The visit last Thursday of a team from South African Kaya FM to collaborate with the Nigerian Tourism Development Commission (NTDC) could be likened to the visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon.

Just like the Kaya FM team came because of what they have heard happening in Nigeria and the huge opportunities here, the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon because of the success stories she had heard about the king and his kingdom.

When the Queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, etc, she was overwhelmed.

She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true.  But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.”

That was a form of tourism. She travelled from her native country to Jerusalem to appreciate the good things that were going on there under King Solomon.

By the same token, the Kaya FM team was in Nigeria for some days, observing things for themselves and felt satisfied with the huge tourism potentials that needed to be tapped.

Folorunsho Coker, director-general, NTDC, who has committed himself to taking the nation’s tourism to greater heights and repositioning the nation’s tourism to be a huge revenue earner, said he encourages any collaboration that would reposition the nation’s tourism industry.

He said the focus now is to treat tourism as a business and as a huge foreign exchange earner, noting that tourism is not just about arts and culture as it has always been classified, but a money-spinner that can immensely scale up the fortunes of Nigeria, if properly harnessed.

At the parley with some editors with the visiting South African broadcasters who promote tourism, the DG said he was glad to have the support of the visitors, who, according to him, have promised to collaborate with NTDC to realise its objectives.

Leader of the team, Greg Maloka, a supporter of South African artists and musicians, and managing director, Kaya FM, said: “The whole idea of this collaboration is that we want to understand Nigeria for ourselves. We want to understand Nigeria beyond media, or what anyone else is reporting but our own account.  Our focus is growth and development. There are lots of important people who want to see growth and development. These are those who do not want to dwell on negativities.”

According to Maloka, “We are certain that there are hundreds of millions of people who just want to find a better environment to raise their families; to be able to take their children to school and make them become better than what they have achieved. We want to see Africa being recognised among its peers globally. And that has to start with us. A lot of South Africans are coming to Nigeria because they understand the vibrancy of the place and the opportunities here. Kaya is a medium that speaks to millions of people that opportunities are open to many more people in Africa.”

Ordinarily, some cynics would have thought that with the xenophobic attack going on in South Africa where many Nigerians have been killed, it would be difficult to see fresh business collaborations between the two countries, Maloka said part of the reasons for such behavours in South Africa was the negative effects of the Apartheid era that eroded the confidence of many citizens and made them see foreigners as enemies.

“The issue really is, remember that South Africa has a racial challenge. The system of apartheid did something cruel to black people; it took away our pride, our identity – what we are, our history was interrupted. A lot of our history was erased deliberately and some charged.

“So, you can never really connect with who you are, and if you cannot connect with who you are, it is difficult to be confident about anything. So confidence became a very huge deficit among black South Africans. And it doesn’t matter how educated you are, how rich or poor you are. When you don’t have confidence, you don’t have it. It is nothing that you can buy over the counter. You have to work for it. You have to be at peace with yourself so you can co-exist with others. So, we are not able to co-exist with others because we have deficit with us. And it is a very painful thing and it is something that we don’t understand, because for most people it is something that is in your blood stream and in your sub-conciseness. So, your reaction when you meet a confident person is resentment,” the Kaya FM boss explained.

“We should craft a new future for ourselves. But in doing that we also say it is pointless to think of ourselves or isolate ourselves from the continent. For a very long time South Africans have isolated themselves; they never saw themselves as part of the continent. The level of tolerance we have for each other is not what is expected to be because, generally, Africa is naturally a very warm and friendly continent. A lot of that has been compromised through politics in many different countries, mainly because of different political agendas and challenges that each of us are facing in our different countries,” he said.

