Month: October 2014

ICPC declares war on Visa racketeering

The Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) Mr. Ekpo Nta has vowed to intensify the current onslaught on some travel agents and touts using dubious means to obtain visa for the unsuspecting public through corrupt practices.

Declaring open a one-day National Seminar on Visa Acquisition by the Commission at Jevinik Place at Ikeja recently on the theme: Instilling Integrity in Visa Procurement Process in Nigeria, the Chairman said ICPC has over time recovered 372 international passports from racketeers and visa fraudsters as part of an on-going sanitization of corruption-prone processes in the acquisition of visas and clampdown on racketeers.
He said ICPC had initiated several arrests after receiving an ever-increasing number of petitions from prospective students seeking educational placements and patients seeking medical attention abroad who were duped by some dubious agents.

“As a matter of fact, we have had the opportunity of going round all the universities in Israel because we were carrying out systems studies in Nigerian universities. Most of the things we saw there we have incorporated as part of systems studies here in Nigeria. We have also audited some intelligence courses which we have brought back to bear on our own functions in ICPC.

“God has blessed Nigeria with resources; and if we decide to apply our intellect, I believe we will be sitting on top of the whole world. If we utilize the wealth we have in this country and the resources in terms of human and material, people will be looking for visas to come to Nigeria and not the other way round.”

Prominent among the resource persons at the well-attended seminar were the representative of the Indian High Commissioner to the country, Mr. A. R. Ghanashyam; the Mexican Ambassador Mr. Marco Antonio Garcia Blanco; the President of the National Association of Travel Agents of Nigeria (NATAN) Alhaji Aminu Koffar and the representative of the Controller-General Nigerian Immigration Services Mr. David Paradang.

2-DAY creative communication workshop for CSOs ends in ABUJA

With the objective of improving CSO interactions with stakeholders through their various communication channels, a 2-day creative communications workshop with accompanying sessions on Reporting and Data Visualisation as well as Info graphics creation has been hosted in Abuja by BudgIT in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation

Held at Prixair Hotels, the well-attended workshop afforded participating CSOs and NGOs the capacity to build their websites and social media outreach by making it more vibrant and enhancing their reports and presentation skills.

After the welcome address by Mr. Oluseun Onigbinde of BudgIT, the company’s Research Analyst, Ms. Abiola Afolabi presented the overview of the work of Budgit which she said is based on the objective of enlightening both the literate, semi-literate and illiterate citizens on how his/her taxes are expended in the delivery of public infrastructure and services within the public circles.

Elaborating, she said, “BudgIT is about creative use of government data by either presenting them in simple tweets, interactive format or infographic displays. BudgIT offers mobile and online solution to trigger discussions around the budget and take the budget beyond a news item to a focal point of debate among Nigerians. Our focus also includes a budget monitoring strategy called ‘TRACKA’ through which capital project in the community can be monitored.

In his presentation, the Policy Lead of BudgIT, Mr. Daniel Azike spoke on the importance of data reporting. He stated that data could be referred to as values, raw facts, observations derived from a particular space. He further said that data is vital for both the management staff and the organization itself in decision-making for efficiency and growth.

Blossom Nnodim in her presentation emphasised the vital role of social media platform in communicative creatively, effectively and with greater impact on targeted audience. In making the social media a creative and effective one, she said organizations need to set out objectives/goals, identify the audience to reach, select a social media platform (tweeter, Facebook etc.), appoint a personnel or a team to manage social media presence, develop a social media policy. She advised that organization can create a blog aside from its official website; this she said will allow regular, flexible and faster interaction with target audience which is not affordable on website that is mostly static for a period of time before it is updated.

On presentation skills and digital analytics, Mr. Oluseun Onigbinde stated the importance and proper handling of data in preparing reports. The use of graph, chart, info graphics and object link representation not only makes report brief and concise but also enhances the impact on the audience. In visualisation of a report he said the following rules should be kept: identify a story, define audience, be objective and offer balance, be inclusive in data approach and keep editing and improving.

The last day of the workshop was devoted to the use of tools for info graphic and pictogram in presenting a report. Daniel Azike who led the session said that info graph gives a summary of a written report. Some online platform for creating info graph and pictograph are; piktochart, datawrapper, There was a practical session on how to use the tools online in creating info graphic, which could also be done using powerpoint.

And bringing the workshop to a close, Mr. Dayo Olaide, MacArthur Foundation Deputy Director (Nigeria) explained that the focus areas of the Foundation were: Human Rights, Girl Secondary Education and Population & Reproductive Health. He commended the work of BudgIT in creating a new approach to reporting and presentation of activities of various organizations using unique tools.

