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Military Chiefs, Others Steal $15Bn- TI

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Former military chiefs and politicians have reportedly stolen a whopping $15 billion – a sum equivalent to half of Nigeria’s foreign currency reserves – through “fraudulent arms procurement deals” in the last seven years, according to Transparency International (TI).

The fund simply disappeared into private pockets under the guise of procurement of arms and military equipment used in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria.

TI, the global watchdog against corruption in a report exposed pervasive corruption in the defence sector in Nigeria.

“Nigeria’s corrupt elites have profited from conflict; with oil prices at a record low, defence has provided new and lucrative opportunities for the country’s corrupt kleptocrats. Former military chiefs have stolen as much as $15 billion – a sum equivalent to half of Nigeria’s foreign currency reserves – through fraudulent arms procurement deals,” the report stated. But, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has refuted sweeping allegations made against the military by Transparency International.

The report revealed that the Boko Haram insurgency has been fuelled by a high level of public sector corruption involving the top brass of the Nigeria Armed Forces and their civilian accomplices, a situation that has almost eroded the legitimacy of the Nigerian state. The 19-page report entitled, “Weaponising Transparency: Defence Procurement Reform as a Counterterrorism Strategy in Nigeria” exposes the damage corruption has done to the nation’s political stability, counter-terrorism efforts, socio-economic development and well-being of the citizens.

The report was published by Transparency International Defence and Security Programme in collaboration with Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)

According to the report, Nigeria recorded sharp increases in defence spending between 2011 and 2015 as a result of the counterterrorism operations in the North-East, but unfortunately, there was little or nothing to show for it.

“Extra-budgetary spending on counterterrorism has dramatically increased throughout 2014 and into 2015, and with it the scale and scope of corrupt opportunities in the defence sector.

“Corruption has hollowed out the Nigerian Army, the largest in West Africa, and compromised the integrity of the country’s Navy, which has been implicated in the theft of millions of barrels of crude oil in recent years. “The result has been a corrupt war economy that incentivises high-ranking officials and security personnel to perpetuate conflict for personal gain. War has been a boom to Nigeria’s corrupt,” said the report.

The report further revealed that in Nigeria, politicians compete for private control of national coffers, rather than delivering public goods based on the growing needs of Nigeria’s booming population.

It said that under the influence of political connection, the politicians and their military accomplices were able to short-change the system as was seen in the celebrated case former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) who is currently standing trial for allegedly diverting funds meant for the counter- terrorism war to foster the political agenda of the government served. “Defence sector corruption in Nigeria has enabled the political elite to accumulate and distribute political patronage. Longstanding military exceptionalism meanwhile, has justified weak and compromised oversight of security-related spending and excessive secrecy.

“By far, the most significant corruption opportunities are those exploited through inflating procurement contract values and creating “phantom” defence contracts. Such contracts are used as a vehicle for money laundering: facilitated via weak or corrupted Nigerian banks, illicit financial flows are often hidden in property in the UK, United States, South Africa and Dubai.”

The report blamed the high rate of corruption in defence contracts on the secrecy associated with whole system, coupled with the general culture of corruption that has eaten deep into all facets of the Nigerian system. The reports said, among other things, that public sector corruption was undermining the state’s ability to address Nigeria’s many socioeconomic underdevelopment, unemployment and insecurity challenges.

According to the report, “Corruption has been particularly destructive in the defence  and security sector. Overlooked in peacetime, defence sector corruption has devastating real world consequences when conflict flares. With lower oil prices, corrupt elites have increasingly exploited alternative illicit revenue streams.

“The secret nature of defence and security budgets has made them the easiest and most lucrative opportunity to exploit. While Boko Haram has constructed a conflict economy geared around pillage, racketeering, and kidnapping; senior players in the Nigerian security sector have also profited from the insurgency.

Creating inflated or phantom contracts is still one of the easiest ways for corrupt actors to steal from the Nigerian defence budget. “In 2014, former NSA Dasuki awarded a $500 million contract for refurbished helicopters to Triax Company Limited. The helicopters have not been deployed. One source in the Nigerian Air Force described the purchase as “pure waste”.

As another source explained, “for the price of each helicopter provided by this contract, the Air Force could have acquired seven top grade, brand new military helicopters.”

Another common tactic in corrupt defence contracting is the use of ‘briefcase companies’: shell companies that exist only on paper. In December 2011, for example, unconfirmed reports surfaced of the MOD seeking six brand new Mi- 17SH military helicopters to support operations against Boko Haram. “The tender was not advertised, and instead, the eight companies were invited to bid for the multi-billion dollar supply contract.

No information is available on any of the companies invited to bid, what goods and services they provide to the defence or any other sector, who their employees are, or who owns them. None appear to have the capabilities to fulfill this contract; suggesting that the beneficiaries are simply set up to give the appearance of multiple bidders competing to lower the price to complete the contract.

“By acting in collusion, however, the multiple bidders are able to increase and artificially inflate the contract price. Some of the bids were in Euros or Pound Sterling, suggesting – perhaps deliberately – links to Europe or the UK, though none could be found. Most of the bids were around US $20 million per helicopter. Yet, an identical helicopter model purchased by the United States came to US $17.5 million per unit, while a similar model sold by Russia to India in 2012 cost US $17 million per unit,” the report said.

