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Nigeria’s UN Boss in Trouble over Illicit $300m Timber Export

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Amina Mohammed, UN deputy secretary-general

Amina Mohammed, UN deputy secretary-general is facing accusations from an advocacy group that she granted illegal permits to Chinese firms to import endangered Nigerian timber when she was Nigeria’s environment minister.

 

Documents provided by Mohammed were used by Chinese importers to clear more than $300m worth of rosewood logs held up by Chinese border authorities for months, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a Washington-based environmental campaigning organisation.

 

The EIA said its investigation had found that Nigerian officials were paid over $1m to help the importers release the rosewood, which was put on a list of endangered species last year by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

 

In January, Mohammed allegedly signed thousands of retroactive CITES permits allowing the export of 1.4 million rosewood logs in one of her last acts as environment minister before she was sworn in as deputy secretary-general in late February.

 

Farhan Haq said Mohammed, UN spokesperson “categorically rejects any allegations of fraud.”

 

The signing of the permits for the rosewood exports was delayed after Mohammed insisted “that stringent due process was followed,” said Haq.

 

“She says that she signed the export certificates requested before the ban only after due process was followed and better security watermarked certificates became available,” he added.

 

Mohammed, the highest-ranking woman at the United Nations, served as environment minister from November 2015 to February of this year and had previously lead the UN’s efforts to agree on a new global anti-poverty agenda.

 

Foreign Policy magazine quoted a senior Nigerian forestry official, who asked not to be named and who said that Mohammed had signed 2 992 export certificates on January 16.

 

Mohammed had been due to begin her new post at the United Nations on January 1, joining Antonio Guterres as he began his term as UN chief.

 

But she delayed her move to New York to stay on as environment minister at the request of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and was finally sworn in as deputy secretary-general in late February.

 

The UN spokesperson said Guterres has been informed of the reports and “reiterates his full support and confidence in her.”

 

Exploding Chinese demand for African rosewood, also known as “kosso”, has depleted forests across West Africa, prompting CITES to impose strict restrictions last year.

 

According to EIA, Nigeria since 2013 has become the world’s largest exporter of rosewood logs, which are mainly used for luxury furniture.

 

CITES is scheduled to discuss the Nigerian rosewood exports to China at a meeting later this month in Geneva.

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So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Infinix Mobility ‘ZERO 5’ Unveiled in Nigeria

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By peter oluka

Infinix mobility, Africa’s leading technology brand, today in Nigeria, unveiled its flagship model for 2017 ‘Infinix Zero 5’.

The Infinix Zero 5 enjoyed a global reception, as it was earlier unveiled at the weekend in Dubai which hosted celebrities, partners, media and bloggers from different countries the brand operates.

Infinix first unveiled the Zero series 5 years ago in Nigeria and today, the brand is at the top of the league with cutting edge technology built into the new Infinix Zero 5. The Highly anticipated smartphone represents Phone photography, style and speed all in one smartphone. The infinix Zero 5 features Dual rear cameras, optical zoom, 6GB RAM, 16MP selfie camera and much more.

Speaking at the device Launch in Lagos,Benjamin Jiang, global head of Infinix,  said: “The Zero series at large has been our flagship product globally by virtue of its innovative features and validates our R&D prowess. It has witnessed brilliant performance in key global markets such as Africa. Our vision is to take smartphone photography to a level where it bridges the gap between amateur and professional photography. With its innovative design, incredible dual camera, 2x Optical Zoom and overall performance, the Infinix Zero 5 bridges the narrowing gap between smartphone and tablet, and we believe our new device speaks to the middle class consumer demand in the Dual-camera smartphone segment”.

The Zero 5 smartphone is Infinix’s most high-end and technologically-advanced product to date. The Chinese Company will target a new generation of consumers and firmly believes that the Zero 5’s innovative design and features- particularly the camera- will shock the industry and offer Best-in-Class product in the smartphone sector.

Using Android’s Nought operating platform, the Zero 5 boasts an optical zoom dual camera and massive 16MP front-cameras, rear fingerprints scanner and protective screen features.

The Zero 5’s rear dual camera uses both a 12MP wide angle lens and a 13MP telephoto lens, with a 2x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom, and an f/2.0 aperture. There is also a special Portrait Master Mode that uses and RGBW sensor and multi-frame noise reduction technology to assist users in capturing the perfect hero shot.

But the jaw-dropping feature of the Zero 5 is unquestionably the front camera, or an Infinix has dubbed it, ‘Selfie Camera’. The selfie cam is a mega 16MP four-in-one camera with a LED flash to boost. In a market where the selfie is king and Instagram reigns supreme, Infinix expects the 16MP front camera to take things to a new level and become a must-have accessory for selfie lovers.