The training ended with a personalized session for selected CSOs on how to improve on their respective publications via magazines, internet (website) and other media channels.

Lagos Water hold annual stakeholder workshop

With the early arrival of the Group Managing Director of Lagos Water Corporation, Engr. Shayo Holloway, and with his close lieutenants in tow, it was obvious that the workshop sessions had been deigned to be both informative and educative.

And so with a warm welcome address by the Executive Director of Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) Mr. Oyebisi Babatunde Oluseyi, who used the occasion to thank participants for honouring the invitation. He said it’s been over a year that NNNGO was consulted to create an interface between Lagos State Water Corporation and the consumers.

Mr. Oyebisi drew the attention of the participants to LWC Master Plan and appealed to his audience to support the efforts of LWC and the Lagos state Government in providing potable water for Lagosians by paying their bills promptly, reporting major burst pipes to water officials in their locality, maintain/repair minor pipe breakages on their properties before they transit to major breakages, avoid laying pipes in gutters which could be injurious to healthy living, desist from illegal connections and laying of pipes and conserve water by minimizing unnecessary wastages.

In her paper titled: Engaging Customers In Order to Serve Them Better, Ms. Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, the CSO Consultant, World Bank 2nd Urban Water Project, shed more light on the Lagos Water Stakeholders’ Policy. Ransome-Kuti described the document as unique in the sense that “there is no other agency that is taking stakeholders’ involvement as seriously as our Policy which clearly sets out responsibilities, strategies and actions.”

She drew the attention of all to the fact that the policy highlights responsibilities of stakeholders, challenges and solutions, roles of CSOs and NGOs and funding elements. “Everyone belongs to one civil society organization or religious body that could be used to ensure actions on water quicker and more effective. Everybody must see himself or herself as stakeholder when going through this Water Policy.

“Capacity building and training should be embraced. Individuals are responsible to understanding intricacies of water distribution while acting as checks and monitors for the process. Indeed, the Policy sets to bridge existing gaps between the government and the people, to monitor, check and ensure getting safe water. Water is an economic good that must be paid for and not be seen as a free lunch.”

Concluding, Ms. Ransome-Kuti said “there are ongoing processes to ensure water tariff issues are dealt with. It is the responsibility of CDAs to ensure that people in their domain pay their bills regularly. A direct benefit of the policy is that accountability can be demanded for, monitoring and evaluation strategies are developed, engagement of regulatory commission to ensure proper tariffs are set, consultations with CSOs and synergizing to ensure duplication is avoided.”

Delivering the keynote address on “Addressing Water Provision in Rapidly Growing Cities: The Lagos State Experience,” the Group Managing Director of Lagos Water Corporation, Engr. Shayo Holloway said Lagos State Water Corporation is the largest in the Sub-Saharan Africa. It is larger than Ghana Water Corporation that serves the entire Ghanaian populace.”

On daily basis, the GMD said an average of 1,000 people migrate into Lagos State. Water demand for Lagos is 540million gallons per day. The Corporation is at a total installed (not operational) capacity of 210 million gallons per day as at present. Power has been one of the greatest challenges impeding constant water supply.

Continued Mr. Holloway, “Lagos State Water Corporation has 48 mini water works with capacity of 1 million to 3.2 million gallons per day and this is supported by 3 major water works namely: Adiyan 7 million gallons per day, Iju 4.5 million gallons per day, Isasi 4 million gallons per day.
Power plants power 2 major water works at Iju and Adiyan. By 2020 Lagos is going to be the third largest mega city in the world. Water demand by then will be 733 million gallons per day. A master plan was developed in 2010 and formally launched in 2011 to address the challenges and ensure the production of 745 million gallons per day. The total cost is 3.5 million US Dollars. To achieve this sum it will cost the state’s total budget for 29 months.

To achieve the objective, partnering with private sector is the only way to go. There are private partners from some Asian countries working to ensure a total of 50 million gallons per day are generated at a water works in Badagry to service consumers in Badagry to Mile 2. By 2016, Adiyan water project will be able to produce 70 million gallons per day. A water works which is to serve consumers in Epe to Victoria Island will be sited in Epe. The water works project will be carried out in 3 phases.

The current water tariff in Lagos state is 5k per liter, an equivalent is paying N50 for 5 drums of 250 litre capacities. Tariffs review must be done but the presently good quality service delivery is the focus. Sooner an upward tariff review will be inevitable.
Engr Holloway concluded by appealing to the consumers to bear with the Lagos State Water Corporation as a lot is being sown and germination will soon show.