“But our quest from Kaya FM perspective is: how do we find a single voice for Africa? What is the one thing that identifies us as a people so much that whatever space we occupy we must always find our way back to that singular thing? Think about many countries around the world, they are first identified by their continents and not by their names. In many parts of the world when people ask you where are you from? You say I am an African. You only tell the person your country if the individual goes ahead to ask where in Africa? So, what does that mean? That means that as a medium that has 24 million people that are viewing the YouTube content, we have about a million middle and upper middle class of South Africans who are looking to us Kanya listening to Kaya on a weekly basis, who are looking to us to try to understand our environment and continent better,” Maloka further said.

He gave an instance of the team’s experience at a restaurant somewhere in Lagos where they went to eat. According to him, the food was fantastic, the environment superb, and they were able to take some photo shots to prove to the people back home they were not in a jungle dodging bullets.

“We have to put it up for people to see that we were not in one jungle dodging bullets, but a country of progressive people. We have to understand that everything about Nigeria is Nigerian. You need to understand how beautiful Nigeria is. The only way to learn about finding ourselves is to reach out to our brothers and sisters and understand where they draw their pride from,” he said.

The team promised to encourage South Africans to visit Nigeria more. Maloka and his colleagues also said that they were going to bring more tourists into the country as well as businesses that would be mutually beneficial to both countries.

BREAKING: 

Osinbajo lauds World Bank ranking of Nigeria as one of top 10 most improved economies.

 

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday expressed delight over the World Bank’s latest “Doing Business” report that saw Nigeria moving up 24 places to 145th and recognising the country as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world.

He congratulated all stakeholders who worked with the Federal Government to achieve what he described as “significant result.”

Osinbajo’s position was contained in a statement made available to journalists by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande.

He said, “I welcome Nigeria’s improved performance. We are one of the top 10 reforming economies in the world in 2017. After a decade-long decline in Nigeria’s rankings, last year, the government recorded a modest increase.

 

“This year, Mr. President set us an ambitious target of moving up 20 places in the ranking – I am delighted that we have exceeded his goal.

“Improving the business environment is at the heart of the Buhari administration’s reform agenda. We are reinforcing our economic turnaround by a vigorous and active implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan so businesses operating in Nigeria can thrive and be competitive globally.

“For the first time, coordinated efforts across various levels of governments have been undertaken to make it easier to do business in Nigeria.

“I commend all stakeholders who worked with us to achieve this significant result, particularly the National Assembly, Lagos and Kano state governments, and the private sector.”

Osinbajo said the present administration would continue to ensure that SMEs operating in Nigeria find it easier to do business.

He said the government’s ultimate success would be the testimonials received from businesses across the country.

He said the report endorsed the direction that government has been taking to improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria over the last 12 to 18 months.

The Vice-President added that although the government has started getting positive feedback, there is still much work to be done before the full impact of the reforms would be felt by Nigerians.

He added, “Some of our critical ongoing reforms include a new sub-national ‘ease of doing business’ project being implemented in conjunction with all the states and the FCT to replicate similar reforms across the country.

“We are also collaborating with the National Assembly to deliver an Omnibus Bill to jointly furnish a more business-friendly legal framework for Nigerian businesses in the future.

“Furthermore, the Federal Executive Council has approved the concession of our major international airports, which will be fast-tracked to enable easier movement of persons.

“We are also nearing the implementation stage of our National Trading Platform to ensure our cross-border trading is more efficient, while collaborating with other countries to safeguard our security.

“This policy will also be supported by ongoing reform efforts to simplify trading within Nigeria, whether that be the ease of trade in goods, regulatory approvals or the protection of intellectual property.”

The World Bank highlighted five reforms making it easier to do business in Kano and Lagos, the two cities covered by the report in Nigeria over the course of last year.

They include Starting a Business; Dealing with Construction Permits; Registering Property; Getting Credit, and Paying Taxes.

On September 27, the second 60-day National Action Plan was approved by an expanded meeting of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council.

The plan has over 60 priority initiatives targeted to be attained by December 1.

The plan covers 11 areas this time, including new areas such as Enforcing Contracts, Simplifying the Procurement Process, and Trading Within Nigeria.

