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Tinubu Knocks Critics Over Student Loan Scheme

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President Bola Tinubu has knocked scholars and critics of the student loan scheme introduced by his administration, saying that the scheme would be pursued with all intent in the interest of Nigerian students.

The president noted that the student loan scheme was introduced to give equal access to quality education by the students, especially the vulnerable ones towards competing with their counterparts across the world.

Tinubu who spoke at the weekend during the eighth convocation ceremony of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE) expressed displeasure to critics of the scheme, calling on them to offer advice and suggestions on how to improve it.

The high point of the ceremony was the conferment of honourary degree of the university on the senate leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (Doctor of Public Law); Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Solomon Adeola( Doctor of Accounting) and the Chairman House of Representatives committee on Navy, Yusuf Gadji (Doctor of Political Science)

Represented by the deputy senate president, Senator Jibril Barau, the president said education remains a crucial aspect of his agenda for the socio-economic development of the country, assuring stakeholders that his administration would ensure, “ education is accessible by all willing Nigerians through pragmatic funding and realistic policies.”

“ Student loan schemes are not rocket science initiatives, they are designed to grant access to all who are willing and who know the value of education in a way to take the burden off numerous individuals and communities who may have been intervening painfully in sending their wards to school.

“ I expect that scholars would advise the government by calling our attention to how best this could be managed in their respective institutions, rather than cast aspersions on the idea.

“ By the grace of the Almighty God, there is no going back on the student loan scheme because we are not ready to compromise good standards in education.”

He encouraged FUOYE and other institutions in the country to be above board in contributing to the development of the country with cutting-edge research and embrace the realities of a twenty-first century where technology is taking the lead.

“ Institutions of higher learning must recognize the next possible disruptions that technology may bring and must be properly positioned to mitigate the challenges and must from time to time take charge of innovations.

“ Without education playing this catalytic role, not much development can be recorded in any nation in this century. Universities in particular should be the vanguard of research, teaching, and community service in line with the tripartite mandate,” Tinubu said.

On his part, the chancellor of FUOYE, the Attah of Igala land, Dr Mattew Opaluwa said the Vice-chancellor, Professor Abayomi Fasina since his assumption in 2021, and his team, “ have brought exemplary leadership, innovation, transparency and a spirit of welfarism to advance the visions of the founding fathers.

On the challenges of funding, the chancellor called on stakeholders, especially private individuals to support the N50 billion endowment fund of the university,” to reposition FUOYE in its statutory role of providing a bedrock for the future growth and development of Nigeria.

The Ekiti state governor, Biodun Oyebanji called on universities in the country to prioritise research efforts aimed at tackling critical challenges confronting the nation as well as producing graduates who are solution providers.

Governor Oyebanji stressed the need for institutions to produce graduates equipped with the skills and mindset to tackle the pressing problems of the country head-on.

He justified the importance of nurturing a generation of problem solvers poised to drive sustainable development, urging universities to revamp their curricula to emphasize critical thinking, creativity, and entrepreneurship that could provide solutions to the problems of this country.

“As a government, we will continue to collaborate with this institution but I plead with you sir, university must put a lot of emphasis on research, we must produce solution providers, people that will help to solve the problem of this country,” the Governor said.

Speaking on behalf of the honourees, the Senate majority leader, Senator Bamidele said they valued the honour conferred on them by the university and expressed their profound appreciation for the recognition bestowed upon them

He said the honorary degree conferred on them serves as testament to their dedication, achievement, and commitment to excellence in their respective fields.

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Economic downturn: We’ll not abandon Nigeria, Says ExxonMobil

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

The Managing Director, ExxonMobil Nigeria, Shane Harris, has declared that the oil major is not leaving Nigeria as claimed in some quarters, particularly after the oil firm’s proposed divestment of a 100 per cent interest in Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited to Seplat Energy Offshore Limited.

Harris, who disclosed this at a meeting with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, in Abuja, stated that ExxonMobil is currently carrying out new investments in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.

The Special Assistant on Media and Communications to the petroleum minister, Nneamaka Okafor, disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday.

“During the meeting, Mr Harris hinted at significant new investments that ExxonMobil is injecting into Nigeria’s energy sector.

“He expressed confidence in the renewed relationship between ExxonMobil and the Nigerian government, assuring the government that the oil giant is not planning to leave Nigeria,” the statement read.

It further quoted the ExxonMobil boss as saying, “We are excited about the prospects these new investments bring. Our partnership with the Nigerian government is crucial for sustainable growth, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration as we have no plan to leave.

On his part, Lokpobiri reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to enhancing production and fostering a conducive environment for investors in the energy sector.

He highlighted the ministry’s focus on creating collaborations and sharing innovative ideas with international oil companies, stating that “we are dedicated to ramping up production and ensuring a supportive environment for all investors by doing everything possible to maintain investor confidence in our country.”

Lokpobiri commended the ExxonMobil team for their commitment in the Nigerian oil and gas sector, noting that it aligned perfectly with the nation’s objectives.

“ExxonMobil’s planned investments are commendable and greatly appreciated. This renewed relationship is a testament to the mutual goals we share for the future of our energy sector,” the minister stated.

The statement added that the discussions by both parties also touched on the ministry’s support for international and independent oil operators.

Lokpobiri assured Harris of the government’s support, emphasising the importance of creating a thriving environment for all stakeholders.

We fully support ExxonMobil and other lOCs, just as we do with independent operators. Our collaborative efforts are key to the sustainable growth of our energy sector,” he stated.