A formidable team of Lagos Water Senior officers that formed the Panelists that examined the topic: (A) Water Service Delivery in Lagos State, Challenges and Prospects (B) Enhancing Citizens Financial Responsiveness, Thoughts from NGOs, CDAs & the Private Sector did their very best to enlighten the participants on the grey areas.

According to Engr. Deji Johnson (Operations) If all installed capacity is functioning at one hundred percent the maximum volume of water that will be pumped will be 210 million gallons per day. Demand of 545 million gallons per day is based on 2010 data. Demand therefore far exceeds production even at one hundred percent functioning. There is no doubt that there has been lack of investment in the Corporation for a very long time. To run water project successfully a recurrent capital is required.

Engr. Ogunsola (Intelligence)
Lagos State Water Corporation is huge hence the need for intelligence monitoring through ICT installed equipment. The intelligence unit works with Distribution Department. Each zone is supposed to have material supply but funding has been a challenge. Requests sent to the main office sometimes take a while for processing and approval. Road contractors are to be monitored to avoid damages to water pipes.
One of the roles of the department is to check balance between demand and supply.

Dr. (Mrs.) Balogun (Quality Assurance)
The department ensures quality of water free of water borne diseases.
Every water works has a micro laboratory for water sample analysis and analysis of chemicals used in water production. Vandalisation of water pipes opens the water system to pollution. Vandalized pipes are to be reported for immediate repair. The department sets up booster stations to inject disinfectant (chlorine) into the channel so that if there is any pollution it will be disinfected and water will get to the consumers in good quality. Consumer dirty tanks sometimes are source of water pollution.

Engr. Karimu (Production)
There are 48 mini water works and 3 major water works in the State.
Ajiyan produces 70 million gallons per day
Iju 45 million gallons per day
Isasi 4 million gallons per day
Ota Ikosi 4 million gallons per day
All operators in production department work in shift and are monitored by the Quality Assurance department. The department is also regulated by ministry of health and LACEPA. Laboratory at Iju Water Works is recommended for water sample analysis.
In production department attention is paid to maintenance to avoid breakdown in production. Investors can be involved in water project under regulations to produce required quality and quantity.

Water processing involves extracting water from rivers through the intakes where the water is pumped into the treatment plant. At the water works the chemicals recommended are used. Alum is used to coagulate it from where it is sent into flocculation and sedimentation tanks. Heavy particles are filtered aware here. Inside a filter are treated filter sand and from there water is floated into another tank contained of Calcium Carbonate to increase the Ph to 7 – 8.5. Water goes into underground reservoir then to overhead where it goes to the public. Averagely it takes a minimum of seven hours for the purification process to be completed and delivered to the public.

Engr. Elemoso (Distribution)
Pipes are destroyed by activities of different construction and telecommunication companies. Damaged pipes get dried when production is stopped at water works. Dirt from underground enters the Lagos State Water Corporation channels and the water becomes polluted.
CSOs should bring together companies that engage in ground digging activities in a forum for the Corporation to interact with them. Customers are to approach zonal offices closest to them to be connected to the Corporation’s water channel. There is need to educate the children on water conservation. CDAs can partner with the Corporation in purchasing and laying of pipes in lieu of the bills they are to pay.

Mr. Olu Young (Commercial)
Harsh economic reality and the burden of other taxes/tariffs to be paid make customers hostile to field workers at the discharge of their duties.
Lagos State Water Corporation has resolved to make roles of staff clearer and reduce size of management to a more manageable proportion.
The Corporation now has ‘Large Corporate’ under the commercial department. Large Corporate unit handles water services to hotels, car wash, dry cleaners and companies.

On weekly basis revenue review meeting session with representation from all the zones is held; where field activities and collection efficiencies are discussed.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Diran Akingba, the Executive Director, Finance & Administration, said financial sustainability measures the degree to which an organization gets revenue in excess of cost of operation in the process of providing products to its customers thus resulting in net surplus revenue.The smaller the net surplus revenue the weaker the financial sustainability.

He elaborated further by saying that an organization that generates net deficit is not financially sustained. As financial sustainability equals financial surplus. While financial un-sustainability equals financial deficit, the key symptom of financial un-sustainability is repeated or prolonged failure in providing services or products to consumers. The bigger the net surplus revenue, the stronger the financial sustainability.