The PEBEC was established by the President in July 2016, with a mandate to sustainably and progressively make Nigeria an easier place to do business.

Nigeria has saved over $600m dollars (N216bn) from the importation of rice alone from Thailand and other countries since the nation’s domestic mass production flooded the markets under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

 

The figure represents a fraction of a staggering $22bn (N7.92tr) spent on importation of foods into the country annually prior to the advent of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The Executive Director, Risk Management and Finance, Bank of Agriculture, disclosed this when he led a delegation of top officials of the bank on a courtesy call to Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, in his office, in Ibadan.

Akenzua said it was worthy of commendation that the country had committed itself to diversifying from the oil economy, with emphasis on the revitalization of agriculture.

He said, he had embarked on advocacy visit around the country to enlist the support and involvement of state governments in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, which, he said, had freed the country from reliance on importation of rice.

Akenzua said, “We enjoin Oyo State to participate in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, as we have rejigged the programme to expand the scope of beneficiaries. The pilot scheme was so successful that $600m was saved from rice importation due to massive rice production in the country.

“One or two rice millers in Thailand have closed down because Nigeria, which has always been their major importer, has stopped importing their rice.

“We used to spend $22bn importing food into Nigeria and with our consciousness that every square meter in the country is arable land, we felt that it was not sustainable. Of course, the crash in crude oil price has forced us back to agriculture.”

The ED said that the state could choose a particular crop it wished to produce under the programme, with a promise to either co-fund or completely fund the production of such crop.

In his response, the governor commended the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development,  Audu Ogbeh, for what he called the positive changes he had brought into the agriculture sector since taking over the ministry.

The governor stated that the fundamental problem besetting the country was attitudinal, stressing that the country was not bereft of knowledge, policies and programmes capable of boosting its economy.

Ajimobi said that the state was supposed to be the food basket of the nation if past leaders had seen agriculture as a major solution to hunger and economic driver, as well as a main source of employment for the youth.

According to him, the state was in good stead to be a major Agric hub, judging by the concentration of reputable research institutions in the state, its vast arable land, as well as the location between Lagos, the commercial nerve centre of the country, and the North among other comparative advantages.

He advised the new management of BOA to do all that was humanly possible to sustain the momentum in its renewed drive to revitalize the agriculture sector.

Ajimobi said “You need to change the attitude of our people so they would know that there is money in agriculture. We are in this sorry state today because of bureaucracy and lack of sustenance of past agric policies. What has happened to Operation Feed the Nation?

“The new management of BOA has started well. I hope you will maintain the zeal with which you have started. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the talk. In the past, some people will just give loans to themselves, which they knew they would not recover and this had crippled the bank.

“Oyo State is ready to take advantage of all opportunities available in agriculture to promote the standard of living of our people. We believe that with the natural endowment in our state we should be the food basket of Nigeria.

“I salute the giant strides of the Ministry of Agriculture under the leadership of the Minister, Chief Audi Ogbeh. I have known him for many years as a man of impeccable character, a professional with high sense of responsibility.”

The governor promised to lead by example by also venturing into commercial agriculture, urging the BOA team to advise him on how he could go about obtaining a loan for the State

 

Lagos (AFP) - Muhammadu Buhari formally takes over as Nigeria's president this week but his inauguration could not have come at a worse time, with the country reeling from a cash crunch and a crippling strike over fuel. 

Buhari's All Progressives Congress (APC) party accused President Goodluck Jonathan's administration of sabotage for allegedly deliberately handing over the nation in its worst state since independence 55 years ago.

"No electricity, no fuel, workers are on strike, billions are owed to state and federal workers, $60 billion owed in national debt and the economy is virtually grounded," APC spokesman Lai Mohammed said.

But across Nigeria, confidence is still high that Buhari, who headed a military government in the 1980s, will fix the mess.

"It's not in dispute that the Jonathan government has messed up things," said rice trader Mulikat Bello in the Agege area of Lagos, Nigeria's financial capital.

