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Business News

Nigerian Professor spends $185K US grant in strip clubs, iTunes, others

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office has alleged that a former professor of Drexel University spent research money on adult entertainment venues.

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Research Grant: Professor spends $185K in on strip clubs, iTunes and more

The office of the Philadelphia District Attorney has alleged that a former professor of Drexel University, Chikaodinaka Nwankpa, spent fund meant for research on adult entertainment venues.

Nwankpa, has been arrested and charged with theft for stealing $185,000 in research grant. The grant was supposed to cover research on approved studies though it is still unclear, which subjects the grant was for, state prosecutors said.

Meanwhile, a university audit discovered that Nwankpa, who had spent almost 30 years at the university, made many unapproved purchases between 2010 and 2017 which he tried to reimbursed through research grants. The district attorney’s office stated that he had spent over $96,000 on local strip clubs and sports bars, plus another $89,000 on food and iTunes purchases.

[READ ALSO: Nigeria spent N206.6 billion on fuel subsidy in two months – NNPC(Opens in a new browser tab)]

However, this is Nwankpa second time of been accused of fund misappropriation as regards to the gentlemen’s clubs. The Justice Department  disclosed that the university had paid $189,062 to it to settle allegations of 10 years of improper spending against federal grants from the Department of the Navy, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, according to the Justice Department.

Nwankpa repaid Drexel University $53,328 and resigned from his position amid the investigation. He was barred from Federal Government contracting for six months. He has been working as an engineering consultant since June 2017, according to his LinkedIn account.

“Nwankpa betrayed the university and its students. After a comprehensive investigation by our office’s Economic Crimes Unit, Mr. Nwankpa will have his day in court and will have to answer for his crimes,” Larry Krasner, the city’s district attorney said in a statement on Tuesday.

Cases or allegations of unethical or unlawful business conduct by university members are taken seriously by the school, the executive director of media relations for Drexel University, Niki Gianakaris, said in a statement to The Washington Post.

[READ MORE: Nigerians spend N3.73 billion in Cinemas in 2019)]

“The University initially reported this situation to the U.S. attorney’s office and has worked cooperatively with federal and state investigations into the matter,” she said.

Nwankpa was released from custody after making a payment on his $25,000 bail and agreeing to surrender his passport. It is unclear if he has secured legal representation and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 29. If convicted on both charges, Nwankpa could face up to 14 years in prison and pay up to $30,000 in fines, the Washington Post said.

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Appointments

ValuAlliance Asset Management appoints two new Directors

ValuAlliance Asset Management has announced the appointment of two persons into its Board as Directors.

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ValuAlliance Asset Management, the fund manager of the ValuAlliance Value Fund, has announced the appointment of Messrs Obinnia Abajue and Kofi Kwakwa into its Board as Directors.

This is according to a disclosure sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange and seen by Nairametrics. In line with statutory requirements, the appointments are subject to confirmation from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and approval by the shareholders at the company’s next Annual General Meeting (AGM).

According to the notice, Mr Obinnia Abajue was appointed as Independent Non-Executive Director while Mr Kofi Kwakwa was appointed as Non-Executive Director. The profile of the aforementioned experts is succinctly captured below;

READ: FBN Holdings appoints ex-CEO of Guinness Nigeria and 2 others as Board Directors

Mr Obinnia Abajue

Mr. Abajue has over two decades of experience in banking and financial services. He is the current Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hygeia HMO Limited, a position he has held since November 2016. He is an alumnus of the University of Lagos and Imperial College London, where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Actuarial Science and an MBA respectively. Mr Abajue is a fellow of numerous professional bodies like; The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, UK; The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria; The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria and the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers of Nigeria.

Kofi Kwakwa

Mr. Kwakwa is a Ghanaian and a former CEO of Sagevest Holdings, an investment holding company in Ghana. He has over 25 years of experience in investment banking and consulting, having worked in top firms like Standard Bank, McKinsey & Company among others. He is currently a director at African Capital Alliance Limited (ACA), having joined the Board since 2015. Mr. Kwakwa is an alumnus of Swarthmore College and Harvard Business School, both in the USA, where he obtained a B.A. in Mathematics/Economics and an MBA respectively.

READ: Dangote Sugar yearly revenue surge by 33%, announces a dividend of N1.50

What they are saying

Commenting on the recent development, a part of the press release reads: ‘’The Board of Directors congratulates Mr. Abajue and Mr. Kwakwa on their appointment and is looking forward to tapping into their vast wealth of experience to further accelerate the achievement of its vision, to be the premier investment management fiduciary in the segments we serve.’’