About Infinix: Infinix is a premium smartphone brand from TRANSSION Holdings designed for young generations who desire to live a smart lifestyle. Founded in 2012, Infinix is committed to building cutting-edge technology and fashionably designed dynamic mobile devices to create globally-focused intelligent life experiences through a merging of fashion + technology. Through daily interactions these intuitive products become part of a lifestyle that represents trend-setting and intelligent experiences for young people around the world.

Infinix currently promotes four product lines: ZERO, NOTE, S, and HOT in a global marketplace reaching countries in Europe, Africa, Latin America, Middle East and Asia.

With the brand spirit of challenging the norms, Infinix smart devices are designed specifically for young people who want to stand out, reach out and in sync with the world.

 

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How and Why 95 Per Cent of SMEs Die- Elumelu

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Tony Elumelu, chairman of Heirs Holdings

Tony Elumelu, chairman of Heirs Holdings, has said multiple taxations and levies kill 95 percent of small and medium scale businesses in Nigeria.

 

Elumelu made this statement while speaking at the Lagos Business School Alumni Association 2017 Alumni Day in Lagos.

 

He said five percent of the small businesses that survived after one year was a big disincentive to the nation in terms of employment creation.

 

The entrepreneur said multiple business regulation, multiple taxation and inconsistent government policies affect SMEs competitiveness and their ability to attract capital in their investment climate.

 

He said despite the multiple taxation, Nigeria remains the lowest in the world with 10 percent tax contribution to gross domestic product (GDP).

 

“It seems we have a big problem, because, with high taxation and multiple levies, it is expected we should have very high tax revenue,’’ he said.

 

He said the government should find out the reason for the discrepancy between desired growth and development.

 

He urged the government to create a more conducive environment that would encourage survival of SMEs in order to reduce the unemployment rate.

 

“Government doesn’t create jobs, it is the right enabling environment for SMEs that create jobs.”

 

He urged the government to streamline all taxation and levies across the three tiers of government to avoid the collapse of SMEs.

 

Taiwo Oyedele, head of tax and corporate advisory services, PwC Nigeria, called for the amendment of the constitution to ensure coordination among the three tiers of government and their agencies.

 

Oyedele said the multiplicity of government agencies with the same work function was becoming worrisome.

 

“You don’t need tax incentives for people to do business, we just need to remove the disincentives,” he said.

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NDDC Chairman Seeks the Use of ICT to Re-position Niger Delta

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Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), Chairman, Governing Board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has reiterated its commitment to re-position the region through the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT).

He stated this when Mr Bayo Onanuga, Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), and other management staff visited him on Friday in Abuja.

He said the commission had a programme whereby five optic cables were given to the region to increase internet access.

“You don’t need to be a university graduate to be an ICT guru.

“If we create ICT in the region, it will boost our economy, he said.

The chairman said the commission was also looking at the area of sport, young boys and girls could be engaged competitively.

“Today, sport is a huge industry. What one footballer earns is what a local government makes.

“It is an area that we must engage our young girls and boys competitively,” he added.

Ndoma-Egba commended the effort of the board in the development of the region so far.

“We are committed to doing things right, that is why we have the concept of the four Rs, Restructuring of the balance sheet, Reform of governance protocols, Restore the NDDC’s core mandate, and Reaffirm the Commission’s collective commitment to do what is right.’’

According to the chairman, the commission is being funded largely from proceeds from oil.

“Someday, we don’t know when but the oil will finish. If it thus finishes, Technology will make it less important.

“Today, people are talking of electric cars, while fuel pumps in some places in the world are being replaced by electric and gas pumps.

“So, we must begin to contemplate developing the region beyond oil, and to do so we have to envisage a frame work that can drive development beyond oil,” he said.

Ndoma-Egba said that the commission would set up a development bank that would guarantee development in the Niger Delta region.

According him, the advantage of the development bank is to drive big projects being embarked upon by the bank.

He said the board inherited more than 10,000 contracts, and cancelled more than N200 billion worth of contracts, because they lacked manpower.

“You see one person doing more than 50 projects, so we are trying to streamline to see that everything is balanced,” he said.

The chairman said the commission was a regional development agency that guarantees transparency, which calls for synergy to share responsibility with other stakeholders in the region.

Ndoma-Egba also pledged that the commission would continue its collaboration with NAN, adding that there was no doubt NAN was keeping up with technological trend in the world.

He urged NAN to continue to collaborate with the commission in its efforts to develop the region.

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