"We know Buhari can do it. He has done it before. It's the same way the (Shehu) Shagari administration destroyed the economy before Buhari's coup of December 1983," the 32-year-old added. 

Read more ...

As global investors and business leaders look to Africa as the next region of transformative economic growth, they are paying increasing attention to Nigeria. With about 170 million inhabitants, the country has long been the most populous in Africa, but it is only now being recognized as the continent’s largest economy. In April 2014, the government began to release “rebased” data that showed a gross domestic product of $510 billion in 2013, compared with $354 billion for South Africa. The rebased data also revealed an economy that was far more diverse than previously understood and that, with the right reforms and investments, could become one of the world’s leading economies by 2030. A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), Nigeria’s renewal: Delivering inclusive growth in Africa’s largest economy, examines how the country can live up to its economic potential while making growth more inclusive, thus bringing more Nigerians out of poverty.

Progress and productivity

Nigeria’s troubled history and its ongoing struggles with terrorism and poverty are well known. Yet the country has made solid economic progress since 2000, averaging annual GDP growth of 8.6 percent under civilian rule from 1999 to 2010, according to pre-rebased data, compared with just 1.5 percent a year under military rule (1983–99). And the new data show Nigeria is no longer just a petro-economy. While oil and gas remain critical sources of government income and of exports, the country’s entire resource sector today accounts for just 14 percent of GDP. Agriculture and trade are larger and faster growing. In addition, it is not generally recognized that Nigeria’s productivity, albeit low, has been growing recently and now contributes more to GDP growth than the country’s expanding population.

Read more ...

Hotoro, Kano, Nigeria (CNN)Girls rescued from Boko Haram terror camps in Sambisa Forest on Tuesday are "not the Chibok girls," Nigerian Army spokesman Sani Usman said.

However, one official did not rule out that captives from other Boko Haram camps that were raided might include some of the 200 girls abducted in April 2014 from a school in Chibok.

Nigerian troops rescued 200 girls and 93 women Tuesday in the Sambisa Forest in the northeastern part of the country, the Nigerian Armed Forces announced on its official Twitter account. The forest is a stronghold for the militant Boko Haram group and is not far from Chibok.

Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade said the rescued girls and women are still being screened and none has spoken to their families yet.

The 2014 mass abduction from Chibok led to an international social media movement, #BringBackOurGirls, to rescue them. Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group, has been kidnapping females for years and has hundreds in their custody.

Read more ...

As reports that 50 Nigerians have been affected in the xenophobic violence in South Africa, the Nigerian government has concluded arrangements for the evacuation of its citizens from that country beginning on Monday.
Those interested in returning home have been advised to contact the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa just as the government had directed Nigerians in all troubled spots to close their shops, stay at home and stay out of trouble.

A statement issued by the Nigerian Office in Pretoria on Saturday called on nationals in that country to contact the office.

The acting Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Mr. Martins Cobham, said on Saturday that the situation was being monitored on lower, middle and high threat and he emphasised the need for Nigerians in the country to avoid areas of imminent threat, abide by the laws of the host country and cooperate with local security agencies.

The President of the Nigerian Union in South Africa, Mr. Ikechukwu Anyene, said that at least 50 Nigerians were displaced at Jeppes Town, near Johannesburg.

"We met about 300 Nigerians in Jeppes Town, near Johannesburg who fled for their safety and about 50 of them do not have any place to stay.
“We are making arrangements with the Nigerian mission in South Africa to get them a place to stay for their safety,” he said in a statement.

"The Nigerian Union has also presented relief materials to those affected by the attacks and we are in touch with various branches of the union in the provinces on their safety and security," Anyene added.

According to him, Nigerian shops and businesses in Durban and Johannesburg had been looted and some burnt.

Anyene reiterated the union’s call to the Federal Government of Nigeria to put more pressure on the South African government to halt the attacks

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