What you should know

  • ValuAlliance had earlier posted a Profit After Tax of N237.96 million in its last reported financial statements-Q3, 2020. The PAT figures indicated a surge by over 1,000% YoY.
  • ValuAlliance Value Fund formerly known as “SIM Capital Alliance Value Fund”, is a closed-end collective investment scheme, registered and regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, whose units are listed on the main board of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE”).

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Energy

Nigeria’s long road to metering: Who bears the brunt?

While consumers remain unmetered due to the inefficiencies of the Discos, the Discos continue to charge outrageous estimated bills.

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One of the many challenges facing Nigeria’s electric power sector is the issue of metering. From being a pre-privatisation problem, lack of metering has evolved to be a more sophisticated post-privatisation feature skirting the corridors of the Nigerian power sector for the last few years.

Statistics show that the number of unmetered customers across Nigeria has continued to rise. In 2016, a metering status report from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) showed that about 3 million of the registered accounts of customers were unmetered. In 2017, this number grew as NERC reported that over 4 million unmetered customers. In 2019, a NERC report showed that over 5 million Nigerians were unmetered and this number has continued to rise.

In a bid to address the metering gap, in 2013 at the onset of the privatised electricity sector, the Credit Advance Programme for Metering Implementation (CAPMI) scheme was launched. The purpose of the scheme was to relieve the Distribution Companies (Discos) of the burden of financing the cost of the meters. As such it enabled the customer to pay for the meter upfront while the Disco amortised the cost through electricity supplied to the customer over a period of time.

READ: Nigerian firm set to raise $1.2 billion to purchase electricity meters

The CAPMI removed the initial capital outlay for financing meters from the Discos and Discos were to provide the customer with a meter within 45 days of payment. However, the scheme failed to deliver on its objective. As noted by the then Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola in 2016, “Discos that collected money from their customers to procure and install meters at their homes have mostly failed to do so”. The CAPMI was eventually discontinued in 2016, leaving the sector with at least a 50% metering gap.

In April 2018, the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) scheme was introduced by NERC in a bid to address the same problem. Under this scheme, there were to be third party meter suppliers engaged by the Discos, effectively removing the burden of providing meters from the Discos. The Discos were mandated to engage MAPs within 120 days.

READ: Consumer Complaints: DisCos received 203,116 complaints in Q2 2020 – NERC

The scheme, unlike the CAPMI, ensures that the customer received a meter from the MAP without making any upfront payment, while the payment was sculpted into the customer’s monthly electricity tariff as an energy charge until it was fully amortized. The scheme also gave customers the opportunity to choose to pay upfront and get their meters installed within 10 days in return for energy credits. It turned out that more customers were taking the alternative approach rather than the original approach as the rollout was not very favourable to those who chose to go the energy charge amortization route.

The MAP scheme has not been as successful as was hoped, with Discos missing deadlines to engage MAPs and MAPs facing the challenge of increased import tariffs and lack of local manufacturing capacity. In October last year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) launched its National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) with a view to funding the local production, and in some, cases importation of meters by meter providers and Discos. Perhaps this was a case of putting the cart before the horse, since the facility came after the Federal Government had revised electricity tariffs upward of a 100%, not considering the fact that a teeming number of customers who had subscribed under either the CAPMI or the MAP scheme were yet to receive meters.

READ: FG to inject over N198 billion on capital projects in power sector in 2021

With the addition of the NMMP facility to CBN’s existing N213billion Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility (NEMSF) advanced to the Discos in 2014, significant progress is yet to be seen from this facility gathering. While it is hoped that the NMMP will help close the metering gap, the brunt of the lack of metering since the privatisation of the sector has always been borne by the consumers, many of whom have had to pay exorbitant prices for meters under previous schemes, with nothing to show for it.

Interestingly, while consumers remain unmetered due to the inefficiencies of the Discos, the Discos continue to charge estimated bills even after the February 2020 NERC Order that capped estimated billing. While the Order may have merely reduced incidences of outrageous bills, Discos continue to bill customers outrageous amounts.

READ: NNPC to boost power generation with additional 5,000 megawatts to national grid

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It is unfortunate that almost a decade after the privatisation of the Nigerian electricity sector, the Discos are unable to tackle one aspect of Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) losses and continue to put the burden of metering or estimated billing on the customer, added to the increased electricity tariffs the customer has to pay in spite of epileptic power supply. NERC must really sit up in mandating compliance by the Discos in seeing that the NMMP combined with the MAP meet the December 2021 deadline of closing the metering gap.

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