State governors owing salaries and pensions may have cause to smile as the Federal Government has released N516.38 billion as the second tranche of the Paris club refunds. The Paris club refunds were payments of over deductions made from their Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) for external debt servicing from 1995-2002.
A sum of N522.74 billion was paid as the first tranche in November 2016. The refunds were made on the condition that 50% would be used to settle salaries and pensions. Excluding the second tranche, about N1.75 trillion has been given to the states and the FCT as bailout/intervention funds since the inception of the Buhari administration.
The Paris club is an informal group of lenders formed in 1956 with headquarters in Paris. The group was formed to deal in a coordinated manner debts owed its member countries by developing nations. Nigeria reached an agreement with the club in 2005 to pay off $12 billion in exchange of the club writing off its debt. Some states had however been over charged.
Payments in the first tranche had been surrounded with controversy as the FG was initially unwilling to release details of the payments on a state by state basis. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) also investigated staff off the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) over payments made to consultants, and one of the state governors allegedly diverting the refund meant for his state.
FG bars aides of VIPs from airport terminals, to grant loans to airlines, others at 5%
The minister insisted that face masks must be worn at all times inside the airport and airplane.
The Federal Government has barred all non-travelling aides of public office holders and very important personalities (VIPs) from gaining access into the Airport terminal.
This is part of the measure and aviation protocol designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease and ensure safety of the passengers and workers in the aviation sector.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, during Monday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
Sirika said that this measure applies especially to Governors, Ministers, National Assembly Members, Judicial officers and Military officers as the practice of having their Personal Assistants and Special Assistants, who they insist on seeing them off up to the aircraft though not travelling with them, would be stopped.
The Aviation Minister in his statement said, ‘’Henceforth, all VIPs will no longer be permitted to bring non-travelling aides into the Airport Terminals. This especially applies to Governors, Ministers, NASS members, Judiciary and Military officers.’’
While speaking on the new procedures during this COVID-19 era, the minister said that mandatory temperature and symptoms checks will be carried out at the airport terminals and frequent washing of hands should be done at the airports. He also said that face masks must be worn at all times inside the airport and airplane and anyone who does not do that will not be allowed inside the airport terminals.
He pointed out that physical distancing will be maintained at all times just as unruly passengers will not be allowed to board the aircrafts or fly as no pilot will be allowed to fly a plane carrying an unruly passenger.
He revealed that the processes of compression, heating, cooling and filtration that aircraft cabin air is subjected to, takes out 99.9% of all organisms including viruses etc. that’s why cabin air is safer than most other environments.
The aviation minister also stated that operators in the aviation sector including airlines, ground handling firms and others, will be given loan at 5% interest rate with effect from 2021. He, however, noted that the modalities for the loan is being worked out with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning
It can be recalled that Sirika stated this in an interactive session with the senate committee on Aviation where he said that any VIP coming into the airport this time around as a personality, minister or even members of the national assembly will not be carrying their aides into the airports anymore.
Vodacom Nigeria gets new MD
Vodacom Business is a leading pan-African telecommunications provider wholly-owned by the Vodacom Group.
Vodacom Business (Nigeria) Limited has appointed Mr Valentine Chime as the Managing Director of its operations. According to a statement from the company on Monday, the appointment is at the instance of the board of directors.
He will now drive the company’s vision of becoming Africa’s leading cloud and digital service provider, the statement read.
Prior to this appointment, Valentine Chime was with Aruwa Capital, a private equity company investing across West Africa. He also worked at Kaizen Venture Partners, a private equity company focused on distressed assets. He has held various C-suite positions in a number of portfolio companies in different sectors.
Chime expressed his enthusiasm to take up the position and challenge of building the Vodacom brand in the country. He said:
“Vodacom Business Africa (Nigeria) Limited is well-known and very respected in the industry, and I look forward to taking up this mission.
“Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation, and we are perfectly positioned to deliver intelligent connectivity through seamless delivery of cloud and digital services and technologies to our clients.”
Vodacom Business is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Vodacom Group, and a leading pan-African telecommunications provider that came into Africa since 1992.
America announces modified guidelines for foreign students returning to its schools
As a student already enrolled in a US university or about to be enrolled, you should read this carefully.
The U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), on Monday announced a much-needed update regarding the guidelines for foreign students hoping to return to campuses for the autumn semester.
A statement published on ICE’s website clearly spelled out the guidelines. Unfortunately, for some of the foreign students, these guidelines might as well come across as confusing instead of straightforward/explanatory.
Before we proceed to ICE’s modified guidelines, it is important to first note that some American universities have announced various modalities for class attendance amid the ravaging pandemic. For instance, while some schools said their classes can only be attended online, for now, others said they are committed to regular classroom settings, even as some others have plans to combine both face-to-face lecturing and online classes.
As a foreign student planning to return to school in the USA this autumn, the modality adopted by your school will simply determine how ICE’s new guidelines will affect you. Let us now examine the guidelines.
Modifications to ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP)
Guidelines on online classes: ICE said that foreign students enrolled in American universities offering only online classes, will not be granted student’s visas to return to the country. Now, this is tricky because even though such students are permitted by the U.S Customs and Border Protection to enter the country, they will not just be granted their student visas by American consulates anywhere in the world. The implication of this, therefore, is that no foreign student is allowed to be in the USA while undertaking online classes offered by an American university.
Foreign students who wish to return/remain in the USA during the autumn semester must ensure that their classes will not be taught online. If it so happens that a foreign student is enrolled in a school offering only online classes, such a student has the option of transferring to another school that is conducting face-to-face lecturing. Otherwise, the student should stay back in their home country and take the full course online.
Foreign students who are already in the country but enrolled in schools offering only online courses must also ensure that either switch to a different school with the face-to-face lecture option, or leave the country willing. Otherwise, such foreign students risk being deported.
“Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings,” part of the guideline said.
Guidelines on regular classes: The revised guideline specified that foreign students enrolled in American schools where classes are still taught face-to-face are required to be available on campus to attend classes during the autumn semester. Upon return to campus, such students are allowed to decide whether to combine both physical class attendance and online classes.
Other guidelines: Foreign students attending US schools that are combining online classes with physical lectures will not be allowed to only attend online lectures while on campus. Instead, they must attend both the online classes and face-to-face classes.
Some issues to consider
-It is obvious that ICE is trying to stop some foreign students from trooping to the USA when they can remotely receive lectures online. After all, this will help prevent further trans-border spread of COVID-19. However, online classes come special challenges, especially for students in foreign countries. The time difference is one of such challenges; what happens when an online class is holding by 12 noon at Harvard when a student somewhere in South East Asia supposed to be sleeping?
-For now, American consulates around the world have suspended visa issuance. This poses a serious challenge to foreign students who were just freshly admitted into American universities and will student visas before they can be on campus for the autumn semester. Now, the saddest part is that any student who does not resume along with the other students, will not be allowed to resume later.
-Meanwhile, Nigerian students hoping to return to the US for their studies would have to grapple with immigration uncertainties mentioned above, along with foreign exchange troubles. Recall that even though the Central Bank of Nigeria announced that it has resumed the sale of dollars to Nigerian students studying abroad, the exchange rate for naira against the dollar remains high. And this is a major challenge to any student who will need to pay the high tuition fees of American universities.