The report, however, acknowledged that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has taken significant steps to identify and prosecute individuals involved in security sector corruption. In his comment, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Director of CISLAC said: “The defence sector is a juicy target for corrupt military leaders seeking to pad their pockets.

Without increasing transparency and oversight of our most secret sector, we will not succeed in keeping Nigerian wealth in Nigeria. Corruption in the defence sector only helps Boko Haram.”

Meanwhile, Maj-Gen. John Enenche, Director of Defence Information, refuted the allegations while briefing journalists at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja.

Enenche said that the allegations were false and, therefore, should be disregarded by Nigerians and the international community. He said the present leadership of the Armed Forces had done a lot to train, boost troops’ morale and procure vital equipment through due process for operations against insurgents in the North-East and other operations.

He said the DHQ, Army, Nigerian Navy (NN), Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Headquarters had established procurement branches that were guided by the rules and regulations of the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP).

He said even the Ministry of Defence was dealing directly with states and governments on Defence equipment procurement without using contractors or vendors any longer. “On this note, it is suspicious that a sweeping statement of corruption against the military officials at this time is rather disheartening.

“More so, the Nigerian Military was, on March 22, credited by the United States of America (USA) as having done very well for fighting insurgency and extremism, among others. “Such an allegation came at the peak of consistent success being recorded in our areas of operational engagements, especially in the North-East,” Enenche said.

The Director of Defence Information explained further that the military operations in the North- East was very obvious, not only to Nigerians, but the whole world, hence the allegation must be treated with utmost suspicion.

“The DHQ is, therefore, assuring the general public that there is no calculated, deliberate or institutionalised corruption in any form within its system,” he said. The DDI concluded by saying: “I susp

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ACT Foundation Partners Cancer Aware to Screen Over 300 Women

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By Peter Oluka
In line with our vision to mitigate against the spread of cancer in Nigeria, Nigerian’s grant-making non-profit organization, Aspire Coronation Trust (ACT) Foundation has partnered with one of its grantees, Cancer Aware to sensitize residents of Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos on breast cancer.

The sensitization exercise which held recently enabled over 300 residents of the community to be educated on the symptoms of breast cancer as well as the opportunity to be screened by medical officers.

Commenting on the exercise, Ndifreke Okwuegbunam, head, Programs, ACT Foundation, highlighted on the importance of breast cancer screening for women. She said “Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers that affect women all over the world. We are aware of the invaluable role women play not only in our homes but in our society at large. And so today we have come to support our grantee, Cancer Aware to bring information about this deadly disease to the women of Mushin Community”.

Mrs. Okwuegbunam also noted that asides the health sector, ACT Foundation is also passionate about entrepreneurship, environment and leadership, as these key sectors will help provide a holistic approach in creating a better world for all.

Speaking at the event, Hon. Emmanuel Bamigboye, the executive chairman, Mushin Local Government Area (LGA), expressed his appreciation to ACT Foundation and Cancer Aware for supporting the government in safeguarding the health of people in Mushin LGA. He called on all women to avail themselves of the opportunity to get screened and protect themselves.

Also speaking about the initiative, Tolu Falowo, executive director, Cancer Aware, expressed her gratitude to ACT Foundation for supporting this laudable project of sensitizing as well as screening residents of Mushin community on breast cancer. She also thanked the Mushin Local Government for the support they provided in making the day a reality.

She said “Cancer Aware is committed to fighting against the spread of breast cancer in Nigeria, this we do through sensitization and screenings because we understand the importance of early detection. We cannot do this alone and so we are calling on the government as well as corporations and well-meaning Nigerians to join us to eradicate the prevalence of breast cancer in Nigerian women.

The sensitization exercise which gathered over 300 women entailed checking of vital signs education on breast cancer, symptoms, care and screening by trained personnel. Attendants also used the opportunity to asked trained medical personnel questions about this menace that is eating deeply into our society.

Cancer Aware is one of the 22 Non-Profit Organisations that benefitted from the 2017 ACT Foundation grant.

Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation is a grant making non-profit established to support local, national and regional non-profits working to address challenges and associated vulnerabilities in the African continent.

(L-r): Olumide Emeralds, monitoring and evaluation officer; Alexandra Bazuaye, communication officer, both from ACT Foundation, and Project Team Lead, Cancer Aware at the breast cancer sensitization exercise in Mushin recently.

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John Momoh To Deliver Keynote at 2nd Fate Alumni Conference

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By Peter Oluka
Fate Foundation; the premier not-for-profit organization promoting business and entrepreneurial development in Nigeria, said it has perfected all arrangement for the second Annual Alumni Conference holding in Lagos next week.

The Annual Alumni Conference (AAC) is a platform for Fate Alumni and other Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise entrepreneurs to learn from entrepreneurial leaders and influencers sharing knowledge about key topical areas to grow and thrive as entrepreneurs while also giving them an opportunity to network and connect with one another.