On the Corporation’s Short term plan (next twelve months) Mr. Akingba said the Corporation is set to achieve financial sustainability through:
• Increase recurrent funds from the government.
• Improve safe water collection efficiency
• Improve building efficiency

While Long term plan is to keep up Public Private Partnership and aim for higher water sales tariffs.

SCUML reels out stiff penalties for non-compliance

As a follow-up to the inaugural sensitization workshop held last year, another 2-Day seminar on “Strategic Partnership among DNFBPs for Effective Implementation of AML/CFT Regime in Nigeria” has taken place at the Unit’s Lagos office conference centre.

The seminar set out to deepen the understanding of AML/CFT objectives of the DNFBPs sector in order to facilitate strategic partnership amongst relevant stakeholders. It was also designed to enhance the AML/CFT campaign and bring the DNFBPs principal partners up-to-date with Nigeria’s AML/CFT regime and strengthen DNFIs capacity to effectively curb money laundering.

And so with an attendance that included high-ranking financial houses officials, hospitality trade leading figures and CSOs it was time for business as the leading resource person for the workshop, Mr. Abimbola Adeseyoju of DataPro Ltd, refreshed our memories by reminding us that “The Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) was established as a specialized unit of the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry now the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, by the Federal Executive Council of Nigeria [Decision No. EC (2005) 286] in September 2005.

Mr. Adeseyoju said SCUML has the responsibility to carry out the statutory role of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment (FMT & I) as spelt out in the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, ML(P)A 2012. Consequently, SCUML has the mandate to monitor, supervise and regulate the activities of all Designated Non Financial Institutions (DNFIs) in Nigeria in consonance with the country’s Anti Money Laundering and Combating of the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.

Asked to shed more light on who and who are the DFNIs, Adeseyoju said, “Section 25 of the ML(P)A 2012, defines DNFIs as: ‘dealers in jewelries, cars and luxury goods, chartered/professional accountants, audit firms, tax consultants, clearing and settlement companies, legal practitioners, supermarkets, casinos and hotels. Others include estate surveyors and valuers, precious stones and metals dealers, trust and company service providers, pool betting and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)’.

The Minister of Trade and Investment or relevant regulatory agency (SCUML) is empowered under the law to classify additional businesses as DNFIs as it is deemed fit for purpose of regulation under the country’s anti-money laundering and combating of the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime. Section 5(4) ML(P)A 2012 Act This follows the FATF Recommendations which was domesticated in the Money Laundering Act 2012.”

Continued the erudite resource person: “There is also the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which is an independent inter-governmental body that develops and promotes policies to protect the global financial system against money laundering, terrorist financing and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It was created in 1989 under EU G8 Group.

It was initially 40+9 recommendations but now has been reviewed to 40. FATF lists countries and territories that are not co-operating in AML policies. And so FATF Recommendations 22 and 23 formed the basis in which SCUML was established. Maybe it will interest you to know that money laundering is 2nd Oldest Profession in the world, 3rd Largest Business and arguably Nigeria’s Biggest Industry.”

Mr. Adeseyoju explained further that “The conversion or transfer of property ( i.e. money, goods, commodities, etc) knowing that such property is derived from a criminal offence, for the purpose of concealing or disguising the illicit origin of the property or of assisting any person who is involved in the commission of such crime to evade the legal consequences of such actions are penalties to be paid under the statues that set up SCUML.”

“Others are “the concealment or disguising of the true nature, source, location, disposition, movement, rights with respect to, or ownership of property knowing that such property is derived from a criminal offence, the acquisition, possession or use of property, knowing at the time of receipt that such property was derived from a criminal offence or from participation in such crime and participation in, association to commit the attempt to commit and the aiding, abetting, facilitating and counselling the commission of such acts.”

“In fact”, he continued, “SCUML combats money laundering among DNFIs through their compliance with Anti-Money Laundering/Combating of Terrorist Financing obligations, including: registration of businesses with SCUML, limitation to make or accept cash payment above N500,000 by an individual or by a corporate body, customer identification/verification (CDD/KYC), other measures include maintenance of register of transactions, preservation of records of transactions, designation of compliance officers, maintaining internal audit control, training their employees, and obligations to report transactions above threshold.”

Itemizing SCUML achievements since inception, Mr. Mathew Enu of EFCC said “Collaboration with other Agencies to remove Nigeria from FATF-NCCT shame-list to pave way for investments and capital transfer, increased number of DNFIs registration, developed risk-based assessment/ranking of DNFIs in order of vulnerability, door-to-door sensitization/inspection of DNFIs in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Lagos and Enugu and Gombe.”