged Nigerians to buy made-in-Nigeria products because that was the only way to grow the economy.
“Recession is the best time for SMEs to get up and claim their space because other people have taken the space,” Umar-Ajijola said.
She further called for the establishment of incubation hubs, innovation labs, start-up campuses and investment hubs as well as development of science and technology parks to support SMEs.
BPE: BPE boss calls for capitalisation of electricity bulk trader
From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Acting Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Dr. Vincent Akpotaire, has called for the aggressive capitalisation of the Nigerian Electricity Bulk Trader (NEBT). He urged the agency to evolve more ingenious ways of raising funds, like approaching the bond market.
Speaking when the Senate Committee on Privatisation visited the Ikeja and Eko distribution companies as well as the Egbin generation company in Lagos, as part of its oversight visit to privatised companies in the country, the DG said there was need for investors to look for long-term funds to help finance their capital expenditure in order to meet what they committed to in the share purchase agreement.
He enjoined the Discos to be more transparent in declaring their collections so as to close out negative criticism, while describing the power privatisation process as the best largest and most transparent transaction ever conducted in the power sector.
The DG said the inherent post-privatisation crises and the macro issues have nothing to do with the transaction process and the solution lies with “managing the outcome of the privatisation,” which requires some level of investments.
He said there were some assumptions, like cost reflective tariffs and availability of gas, among others, adding: “These are now absent.”
NUC: NUC awaits request for 2 new varsities from Borno govt
From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The National Universities Commission (NUC) has said it is expecting a request from the Borno State government for the establishment of two new universities in the state for consideration.
Executive Secretary of the Commission, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, had, a few days ago, given approval for the establishment of Borno State University, which is expected to take off early next year.
Borno State governor, Ibrahim Kashim Shettima, who made the disclosure in Abuja while receiving an approval letter for the establishment of the state university, promised to use all available machinery to restore the educational glory and reputation of the state.
He said: “This we can only achieve through the opening up of more opportunities for citizens of the state to acquire university education that would, perhaps, arm them with necessary skills and competence for social and economic liberation.
“I am aware of the financial implications to add the burden of a university to our too many expenditures that include ongoing reconstruction of destroyed communities, but then, if we are serious about ending Boko Haram, rebuilding Borno and repositioning it for the future, there is nothing like providing quality and affordable education to our teeming population of uneducated youths. Education is the greatest leveller and key to solving social problems.”
FCT: FCT to focus on capacity building for teachers
From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has disclosed plans to focus on capacity building for secondary school teachers in the territory, in line with demands of the 21st century.
FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello, at the All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) Professional Training Programme for the North Central zone, said no nation could survive without investment in teachers.
While commending ANCOPSS for the initiative of training principals of schools, Bello also noted that no nation desirous of functional growth and development could afford to ignore the education sector.
According to him, “it has also been said that no nation can rise above the quality of its teachers. It, therefore, stands to reason that, for any meaningful growth and development to take place in the country, teachers must be kept abreast of the best and latest innovations in their fields. This can only be achieved through constant training and re-training.”
The minister, who was represented by the Acting Secretary of the Education Secretariat, Malam Musa Maikasuwa, also observed that one of the challenges facing the teaching profession was that most teachers were still stuck in the past due to either laziness or a complete lack of will to improve themselves even when the facilities and opportunities to do so are largely available.