John Momoh, the founder and executive chairman, Channels Television Networks, is confirmed to deliver the Keynote address on the theme: Unlocking the Growth potential of MSMEs through Partnerships and Innovation, to build on the success of the inaugural edition and foster a sense of community and tradition.

The Syndicate Sessions will feature distinguished speakers such as the Founder and Chief Executive Officer, House of Tara, Tara Durotoye, Partner, Risk Consulting Practice, KPMG, Tomi Adepoju, Founder, Chicken Republic, DejiAkinyanju, Chief Executive Officer, Mall for Africa, Tope Folayan, Co-Founder & Director, AACE Foods, NdidiNwuneli, and Principal Consultant, ADSRAT Branding Management Consortium, Charles O’Tudor. Others eminent speakers include Founder and Chief Responsible Officer, Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, Adenike Ogunlesi,Chief Executive Officer, Food Chain Limited, FoluAfricanfarmerMogaji, and Chief Executive Officer, Brandzone Consulting LLC, ChizorMalize and Lead Consultant, Thistle Praxis, Ini Abimbola.

Speaking on the Alumni Conference, Executive Director, Fate Foundation, Adenike Adeyemi, said, “Following the success of the maiden edition of the conference last year, we secured a larger space this edition so even more entrepreneurs can benefit from our line-up of experienced entrepreneurial leaders and industry experts who will be speaking at the conference.

“This year’s syndicate sessions will focus on Access to Markets; Brand Management; Agribusiness and Sustainability. New to the conference this year is the Consulting Bar; an extension of the monthly Fate Consulting Clinic, where our alumni business men and women can have one-on-one access to expert advisory support for a period of 30 minutes each”.

She added that, “Given the success of our free monthly Consulting Clinic sessions, we have invited specific institutions that provide and/or are relevant to MSMEs advisory in the following need areas: Legal; Tax; Finance; Human Resources (HR); Digital Marketing Strategy; Communications; Sustainability; Financial Software and Credit Rating”.

Fate Foundation was instituted in 2000 by Founder & Pioneer Managing Director, Guaranty Trust Bank, Fola Adeola,with a mission to foster wealth creation by promoting business and entrepreneurial development among Nigerians.

Since its inception, Fate Foundation has graduated over 5,200 entrepreneurs from its Aspiring, Emerging and Special Entrepreneurs’ Programmes and trained over 40,000 Nigerians in its short entrepreneurship Certificate courses.

Fate Foundation has also enabled over 72,000 Nigerian youths on the path to entrepreneurship. About 65% of its Alumni are actively running their businesses and most are beneficiaries of Fate’s Business and Alumni Support Services.

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EU–Nigeria Forum to Explore Investment Opportunities in ICT, Agribusiness

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(L-r): Ibi Ikpoki, economic officer, EU Delegate; Filippo Amato, trade counselor and head of Trade and Economic section, EU Delegate to Nigeria & ECOWAS; Juan Juse Otamendi, economic and commercial counselor, Embassy of Spain at the EU Nigeria Business Forum pre-event press briefing in Lagos.

The European Union-Nigeria Business Forum will expose attendees to investment opportunities in the information and communication technology (ICT) and agricultural sectors in Nigeria.

During a press conference in Lagos to announce the forthcoming 6th edition of its Forum, scheduled to hold from 5th – 6th of October 2017 at Eko Hotel and Suites, the Group revealed the theme as “Youth as an Engine of Broad-Based Economic Transformation”.

Under the theme, the Forum will beam light on possibilities in the fields, essentially, the role of youths in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Agribusiness, which are key sectors to support the growth and diversification of the Nigeria economy.

The Forum will also have specific sessions designed to address agribusiness and developing value chains as well as gender equality and economic empowerment of women as a key factor to sustainable development.

The forum will be a platform for business leaders and policy makers from the European Union (EU) and Nigeria to explore business openings and how to increase investment , with a view to create more jobs, Particularly in the ICT sector and agriculture.

This 6th EU-Nigeria Business Forum aims to identify the key role of youth in Digital Economy and the potentials of ICT in cross cutting themes with experiences shared from the EU.

To strengthen EU and Nigeria’s business relations through identification of opportunities in the agribusiness space in creating jobs, boosting exports and addressing local food security problems.

This year’s Forum is also aimed to identify the opportunities in addressing local infrastructure challenges and establishing an EU-Nigeria dialogue.

The EU-Nigeria Business Forum will also establish a more enabling environment for the fulfillment of women’s right and to achieve real and tangible improvements in gender equality.

They also seek to identify aspirations of young people, youth organizations and networks in view of the upcoming Africa-EU summit.

Filippo Amato, head of trade and economic section, European Union delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said that “EU-Nigeria trade remains strong, standing at 19.9 billion Euros in 2016, In spite of the significant effect of recession on Nigeria’s trade.

“EU remains the top destination for oil and non-oil exports from Nigeria”, Amato said. European Union-Nigeria Business Forum believes that the success of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) launched by Nigeria in February 2017 depends on active private sector participation, and calls for effective confidence building to attract investors.

They also opined that creating jobs that will stimulate the economy and providing sustainable employment, particularly for young people, is crucial both for the present and future of Nigeria.

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