On May 31, 2024, The reported that Nigeria might add 480,000 barrels to its daily crude oil output as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and ExxonMobil took a step towards resolving the disagreement surrounding the sale of the latter’s asset to Seplat Energy.

The report stated that NNPC confirmed it had signed a settlement agreement with ExxonMobil companies in Nigeria over the proposed divestment of a 100 per cent interest in Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited to Seplat Energy Offshore Limited.

This was after President Bola Tinubu announced his intervention in the debacle between NNPC and ExxonMobil hindering the sale of the assets to Seplat.

Lokpobiri said recently that Nigeria had lost about $30bn in the past two and a half years as a result of the unsuccessful divestment.

The minister expressed concerns that Nigeria was losing about 480,000 barrels of crude oil per day due to the Seplat/ExxonMobil crisis.

He said the asset was producing about 600,000bpd until the crisis began in 2022, saying the nation was losing millions of dollars daily.

The reported earlier that ExxonMobil and Seplat Energy had in 2022 announced a $1.6bn sales agreement deal that would see Seplat purchase ExxonMobil’s complete shares in the NNPC.

However, just when all hopes were high for the completion of the deal, a letter dated May 16, 2022, by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission to ExxonMobil, stated that the deal could no longer hold because NNPC had exercised its right of pre-emption first refusal on the assets.

Right of pre-emption is a legal right to parties in a joint venture to be the first to be considered for any planned sale or takeover of assets in the JVs if either party chooses to trade them off.

According to reports, NNPC objected to the sale of ExxonMobil’s equity to Seplat and insisted on exercising its first refusal right after which the company reportedly made an offer above $1.6bn to ExxonMobil

But after about two years of litigation, there seems to be an end in sight to the crisis.

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Another good Nigerian pilgrim returns lost €1,750 pounds in Hajj

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

Another good Nigerian pilgrim, Muhammad Na’Allah from Gumi Local Government Area of Zamfara state has returned the sum of €1,750 (One thousand seven hundred and fifty euros) which he found at the Haram in Makkah to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) for onward delivery to the owner

Gumi, was accompanied to the Hajj Commission office in Ummuljud, Makkah by officials of the Zamfara State Pilgrims Welfare Board.

Receiving the Money, the Chairman/CEO of NAHCON, Malam Jalal Ahmad Arabi praised the Pilgrim, saying the gesture symbolizes the name of the Pilgrim “Na’Allah” which demonstrated the Pilgrim’s closeness to Allah.

“This shows his pilgrimage has positively impacted his personal character, behavior and attitude,” he said.

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NIN: World Bank Disburses $45.5m For Nigeria’s ID4D Project

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

The World Bank said it has disbursed a total of $45.5m to the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) under the Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) project.

According to the ‘Nigeria Digital Identification for Development Project’ report published by the bank on its website, the project is aimed at enrolling more Nigerians for the National Identification Number (NIN).

According to the apex bank, Nigeria was able to secure the funding with the passing into law of the Nigerian Protection Act in June last year.

The fund was disbursed in multiple tranches between December 2021 and April 2024 and disbursement is still ongoing.

The $45m so far released represents about 10.5 per cent of the total project’s cost, which is put at $430m.

While the June 1, 2024 deadline set for the enrollment of 148 million Nigerians for the NIN has passed and Nigeria is still lagging, the Bank described the progress of the project so far as ‘moderately satisfactory’. NIMC recently disclosed that 107.3 million NIN had been issued as of April this year.

The release of funds for the project which comprises a combination of loans and grants, was predicated on the institutionalisation of data protection.

The development comes on the hills of a recent warning by the NIMC to Nigerians, against the activities of some unauthorised websites harvesting people’s data

The websites are idfinder.com.ng, Verify.ng, championtech.com.ng, trustyonline.com, and anyverify.com.

On June 20, Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise, raised alarm over its discovery of the sale of NINs, bank verification numbers (BVNs), and other personal data of Nigerians on a website for as low as N100.

According to the organisation, a website known as ‘AnyVerify.com.ng’ was discovered to be involved in the commercial distribution of personal and private data of Nigerians.

Paradigm Initiative added that several unauthorised websites are claiming to hold and provide access to sensitive personal and financial data of Nigerian citizens “for as little as 100 Naira”.

“This alarming development presents a major breach of the fundamental rights to privacy, a breach of data privacy rights, and poses significant risks to individuals and the national economy,” the firm said.

Reacting to the report, the commission said AnyVerify.com.ng and other aforementioned websites, are data harvesters and unauthorised to access or manage sensitive data.

The agency also denied the exposure of sensitive data of Nigerians “as alleged and reported”.

“The commission, at this moment, assures the public that the data of Nigerians has not been compromised, and the Commission have not authorised any website or entity to sell or misuse the National Identification Number (NIN) amongst all the identities stated in the report,” NIMC said.

“NIMC urges the public to disregard any claims or services these websites offer and should not give their data as they are potentially fraudulent and data provided by the public on such websites are gathered and stored to build the data services they illegally provide.

“Consequently, the public should know that the commission has taken robust measures to safeguard the nation’s database from cyber threats- a secure, world-class, full-proof database is in place.

“The commission’s infrastructure meets the stringent ISO 27001:2013 information security management system standard, with annual recertification and strict compliance with the Nigerian Data Protection Law.”

NIMC also advised Nigerians to avoid giving their data to unauthorised and phishing sites, stressing that licensed partners or vendors are not authorised to scan or store NIN slips but to verify them through approved channels.

“This poses the danger of data harvesting and comprises individual data,” the commission added.

“The Commission reaffirms its commitment to upholding ethical standards in data protection in line with federal government directives and data privacy regulations.

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